Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yelling from Who-ville. We Will Be Heard. Occupy the DOE in DC.

You’ve already heard the Whos in Who-ville haven’t you? 

The Whos were always there, while many of us basked in the Jungle of Nool, In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool…

Yet, it’s not so easy to bask these days, because once you have heard them in Who-ville, you cannot turn away.  Their voices, while often quiet and hard to hear, will chill you to the bones and rattle your world.

Here are a few of the voices that have been loud enough to be heard.

Mark Naison shares the voice of a principal: “Every Friday,” the principal said, “students in the school start crying because they(‘re) afraid they may have little or nothing to eat all weekend. The only time they know they are going to have three meals a day is on schools days.”

Mark Naison shares the voice of a teacher: “Our very well-liked principal, . . . conveyed the information he'd received from his superiors: the City intended to change our school to a Turnaround Model. The implications were not completely clear, but it almost certainly meant that we teachers and our supervisors would have to re-apply for our positions to come back in September 2012, and around half of us would not be re-employed. This news was shocking and deeply distressing to us. We have done everything we were asked to do by State and City. We have learned and implemented new technology for the classroom, spent hours in Professional Development, devoted an hour a week to working in Inquiry Teams, decorated our classrooms with student work, differentiated instruction, and redesigned all our lesson plans to introduce the Common Core Curriculum. We have done this conscientiously despite the doubts many of us had as to the efficacy of these innovations.”

A teacher who wishes to remain anonymous states, “I tried very hard to see both sides right up until about a year ago. Then, what used to seem like alarmist, drama-queen conspiracy theories about the hidden agenda to dismantle public education became undeniably true. I am aghast every day that no one seems to notice or care. I have been labeled as having a negative attitude in my building because I don't support goals that are solely based on one test. I have been saying, "if not me, then who?" for a long time. Now I think my days are numbered.”

The tiniest Whos are hard to hear, our youngest children, who suffer at the hands of those who care nothing for Who-ville, and pretend that Who-ville doesn’t exist.

But those of us who have heard the Whos know…

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

Once you hear them, what you hear, and what you know, makes it necessary to keep listening.  Your ears and eyes are open now. The distant whisper becomes a roar and soon you hear them in your sleep.

Yet the clock keeps ticking. One more learner drops by the wayside due to poverty.  One more kindergartner is held back a grade based on a standardized test – and now, that child, labeled a failure, begins to head down the school to prison pipeline. One more great teacher quits. And so we desperately say, “Yell louder!”

I know there’s a person down there.  And, what’s more, Quite likely there’s two.  Even three.  Even four.  Quite likely…a family, for all that we know! A family with children just starting to grow…..

In the meantime, the news just keeps flooding into Who-ville. Ravitch gives NCLB the Death Star.  Children continue to be required to sit in chairs and test test test, hours upon hours, weeks upon weeks.  Their test data is sold to private companies.  But does everyone hear? No.

We say, “Yell LOUDER!!!”  Meanwhile our democracy continues to crumble. 

What is everyone waiting for?  Does someone out there really think Gates will have a change of heart and listen to those horrible teachers?  Does someone really believe that Obama and Duncan are going to see the light and admit that RTTT is a complete nightmare?  Do we really think that any of them are willing to admit they are wrong – especially when doing so will cost them billions of dollars as well their own status as political game changers? Does someone truly believe that they are done profiting off of our children?  They won't be done until they have dismantled the entire public school system.

“What terrible splashing!” the elephant frowned.  “I can’t let my very small persons get drowned!”

No one is going to come to our rescue.  And by not speaking up, by not telling the truth, we continue to hurt CHILDREN.  By playing the game that the 1% has created, children are hurt, every day, in our public schools. 

The Wickersham Brothers came shouting, "What rot! This elephant’s talking to Whos who are not! "

The 1% pretends that Whoville doesn’t exist.

“All I heard,” snapped the big kangaroo, “was the breeze, And the faint sound of wind through the far-distant trees.”

But, we know that 1 in 4 children live in poverty.  We know that they are using these state test scores to dismantle our public schools, and destroy the Whos in Who-ville.

Find a way.  Find your voice in Who-ville.  And let it be known - high stakes testing is child abuse.  Attaching teacher pay to student testing is akin to child labor.  Leaving children to suffer at the hands of poverty – while telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps - is evil. It’s too hard to watch.  Too hard to stomach. We need to be heard in Who-ville.

They don’t hear a thing!  Are you sure all your boys Are doing their best?  Are they ALL making noise?  Are you sure every Who down in Who-ville is working?  Quick!  Look through your town! Is there anyone shirking?

Occupy the DOE in DC this March 30th to April 2nd or occupy your state’s DOE and get loud.  Opt out of corporate education reform.

Everyone in Who-ville is waiting on you.  We will be heard.

"This,” cried the Mayor, “is your town’s darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
To come to the aid of their country!” he said.
We’ve got to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

We are waiting for YOPP.

Credit for all book quotes in italics: Horton Hears A Who!  By Dr. Seuss  And for those unfamiliar with the book, YOPP is the final word - spoken by the final Who in Who-ville which finally gets them heard!!!!


  1. This is fantastic! I am sorry it took me several days to read it.

  2. I write a column for my small town newspaper. I try to send the same message, but not nearly so eloquently. May I quote you? I have a new hero.

  3. Bill Norris - you most definitely may quote me. I would be honored! And I would love to see your column and forward it on to people - email me at In solidarity Bill Norris!

  4. Thanks Peggy! I use the moniker One Texas Teacher, so all of my previous columns are at I also have a Facebook page called One Texas Teacher. I would be delighted if you visited.
    I am noticing a lot more teachers and parents from all over the country are starting blogs and are starting to speak out more. Maybe we could band together somehow.