This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
Originally posted on https://studentsandteachersarepeople.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/they-came-for-gold-and-other-riches/
As I traveled over the past week during Spring Break, many of the places I traveled would not let me free thoughts of the education environment from my mind. I wandered down the east coast of Florida, making stops in historical venues. As I traveled and relived history, I revisited classroom lessons of the past about the arrival of Europeans upon this continent and their less than cordial treatment of the natives inhabiting the lands discovered. Eventually, they were no more than slaves, and the unrealized wealth of their native lands became plunder for the European nations sponsoring the exploration. How does this continually remind me of the current education environment? Just as the Europeans came, reformers and corporations also came for gold and other riches.
Just as Europeans originally came before, those uninformed of quality education policy come into the public education arena seeking the profitability spread before them. They bring a plan seeking to achieve success by the discrediting of a system, its educators, and students. Why? Because, something not broken needs no repair. Europeans traveled into these lands and brought disease and persecution to the natives under the guise of a better way. The natives died in unimagined counts. These reformers and corporations bring the same upon the public school system. It is the way to take over the landscape without the least resistance, come in peace. Free market education leads to riches through poorly designed curriculum and forced test-driven policies. It takes millions upon millions to establish the test-driven society being pushed. Corporations are only oh so happy to take those riches. They are also happy to shove aside and bring detriment to the educators and students. What a correlation!
Ahead of them, they send their ambassadors of goodwill. Gates, Waltons, Kochs, Teach For America, and many others. They provide their “aid” through softer agencies taking the name of FOUNDATIONS. “Aid” is needed according to their message. They can help, but they also have some nifty suggestions to go along with their “aid.” The propaganda has taken hold; the door is opened. Here comes the help, Pearson to name only one. Testing companies and reform lobbyists invade the nation’s capital and state legislatures with the message of change. Change the system. Test more. Record more. Share more. Less help with more accountability takes the stage, and failure is eminent. It’s what is needed for reform to be received as a welcome change. Beyond the cry of those with actual solutions, the plan moves forward.
Will our story in the public education landscape end as another repeat of history, or will enough hear the cries in time to rise up and make a difference? Time will only tell. My hope is for enough public education activists of like minds to rise to the forefront and stop the unraveling of democracy. The many successes created through the public education system should be held up daily and used to turn the tide. Activists, now is the time to turn back the assault, both unwarranted and unnecessary. I believe the words of a very wise man are more necessary now than ever, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” Words uttered by John Lewis in another time and place are very relevant today!