For the past decade or more, a bevy of very powerful people have savaged our nation's public schools while calling themselves "reformers." It is perfectly clear that they have no desire to "reform" our public schools but to privatize and monetize them. The Bush-Obama era of "measure and punish" has not reformed our public schools but has plunged them into unending disruption, demoralization, and upheaval.
The so-called reformers have honed their PR message well. They couldn't very well go to the public and say "with the help of some Wall Street billionaires and foundations run by billionaires, we have come to demolish your community's schools and hand them over to corporations." That wouldn't play well. So they sold their goals as "reform," even as they used the power of the federal government through No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top to close community public schools, to demean the teaching profession, and to make pie-in-the-sky promises about the wonders of choice. George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and other segregationists of their generation -- the 1950s and 1960s -- must be laughing in their graves to hear our "reformers" -- even our secretary of education proclaiming the glories of school choice.
What should we call these people who want to destroy public education as a civic responsibility? The Status Quo. They control the U.S. Department of Education and most state education departments; they control federal policy. They control our nation's biggest foundations -- Gates, Walton, Broad, Dell, Arnold and others. They have the support of media moguls like Rupert Murdoch, Mortimer Zuckerman, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos, as well as the editorial boards of major newspapers. They own NBC's Education Nation. They are the Status Quo.
What do we call the millions of parents and teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, and researchers who fight for democratic control of education? The Resistance.
We cannot be bought off or intimidated. We know that the strategies and mandates of the Status Quo have failed wherever they were tried. We fight for our children. We fight for democracy. We oppose segregation, budget cuts, high-stakes testing, closing public schools, rating teachers by student test scores, and labeling children by test scores. We will resist their bad ideas. We will resist their efforts to destroy public education. We will resist privatization. We will fight for a better future for all the children of our nation. We will not allow the Status Quo to monetize what belongs to all of us.