Monday, May 9, 2016

Priorities for Education Organizing in the Midst of a Presidential Election


Although many people's eyes will be on the coming Presidential election, it is very important to recognize that many of the most important struggles that shape our future will be taking place at a local level, sometimes uniting people who disagree on Presidential politics. Toward that end, let me suggest a few directions for local organizing in the field of education policy, where opportunities exist to put an end to the destructive policies that have been unleashed on the country in the name of "School Reform" since No Child Left Behind.
1. Stop Charter School Expansion. Charter schools have been presented by leaders of both parties as the solution to educational inequality. They have failed miserably in that regard. Worse yet, they have legitimized abuse of students and families, discrimination against ELL's and special needs students, and destruction of hard won labor rights of teachers. Charter schools need to be investigated, and when appropriate, disciplined if they are guilty of corruption and abusive practices, not expanded.
2. Investigate and remove Eli Broad trained Superintendents. All over the country, School Districts have hired Superintendents trained by the Eli Broad Academy who promote data driven instruction, test based evaluation of schools and teachers, and reducing of parental influence in management of school districts. At the very least, these Superintendents should be put on notice that their methods are unacceptable; if possible, they should be removed from their positions. This is another reason why it is important for coalitions of parent and teachers to take control of local school boards and push back against the "Reform" agenda which has done so much damage.
3. Put the nails in the coffin on VAM and the Common Core Standards. Two of the pillars of the Obama administration's educational policies have been test based teacher evaluations and adherence to the Common Core standards. Our schools will not be free of political interference until BOTH are defeated. In every state, keep pushing for policies that eliminate centralized data gathering and data management. Teachers should be making up standards and making up tests, not Corporations.
4. Resist any attempt to make students sit in front of computer terminals all day so that their performance can be evaluated more easily and their "progress" monitored by authorities outside their school buildings. Not only does this approach violate their civil liberties, it poses serious dangers to their health.Students must be allowed to move, to express themselves, to interact with teachers and one another during the vast majority of their school day. Competency Based Education sacrifices student on the alter of national data gathering. It should be nipped in the bud before it gets institutionalized.

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Jesse Turner said...

I would add that fighting for equity for Black, Brown, and poor public schools is essential as well. Inequity in funding has plagued our public schools since the very beginning. The mask that provides cover for what Jonathan Kozol identifies as "Savage Inequalities is inequity for over a hundred years has been testing. Testing provides that smoke and mirrors hiding racist education policies. It keeps the public eye off that fact that America has never done right by Black, Brown, and Poor children in our public schools. Public Education history provides an abundance of evidence testing policies have always exacerbated inequality in our public schools. Let me be very clear testing masquerading as education reform is merely a policy of forcing Black, Brown, and Poor Public Schools to compete for planned scarcity of resources. Inequity is injustice in our public schools and is simply immoral.
Sincerely,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

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