How the hell can you seriously say you are “fighting the Civil Rights issue of our time” and push for school closings, reduced curricular offerings, strict behavior management, and the destruction of teaching as a profession?
This is the how I updated my Facebook status a few days ago and it made me think of my visit to Selma, Alabama last year for the Jubilee festival. At Jubilee, my colleague at United Opt Out, Ceresta Smith, had arranged for me to present about the consequences of corporate education reform in the context of the Brown decision. This was actually easy. All one had to do was a little research to find out schools are more segregated today than before the Brown decision.
However, my main point was that the reform movement was not only responsible for the “new segregation” but that minority students were also receiving a sub par education in the name of reform.
Community school closings, charter takeovers, scripted curriculum, autocratic behavior management, school suspensions, uncertified teachers, little to no instruction in art and music, etc. This is what corporate education reform had dumped on poor and minority communities. But to me, the most pernicious aspect of this system was the way that school reform was being pushed as the “Civil Rights issue of our time.” And, according to the reformers, what poor and minority students needed was a separate and unequal education. Really?
In a few months I am heading back to Selma for Jubilee. This is what I plan to say this year.
“Citizens of Selma. Your public schools are going to be taken over by corporate education reformers that have only one goal in mind. They want your tax money and they want to offer your children an education devoid of a soul. They will claim this is what your children “need.” They will claim they are there to help and that they are fighting the new battle for Civil Rights. Do not be duped.
Take control back. Take your schools back. Do what is best for your children and your communities. It is time for civil disobedience. It is time to OPT OUT!
Opt out of the insanity of corporate education reform. Do not take their tests and do not provide the data that they will use to destroy your public school system. The true Civil Rights movement of our time is being fought by those that refuse to be a part of this new system—a system that was designed to privatize your schools and siphon your tax money and help the wealthy continue to exploit the “least among us.”
As a mentor said to me, “Dr. King did not die to have our public schools privatized!”
Follow Timothy D. Slekar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/slekar