Speaking to the World
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Teacher / Author
Deborah Meier is currently on the faculty of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education as senior scholar and adjunct professor. She also serves as board member and director of New Ventures at Mission Hill, director and advisor to Forum for Democracy and Education, and on the Board of The Coalition of Essential Schools. Read More >
Meier has spent more than four decades working in public education as a teacher, writer, and public advocate. She began her teaching career as a kindergarten and headstart teacher in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City schools. She was the founder and teacher-director of a network of highly successful public elementary schools in East Harlem. In 1985 she founded Central Park East Secondary School, a New York City public high school in which more than 90% of the entering students went on to college, mostly to four-year schools. During this period she founded a local Coalition center, which networked approximately 50 small Coalition-style K-12 schools in the city.
Between 1992 and 1996 Meier served as co-director of a project (Coalition Campus Project) that successfully redesigned the reform of two large failing city high schools, and created a dozen new small Coalition schools. She was an advisor to New York City’s Annenberg Challenge and Senior Fellow at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University from 1995-1997. From 1997 to 2005 she was the founder and principal of the Mission Hill School a K-8 Boston Public Pilot school serving 180 children in the Roxbury community.
The schools she has helped create serve predominantly low-income African-American and Latino students, and include a typical range of students in terms of academic skills and special needs. There are no entrance requirements. These schools are considered exemplars of reform nationally and affiliates of the national Coalition of Essential Schools founded by Dr. Ted Sizer and currently led by Lewis Cohen.
A learning theorist, Meier encourages new approaches that enhance democracy and equity in public education. She is on the editorial board of Dissent magazine, The Nation, and the Harvard Education Letter. She is a Board member of the Educational Alliance, the Association of Union Democracy, Educators for Social Responsibility, the Panasonic Foundation, and a founding member of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, the North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation, and the Forum for Democracy and Education, among others.
Meier was born in New York City; she attended Antioch College (1949-51) and received an MA in History from the University of Chicago (1955). She has received honorary degrees from Bank Street College of Education, Brown, Bard, Clark, Teachers College of Columbia University, Dartmouth, Harvard, Hebrew Union College, Hofstra, The New School, Lesley College, SUNY Albany, UMASS Lowell, and Yale. She was a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1987 for her work in education.
She is the author of many books, starting with The Power of Their Ideas and her latest, Playing for Keeps, which she co-wrote with Beth Taylor and Brenda Engel. Read Less ^
"We really enjoyed her visit. She went out of her way to connect with students at dinner and at a breakfast meeting. She is a lovely woman and a power house. Inspirational. Thanks for your help with this and it has been a pleasure working with you as well. We will certainly look your way next time we think of bringing a speaker to campus."
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