Another Brick From the Wall: When Education Reformers Fail
By Dr. Michael Flanagan, Co-Director BATs Action Team
I will be honest; I really enjoy stories where corrupt and greedy education reformers just epically fail. Now granted for the past ten years or so reformers have been cashing in big time on the backs of school children and their teachers. Continually racking up public tax dollars in one way or another. Money for charter schools. Money for Teach For America. Money for Pearson etc. etc.
These reformers have been successfully embezzling public school funding, attacking teacher rights, and disregarding collective bargaining agreements all while generating huge profits for test companies and vulture capitalists. As this has been happening countless numbers of parents, teachers, activists and students have organized to push back against the billionaires and their political shills through grassroots efforts, often to no avail. Our protests are met by reformer stonewalling.
The seemingly insurmountable money and power behind these education reformers brings to mind Pink Floyd’s: The Wall. Teachers and parents have faced the brick wall of Common Core, vouchers, charter schools, anti union lawsuits and high stakes testing from the likes of the Fordham Institute, the Broad Foundation, The Walton’s, the Koch’s, David Welch, Bill Gates, the mainstream media, governors, the Department of Education and the President of the United States.
However, lately I am seeing more “Karma” like stories. There are more articles like; Pearson's stock is dropping, or Pearson’s New York State contract is canceled. Common Core has been voted out in several states and Teach For America is laying off employees. A school board in San Francisco actually voted TFA out. I have especially enjoyed watching charter schools like Success Academy and Gulen Charters facing criticism, while some Ohio charter operators have actually been indicted. I applaud how hundreds of thousands of parents opted out of state tests in New York (myself included) while Friedrichs v. California and Vergara v. California both fail spectacularly. Just this past week Sheri Lederman won her case against value added measures of teacher evaluation. Stories like these create hope that the tide may actually be turning, and we BATs are loving it.
I don’t know about you, but I think more people in the education activist movement should be able to celebrate and even take credit for some of these epic reformer fails. Because every time I read a Humpty Dumpty like story of a terrible Ed reform policy that bit the dust I think the same thing: Another brick from the wall! Each time one of these pirates is shown the door it is one more opening to bring back control of our public schools to the community, not the corporations. Schools for children, not for profit. The voice of the people not crooked politicians.
So it is at this point in our story that we at the Badass Teachers Association are asking those who read this blog, to share some of your favorite Ed Reformer Fails. Every brick that falls out of that corrupted wall is another chance to make public education the people’s again. BATs wants to hear from you! Please write and post or tweet your favorite “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” reformer story to the Badass Teachers Association Facebook Group, twitter @BadassTeachersA or in the comment section of this blog piece. Use the hashtag #AnotherBrickFromtheWALL