How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Have you ever come across a saying that seemed new to you, but then once it developed personal meaning it felt like you would never stop hearing it repeated?
I’ve been hearing this elephant joke a lot these days, but it’s never felt more appropriate to me personally than right now. My personal life is facing a little upheaval to be sure, but so too are the education deform and pro-education movements. Things seem to be spinning out of control for both sides. People may be switching sides. What was bad may be good? Are enemies becoming friends? I really can’t figure out if some people are being crafty, sincere or unbelievably stupid. I’ve given up trying to figure it out but I put little stock in words these days. Actions by those n the position to take them is what I will base my final judgments on.
But back to my elephant eating analogy. I’ll be honest. I can’t always keep up with the demands on my time. It almost feels like I’ve been paralyzed into inaction, but it’s more than that. With so much going on, so much happening so quickly, it’s hard to know exactly where to apply pressure, which topic to address, what post I might write that will have unintended consequences and tip the balance the wrong way. . . When I first started writing it didn’t rally matter because no one read what I wrote anyway 🙂 and I had no allies (that I knew of.). Now things are different and I feel like I should be doing more, but the equations are much more complicated now. Sometimes doing something, just because something needs to be done, is not the right answer. It’s precisely that mindset that is the root of much of the horrible policies and decisions being made right now, and its that mindset that I’m so adamant about fighting.
Paul Pastorek, John White’s predecessor as Louisiana Superintendent of Education, told my colleagues during one of his departmental meetings/rallies that public education was facing an imminent crisis of epic proportions and we needed to act. There was no time to analyze the problem and come up with the best plan or best diagnosis. Rather than readying our rifle, carefully aiming, and firing, he told us, what we needed to do as a Department was just shoot! There was no time to ready or aim anymore. Shoot often, and hope for the best. That seems to be the same way the current superintendent of education, John White, operates too. The problem with this approach and analogy, obviously, is that you probably won’t fix the problem, you almost certainly will create enormous collateral damage, and even if you hit your target, how will you know and how will you replicate your success? This is the scattershot approach of the entire untested reform movement of which Common Core is just a symptom of a larger diseased mindset. Shoot first, shoot often, take no prisoners and define your targets after you hit them.
I have been doing more watching and listening than acting and speaking. Fresh perspectives often lend themselves to improving clarity. There are a lot of very determined parents and eloquent speakers leading the charge against the Public education “Reform” privatization movement these days. II’ve learned a lot from these folks and I’m happy to see a few success now and again. What saddens me, and often takes the wind out of my sails, are the failures that keep building up in the face of our relentless grassroots counterattack.
We have won the information battle.
We have won the public opinion battle.
We have the moral high ground since we are fighting for our children and those opposed to us are fighting for money, power and prestige.
Despite our irrefutable advantages we are still losing on too many fronts – in my opinion. I have well over a dozen articles to write but I am in a place where I wonder. . . Will I ever be able to write enough to address all the problems or reach enough people to make a difference? Money and power seem to be more important than right and wrong.
Whenever I start writing an article I can’t help but second guessing myself and wondering. Should I be spending my time writing something else? There is just so very much to cover, explain and address.
When given a chance to speak to folks directly, I much prefer that. I tend to drift around from topic to topic, but I cover a lot when speaking and I can respond to specific questions and concerns. This weekend I was asked to speak at an Anti-Common Core Rally down at the State Capitol. I promise not to speak for the entire time, I’ll probably only get 10-15 minutes before the long Sheppard’s hook whisks me off the stage like one of my bygone heroes of old.
In this format I won’t be able to answer a lot of questions (or perhaps any) directly, however if you would like for me to visit your group just drop me a line sometime or give me a call and we can work something out – I’m sure. My e-mail addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org or jasonfrance@Hotmail.com
Here are the details on the Rally:
Join us on Saturday, June 14th, 2014 from 9am to 12pm at the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, as we rally to keep the control of education with the parents and the local school districts. We’re asking that Governor Bobby Jindal remove Louisiana from Common Core and PARCC, and we are asking for the removal of State Superintendent John White.
June 14th is Flag Day. Bring your flag, bring you kids, bring your family. This is a statewide event open to all those in favor of keeping education Constitutional.
And here is the Facebook event posting for the Rally.
I was also asked to be a guest on WBOK radio in New Orleans with Raynard Sanders at 10:00 am June 16th. I will be discussing the latest test score release and the scandal that was revealed about the State Department of Education asking employees to directly alter the test scores for charter schools and the Recovery School District. You can listen to this broadcast online as well ass over the radio if you are in the New Orleans area and you can call in with your questions during the broadcast if you like. . .
As for that elephant? I will start chewing away at him this week.
I hope if I chew slowly and deliberately enough I can begin to make a real dent in this sucker. . . or at least get his attention.