Archive for June, 2013

globeflag

Tomorrow, in partnership with U.S. News & World Report, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) will publish the Teacher Prep Review, the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of teacher preparation in the United States.

On the even of this momentous occasion, which assuredly will lead to major “reforms” in teacher preparation colleges across the country, let us take a moment and remember who is doing the evaluating. For those of you who are too tired of reading lengthy blogs let me put this in perspective for you in short order: the majority of the board of directors, advisory board, and financial donors mostly work for (or are closely associated with) companies, think tanks and “no profits” many of which are already, or stand to gain, record profits by providing the goods and services which no doubt will be found “lacking” in higher education institutions. Their “recommendations” could easily serve as a gateway for their own companies to “partner with” or just flat out replace college of education programs. (spoiler alert: the advisory board member listed first is Sir Michael Barber; Chief Education Adviser, Pearson International).

READ ON… (all of this information can be found at their website)

For more extensive insights into NCTQ corporate interest see “Krash course on NCTQ”

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Hon. Barbara O’Brien is president at Get Smart Schools. Get Smart Schools prepares school leaders-partners with Teach for America and Walton Foundation)

Stacey Boyd is the founder and CEO of The Savvy Source for Parents, which provides education and technology consulting services to non-profits, corporations and government entities, with clients that include the World Economic Forum, the US Department of State and US Agency for International Development. In the spring of 2003, Ms. Boyd concluded a four-year tenure as the President and CEO of Project Achieve, Inc., a company she founded

Chester E. Finn, Jr. is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Thomas B. Fordham Institute and senior editor of EducationNext. Dr. Finn is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution,

Ira Fishman– founding CEO of HiFusion, an innovative education and consumer media company. Also an Aspen Teacher Leader Fellow in 2012.

Dr. Garlett is the former Vice President, Academic Programs & Professional Licensure at Laureate Education, and was appointed as Kaplan University’s first Academic Dean for its School of Education, She served as the Founding Dean of the Teachers College at Western Governors University, where she established national programs in initial educator licensure that were approved by multiple states.

Henry Johnson– He is currently a senior advisor for B&D Consulting in Washington, D.C. Partners with Defense Information Systems Agency and the Dept of Defense and the US Army

Carol G. Peck is currently the President and CEO of the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona.

John Winn  has joined the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in March 2007 as the Chief Program Officer of Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program and the UTeach program.

Kate Walsh has served as the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) since 2002. Before coming to NCTQ, she worked for The Abell Foundation in Baltimore, the Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Core Knowledge Foundation. she also started the first alternative certification program for teachers in Maryland, a project which led to her strong interest in teacher quality. The Core Knowledge Foundation is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation founded in 1986 by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

NCTQ (biggests) FUNDERS

The National Council on Teacher Quality receives all of its funding from private foundations.

Champion Supporter (above $200,000)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Searle Freedom Trust

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

The Joyce Foundation

The Teaching Commission

Lead Investor ($75,000-$200,000)

Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock

Benwood Foundation

Gleason Family Foundation

Houston Endowment

Hyde Family Foundations

The James M. Cox Foundation

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation

Walton Family Foundation

William Penn Foundation

Advisory Board

Sir Michael Barber

Chief Education Advisor, Pearson International

McKinley Broome

Teacher, Woodholme Elementary, Maryland

Cynthia G. Brown

Director of Education Policy, Center for American Progress

David Chard

Dean, School of Education and Human Development, Southern Methodist University

Andrew Chen

President, EduTron

Celine Coggins

Founder and CEO, Teach Plus

Pattie Davis

Teacher, Fairview Middle School, Tennessee

Michael Feinberg

Founder, KIPP

Elie Gaines

President and Consultant, All Schools Considered

Michael Goldstein

CEO and Founder, The Match School, Massachusetts

Eric A. Hanushek

Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution

Joseph A. Hawkins

Senior Study Director, Westat

Frederick M. Hess

Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

E.D. Hirsch

Author and Founder, Core Knowledge Foundation

Michael Johnston

State Senator, Colorado

Barry Kaufman

President, BK Education Consulting Services

Joel I. Klein

CEO & Executive VP, News Corporation

Wendy Kopp

Founder and Chairman, Teach for America

James Larson

Director of Special Projects, Educators 4 Excellence

Thomas Lasley

Executive Director, EDvention

Amy Jo Leonard

Education Specialist, Turtle Mountain Elementary School

Robert H. Pasternack

Senior Vice President, Cambium Learning Group

Michael Podgursky

Professor, Dept. of Economics, University of Missouri – Columbia

Dr. Stefanie Sanford

Chief, Global Policy & Advocacy, The College Board

Daniel Willingham

Professor, University of Virginia

Suzanne Wilson

Professor and Chair, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

matrix1

It’s that wonderful time of year again. That time in June when I can read what I want, rather than reading freshman ten-page papers and syllabi that demand I now coordinate all my courses to the new Common Core Standards. (Author pauses here to wipe the spatters of vomit from her computer screen…).

So I’m taking time to pull from my bookshelves those books that have really transformed my worldview and understanding of it. One such book is called A Sideways Look at Time (2004) by Jay Griffiths. It’s well worth the read. It looks at how our understanding of time and calendars were fundamental to the colonizing of the world by Western ideas during and since the Enlightenment era. And looking over highlighted passages a thought struck me. Colonizing bodies needed to control how other people understood, and experienced time, as a means to solidify their hegemonic actions. And it took decades, if not centuries, to really erase the sense of time and space of its non Western (and non Christian) predecessors, to create a “new normal,” which to date, most of us take for granted as “natural.”  Griffiths states, “With its dominant ideology, the West declares its time is the time” (p. 27).

It occurs to me now that what standardized concepts of time and space (i.e. clocks, calendars, and maps) were to the Western colonizers of previous eras, data collection/ownership is to corporate ownership of 21st century. This is not just happening “poof “…now out of nowhere. Dominance and hegemony don’t happen overnight, in one year, or even one decade. They operate under the slow creep of time, creating a subtle yet pervasive affect on the social mindset, and the world view, of a people. Griffiths points out that, “society begins to think in the forms it has structured for itself, linear and artificial, over-fragmented, modeling itself in the imagery of its machinery.”

Today’s obsession with the streamlining of, and collection and surveillance of data: from collecting phone records, wire tapping, cookies, FB advertising, and now children’s test scores and other private information; makes evident that the streamlined and synchronous effect of the Common Core and standardized testing mandates, demands we regulate our bodies and minds to this new generation of corporate shape-shifters until we think it a natural and normal act to do so. Even years before now, McKinsey and Co was on the trail of this idea:

Data have swept into every industry and business function and are now an important factor of production, alongside labor and capital. We estimate that, by 2009, nearly all sectors in the US economy had at least an average of 200 terabytes of stored data (twice the size of US retailer Wal-Mart’s data warehouse in 1999) per company with more than 1,000 employees.

The corporate takeover of public education, a form of profit as much as it is a form of control and social engineering, has been in the works for a while. Every generation believes it is the “it” generation. It’s the end of the world, it’s the age of Aquarius…it’s the… fill in the blank.  And they’re all equally right. Each generation is marking its own particular moment the broader sweep of this corporate movement. This is why having a historical perspective in understanding what corporate-controlled education is, how it got here, and how to fight it is so important. Know your enemy.

While other scholars might rightly correct me on this, for me, much of what we’re seeing today started back in the 1980’s…the age of Reagan. Reagan was a huge fan of eliminating federal programs, specifically the Us Dept of Education. While I’d do a jig of joy at Arne’s dismissal from that post, I don’t believe in throwing out the baby out with the bath water. Going a little farther back in time we must remember that federal oversight, or decision making, has (in its shining moments) brought us both the end of slavery and desegregation (at least on paper) of schools and other public institutions in the 1950’s. This has everything to do with everything. The free-market approach toward education today is quite possibly a long-planned scheme to essentially erase (or over-ride) the rulings of Brown v Board. How else do you explain the increase in racial segregation since then, and now even AFTER recent reforms which are ironically touted to help poor black and brown children. Instead reform policies have decimated their communities, their schools, and done anything but bring in major monies to charter school investors. The school to prison pipeline is doing quite well these days. Gentrification is the new redlining and real estate investors are “all in” on new charter polices. Poor schools or community services in impoverished areas have NEVER been adequately funded or staffed, so how can we claim that THEY’VE failed? We ignore the fact that as a society we have consistently failed them.

