Tuesday, July 31, 2012

They Want Your Rug. Ask TPS.

What does it feel like to have the rug pulled out from under you?  All of us know this feeling to some extent.  And when you thought the rug was your rug – and someone claims it is not, what do you do?

I have had the rug pulled out from under me many times in my life. But I have never experienced a school closing as a teacher or a parent.  I wonder - what would I do? Now I sit here in Denver seething, then crying, then seething, then wondering who I can punch or what choice words I might email to the judge who upheld the closing of The Project School or the dictator mayor who first recommended it.  Who the hell are they?  What the F&%$ do they know about TPS and the fearless and dedicated parents and teachers? Nothing.

This isn’t their rug – and they took it – without warning, without due process or any intelligent reasoning for its closure – two weeks before school starts.

Now where will the TPS family sit and gather as a community? Their rug is gone. Teachers, parents, children now reeling.

And what do we do about it?  Don’t tell me we need to dialogue with those who negotiate with children’s lives.  Don’t tell me I need to vote for candidates who represent the lesser of two evils in the hopes that this will get better.  This isn’t getting better. This is getting worse. We have children going to schools with 75 to 1 student/teacher ratio, other children attending schools in former banks next to pawn shops, children re-routed on the school bus to find their home in motels, children segregated in schools that look more like prison and parents hoping they get their CHOICE of school for their children, yet the reality is there is only choice for a few.  And we are paying for all of this – we pay for the destruction of our schools and our communities.

I am told TPS is planning to open their doors this August and commence the 2012-2013 school year some how, some way.

And while TPS attempts to pull their community back together, we have got to be louder – locally and nationally.  We have to be more strategic. We have to fight against common core, high stakes testing, value-added measure, turn around and charter/choice.  Spend your time wisely. I have grave concerns regarding time spent analyzing the “test” – why analyze? We know the tests don’t improve student achievement so move on – I don’t give a rat’s ass what these tests look like – we don’t need them. Opt out of this insanity.  I have concerns as we flurry around signing petitions, posting on FB – are we just rats in a cage – do they watch us with amused fascination, then yawn and walk away?  I have serious concerns when anyone asks me to venture into dialogue with corporate reformers in the hopes of coming to some sort of “agreement.”  Don’t be fooled. These people already have agreed to a plan – it’s simple - dismantle public education and profit as quickly as they can before we figure out we are being screwed.  No need to waste your time blabbering with them.

They know what they want.

They want your rug.

If they don’t have it yet, they will come for it soon – and they will yank it hard – because they don’t care about your well-being or your fall as your head hits the ground – they care about their ideology, their money and they protect their own.

In solidarity TPS,

Stand tall and I look forward to the day that I can walk in your doors and sit with you, on your rug, with your beautiful community.  See you this school year.  United Opt Out National is headed your way.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Eye. On. The. Ball.

Do not get distracted. 

We are looking at four key things we need to shut down: high stakes testing, value-added measure, common core and charter/choice - they lose if we shut these down.

Keep your eye on the ball. 

That is the advice I’ve received from a good friend this week whose opinion I trust implicitly.  At United Opt Out National we issued a statement. We revised the final paragraph for clarity. I haven’t commented on any of it personally because I felt that the statement by United Opt Out and the revision which followed said what needed to be said.  I have made some strong connections this week and am grateful for the many discussions that have ensued on blogs, Facebook and through those who personally reached out to me. 

That being said,

Keep your eye on the ball.

We cannot remain passive as organizations which profess to support us advocate for or remain silent in the face of high stakes testing, value-added measure, common core and charter/choice.

It is important to question those who compromise and protect their individual piece of the pie while children suffer, the teaching profession is erased and our country’s public education system is dismantled.  I will not stand by idly while educators assume Obama has their back.

Keep your eye on the ball.

It is important to continue to educate everyone on how to opt out of corporate education reform.  We must not be afraid to share with parents the opt out avenue – worrying about AYP ensures a slow and painful death – do not be afraid.  Tell the truth.  A mass opt out shuts them down. Send that message and share with your community the many ways to opt out of corporate education reform.

We must inform the public that these four things: high stakes testing, value-added measure, common core and charter/choice together are strangling us and will kill us.  Together they create a seamless road to our destruction, therefore all four must go and it is our job to make sure that everyone understands this and takes action however they can.

Keep your eye on the ball.

We can accomplish this.  Our paths will cross as we do this individually and in groups.  Some of us, such as myself, tend to be more extreme and more impulsive – sometimes I hit it just right and sometimes I miss the mark, learn from it and adjust my stance.  This is how I work.  It is who I am. Others are good at working from within – all of these positions are vital to our push forward – we each have our own strengths. Use them.

If the vulture has landed it is our job to target those areas and support those in danger however we can – we must all ask – how can we help?  If the vulture is circling we need to point upwards and make sure our neighbors see it and are prepared. If the vulture is in the distance and cannot be seen, we need to place images in front of our neighbors that help them recognize what is headed their way so that a plan can be put in place to stop them from landing.

We must be ready to attack and we must in mass refuse – however we can – to engage with the lock-step four: high stakes testing, value-added measure, common core and charter/choice.  We must opt out of these four items however we can.  When a door hanger is left on your doorstep, such as the one here, you must know the vulture is nesting in your backyard.

Do not get distracted.

Fight hard.  Do not be afraid to speak your mind.  We are running out of time. The way I see it, the next election will give us two things – a slow torturous death or a bullet through the head.  And to avoid either, we are going to have to fight harder than we’ve ever fought.

My children, your children, will inherit this and I want them to know I did everything I could to fight it with the strengths I have been given.

I will continue to hit hard – it is who I am and it is what I do best – take your strength and push forward as well. 

No distractions.  Eye. On. The. Ball.