For Our Teacher Friends, Students, and Those Who Care about Education in America

A strategy of the policy-makers in favor of high stakes testing is to pit victim against victim, so that resistance appears as a punishment by the hands of those in our own communities. Make no mistake – this is intentional and it is vicious … and it is working. ~ United Opt Out

To update recent posts about the destruction of public education (here), yesterday I was delighted to see Stan Karp’s video and article, Challenging Corporate School Reform and 10 Hopeful Signs of Resistance. I was encouraged by the spreading national efforts by teachers, parents and academics who are working to save our American public school system. He offers background information, administration complicity, privatization schemes, and changes clearly imposed from curricula formulated by the private business sector.

Citing proposals that punish children and malign educators “currently being promoted by reams of foundation reports, well-funded think tanks, a proliferation of Astroturf political groups and canned legislation from the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC)”, he further exposes the ill-framed neoliberal plan to decentralize, destabilize, re-segregate and privatize our public schools to enrich and empower corporations to dominate and control education across America.

Alongside these efforts to change the way schools and classrooms function, a larger social/political goal is reflected in the attacks on collective bargaining rights, union rights, and the permanent crisis of school funding across the country. These policies replace with a market-based system that will do for schooling what the market has done for health care, housing, and the labor market, produce fabulous profits and give opportunities for a few and unequal outcomes and access for the many.

Stan Karp is an author and the director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center. He taught English and Journalism for 30 years, and has written widely on school reform for Education Week, Educational Leadership, and other publications, as well as co-editing several books. His esteemed opinion in this article is linked with local and national organizations who are showing that with solidarity and the exposure of misinformation and pertinent data, we can push back the corporate education “reform” movement.

One such link is for United Opt Out, an organization understanding of the intimidation tactics used by those who wish to silence teachers and prevent collective resistance. “For those educators who wish to support our efforts but are concerned over being identified with the United Opt Out movement we extend our support by advocating for actions in many other forms.”

Their mission “is to use various methods of opting out as a means to end punitive high stakes testing in public education before the right to a meaningful and EQUITABLE public education is dismantled by policies that benefit textbook companies, testing companies, and private corporations more than the communities that submit to these abusive and unconstitutional demands.”

They also endorse Occupy Wall Street with ACTION, and will occupy the Department of Education in DC from March 30th to April 2nd, equipped with a list of independent demands! Please join in their effort to make big changes in education for all Americans.

Our Demands for Public Education

We, administrators of United Opt Out National (www.unitedoptout.com), wish to collaborate with the Occupy Wall Street Movement and offer our vision for CORPORATE-FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

We believe that QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION is a democratic right for all persons. It is through vibrant and fully funded school communities that all children have the opportunity to develop and grow into happy, successful, free, and active citizens. High stakes testing functions in opposition to QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION, as it is used to punish children, to malign educators, and to provide financial gain for testing corporations and their political sponsors.

THEREFORE, WE DEMAND AN END TO THE FOLLOWING:

ALL high stakes testing and punitive policies that label schools, punish students, and close public community schools

ALL high stakes testing that ties teacher evaluations, pay, and job security to high stakes test results

Corporate interventions in public education and education policy

The use of public education funds to enact school “choice” measures influenced and supported by the corporate agenda

Economically and racially segregated school communities

“Model” legislation that provides special rules to charter schools that are forced upon public schools

Corporate run for-profit charter schools that divert public funds away from public schools

Mandates requiring teachers to use corporate approved, scripted programs that sublimate and negate authentic
meaningful learning experiences imparted by varied and rich curricula

FURTHERMORE, WE DEMAND RESTORATION AND/OR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FOLLOWING:

Libraries and librarians to all schools and communities

Teaching force educated through accredited college teacher education programs only

School buildings in ALL neighborhoods that meet health codes including clean drinking water, heat and air conditioning

Developmentally appropriate, problem-based, literacy-rich, play-based and student-centered learning, with the
return of nap, play, and snack time for kindergarteners

Smaller student-to-teacher ratio (25 or fewer to one)

Wrap around services for schools that offset the effects of poverty and social inequality, including but not limited to:
school staff such as nurses and health providers, social workers, community organizers, family counselors; free
quality community daycare and preschool programs, healthy food availability, safe and healthy housing options,
community social facilities, and after school programs to enhance learning and provide safe recreational spaces for
all  students

Fully funded arts and athletics programs

Recess and adequate time allotted for lunch

New national funding formulas that ensures EQUITY in funding to ALL public schools regardless of zip code

Requirement that a significant percentage of textbook or testing company PROFITS go BACK TO public education

Requirement that all DOE positions are filled with qualified and experienced educators

Requirement that Superintendents and school administrators have exceptional, extended teaching and
school-based experience

Bonus!
A friend just sent this gutsy Tourette’s Du Jour article from November. Killing Public Education names names and tell tales out of school. Thanks, Polly.

The Alliance for Progressive Values supports public education, our teachers, their right to collective bargaining, and the Occupy movement. Please use this information to help strengthen our schools by forwarding it to teachers, educators and friends. Thank you!
DCKennedy

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