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Friday, April 12, 2013


At the Occupy DOE (Department of Education) event last week, we marched to the White House on Saturday, after listening to speakers most of the day, which made for a very long day for this old lady:)  There were about 300 of us stretched along the road; our presence was huge. Our police escorts were fantastic – the cleared the road for us and took us right into the touristy area where there were thousands of people.  We marched right down the street, into the heart of the tourists, during cherry blossom week no less, chanting, singing, playing tambourines.  A man behind me talked to the crowd about education with his bullhorn. Bystanders stopped and watched, honked their horns, gave us thumbs up.  Some even joined us.  

I hope they will go home with questions about what in the world is happening to our public education system.

At the White House we did a “mic check”.  People poured their hearts out, the rest repeated their words for all to hear.  Again – bystanders stood and listened to us.  We drowned out all the other protesters at the White House that day.  I never thought I would find myself at the White House protesting for the right to have a neighborhood school – took them so for granted. People talked about many things, including how the extreme testing regime is sucking the joy out of education and wasting money that should be spent on our students.

The news continues to be bad – but hopeful because the grassroots are organizing.  The more we test, the more severe and ridiculous the tests become.  The testing companies, of course,  are making a fortune – taking it right straight out of the already-thin public schools funding.  They are now working to get bubble tests in pre-schools!  This is so the opposite of everything we ever learned in any college class, any training we ever went to as educators. High stakes testing only breeds more high stakes testing.  It will never stop until we just stand up and take this into our own hands and simply stop.

Bully Michigan state rep Tom McMillan and his cohort Lisa Lyons suggest that those who don’t want to corporatize our schools don’t care about the kids and only want to defend the status quo.  Well, guess what?  Over and over again studies show the methods they are promoting are ineffective.  Solutions such as school libraries with credentialed librarians lead to school success, not a “turn-around” school, in which all the teachers are fired.  A good library can nearly balance the impact of poverty.  Throw the tests out and bring back school librarians!

The federal government brought us No Child Left Behind and Race to the top.  The result of those policies?   Every child was left behind and our children are exhausted from racing to the top.

Dr. Diane Ravitch is a true hero of this movement.  Pearls of wisdom poured out of her mouth.  

  • Schools with low test scores have children with high needS
  •  Vouchers don’t work!   Wherever they have been tried, they have failed.
  •  Merit pay is a proven failure.
  •  The notion that we can fix schools by closing them is a ridiculous  notion that only hurts the kids.  
  •  This is not a “reform” strategy; it is a “destruction” strategy.

Next installment:  what DOES work?

Mary Valentine

P.S.  This link will take you to a speaker who shared his experiences teaching in Rhode Island.  Please repost and send out wherever you can.  The population needs to hear these stories.

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