Why are Teachers so mad? Because education is dead
It may not be as well known as the Zimmerman trial or the fallout from the SCOTUS’ most recent term, but teachers across the country are angry, so angry they are organizing and planning what appears to be the beginning of a full revolution within education. What is bothering us so much? After all, get weekends, holidays, spring break, and summers off; we do not have a reason to be angry. WRONG! Our profession and our passion is being threatened.
Since the publication of “A Nation at Risk,” there have been innumerable ‘reforms’ in education. These so called reforms have stripped education of its essence and of its soul. Education was formally a creative adventure between a teacher and their students through a world of imagination, exploration, discovery, and most importantly a passion for discovery that lasts a lifetime. Through these adventures children learned social and emotional skills which are vital in success as an adult. Students learned the intrinsic value of skills such as grit, dedication, and perseverance. I often relate what education used to be, to an episode of ” Magic School Bus,” learning was all about getting dirty, making mistakes and having fun!
Education as we knew it is dead.
We now have a 13 year long test prep system comprised of arbitrary standards created by non educators and forced upon children and teachers by the federal government who was paid by private corporations to kill education and replace it with this, anti-education. Anti-education is the murderer of passion, dedication, imagination, exploration, and fun. Mrs. Frizzle has been laid-off due to budget cuts like the ones in Philly to make room for a brand new prison and she has been replaced with a ill-prepared young adult who had a summer of crash course training. These ill-informed TFA recruits should really take the advice of Katie Osgood. Instead of adventures through learning guided by their teachers, students are now audience members of scripted pedagogy to instill basic working skills needed to support the very corporations and their friends that killed education.
” In a recent study, America was out ranked by ___ on standardized tests in math and reading.” is often the most we hear about education in our daily lives. Corporations like Pearson, McKinsey & Co, and Microsoft have used these headlines to lobby the government at both state and federal levels that a national set of standards should be made and forced upon schools in order to save our country from doom. These corporations found the best way to make millions, while ensuring their elite status is not threatened, and they will continue to reap the pleasures of an ignorant workforce. They make millions by partnering with lawmakers to develop the tests to measure the standards created by groups funded by themselves to ensure that children master skills needed to solve basic work related problems, but not enough to see the game they have been forced to play without a rules sheet.
The corporations made a grave mistake in their plot. Teachers teach because of a passion for learning and children, not money, not test scores and not to make a well trained herd of sheep for the next big multi-national corporation. Teachers have been grumbling for years over the implementation of harmful standards, over testing, and the death of education and rise of anti-education. The government and corporations stepped up their PR campaign to drown out these grumblings and further disguise these reforms as asked for by the industry.
The government and business industry will have to get a lot louder if they expect to drown out teachers today. The revolution gained steam in the fall of 2012, with the strike of Chicago City School teachers over budget cuts, poor school conditions, and school closures. Rarely in history have we seen impassioned teachers walk away from their classrooms in mass to create change, but Chicago did it and the nation stopped. The nation stopped because the brave teachers of Chicago faced Goliath and struck him down with the might of their hearts and voices as they mourned the death of education, and celebrated its resurrection in the near future.
The nation’s teachers watched Chicago with pride and frustration. Pride that Chicago teachers spoke out, frustration because they feel alone in indignation within their schools. Within weeks, we realized we shared the anger of the present and passion for change that Chicago teachers displayed and began not murmuring, not even talking, no; we began to organize.
Teachers saw the full extent of how districts and leaders have become puppets of corporations. We realized that the focus is not on teaching and education, but on assembling workers. We saw the markings on the desk, budget cuts leaving us without simple resources like pencils and heat for classrooms, raping the arts programs for every dime, to provide tax cuts to business and build more prisons to hold disenfranchised students and the newly jobless, laid off teacher.
Most recently, the Badass Teacher Association (BATs) was formed and has quickly become a powerhouse in teacher’s fight to kill anti-education and resurrect education. The group started with a handful of Facebook members, within two weeks gained more than 20,000 members, and grows daily. BATs is the next step in the education revolution. BATs has filled the need of educators nation wide to discuss the issues, organize a network of local and national actions, and it has the size to force attention. BATs founding cause, “This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning” speaks to the anger shared amongst thousands of teachers that is now turning into action.
Teachers are mad, no, we are pissed off. Teaching is an art of love, compassion, and self-sacrifice for the betterment of children and our great nation. Teaching is a passion that few have, requires skills most can’t dream of possessing, and demands what even few can satisfy. Without teachers, we would not have the country we have today. Without us, you would not know how to read or write. You would not know how to construct a sub-prime mortgage scheme, or create a cure for cancer. Teachers have lost respect from the nation, and more sadly, themselves. Alas, we have awoken! We have seen that we are more than script reading, test pushing slaves of the attempted privatization of education. We are the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters of tomorrow and without us, you won’t have a country to live in! We are people who work tirelessly day and night to ensure the future citizens of this country know what it means to understand written language, apply math in day-to-day life, and even more importantly to love one another, to have determination and grit. We are the people setting the foundations of what the country will become and you cannot take that from us. You cannot buy it, because it is not for sale.
Corporations and lawmakers take heed, we are a nation of Badass teachers, and you will listen to us. You will end the buyout of education, you will deliver the magic bullet to anti-education so that we can get to work in resurrecting education. For if you do not heed our calls for change, we will change it without you. So I leave you with homework- review your history. Chapter 6 on the civil rights movement and Chapter 12 on the Arab Spring. The test is tomorrow and it won’t be multiple choice, so get ready.