First off, I want to say that I feel really bad for not posting in a while. Things have been really hectic at home, and I could barely find a sizable chunk of time to just write for myself. When I did sit down to write, I was interrupted or had to put it off… and nothing just ever got done.
But, now I have re-balanced my time and plan to start right up again, beginning with a topic that I think needs to be addressed before any others. Before I can establish where I stand, I want to be clear on where I DON’T stand. Before I can get to figuring out solutions, I have to fully understand the problem. Here is a huge chunk of the problem:
The Educorporate Reform/Deform/Rheeform/Rephorm Movement
Gosh, where do I begin? I’m going to do a string of posts on this, but I guess I’ll start with a bullet point list of what the education reform movement is really about.
- Privatization of education
- Expansion of charter schools that destroys the public school system
- Ignoring out-of-school factors such as poverty and socioeconomic inequity
- Higher accountability and high(er) stakes testing
- Discriminatory mass closing of public schools
- Demeaning the teaching profession and busting teacher unions
- “Creaming” students for charter schools (disadvantaging special needs students even more)
[Linked in each bullet point is an article to get you started… of course there are tons of articles and evidence for each one. Also, if you haven’t done so already, I really suggest you check out this handy “Reform-to-English” Dictionary. It’s basically an expanded list of the Ed Reform movement’s bullshit]
My first post on this topic is going to directly address people who are in my position.
A letter to future teachers and present education advocates
All I ask of you is this:
Please, please, please take a second look at the current education reform movement being led by StudentsFirst CEO Michelle Rhee, and championed by big names like Bill Gates, Wendy Kopp (Teach for America CEO), and Arne Duncan (current Secretary of Education appointed by Obama).
Take it from someone who used to be a Students for Education Reform member, used to dream about working for StudentsFirst, joining Teach for America, and running my own charter school.
Usually, I would suggest that two sides of the education debate put aside their differences to put students’ interest first. Usually, I would promote what I support rather than bash what I oppose. But what I oppose is moving education in the wrong direction. What I oppose is making it difficult for me to promote what I support. What I oppose is gaining support from cover-ups and lies, and tricking so many (including myself) into believing their bullshit.
Before, I was under the false impression that this was the change our country needed. I believed that doing all those things I just mentioned would help students and the education system.
Don’t be fooled by fancy, charge rhetoric and the growing presence of their names in the media. Corporate money is fueling this campaign, and the only beneficiaries are those at the top. When the movement started, I joined it because it had good intentions and set clear goals on how to solve the issue of education. Now, actually seeing the disappointing results of this movement and digging deeper into their motives has led me to become completely disillusioned, if not horrified.
All I ask is that you dig underneath all that fancy looking brochures, websites, and appearances and discover what the education reform movement is really doing to our public schools, our students, our teachers, our communities.
After looking at all sides of the situation, if you still stand by the EdReform movement, then by all means, pick up on the past that I abandoned.
But I just want you to know that there is another side to this debate. Another solution that actually listens to students, shows genuine concern for the future of our education system, stands behind teachers, and believes in bettering public education for all.
Education reformers are on the wrong side of history. They are doing nothing to improve education, and they are reaping all the benefits. Real solutions require full collaboration from the bottom up, not the top down (in this case, they don’t even reach the bottom). Advocates for education justice are championing real solutions, real change.
All I ask is that you take a second look.
I’ll end with a quote by Diane Ravitch:
“The future belongs to all the students who understand that public education belongs to them as a democratic right to build their future. [Education] must not become a plaything for Wall Street and billionaires, nor a stepping stone for politicians, nor a profit center for entrepreneurs.”