This was a quick response I made to an article today in The Advocate - Baton Rouge newspaper. One of the myths we're addressing in our efforts to inform the public about the ALEC reform agenda and my stance on working with our local unions.
ABayouBoy - Much of the "failure" of our public schools has been orchestrated beginning with NCLB (No Child Left Behind federal legislation) - actually before, but this law sealed the deal. A wolf dressed in sheep's clothing, this law presented a worthy concept (equity in education outcomes) but enacted it with a process that was doomed to "failure" - high stakes standardized testing. Worse - it was promulgated by the profit motives of many who would benefit from the billions of dollars that it necessarily costs to educate every child in this country.
One only needs to look closely at Pearson, the textbook/testing/virtual school company that sucks funding from the top most to the lowest (local) taxpayer coffers. Pearson has successfully perpetuated the myth that a single STANDARDIZED test can measure LEARNING. And to bolster that myth, we now have been handed a STANDARDIZED set of Common Core Standards that will necessarily result in a STANDARDIZED CURRICULUM that will necessarily require a new STANDARDIZED TEST that is designed to STANDARDIZE our children - impossible I hope.
I cannot envision straight lines of quiet children goosestepping from one class to another where teachers will read from scripts to ensure they are all on the same page every day with a curriculum that focuses on the lofty (and statistically impossible) goal of producing "proficiency" for every child. A haunting but now realistic vision.
When will teachers be allowed to return to the celebration of success which can be found in varying degrees in every child. Will we ever be able to return to the previously mandated identification of STRENGTHS in our students rather than what now is the PUBLICATION of weaknesses and the demeaning labelling of our children as FAILURES? And assigning the responsbility for that orchestrated FAILURE to teachers while ignoring all the variables is the ultimate "crime of the heart."
Our legislators and unqualified policy-makers who bypassed their brain cells to promulgate this and the many MYTHS OF REFORM must be taken to task. The movement to undermine the strength of the one voice that teachers have - unions - is the primary task of the corporate privatizers and their political allies.
The attack on educators nationwide has become so fierce and so pernicious that a groundswell of individual teacher voices joined together will continue to develop to join forces with their union voice to dispell the MYTHS and put forth the real principles of true education. The movement has to be grassroots because there is no matching of the money invested in this attack funded by huge corporate interests.
One patch of grass that has taken root is in the gubernatorial recall and the several legislative recalls with more to come. Meanwhile many of those patches of grass have grown into statewide organizations which are morphing into national coalitions that will add to the strength of our unions to make their voices heard. The People's Principles Convention will take place in Washington D.C. August 3-5 for representative groups of parents, educators, students and engaged citizens to come to concensus on principles, policies and actions regarding the most urgent issues facing public education. Visit www.saveourschoolsmarch.org for more information and to contribute your voice.