Thursday, February 5, 2015

What it Will Take to Win

The one thing I have learned over the past four years is the importance of keeping one's focus. For myself, and those at United Opt Out National, the focus has been strategic and free - simply refusing to take the tests.   Right now we are working on a three-pronged approach - parents refusing to allow their children to test, students refusing to take the tests (typically older students), and finally teachers refusing to administer the test.

Right now I have one fear. I fear for the future of a generation of children living in a country void of democracy.

The harm that has been inflicted is already so great and so extreme, I can't fathom allowing any more harm to come to these children.  Doing nothing  - saying nothing - is like rolling out the red carpet for privatization to occur. So - fight without fear. The fear is what is allowing them to move at such a fast pace to destroy our public schools. I'd rather go down fighting for a win, then stand fearful as they continue to strip away our democracy. 

And we could win. The revolution is in progress.

We are at the tipping point. The question will be - can we work hard enough - and fast enough to increase the momentum for opt out? Can we work hard and stay true to what is honest and in the best interests of all children? I've watched quite a few activists get lost along the way  due to ego, a shot at a career on the dark side or a chance to make a profit in some shape or form.  It can get ugly out there. And as this war on public schools picks up speed it's essential that we do not lose our focus - do not be distracted by compromises or empty debates that ultimately take away all of your time. Time is our precious commodity. I protect mine fiercely.

My focus is simple. There is absolutely no need to make this complicated. The fact that it is so incredibly simple is what frightens them the most. 

No data = no profit. 

Opt out - targeting it through parents, students and teachers is the key. We are making mainstream media these days and that coverage is the spark we needed to push this forward.  As the crowds get bigger - as the stakes grow higher - it will be very easy to get lost. Take your pulse daily and remind yourself of your focus. There are many ways to fight back - but right now - truly - opt out is the golden ticket.  Opt out saves public schools. Every opt out by a teacher, parent or student is a vote for public schools. 

Build relationships and be ready to hold up folks who are tired, bullied and fighting hard against immense pushback. Our greatest challenge is the pushback - will we be ready for this? Do you have your activist crew in place to handle the phone calls, emails, and text messages as folks are told to obey unjust laws? As teachers are told to commit educational malpractice? As children are forced to labor for the corporations and while poverty is ignored?

I plan to keep my message simple.  I opt out/refuse the tests because I have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws. If folks want to know how unjust these laws are - I am happy to provide them with information, stories, and more.

I'm ready.

The next few months quite honestly are everything. Or nothing. The next few months are an open door to save our public schools and our profession. If we do not walk through this door - fearless- and ready to fight - hands joined - then we will be in great danger. The door will not open quite so widely next time. Eventually they will nail it shut.

Now is the time to schedule your opt out meetings - meet at a coffee shop if you can't afford to rent a room. Meet at a house, or a park - whatever works. Canvass your neighborhoods. Use social media to get the word out to #defendchildren as we #optout #refusethetests. 

Understand that right now  - we will get the biggest bang for our time by getting our feet on the ground and talking face to face with those in our communities.  Because we have no money, time is our gold. Use social media to advertise and educate - but then,  meet in person to plan strategy and in order to lift one another up in what will be one of the hardest times in our activist lives.  We will need one another to get through these next few months. Stand strong and stand together.


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