It was in the 1980’s that the notion of “standards” and high stakes testing were born. Sure we’ve had standardized testing ever since the eugenics movement of early 20th century, but Reagan’s folks really nailed it. They laid the groundwork, the slow creep of public acceptance, for the supposed need for standardized testing and national standards. Remember, this was the decade of “A Nation at Risk.” Among other things the report called for Standards and Expectations … and standardized tests of achievement at major transition points from one level of schooling to another and particularly from high school to college or work.

The 1980’s also brought us the birth of the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) . This was the era that rolled out the red carpet for multinational corporations to really swing their big …”hammers.” Corporate dominance met at the cross- roads of technology and things have been going their way ever since. Without technology to create enormous vehicles for data collection (both known and unknown to us) and clouds in which to store this information, corporations would not have nearly the toe hold today that they are gaining. Again McKinsey and Co. celebrates this fact:

Computer and electronic products and information sectors, as well as finance and insurance, and government are poised to gain substantially from the use of big data.

And in recent years it has become apparent to the corporations that there is big money (and big data) to be gotten in public education. It’s the land grab of the 21st century. Possible denial, in-fighting, and dissent among the ranks aside, ALEC members and corporations have played a huge role in developing and promoting the Common Core standards and other education reform initiatives (perhaps much to the dismay of their more naïve Tea party members).  Hell, even Rupert Murdoch, owner of FOX news, sold them out by creating his million dollar data- base gathering and storage company called inBloom. Without the Common Core there is no universal data to be mined. As a party, they may need to do some deep soul searching about this- a “long dark tea time of the soul” perhaps?

But this brings me back to author Jay Griffiths. The standardization of time was central to the global colonization of other cultures, countries, and peoples. According to Griffiths, “Synchronization is highly political; totalitarian states adore it, from the vast synchronized gymnastics of facist countries to the synchronized Heil Hitler salute. Synchronization illustrates the totalitarian desire to subsume the individual into the mass. It also, similarly, represents a wish to blur specific, various times into a global monotime” (p. 76)

Now, it’s the synchronization, aka standardization (and ownership) of data and information, starting at pre-K and following us through adulthood that will be the colonizing instrument du jour. “The West’s dominant attitudes to land and time are-still-the will to enclosure, a desire for private ownership and empire building” (p. 46).  One might suppose that now that most non-Western cultures have been controlled, subsumed, or simply obliterated, the corporate empire turns inward, colonizing us; not by time management and land control, but through a “datapalooza”in which all we know, or can know, via our educational system will be mediated by and managed by corporate powers.  Let me try a cross comparison and see if this works:

Griffith’s writes: “In this invisible ideology, those in power in the West have long been colonizing time by defining their time and the time-the Puritans, Newtonites, Franklinites, and Granthamites-and using their definition as a tool to (their) power; the rich seizing the time of the poor; Europe strangling Africa in slaveries past and present; patriarchal time overruling women’s time; Christians colonizing non-Christians; everyone taming children’s time.”

Now, here’s the same sentence with the names changed, but not to protect the guilty:

In this invisible ideology, those in power in the corporate world have more recently been colonizing education by defining their curriculum and modes of evaluation-the Gates, Waltons, Broads, and ALEC-and using their definition of what counts as important learning as a tool to (their) power; the data collectors seizing the knowledge and information of the children; TFA strangling teacher education programs in schools past and present; corporate-driven agenda overruling developmentally appropriate and meaningful learning; charters colonizing non-charters (formerly known as public education); everyone taming children’s time. (I kept the last sentence the same. I guess some things never change).

The standardization and control of data will do for the corporate global paradigm what the standardization of time did for the colonizers of centuries past, the effects under which we operate as if they were laws of the universe and not the social constructions that they are. Let’s look at who are the greatest cheerleaders for this educational data frenzy: technology moguls Bill Gates, and Rupert Murdoch, The World Bank, global management consulting firms like McKinsey and Co(who have volumes of papers, panels, and website space dedicated to the all mighty “big data”), and Pearson (the world’s largest and most powerful education publishing company. Not as visible but equally important are the behind-the-scenes organizations like insurance companies, RAND (the data collection and analysis non-profit), the Council for Foreign Relations and the US Department of Defense.

