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.

Published by educationalchemy

Morna McDermott has been an educator for over twenty years in both k-12 and post secondary classrooms. She received her doctorate in education, with a dissertation focus on arts-based educational research, from The University of Virginia in 2001. Morna's teaching, scholarship, and activism center around the ways in which creativity, art, social justice, and democracy can transform education and empower communities. She is currently a Professor of Education at Towson University.


    1. It started with SLCs and Bill Gates giving our school money to develop small learning communities , which sounded great and were . In a way . I was enthusiastic but most teachers were not. They anticipated problems I was too green to see. But a lit of of them fell into it because we had a great principal and the kids, like me , were all into the arts academies I would soon lead, reluctant because J was only in my 3rd year.
      We worked together and this was our Camelot, despite the red flags like the high costfor contiguous space, scheduling snafus and consultants paid big $$$ to help us develop community connections who who did nothing. I cannot find anything for your themes said one shrew. We were arts, VAPA and law. This is LA! I gave her the names of small theaters, galleries, studios and other possible places we could form an alliance with near the school . She typed them up, put the pages in a plastic folder with a clear cover . The title page contained some generic computer graphics.. Se did to bother find contacts much less make the connections. She said we had to do that. She gets $80k, more than I earned in a year for printing up the web pages I ave her?
      In the the first year all was contained because we had a solid leader, but even he was falling apart before we got through it. Once the district had the schools set up and the AYP where it needed to be, we got this grant.
      It was a curse. The second year our principal was gone and there was no longer any teacher driven paradigms. They principal we hired to replace him was replaced over summer by a Broadie who took credit for our accomplishments and swiftly proved to be an incompetent-bully .
      The grant paid. For crazy out of classroom cronies, pricey gizmos like a PDA and iPads for admin . There were no test incentives, no lower class size or field trips like we we were promised.
      The SLCs were propped up but merely a pretense .this principal replaced seasoned AP s with losers who had not been credentialed yet as APs They bought stuff that we never saw. They kept test scores up with eraser problems and anyone who questioned the principal and /or his nasty staff was targeted in the witch hunts. The third year kids did the Crucible for their play production. The principal wore an amplifier in his ear and stood outside our classrooms when we were eating punch. We thought this thing was a blue tooth then we caught on.
      He was creepy. He banned tampons from the nurses office. He said they could rib a girl of hr virtue . The young mothers who needed them were more worried about cheer practice. They can’t wear a diaper with these itty bitty skirts
      He started banning books we read, approved books like the Kite Runner, always Running., Catcher in the Rye. Not that he read them. He saw the movie , he explained when 86ing the the kite runner.
      When I went to a union rep, his crony, about the school closing every PC lab in the school because a building was going to be refurbished and they forgot to schedule for it, I started getting written up and my students were regularly interrogated. They had my back . The things I got written up for were insane . I assumed that much would be clear to one reading it.

      I was wrong.
      There is a long sordid tale about my exile. It is a simple matter of me doing my mandated duty to report and my principal retaliating with the district’s clear support. Due process? A joke. My union!? Sold Us out i lost my house, my truck , my beloved work and the lausd tour of duty went from the trenches to Deasy’s dungeon. Then it was war. And it is still war. War all the time. Students went back to the streets where they died in record numbers the fall after my exile.
      My credit is wrecked. I defaulted on my student loans . We left LA in my 92 escort that cost $900 . I still had my books ,the dog , and my soul.
      I cannot go back. It is not like i can stand the way things are with the deform in full bloom.. Not sure I can teach again unkess its a college gig and on line.
      This is my duty now.
      If you were wrongfully terminated, harassed, defamed, injured, ripped off or cheated, I am your huckleberry . Hit me up. We advocate , advise, find legal help, fund raise, rally, petition, inform, support, help you find a room to rent or a p/t gig. We look over papers, send you updatesabd network.
      That sounds…well, obnoxious. We are teachers in your shoes ahd we know your success is the only hope we have to make the truth known . The district is purging . Veteran teachers who cost the district about 1/2-1 million each when we retire . Agism is nit the the only motive ,as the bRoadies are disciples of unreason . The toad principal did not like me because i saw threw him. Oh yeah, had I am mixed race, reek of patchouli and write weird poetry.being an unwed mother is not appreciated in public schools. For some reason, a lit of the admin are right winging it.
      Wonder what he would have done if he were around fir our save Tookie Williams campaign. .

      And do not cry for me , Amigos because I was 38 .when I got knocked up . and now I am married. To a lawyer ,
      I AM living in the burbs and gods as my witness , we will watch these plutocrats, educRAT$ , Broadies and Rhee rotten common core answer for exploiting children who are poor . The union is no longer powerful because it we were their power and whats more, we know what the hell we are doing. Take my word for it. They will be gone sooner than later as long as we talk about it, blog about it. Rant about it. And cuss if we have to about it. Can I get a life afforming motherfuckkker, on that?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Data Disruptors

Fight The Ed Reform 2.0 Agenda

Peg with Pen

Authored by Morna McDermott-A blog dedicated to democracy, public education, and the power of the imagination

Dissident Voice

Authored by Morna McDermott-A blog dedicated to democracy, public education, and the power of the imagination

The in·ter·reg·num

A site for radical edu-science fiction


Commenting on the State of the World From Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Cloaking Inequity

A blog focused on education and social justice research

dr. p.l. (paul) thomas

educator, public scholar, poet&writer - academic freedom isn't free

Chris Mercogliano

Authored by Morna McDermott-A blog dedicated to democracy, public education, and the power of the imagination

Reclaim Reform

by Ken Previti

Re:education in Baltimore

A city mom thinks outside the sandbox.

Fred Klonsky

The thoughts of a retired public school teacher.

%d bloggers like this: