Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's the Rush?

Tonight, as I had hoped to relax and go to bed, I decided to check out the Oregonian's opinion page. When I read Keep School Reform Moving by the editorial board, I felt outraged as a public citizen whose voice they were encouraging to ignore. Isn't this America? Isn't this the land that values free speech and democracy? Well, then what was going on here? What's with the push for education reform at the expense of the democratic process?

I believe it is fear.

Recently, the state has been holding public input meetings around the state. Most in attendance have voiced serious concerns about the waiver and ed reform plan put out by the OEIB and the Governor. It seems like those who want all this corporate ed reform stuff to succeed recognize that it may be slipping from their control. They are hearing rumblings of the public who don't want to be sold a faulty bill of goods. They are realizing that the public is starting to see that the Emperor has no clothes, and they know they need to move fast or all is lost.

The following is a letter to the editor that I wrote in response to "Keep School Reform Moving."

Letter to the Editor:

Wow, after reading "Keep School Reform Moving" where the editorial board wants to quickly push through the Governor's and OEIB's education reform plan, it is obvious that the editors of the Oregonian seem very afraid. What are they afraid of? They are afraid of the public voice.

Afraid of a voice that asks questions and holds their leaders accountable. Afraid of a voice that stands up for their rights---and the rights of their children. Afraid of a voice that wants their schools to be kept public rather than privatized. Afraid of a voice that respects and values its teachers and their union rather than wanting to bully and control them. Afraid of a voice that demands a well-rounded curriculum rather than constant high-stakes testing and narrowing of curriculum. Afraid of a voice that demands funding of a quality education rather than doing more with less. Afraid of a voice that recognizes that poverty has a huge impact on a student's educational success rather than ignoring poverty. Afraid of a voice that demands smaller class sizes rather than large class sizes. Afraid of a voice that demands to know costs rather than hoping it will all work out with much thought to details. Afraid of a voice that respects and values local control rather than state control in education. Afraid of a voice that wants all schools to be equitable and respected rather than labeled as winners and losers. Afraid of a voice that values collaboration, not competition. Afraid of a voice that trusts its teachers to evaluate and assess their students' performance and success rather than testing and using excessive amounts of data collection. Afraid of a voice that values checks and balances rather than unilateral decision making. Afraid of a voice that demands public input rather than ignoring it.

This plan may go forward, but it will be a failure without parent, teacher, and student approval. At recent state public input meetings about this plan, the public spoke loudly and clearly: they are very wary of this plan for the above reasons.

Go ahead: ignore the public voice that stands up for what is right. In doing so, this voice will only grow stronger to a point that it can no longer be ignored.

The next OEIB/NCLB waiver input meetings will be held on Monday, Jan. 30th in Pendleton, and on Tuesday, Jan. 31st at the PCC Rock Creek Campus. This will be another great opportunity for the public voice to be heard. Hope to see you there.

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

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