People hailing from the right wing like to call it “Big Brother.” They’re right… to an extent. The federal government has sold the public up the river to the highest bidder-literally.  Achieve (in a partnership with Pearson) became the purveyor of the Common Core standards after putting in their “call for proposal” following a request in which the US Dept of Education sought corporations, companies, or anyone with the money and clout, to BID on the job of designing and managing a common set of standards and the means to gather the data from it.

Books, like Tom Poetter’s The Education of Sam Sanders (2006) saw it coming. Sadly, it was intended to be a work of fiction, set in 2029. We’re ahead of schedule. As one reviewer of the book wrote: “If we do not collectively oppose such unconscionable practices now, schools may actually become like the one chillingly portrayed in The Education of Sam Sanders where teachers become mere score keepers and learning is mere memorization of facts coming via the state’s computers, instead of generated from student interest and learning outcomes internalized through engaging projects.”

My reader skeptics might be saying, “Come on, get real. We’ve been giving up data and privacy for a long time now. It’s just the way it is.” Yes, I concede I do online banking, swipe my debit card, use my social security number on applications. I utilize technology and I accept the  sharing of my data on many levels. But, I have two points of contention: First, my actions are by my choice. Requiring parents and children NO CHOICE but to give up their child’s private records in the name of standardized tests which are themselves highly questionable and objectionable is a different story. Second, just because some technology brings us convenience, efficiency, and pleasure does not always mean more is better.  Standardization, with the aim of data ownership via technological “innovations,” has the potential to be quite harmful for generations of small children. Just because we can put learning online for school age children, where they stare at screens all day inputting data, and calling this “learning,” doesn’t mean that we should. Or at least not in the record numbers that are cropping up in classrooms all over the country. The fact that organizations who developed and push for a common core of learning, and have done so wholesale across more than half the states and in every classroom, without even knowing yet if it’s even good for children, because “standardization” and more efficient “data tracking” are beneficial to their own pocketbooks, speaks volumes.

Such a movement is not merely vying for profit and control within the existing paradigm-it will completely change our global paradigm of reality. “While once you could say that time was so local that for every genius loci, a spirit of specific place, there was a genius temporis, a spirit of specific time, the history of Western timekeeping has been one of standardization and of globalization” (p. 43).

Soon, we will be saying, “Once, you could say that learning, knowledge and meaning were so local, that education embraced the situated, lived meaningful processes enabling individuals to think creatively and divergently about their world(s). Once, there was a time when learning had a genius temporis, a time of its own beyond the universal clocks of testing weeks and pacing guides. Once we had a public education system that was not wholly owned and dictated by the mood swings and interests of the corporate elite. Once, we had something called childhood.” Is that the “new normal” we wish to see?

And in this historical moment, where resistance seems both necessary and futile, I will take Griffith’s advice:

 The given choice is either look forward to the future as progress (and who could refuse?) or look backward as only            backward …it is an utterly false choice; believing there are only two choices is putting oneself at the mercy of a mere construct. Someone else’s construct, at that. When you’re given a choice of only two roads, an old saying goes, take the third. In this case, the third choice is one of neither moving forward or backwards but of looking around, not accepting that time need be a straight line at all” (p. 263).

commoncore

We have to concede that as a society we are relatively short sighted, over reliant/dependent on sound bites to formulate opinions, and focused way too much on receiving immediate gratification. These character defects extend way beyond just what’s happening in schools. As with our responses to climate change, the increasing abuses of big data and technology into our private lives, our collective ignorance to and our indifference to corporate take-over of food production, and the global abuses of human rights and the environment by corporate billionaire industries, the broader lack of understanding around what is really happening to public education is fueled by our instinct of self-interest, and a naive over- reliance on our leaders to care about what happens to us. How is this possible? How is it that can we continue to ignore the volumes of real research, facts, and plain as day in-our-face evidence that would demand we take action for our own long range collective survival?

Last week I heard a radio interview with the author of the book You’re Not So Smart by David McRaney. It lends a fascinating and much needed insight into why we think and behave in absurd counter-logical ways. In the interview the author explained that what constitutes “reality” for most of us actually is grounded less on the facts of reality and is constructed more on partially fabricated memories of events, our desires to confirm our pre- existing beliefs which lead us to (re)arranging reality to support our perception of it, and an unconscious need to feel validated and justified; even if there exists monumental evidence to the contrary. McRaney states: “You are a confabulating creature by nature. You are always explaining to yourself the motivations for your actions and the causes to the effects in your life and you make them up without realizing it when you don’t know the answers.”

