Why I Speak up...

Fellow activist, Cheryl Masterman (right), and me in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.

I never thought I would be put in the position that our government and members of both political parties have put me in. For years I was just busy in my classroom, working with my wonderful students in our great public school district. I cherish those memories. Today I have one job that helps feed my family (which I still love) and one that is a labor of love. I spend much of my free time learning about the attack on public education, worrying, and trying to teach people about it.

 Not that long ago my eyes were opened to the concept that has invaded each and every American public school: 

The Hidden Agenda Behind 21st Century Learning

You may not have heard the term public-private partnerships, but in education you know them as charter schools. And they are strategizing to take over the vast majority of the American public education system, and to profit off of our tax dollars.

So why would a middle-aged teacher with two kids of her own heading off to college in the not-too-far future put herself out there to fight for public education? Let me tell you through this experience:

Last week, a dear colleague and I went to see the play, Exit Strategy, in Philadelphia. It tells the story of, " ...a dilapidated public school in Chicago targeted for closure and the power struggles that ensue among the faculty and students desperate to keep it open."

As I read through the Phillymag review of Exit Strategy, I felt myself shifting in my chair. Reviewer, David Fox states, "But the bigger picture is, indeed, a bigger picture: the importance of salvaging education for any and all students who aren't able to attend private or top-tier public schools." 

I felt a pit in my stomach because Mr. Fox, like so many of us, misses the point. He misses the bigger picture. We have been fed a steady stream of "Our public schools are failing" lies, and we never even realized it. Mr. Fox, with ADR (all due respect) here is the bigger picture: 

Our schools are targeted for closure and the faculty and students are desperate to keep them open. 

Google it, or just click here.

 Even our "top-tier public schools" are being impacted by open market greed and questionably designed corporate education reform ideas. I should know. I live and work in one. For years I heard about the implosion of our neighboring Philadelphia school district. I understand the challenges my colleagues there face; intentional financial starvation of schools, students struggling with poverty, hunger, homelessness, addiction, violence, and more. Yet for quite some time I didn't realize that we are all in the same boat. First they came for the inner city schools, next they will come for ours. We all must stand together.

There is a line in the play that really resonates with me. "If you don't fight the monster, you become the monster." Corporate education reform, opening the education market, and constant churn & disruption are the monster. And they are here.

That is why I speak up. 
Will you join me? If not now, when? 

A comment from this Diane Ravitch blog post.


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