Posted: December 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


Is your state or school district a cautionary tale?

There are few ways that you can tell if you are:

Is your new school leader or state superintendent that is a graduate of the Eli Broad program for school reform?

Has your state rolled out the red carpet for Race to the Top?

Is your school district or state inundating its teachers with million dollar dog and pony show training sessions on the Common Core led by outside corporate interest like Achieve?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you might be a cautionary tale.

The value of cautionary tales is that they have the potential to warn others not to make the same mistakes. You’re the person who has a powerful message to share with others about what to avoid later in life.

So many teachers, students, families, and communities in this rabid era of reform have cautionary tales to tell. And it’s vital that we share them as a public service to those who might still avoid the same fate.

For example, Jefferson City, MO is a “finalist” for the Race to the Top Funding.

That’s like being a finalist for a firing squad–  Not much of a reason to jump and down for joy. But so many school districts don’t know this because all they hear is “how great it will be” to receive the millions of dollars and so they are not compelled to fight back.  It’s better to ask the people who have already been sucked into the RtTT machine if you want to know what will really happen. Talk to and listen to the people in the trenches, who have already been on the firing line. If you want to know what’s going to happen, ask them for their stories.

Ask them, “What happens to that money? Does it go to fund new arts programs, clean drinking water, a playground or air conditioning for our schools? Or, (more likely) … does it go to fund the initiatives themselves, in the form of some million dollar coupon to buy Pearson’s products which the schools will now be required to buy or use?”

Anyone familiar with certain recovery models for substance abuse can tell you the power of “one addict talking with another.”  The Surgeon General might tell you on the pack of a side of cigarettes that smoking is bad for your health.  Programs abound telling us to “just say no.” Valiant efforts indeed; but there’s a more tremendous power in one addict sitting down across from another addict telling them their story. Why? Because here is someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. Because they know what it’s like to have these experiences.  The hope is that by telling you what happened to me, that I might be able to help you evade the same fate.  And fellow suffers can relate to one another in a unique and effective way.

Or, in simpler terms, as Randy Pausch tells us, “”Don’t tell people how to live their lives; just tell them stories, and they’ll figure out how the stories apply to them.”

So while research and scholarship abound informing the general public about the problems inherent with accepting RtTT, new teacher evaluations, Common Core, and new testing measures, maybe what will prevent this pernicious underhanded corporate reform train in its tracks is for those who have suffered as a result to share with others what will happen if they don’t stop before it’s too late.

If you have a story to share about how corporate reform has harmed you, your children, your students, your community, your teaching or your profession please share it here.

Tell them what happened. What were the warning signs? What would you do differently if you had the chance?What do you wish you had known before it was too late? What do wish someone had told you?

My goal is to dedicate this blog entry to the comment section-for YOUR STORIES. We can share these stories with folks like those in Jefferson City, CO. We can share these stories with those for whom perhaps it’s not too late.

If you want to know what’s going to really happen if keep smoking you don’t call Phillip Morris and expect an honest answer. You ask the person with lung cancer.

If you want to know what will happen when new education reforms pave their ways through your school, don’t ask the people paving the high way. Ask the teachers and children lying on the side road like road kill.

Please, share your stories here in the comment box. Keep them anonymous if you wish. Just tell your story. And I will share their stories with every teacher, parent, school leader or community member willing to listen. Don’t let what happened to you be in vain. Put your experiences to good purpose.

Speak out.

  1. Kris Nielsen says:

    Yes, my state qualifies. I continue to give it as much exposure as possible, too.

  2. [...] ARE YOU A CAUTIONARY TALE?. [...]

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