I’ve been gone a while from the blogging scene. Some of my more regular readers no doubt noticed but did not hassle me about it.
Thank you for that.
Since my brief but intense time in the sun (and subsequent rapid flame-out) I’ve been lurking in the shadows; watching, waiting, and contemplating.
It’s nice not to feel “the panic” anymore; when things don’t go as I expect them, or “the guilt” when I can’t tackle every issue that arises fast enough. I was in constant stress trying to keep track of every doing of every person. No one can do that; not for very long and not very well. For a while I felt like I had some control over things, but if I did it was short lived and that torch needed to be passed onto fresher runners.
I’m glad to see so many folks stepping up and really making their presence felt, like Ganey Arsement and his blog Educate Louisiana, and so many folks who never left the fight (too many to list individually and if I tried I fear I would leave folks off) for local public education controlled by the folks that understand it best: teachers, students, and parents.
Michael Deshotels has also continued to pound out some good material at Louisiana Educator and if you haven’t followed his blog yet, (or Ganey’s) and you care about Louisiana and public education, you really need to do that right now.
BESE member Kathy Edmonston from district 6 continues to be the only elected board member not beholden to corporate interests. She is a staunch fighter for the rights of children with disabilities and a caring person. We may not agree on every issue 100% (but who does?) I believe we are a stronger state because of her care and advocacy for the children, parents, and teachers of our state so thank her if you see her out an about. (A heartfelt thank you is about the only take home pay you get for that job.)
I’ve watched our former BESE member champions, Carolyn Hill, Lottie Beebe, and Mary Harris) (who were defeated by absurd amounts of corporate dollars and well timed lies) continue to work as forces for justice and good in their communities. I’m sure they were disappointed by their losses, but I can imagine they have a lot less stress burdening their shoulders now as well. Their loss was a loss for our state but I hope it was a gain for them personally.
We have way more many good folks in Louisiana than bad, but being around politics and politicians for any length of time will make you forget that.
We are good people. . . for the most part (though we have our flaws to be sure.) I think most folks (even many education reformers) want to improve education for our state and our students – unfortunately many Ed Reformers are young, inexperienced, and are from foreign lands and cultures (like New York and Nebraska) and have been brainwashed by sophisticated propaganda machines to harness their skills in ways that are disruptive to our communities and destructive to the lives of our schools, families and children.
Some of these young people think they are helping and they want to help. Most haven’t been taught to respect us and it does not appear the intent behind the organizations that send these kids here was to have them help without harming us.
Unfortunately more than a few just want to improve our perception of our education system to improve their own personal outcomes. Many see their brief teaching stints as stepping stones to bigger and better things. These malignant and profiteering Ed Reformers will use the “crisis” that brought them here (and any additional “crisis” they can find, luck into, or create) to justify their need to control us. No good crisis can ever go to waste. They use a “crisis” as supporting evidence to show that we need outside intervention and can’t take care of ourselves. In moments of weakness we all must learn to recognize who our friends are who are our foes and to reject the “help” from those just seeking to help themselves.
Friends give you a hand up so you can stand on your own and don’t reach in your pockets for payments or leach onto you for their support. Foes stand on your back and tell you they are helping to support you by keeping you out of harm’s way. That is what the New Orleans Recovery School District became – a boot to the backs of the people of New Orleans and then Louisiana (yeah it spread.) Education Reformers have tried to sell this boot to our backs as a helping hand up (not by actually helping us recover but by spending millions of dollars in propaganda, slick advertising, statistical subterfuge, and phony research produced by shills bribed with phony grants.)
Would they need to do all that if their solution was working? Would they need to outspend their opponents 100 to 1, even a 1000 to 1, if people loved their ideas because they were working? Would they need to lie to get elected, hide data from independent researchers, ignore their failures by directing people to illusory gains?
Of course not, but reformers don’t need to attain any goals to toot their own horns. For education reformers failure is just another opportunity to blame someone else and import a new expensive idea to enrich yourself or your colleagues. From each each turd of failure shed by an Ed Reformer, a new flower of opportunity is waiting to be grown.
But I’m not the first to point this out. Pointing out Ed Reform’s failures only seems to embolden them more. If you try to bring up a “current failure” they will claim that the root cause is the result the “status quo” – and things would have been much worse if not for their timely intervention.
