Arnie Langberg is a trailblazing school reformer, principal and teacher, and the author of To Create the World That Ought to Be: Memoirs of a Radical Educator (published in 2023). Arnie has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Earthville Network since its founding in 2000.
After graduating from MIT in 1955, Arnie Langberg began his 50-year career in public education by teaching mathematics at the New York high school from which he had graduated.
In 1957, three months before Sputnik, Arnie, together with a colleague and twenty-one students, created the Iota Society. For ten years this program offered seminars, sponsored concerts and arranged trips to various cultural events in New York City for students and their parents.
In 1970, Arnie joined six students and a district administrator in the creation of the Great Neck Village School, one of the first public alternative high schools in the USA.
In 1975, Arnie became the first principal of Mountain Open High School in Colorado, which an external evaluation praised as “a model for the reform of secondary education.”
In 1988, as Administrator of Alternative Education for the Denver Public Schools, Arnie received a grant from the US Labor Department to develop an alternative high school for at-risk inner-city students. For four years, High School Redirection (HSR) served a population that was 70% students of color, most of whom had been given up on by the conventional school system. Arnie described the development of HSR in a chapter entitled “Empowering Students to Shape Their Own Learning” in Public Schools That Work, edited by Gregory Smith and published by Routledge. He also contributed a chapter entitled “Caring and Engagement” to Restructuring Education, published in 1990 by the Colorado Department of Education.
Arnie received the Colorado Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence in 1991. In 1993 he was presented with an Award for Moral Courage by Denver University and a Denver business journal. In 1999 he was given the Educational Leadership Award by Escuela Tlatelolco.
Arnie has consulted with school districts and individual schools throughout the United States and abroad, including in Siberia in 1993. In the fall of 2000, Arnie taught a philosophy course to 100 English-speaking Chinese students at the International College of Beijing.
For three years, beginning in 1994, Arnie created a program called “Education for Moral Courage” at Harrington Elementary School, in a high-crime, high-poverty neighborhood of Denver. It engaged children as young as third grade in conversation on issues of character.
In 2001, Arnie partnered with the Denver Musicians Association to create the Harmony Project, which paired artists with classroom teachers to develop lessons that infused music and other arts into the regular curriculum, resulting in dramatically improved student engagement.
Arnie has been an adjunct in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Denver and at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado. He was also a Visiting Fellow at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, which brought him there over a period of five years to help a number of San Antonio public schools in their redesign efforts.
Arnie received an MA from Teachers College, Columbia, in 1972, and later competed all but the dissertation requirement for the PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder.