Carol Burris has valiantly rallied her fellow principals in New York to oppose the state’s test-based evaluation system created in response to Race to the Top. Carol is principal of an exemplary high school in Rockville Center, New York. Some readers responded to her latest post by saying, “look, it’s over. They won. Live with it. Make the best of it.” I hear this all the time: Stop fighting. The train is leaving the station. Resistance is futile. Carol answers here:I sometimes feel like giving up...and have said so on this blog, at least once. The "reformers" have the money and the power on their side. We have the numbers and research on our side, but the truth is, money runs the country. Nevertheless, when I read what Ravitch, Burris, and several of the commenters wrote, I realized that it's our obligation to keep trying...no matter what the odds. Hey, I'm a Cubs fan...I'm used to "not giving up in the face of adversity."
I will continue to put my energies into bringing this awful system down even as I seek to protect my teachers from it as best I can. There is nothing that the creators of this system would like more than for us to ‘make the best of it’. The ‘make of the best of it argument’ was what inspired MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. I am so glad that King wrote that remarkable letter and did not take the advice to slow down and make the best of segregation.
Here is the comment I added to the conversation...
I get discouraged a lot easier than I used to, but I know it’s important to keep fighting. I got into teaching because 1) I believed in public education, 2) I believed I had something to offer children, and 3) I wanted to be the kind of teacher who I needed (but didn’t always have) when I was a student. Since I have retired I have been volunteering in a local elementary school for one-on-one tutoring and I still believe in what I’m doing…for the same three reasons.
In addition, however, I try to encourage my former colleagues working in the school at which I volunteer. I blog about public education policy (though vent is probably a more accurate word). I also run blogs/web sites for two active local teacher unions, two local retired teacher organizations, and a local community group made up mostly of parents and retired teachers.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but, in my opinion, we can’t give up. As long as we know that our children…and usually our neediest children…are being hurt by current education policies we can’t be quiet. We owe it to them, our grandchildren, ourselves and our nation to do what we can to fight against the privatization and/or destruction of public education.
If we believe that every child deserves a free, appropriate public education…
if we believe that a free, adequately supported public education system is important to a free society…
if we believe that we are capable, as a nation, of providing our children with such an educational system…
then we are obligated to do whatever we can to see that it’s restored, and sustained.
I do it by working with a few students, reaching a few readers, helping out former colleagues and supporting organizations who are working towards the same goals.
If we really believe that public education is important, we can’t give up.
Stop the Testing Insanity!