Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Children are NOT Numbers: National Opt Out Day, January 7th

Teachers, as you plan how to resist corporate education reform and rebuild public schools on National Opt Out Day (Jan.7th)  - or any day for that matter - here is one way to do it - do not allow others to refer to children based on their test scores. Children cannot be called "UnSats" or "Partials" or any other label attached to a number.

It is beyond disrespectful and allows teachers to become removed from the actions they are taking, therefore, they/teachers are less likely to wake up to the pain and suffering inflicted on these children from such abusive top down mandates. If children are numbers, rather than individuals with talents, personalities, ideas, heart, pain, and joy, it becomes much easier for corporate education reformers to move forward efficiently with their plan to profit off of these children as they are tallied, divided up and scattered randomly within communities.

When the community reads about the "failing" schools and the large numbers of "unsatistfactories" where does the learner, the person, factor into that message? That story?

The learner does NOT factor into that story. The aftermath of shutting down schools, reshuffling children and destroying communities - routines - consistencies - their feelings of belonging - none of these narratives or feelings exist in those numbers. They don't care about people. People, and the stories people tell, muddy the efficiency of numbers used within the business model being implemented in our public schools

If you hear a teacher call a child an "UnSat" don't allow it, politely ask the teacher to refer to the child by name - that child - that individual - who has a heart - a will - and a desire to grow and thrive as a confident and creative citizen. Ask a question about the child and use the child's name - model the behavior and shift the culture of your school. Teachers have heart and most often will recognize the horror in designating children as numbers, but the harsh truth is that in today's schools it has become part of the culture of schools - it is common place to refer to a group of students as "UnSats." It is a shameful practice, and as a teacher who follows the Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers I believe calling a child by his or her name is one powerful, yet simple step, that can be taken in resisting from within the challenging confines of our teaching profession - currently held hostage by corporate education reform.

Resist from within - don't allow a child to be addressed as a number or label.  I will continue to add additional ways to resist corporate education reform, but the most simple way is to remember that the child is a beautiful being that needs to be nurtured and supported, not divided, subtracted, and slapped on a data wall. Call the child by name, and upon hearing that name, memories and stories of the child will come forth and remind us to protect the child, that beautiful soul,  from those who have no heart.


  1. A fantastic point to make, Peg. Realize though that this shorthand and statistical speak is the very ground of our political economy, our managerial ethos.

    Perhaps though, it would be good too to emphasize the fact that the Nazis labeled the Jews as UnSats too--first with the Star of David and then with a tattooed number.

    Or less incendiary perhaps, that prison inmates are identified by number.

    Or less still that you and a I are identified by Social Security number.

    Then the real terror of this is its seeming dailyness; no, not seeming, its dailyness. Do not "opt out"--remove yourself from it entirely.

    Public school is the very locus of this cultural instruction. Our Scylla and Charybdis--State Obedience Training on the one, Corporate Economic Statistics on the other. Unfortunately, these are only two sides of the same thing.

    Where indeed is the space apart?

  2. One conclusion of Stanley Milgram after his infamous Milgram experiments was that, the further removed a person was from a victim, the easier it was to inflict harm on the victim. Conversely, the closer a person was to someone being harmed, the more unlikely it was that one could do harm.

    It only seems logical then that we would want to trust decisions about students being made by those closest to them; namely the students themselves,parents, teachers. Yet our educational system is being turned upside down by edu-crats.

    No wonder these edu-crats only want students referred to as numbers. It's much easier to defile a number than a child.

  3. Our data coach gave us a scenario on how we could get more "bang for our buck" by providing "super-intervention" to certain students in our classes based on their test scores. When I questioned her, her response was,"This is the reality." Well, it's a reality we don't have to accept!