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Our Demands for Public Education

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We, administrators of United Opt Out National (www.unitedoptout.com), wish to collaborate with the Occupy Wall Street Movement and offer our vision for CORPORATE-FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

We believe that QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION is a democratic right for all persons. It is through vibrant and fully funded school communities that all children have the opportunity to develop and grow into happy, successful, free, and active citizens. High stakes testing functions in opposition to QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION, as it is used to punish children, to malign educators, and to provide financial gain for testing corporations and their political sponsors.

THEREFORE, WE DEMAND AN END TO THE FOLLOWING:

    • ALL high stakes testing and punitive policies that label schools, punish students, and close public community schools

 

    • ALL high stakes testing that ties teacher evaluations, pay, and job security to high stakes test results

 

    • Corporate interventions in public education and education policy

 

    • The use of public education funds to enact school “choice” measures influenced and supported by the corporate agenda

 

    • Economically and racially segregated school communities

 

    • “Model” legislation that provides special rules to charter schools that are forced upon public schools

 

    • Corporate run for-profit charter schools that divert public funds away from public schools

 

    • Mandates requiring teachers to use corporate approved, scripted programs that sublimate and negate authentic and meaningful learning experiences imparted by varied and rich curricula

 

FURTHERMORE, WE DEMAND RESTORATION AND/OR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FOLLOWING:

    • Libraries and librarians to all schools and communities

 

    • Teaching force educated through accredited college teacher education programs only

 

    • School buildings in ALL neighborhoods that meet health codes including clean drinking water, heat and air conditioning

 

    • Developmentally appropriate, problem-based, literacy-rich, play-based and student-centered learning, with the return of nap, play, and snack time for kindergarteners

 

    • Smaller student-to-teacher ratio (25 or fewer to one)

 

    • Wrap around services for schools that offset the effects of poverty and social inequality, including but not limited to: school staff such as nurses and health providers, social workers, community organizers, family counselors; free quality community daycare and preschool programs, healthy food availability, safe and healthy housing options, community social facilities, and after school programs to enhance learning and provide safe recreational spaces for all students

 

    • Fully funded arts and athletics programs

 

    • Recess and adequate time allotted for lunch

 

    • New national funding formulas that ensures EQUITY in funding to ALL public schools regardless of zip code

 

    • Requirement that a significant percentage of textbook or testing company PROFITS go BACK TO public education

 

    • Requirement that all DOE positions are filled with qualified and experienced educators

 

    • Requirement that Superintendents and school administrators have exceptional, extended teaching and school-based experience

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Our Demands for Public Education

 

    1.  

      There is no doubt that the high stakes testing is and has been an anathema to having the schools most people would want for their own children.
      However, by having such a long list of demands, some of which not all agree with, could be counterproductive.
      I can’t oppose all corporate involvement in education; where would we be without Apple, Smart Technologies, Texas Instruments, ETA, and legitimate textbook publishers. In some areas, community run charters are an alternative to a corrupt, bureaucratic LEA.
      If we can affect the testing, a lot of other things will follow.

       

       

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          Peter- The short version of a very complex answer is that a dangerous “conflict of interest” exists when vendors who sell items to an entity also are the ones who evaluate the effectiveness of their products, determine the entity’s need for their products, and influence the crafting of legislation and reform policies that are focused on the use of their products.

          Such power would be dangerous in the hands of the purest of mankind, and those who are driving corporate expansionism are no saints.

          I agree that some individuals may actually (theoretically) believe in what they are doing and the products that they urge us to use. Many others, however, are “reforming” education because it is economically best for the companies that they represent. From a business point of view, being generous and ensuring that our classes have access to their technology today guarantees mega-profits in the future.

          Regardless of their intent, the corporations listed above are not educational experts; they are businesses which are legally/ethically bound to maximize their profits for their owners/shareholders. We must not forget that.

          When those with leadership powers ignore the broad base of education research and listen more to those who stand to profit from an action than to acknowledged experts in learning, we have a serious problem…

          We have failed to recognize the important difference between education and business and the roles that each of us play. We are not consumers. We are conveyers of knowledge and developers of student learning skills. We must not allow ourselves to become irrevocably entrenched by a technology or business-based ideology; we must be free to adapt as we, the experts, see best for the students. Unfortunately, by altering the way that we are educating our children, and basing this change on the new technologies and funding being provided by our new corporate partners, we are doing just that. We are digging ourselves deeply into a narrow trench that leads into an unchangeable and unfortunate direction.

          You ask where we would be without the companies that you list— I say that when you look higher up the corporate ladder and explore the broad consequences of all of their actions, the answer may surprise you.

           

           

  •  

    Brings back memories of why I started teaching, can’t believe what we, as teachers, have to go through everyday and the stress we have to endure on getting our students ready for “the test”!! What happened to depth not breath, hands-on instruction, and teaching kids to think?

     

     

 

 

  •  

    This is a great first step for letting everyone know how oppressive the testing has been for all students, but particularly for populations of color and from diverse language communities.

     

     

 

  •  

    I fully support this effort. But college teacher education programs are housed in universities that are no different than the corporations you criticize. Same paradigm. Look, if you are opposed to Teach for America and other similar programs, then just say it. Otherwise, I believe there are intelligent, committed and very experienced people who will help create the schools and education you advocate for on the website, but who are not coming out of accredited teacher education programs.

     

     

 

  •  

    I support all of these demands. These are the thoughts and points I have been making for the last several years, all put together in this document. Taking corporate involvement out of schools does not mean never using corporate-made products. It means ending the influence of corporate America and the “business model” of education that is promoted by those corporate people so that we can get back to the “human resources model” of education. We are working with CHILDREN and FAMILIES, not business people and profit. In the past, they would not have ever been related fields. Thank you, Opt Out, for getting the movement going!!!!!

     

     

 

  •  

    I agree with much of what you’re supporting, but some of these demands make you look hopelessly naive. For instance, schools are funded primarily by local property taxes, leading to great inequity for schools in poor communities. Do you have even a ghost of an idea about how this could be remedied? What exactly are you even asking for, who would do it, and how?

     

     

      •  

        Sandra- I certainly understand what you are saying about some of the demands looking hopeless. It can be so frustrating at times.

        However, I strongly disagree that demanding such things is inappropriate. The fact that tremendous inequities in our public educational systems exist due to our reliance on property taxes is true. Such practices, when not equalized through other funding sources, is wrong on so many levels. But rather than use this as a reason to give up, this fact must be acknowledged, addressed and overcome. Without demands (such as ours) that insist on equity in funding, the issue remains silent and unchanged.

        The same points that you are making now are the same ones used against those who fought against slavery. The economic structure and moral code of entire parts of society had to change in order to stop this practice. It seemed impossible. And yet, even this was able to change.

        If it were easy, it would have already been done. Eventually, however, even the seemingly-impossible can be achieved.

        Naive? Definitely not. It would be far easier if we were naive! Believe me when I say that we fully understand the complexities and forces involved, the changes that are necessary for our demands to be met, and the resistance that we face. We also know that our actions are just one of many that are needed to achieve real change.

        However, knowing how long and hard the journey is must never prevent us from taking the first steps- Not when reaching the destination is so important.

         

         

 

  •  

    Are you seriously proposing that all US Department of Education positions be filled by former teachers? What does that even mean?

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