Saturday, March 1, 2014

First Network for Public Education Conference

I will add to this post as I experience
more of this historic conference.
I had the pleasure of attending the first Network for Public Education Conference in Austin, Texas.

I see this as a historic event because it is the official organizing of the grass roots movement by people who see public education not as a private interest but as a public good.
I see this conference first and foremost about reclaiming public education from those who 

Here's what I thought of as I listened to Julian Vasquez-Helig:
  • There are two kinds of education reform. One is for the affluent and the other is for the poor.
  • Education reform in the United States is really educational apartheid.
  • What if public education perpetuates some of the worst injustices and inequities of our society? What if inequity and poverty are advanced, rather than stifled, by public education? What if public education is really the great divider?
  • Too often progressive educators who oppose Corporate Education Reform are accused of supporting the status quo -- when really they just oppose Corporate Education Reform. Progressive educators want to reform Corporate Education Reform.
  • The Network for Public Education is a movement of progressive educators who believe in public education as a public good.
Here's what I thought of as I listened to Anthony Cody:
  • Public schools are under assault by philanthropists and privateers.
  •  Teachers who join the Network for Public Education have fought and condemn the status quo of public education - they oppose the inequities and poverty that are strangling the life out of our democracy and our public schools.
  • Teachers' Unions and Associations are critically important in organizing a collective resistance to test and punish, corporate reform.
Here's what I thought of while listening to a panel with Katie Osgood, Deborah Meier, Karen Lewis and Robert Peterson:

I got to meet Deb Meier.

Deborah Meier

  • Deborah Meier started teaching over 50 years ago. Chicago. Boston. 
  • Some teachers are their own worst enemy -- we are passive and allow others to talk down to us in a humiliating manner that alienates teachers and marginalizes them.
  • Teachers need to stand up for themselves.
  • Teachers need to be outraged by the outrageous.
  • Too often teachers wait for someone else to lead the push back against the assault on public education. If teachers want others to be outspoken and lead, they have to be willing to follow and support.
  • If teachers won't stand up for themselves, how can we trust that they will teach students to stand up for themselves?
  • Poll after poll, despite all the teacher bashing by politicians and privateers, teachers are trusted by the public. 

Robert Peterson

  • Rethinking Schools is a wonderful publication.
  • Wisconsin has been a petrie dish for how governments are de-professionalizing teachers and stripping them of their collective bargaining rights.
  • What's disgusting? Union busting!
  • Three years ago, teaches walked out and students followed in support of them. Public sector unions in Wisconsin are being destroyed.
  • Only 59% of students in Milwaukee go to public schools.
  • Conflict is the midwife of consciousness. 
  • The issue is to gain political power for the 99%.
  • If we want to save public education, we have to address more than just education.
  • Milwaukee is the largest city to defeat attempts of Mayoral take-over of public education school boards.
  • We must re-imagine our teacher unions. Unions need to be far more democratic and participatory that takes up social justice for the community. Unions must not simply represent themselves -- unions must represent the students that they serve

Katie Osgood

  • Many teachers find their Tipping Point of Outrage when they see the assault on public education hurt children.
  • Lack of resources, test and punish accountability and school closures are pushing teachers to speak out and become outspoken activists for public education.
  • Katie's students are children admitted to the hospital for mental health problems. They are the first victims of the assault on public education. 
  • Children need teachers who know what they are doing and are well educated. Teach for America does not do this.
  • Unions need to partner with their community. 
  • Teachers need to use social media to organize and network. Twitter, blogging, Facebook are tools made for grassroots movements such as the fight for public education.

Karen Lewis

  • When people threaten us, that tells us something. 
  • When it comes to education, there is only one party in America - The Party of Wrong.
  • Teachers are used to following directions, but now the directions we are being told to follow are unethical.
  • Teachers are not afraid of accountability -- but they do oppose being held accountable for things out of their control.
  • Accountability for public education has been hijacked by a deficit model - test and punish.
  • Teachers are not afraid of accountability, but they are acutely aware of the costs of standardized testing and their cancerous effects.
  • The new normal: "You should be happy you have a job." This 
  • People who are frantically distracted and live in fear are easily manipulated.
  • Value-Added Measurements (VAM) is junk science. 
  • We are in the Data-Driven Dark Ages. The Opt-Out movement is the achilles heal of Corporate Education Reform.

Real educational status quo is not opposing accountability via standardized testing -- the real status quo is found in the long time reality that the affluent and powerful get one kind of education while other people's children get a different kind.

John Kuhn

  • Public education is a promise to all children -- and that promise is under siege by 
  • Corporate education reform is code for "we will educate those we choose to and leave the undesirables to public schools."
  • Focus too much on "career-ready" and "college-ready" and they won't be ready for life.
  • If our schools are sick it's because our society is sick. Schools are a reflection of our society's priorities.
  • Public education is our trust-fund -- no *one* gets to have it.
  • Free-market schools have no mandate to educate all children. 
  • Competition does not breed excellence -- if it did, our fast-food chains would serve the healthiest foods.
  • Milton Friedman's legacy in education is one of failure.
  • Teachers are the real education reformers. Those venture capitalists and distant authorities are corporate school reformers.

Karen Lewis

  • Chicago teachers are continuing the Opt-Out movement.
  • Corporate school reformers will say that poverty isn't an excuse and that poverty shouldn't matter -- which would be nice -- but they do.
  • Corporate School Reformers keep teachers, parents and students in a constant state of fear so that they can be easily manipulated.
  • Jobs contradiction - Corporate school reformers demand children be career and college ready and then 
  • You can't be neutral on a moving train. When you are silent to power, you side with power.
  • President Obama has nominated Ted Mitchell as the #2 in the US Secretary of Education. Mitchell is the CEO of The NewSchools Venture Fund. This is indicative of who is hijacking public education.

1 comment:

  1. very very thanks for getting this important post here. Education is one of the main basic needs. So education should be for all people.

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