Monday, April 18, 2016

NPE Raleigh: You Are Not Alone.

I promised to write about the NPE conference and here is my first piece. I thought about how to do it—at first I was going to do it chronologically but upon reflection, I think thematically would be better.

I will begin with my big takeaway, but first a disclosure: I’m a big Doctor Who fan. So here is a clip if you want to watch, if not <spoiler alert> I’ll say it right after.

The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. His people burned up in a cataclysmic war: The Time War. The Doctor survived the final annihilation of both his people and their archenemies, the Daleks. He was alone in the universe, a lonely traveler. Until this, and he heard this message, and I adjust it for us:

Teachers, You. Are. Not. Alone.

Maybe it was listening to attorneys from North Carolina, Connecticut, and New York describing how they won lawsuits in their states regarding laws robbing teachers of established ‘tenure,’ which is really a right to contract renewal unless due process is followed regarding termination, VAM measurements which are normed, that is, the actual score doesn’t matter because the failing labels are assigned to those in the bottom percentiles by fiat.

Maybe it was hearing that every state with a constitutional provision that the state is bound to provide a free, quality public education to every child has been sued for the failure to do so. It is not only your state, teacher, the battle is ongoing in every state.

Maybe it was learning about the networks existing so that despite our great differences among our states, we are learning from one another. Successes in one state are followed up with similar efforts in many other states.

Teachers: WE. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

Parents and community activists are engaged in this fight. From Stamford to Long Island to Philadelphia to Seattle to Raleigh and Atlanta, they are fighting to save their community schools and they stand with and support teachers.

Pastors and faith communities stand in support of their community, public schools. One pastor said the racket needed to stop. He was referring to High Stakes Testing and said Jesus needed to cleanse the temple of that filth.

WE. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

The Opt-Out movement is strong and growing. Don’t believe the media reports. Parents are leading the way as they refuse to allow their children to be subjected to the abuse of standardized testing.
Attempts to divide and conquer are not working. Reformsters’ attempts to whitewash (yes, they used that word) the Opt-Out movement as a white, suburban concern are failing as many African-American, Latinos, and others are coming forward to add their voices: Refuse the test.

WE. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

We can win this fight. We will win this fight. We will restore public education to our communities. Because we are not alone. Together, standing united, it is time. Time to take back our schools. Time to end the test (more to come on that). Time to reclaim the promise of a bright future for our children (despite what the reformsters really want—more to come on that).

We can do it. We—YOU—ARE NOT ALONE.