I spent the weekend in Austin with about 500 dedicated advocates of public education who were there for the sole purpose of sharing their dream that all children should be recognized as unique, capable individuals regardless of the false indicators produced by standardized tests. Active and retired teachers, professors, parents, grandparents, school principals/superintendents, school board members, activists and elected officials at every level were all represented.
The Network for Public Education, formed by well-known education historian and author Dr. Diane Ravitch and a group of determined activists, hosted our first annual gathering. Our primary goal was to collaboratively craft a path FORWARD in our quest to bring power to the real truths about the successes of public education, our professional educators and our nation's youth.
We have spent enough time and experienced too much angst as the targets of a well-financed campaign supported by corporatist elites that would portray our students, teachers and schools as failures. We have successfully raised our collective voices loudly backed by evidence, research, and experience as opposed to the millions of $$ that have perpetuated the hoax that privatization is better than democratization. We have seen that although $$ can buy souls, it cannot buy hearts. The love and respect that our parents and teachers have for all children can mount and sustain a powerful force.
So now we will focus on "telling our stories" more than countering their false platitudes and empty rhetoric. Each and every one of you have a treasure trove of stories - life experiences - that illustrate best what real learning should and does look like and at the same time reveal the contradictions of the failed policies of No Child Left Behind and its rebirthed Race To The Top.
I will tell a few of my stories in this blog and will be glad to share yours. If you are a practicing teacher and want to share anonymously to ensure the privacy of your children or students, I will be glad to honor that. Share your every-day experiences that will shed light on how and when learning REALLY takes place or how learning can be subverted or high jacked by policies created and mandated by those unqualified to do so.
Below you will see the first action to come out of our gathering. It is a call for congressional hearings to investigate the misapplications of high-stakes standardized testing. What we have been asked to do is nothing short of child abuse and neglect and we believe that an honest investigation will result in an end to the practice. You can help by sharing this with your policymakers, legislators and neighbors. Tell them your story!