Sunday, August 24, 2014

Reason To Celebrate: Motivation To Work Harder

It's impossible not to be encouraged. In the shadow of polls showing that the Obama Administration is losing public support for his anti-child, corporate-style, drill-and-kill education policies, education secretary Arne Duncan has announced that states will be granted the option of a one-year delay in the use of students' standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, saying, "(T)esting issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room . . ."

This comes on the heels of calls by the Gates Foundation -- financial backers and lead authors of many of the administration's education "reforms" -- for a two year moratorium on using these tests to make high-stakes decisions about teachers or students.

Think about this: we the people are succeeding in pushing back against a largely unified federal government and a cabal of many of the wealthiest people on earth. There is no way that this isn't good news, although it can by no means be considered a "win," but rather an encouraging sign that teachers, parents, and students united can make a difference. I have no illusion that this move means they are actually listening to critics or that they are giving up. I'm quite confident that they hope this delay will act as a sort of pacifier to calm us down before they redouble their efforts: a strategic retreat if you will, but not a capitulation. Anthony Cody has done a masterful job of dissecting Duncan's announcement.

These are photos from our Seattle march on the Gates Foundation from earlier this summer.

In fact, despite Duncan's apparently anti-testing rhetoric, none of the administration's policies have changed and the introduction of the federal Common Core curriculum along with it's tests will continue apace, albeit with the "high stakes" aspect put on hold for a year. Still, it's encouraging if only because we've caused Goliath to reel a bit. 

Instead of relaxing, this signals a moment to redouble our own efforts. Now is the time to take the little ground they've ceded and start pushing for a second year, then a third. Congressional hearings into the anti-democratic development of Common Core still needs to happen and Arne Duncan must resign. If you were planning to opt your child out of these tests, continue to do so. If you were planning a walk-out on testing days, still do it. If you intended to testify before your school board or picket it or run for it, now's the best time.

Children are still going to be in tears due to the undue stress and developmentally inappropriate expectations. The joy will continue to be sucked out of learning. Parents will still be panicked that junior is "falling behind." Teachers will still be expected to set aside their professional knowledge and experience in favor of the cruel experiments being performed by mad-scientist dilettantes. Children will still be laboring in the "rigor" and "accountability" mines for the purpose of lining the pockets of for-profit "education" corporations.

Anthony Cody

Still, this is reason to celebrate. There remains a long road ahead of us, but this morning it appears a little less long and together we can get there.

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