Sunday, March 15, 2015

ALEC, Pearson, Gates & Opt Out Bills vs. Civil Disobedience

I am not a supporter of opt out bills. This surprises lots of folks. Opt out bills distract from the real issues. Opt Out is NOT an anti-testing movement. We support teacher-created tests, portfolios, projects - all the things that allow teachers to determine how best to support their learners. Opt Out is a social movement which gains its power through the act of refusing the tests - an act of civil disobedience which denies the government and the corporations the much coveted data.  Data is the new gold. Refusing the tests, as an act of civil disobedience, is absolutely necessary in order to restore learning to our classrooms while demanding wrap around services and equitable funding for all schools.  Opt out bills do nothing to change the inequitable conditions in our public schools that legislators continue to ignore.  If Opt Out is legal, we can be guaranteed that our schools will still have racially and culturally biased high stakes tests.  Our schools will still funnel money to corporate testing and the technology for testing - a never ending cash cow.   Our schools will still lack nurses, librarians, libraries, art, music, PE, counselors and more.  Our schools will still operate within the confines of a fear-based environment which requires teaching to the test all year long. Our schools will still be segregated and void of democracy. Children will continue to be harmed. Teachers will continue to commit educational malpractice against their will.

Opt Out as an act of civil disobedience is necessary in order to force the government to change immoral and unjust laws.  

I do not need permission to opt out. Opt out bills proclaim to the masses that Opt Out must be legal in order for parents and students to refuse the tests.  If Opt Out is legal, and all repercussions are removed, they have just placed us back in the mode of servitude to the corporations via government mandates. Nothing changes. We lose our power and we lose the mass awakening that is occurring across the country as individuals look around and recognize that our democracy is being dismantled via the take down of our cornerstone, our public schools.

There is much to pay attention to as we gain power via Opt Out. It's important to recognize that co-optation of this social movement could indeed mean the decline of the Opt Out Movement.  

ECS , Education Commissioner of States, recently came out with a document that shares the legalities of Opt Out.  ECS is funded by Pearson and Gates, among others.  As Morna McDermott so astutely shares re: ECS,  "It's a Who's Who of ALEC membership."  

So, now ALEC supports sharing legalities of Opt Out?

ALEC, who is hell bent on privatizing public schools? ALEC, who is happy to throw the peasants a bone as ALEC methodically moves forward, ever so patiently, in their plans to destroy the teaching profession and dismantle the public schools?

Why do the corporations (Pearson, Gates, GE, Waltons, State Farm, Lumina, etc.) suddenly want to share the legalities of Opt Out? And why is ECS suddenly mainstream media's fav for explaining Opt Out?  Pay attention to who shares the ECS doc.  Recognize that there is a movement afoot to deny citizens the ability to use Opt Out as a powerful strategy that can ultimately demand that our legislators change immoral unjust laws. Recognize that if opt out bills pass, and the movement is co-opted by Pearson, Gates, and all who love ALEC,  Opt Out could lose its power.

I am certain of one thing - ALEC (via ECS) would not publish a document that allowed us, the masses, to gain power. ALEC intends to take us down - all of us - the schools, the students, the teachers, and our public school communities. 

While everyone circles around the opt out bills and rallies to "protect" some of us from those punitive measures enforced via federal mandates, know that the privatization of public schools will continue. Many children will continue to be harmed. All children deserve to be protected. ALL children deserve an equitably funded, democratically based, anti-racist, desegregated public school system that prepares students to exercise compassionate and critical decision making with civic virtue.  

Why would we settle for less?

The public will continue to be distracted by messages of "legal" opt out while ignoring poverty. Opt Out is an act of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy.  

If Opt Out is legalized across the country, the necessity to change laws becomes less urgent. Folks will be appeased for a bit, allowing those who privatize to continue to move forward methodically as they push forward their long term goals.  They are happy to appease us from time to time - it's no skin off their back - they're still slowly dismantling our democracy and making billions as the data continues to flow ever so freely, via common core standards and high stakes testing.

Are we opting out simply to protect our own? Or, are we opting out in order to create a fundamental shift in our country? A shift which demands all for our children. A shift which restores democracy and humanity.

As opt out bills come to fruition, pay attention to who supports them - which powerful organizations are suddenly jumping in to ride the wave of Opt Out? Which individuals have appeared out of nowhere? How might supporting Opt Out SUPPORT them in keeping a seat at the table? Granted, there are many good folks who support opt out bills, including many of my allies, but there are also many folks keeping their seat at the table and using the bills to defeat a powerful social movement that demands all for all children. 

Who knew Pearson and Gates wanted to share with the country how folks can go about opting out? Pearson and Gates, via ECS, are now the "voice" for opt out?  How might they benefit from this?  The love is overwhelming.  Sucks the air right out of you doesn't it?

Eyes Open. Wide. Do not let this movement get co-opted


  1. Laws do NOT GRANT fundamentals rights! (ie Parental Rights)

    Laws are written to PROTECT fundamental rights from governmental overstep!

  2. Thank you Peggy, for the reminder. You weren't surprised, were you? You told us to expect it! How disgusting!


  4. Co-optation is the name of the game, always has been. Another term for "co-opted" is "duped." It's the easiest and least expensive control mechanism, and it has been immensely successful.