Teachers, 'If Not Now, When? If Not You, Who?'

Silence is sometimes called a virtue. Silence can also be deadly.

I remain convinced that teachers and administrators are in the most vulnerable of positions during this destructive reform movement based on high-stakes testing and so called accountability. I remain convinced that any form of resistance to the market-based reform narrative being thrust on schools will be met with swift repercussions. However, I also remain convinced that if teachers and administrators remain silent, they are committing professional suicide.

In the past I talked about the need for parents to lead the movement to regain control of community-based public schools. I still believe this to be an effective strategy in the fight against the so called "reformers" of public education. However, it is now time for teachers and administrators to join with parents.

I know I'm proposing an action that requires much courage and may result in some teachers and administrators losing their jobs, but what are the alternatives?

  • Class sizes of 40 or more children.
  • Value Added Measures used to determine teacher effectiveness.
  • Reduced resources for classroom instruction.
  • Community school closings.
  • Devaluing graduate education and professional development.
  • Destruction of collective bargaining rights.
  • Wage reductions.
  • Benefit reductions.
  • Elimination of tenure.
  • Scripted curricula
  • testing, testing,testing, testing, testing, testing.

The "reformers" are dismantling the very foundation on which educators have structured their professional lives. They have convinced the populace that "crappy" teachers are to blame for all of America's problems and that their proposed reforms will somehow restore America's economic superiority. The "reformers" are waging a public relations war against teachers, administrators, and public schools -- and they are winning.

The attack on teachers, administrators, and public schools is no longer subtle. Governors in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Wisconsin have blatantly attacked the public school system. In fact, according to Tennessee State Senator Jim Summerville, "We will bend public education to our awe, or break it all to pieces."

As a teacher educator, an elementary school teacher, and a parent who believes in teachers, administrators and public schools, I urge you (teachers and administrators) to make your voices heard now. Follow the lead of John Kuhn. Your communities and children need you now!

Those of us that boycotted NCLB took a risk in support of teachers, administrators, and public schools. We had no idea of the possible repercussions, but we knew it was our only option. Civil disobedience is the only answer. Is this too much of a burden to put on teachers and administrators?

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