What’s amazing is they may be right now! What most folks don’t know is they or their meddlesome allies have been in charge the entire time in one form or another. It’s quite an ingenious strategy. Create a mess; invite yourself to clean it up, create more messes for yourself or others to clean up, blame any failure to clean up messes on predecessors (you/allies) and deflect the attention that should be focused on your failure as a need to do some new and expensive untested things someone saw posted on reddit.
As long as there are willing patsies to play along in the media and bumbling millionaires and billionaires to pick up the tab this makes an Ed Reformer almost impregnable to any form of critique. As I mentioned before, criticism actually seems to make them stronger because it highlights whatever crisis they will be trying to take advantage of next!
So I say give up.
They can’t fix anything (of course) and I’m not sure they’re even trying. Fighting them directly seems to make things worse and can be ever so tiring. Who needs that? Not me.
So I’ve decided to ignore them. Now if someone asks me a direct question about them or their policies I will still explain that they are incompetent (perhaps intentionally so) and that I have zero respect for them. I mean, I’m not going to lie. But the only reason they have any power is because they make get under people’s skin and make waves to get attention. . . and we give it to them, like the spoiled children their donors and media whores (I’m looking at you Campbell Brown) have made them!
Why cater to their egos by giving them the time of day? It just inspires insipid hero worshippers like Peter Cook to martyr and memorialize them in writing (and probably song and a Haiku or two.)
So my suggestion is you go about your daily business and take care of your families. Help your kids and the teachers and schools that work with you, but why put up with those folks who only seem to want to hassle you?
If the Louisiana Education department (or your local department of education) threatens you, ignore them. They are just acting out; trying to get your attention. If everyone shows them complete disdain and refuses to cooperate what can they really do? Shoot us? Take our lunch money? Education reformers have gone out of their way to exclude teachers and parents, so I say let them support the system on their own. Their money can only go so far and right now they are using it as leverage on the entire system from the top down. We need to force them to spend from the bottom up. They have more money than us, but there are way more of us than there are dollars to buy us off, and these are our kids.
So what do I mean by ignoring them?
- Don’t put in those “mandatory hours” your charter school tells you are requirements for your child remaining enrolled. Charter schools get waaaaay more money from local donors and out of state grants than public schools and it’s time they started spending those dollars on the children they are chartered to serve, not themselves.
- If you don’t like the tests, have your kids bubble in random things so as not to get excluded from activities – just don’t tell the principals or their teachers first if you suspect they won’t let you opt your child out. No matter what your kids do LDOE will spin it positively and some teachers might even bubble in the correct answers for your kids, so why sweat it?
- Don’t like some of the Common Core math and it stresses out your kid, make fun of it and find creative ways to answer the more absurd questions or simply cross them out and tell your kids to skip them. That’s actually what I do. “I got the answer from my brain and made my pencil write it.” is my old standby for the “explain 3 ways in dance and song how you derived your answer” questions. For some questions that seem legit but just poorly worded or where the foundational material was not taught first (multiplication or geometry anyone?) I go over those topics in some detail until my kids get it (or they beg me to stop and my wife makes me relent.)
- If the state takes over your school, abandon it. Don’t enroll your kids, don’t help them get restarted.
This is not an exhaustive list of course. I’m sure you can find plenty of ways to do less in your community without even trying! But I would ask that you please continue to support those administrators and teachers who work with you at the local level. If they are bucking the system by not doing what they are told they must do by idiots, then you need to help them with their “not doing” too!
It may be passive aggressive, but that’s the point. Education Reform has become a game to them complete with scores (tests, school rankings, etc.) and winners and losers. They are not trying to help us, so why help them not help us? Have you ever tried playing a game with a bunch of folks who don’t want to play? It gets pretty old and miserable pretty fast. Even though the deck is stacked against us, as long as we fight they have fun using us, our schools, and our kids as game pieces and they get pumped and virtually fist bump each other when they “beat” us.
All this earns from me is my contempt.
Maybe eventually they’ll get the hint and move on to where their crisis mongering will be more appreciated and profitable and we can move on with the real work of educating our families and building our communities. If nothing else, at least we don’t have to provide them with any further entertainment at our own expense.
Just a thought.