Dedication to Linda Levine
Linda Levine knew how to make people feel welcome. Whether she was in a classroom or in her own home, Linda’s hospitality was characterized by a generosity of spirit and the particular warmth with which she greeted the newcomer or anyone who might be feeling like an outsider. It was at Linda’s invitation that the Occasional Papers board came to hold its quarterly meetings at her apartment. Assembling around the dining room table—always set with an ample array of tempting cakes, cookies, and fresh fruit—was conducive to the informal, free flow of ideas essential to building successful working relationships. Linda knew that editing, like teaching, is a relational practice that brings together both writers and readers as well as editors and writers and that begins with the vision and energy of a dedicated editorial board.
Linda’s generosity—the abundant table which she set—is an apt metaphor for her approach to editing: welcoming new ideas, identifying first-time authors, and exploring innovative strategies for presenting their work. She brought to our meetings a wealth of experience, an abiding commitment to righting social wrongs, and a deep knowledge of scholarship in education and anthropology. If, as a reviewer, she was challenged by a problematic submission—the weak text that could be stronger, the thin text that could be richer, the fragile text that was simply not ready for publication—she did not hesitate to ask for help to create the fullest, most supportive response possible. We valued her forthrightness and her desire to do right by every author.
Linda brought this same forthrightness to advocating for Occasional Papers itself. She was undaunted by the need to speak truth to power for the causes in which she believed. And there is no question that she was deeply committed to the Occasional Papers’ mission to expand the progressive educational conversations in which Bank Street is grounded. When resources were stretched thin, she was insistent that we have sufficient funding to publish regularly, encourage promising new voices, and broaden our audience.
It is especially fitting that we dedicate this issue—The Other Seventeen Hours: Valuing Out-of-School Time—to Linda. In addition to recognizing the importance of making schools successful sites of learning for all, she long understood the value of alternative opportunities for children to look carefully at their own lives and critically at the contexts in which they are growing up. Linda was a pragmatist as well as a dreamer. She did not consider it an either/or question—schools or community-based organizations. Rather, she saw that if institutions grew too large, too rigid, too test driven, then children required other spaces in which they could realize their full potential.
Whenever the Occasional Papers board gathers today, Linda’s absence is keenly felt. At the same time, her presence—her ambitions for others, fearless advocacy, and commitment to social justice—is also very much in the room.
My last communications with Linda occurred several days before she died. She called from her hospital bed to say that she could not complete the reviews for this issue on deadline. Linda was candid and straightforward, caring and unapologetic.
What more could one want? What more can one say?
Jonathan Silin, Editor