[PAST EVENT] An Evening with Educators Deborah Meier & Emily Gasoi

Caption: Deborah Meier signs her book, “These Schools Belong to You and Me” for an attendee.

On Thursday, February 23, Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) welcomed MacArthur award-winning educator, reformer and author Deborah Meier and educator Emily Gasoi to our high school campus in Lawndale, CA to discuss the ideas in their new book, These Schools Belong To You And Me: Why We Can’t Afford To Abandon Our Public Schools. The educators spoke to a group of Environmental Charter Schools teachers in an intimate discussion before addressing an audience of more than 60 people. The talk was moderated by Dr. Beth Bernstein-Yamashiro, Environmental Charter Middle School-Inglewood Principal, and co-presented by Antioch University Los Angeles.


Caption: Deborah Meier looks towards Emily Gasoi as Stephanie Lee (ECMS-Gardena) facilitates a conversation between both authors and ECS staff.

With a combined experience of over 70 years in education, Meier and Gasoi shared their experiences in public education and encouraged and inspired attendees who were mostly educators to persevere in the hard work of building and sustaining terrific schools.


Caption: ECMS-Inglewood’s Beth Bernstein-Yamashiro listens intently as Emily Gasoi responds to a question about the title of the book.

Speaking about the requirements of public school testing, the authors shared their belief that the over-reliance on testing has distorted almost entirely the meaning of learning, academic, and achievement. Testing is used instead as a shortcut for “academic achievement” and are actually mostly an indication of social status. They spoke of an alternative – authentic accountability.


Caption: Educators and community members gather for Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi.

Their book, These Schools Belong To You And Me: Why We Can’t Afford To Abandon Our Public Schools, lays out the importance of democratic schools and provides specific successful examples of how democratic schools are implemented. Gasoi very clearly shares that the principle of democratic schools is not an easy principle to implement, but when done right and consistently, it changes how students learn and how teachers teach, for the better. Both Meier and Gasoi stress that education for democracy is key to having students become well-informed citizens and voters. A question posed to attendees: If we don’t practice true democracy at school, where will kids learn how to use their voice powerfully and be taken seriously?

Thank you to our event co-sponsor Antioch University Los Angeles and our special guests, Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi.

Photo Credit: Diba Ahour/Momenta Photography