It’s easier to see this in others, and much more difficult to see in ourselves. It’s easy for me to see how certain Tea Party members might believe that they are fighting for the freedoms of everyday folks while ignoring the fact that the movement was largely funded and manipulated by the wealthiest billionaires, the Koch Brothers. The theory of confabulation explains for me how a working class guy living in a trailer in Tennessee can be in favor of party policies which seem to work in direct opposition to his own interests for self preservation. How can my imaginary guy in TN share space with a political party also occupied by corporations responsible for disempowering the poor and working class like himself through deregulations that pollute his waters, strips him of (or denies him) health care for his family, and that erodes his safe and ethical working conditions? Using words that appeal to this imaginary man’s fears, hopes, and needs such as “freedom” and “individual rights,” free market billionaires spin a story in which our man is the main character and in which his “devoted politicians” have his “best interest at heart.”

But he is not alone. I state again, none of us are immune. Leaders associated with and from the Democratic Party, and other supposed “liberal” or “progressive” organizations have confabulated a dubious narrative as well. Using words that appeal to their constituents, such as “equity” and “fairness” they argue for a faith in regulation of schools, the national common core standards, testing accountability, and giant data base that tracks kids “progress” in schools as tools to help better serve the poorest and neediest of children. Anyone who continues to believe this has been duped too. Many folks want to believe this so badly that they cling to the sound bites and ignore the reality. Charter school reformers can make the grandest of claims, and Bill Gates can craft the most humanitarian speech he likes about the “value” of “big data” to rescue poor children from poverty. But the truth … looking at the facts …is that their big initiatives are actually harming the same children and communities they claim to serve. Simultaneously, to appeal to the libertarian parents these same reformers “code switch” and use language like “deregulation” and freeing communities of “government-run schools.” They use whatever language they can to appeal to all of our pre-constructed set of ideals, or our desire to want to believe that these policy makers care about us.

There has been much passionate and intense discussion around whether or not people and organizations on the “left” and conservative “libertarians” can find common ground against the common core. My answer is yes and no. First, we must get past the collective hijacking of reality. Conservative-minded people disdain “big government” and liberal-minded people disdain “big business.” But as every day working class individuals of varying political views, we might all need to admit that these bifurcations no longer suffice. While we waste time arguing with one another in personal attacks, big government and big business have run off and eloped…

Anthony Cody  did a fabulous job of summarizing the similarities and differences in the case against the Common Core from different ideological perspectives so I won’t visit that in detail here. Stephen Krashen deftly explored the false claims about the Common Core and Paul Thomas too nicely illustrates  how false claims about the Common Core lead to confabulated realities. Read all three together and you get a pretty good sense of where I’m going with this.

One hurdle to creating alliances is with the differences over basic ideological underpinnings of how society and government should function. Using a broad (perhaps over-generalized) brush I can surmise that neoliberals (aka right wing, republicans, Tea party and/or libertarians) eschew federal oversight of American life and a focus on individual freedoms. Some prefer federal “intrusion” to be minimal while others might wish for it to be eliminated completely. Conversely, a left-centered (aka progressives, liberals, Democrats, pro-labor, and/or leftist) perspective might be understood as one that values varying degrees of federal regulation aimed toward protecting a common good and a focus on social equality.

But if you self-identify as Conservative and really want to fight the common core you need to take your battle a little closer to home. Are you someone willing to be honest enough to accept the reality that members of your own political affiliations actually helped launch the policies against which you are now fighting?

And from the so-called progressive movement, we need to be rigorously honest in accepting the fact that many leaders in “pro labor” and “pro public education” organizations have compromised in the name of getting a seat at the table so much that they’ve simply sold out the rest of us.

Can ”progressives” and “conservatives” agree to disagree about the Common Core and still disagree with each other (sometimes to the point of “fighting words”) over the purpose for and value of preserving public schools? Maybe. Maybe not.

If those of us across the broad spectrum of ideologies are to work together in any capacity, we need to do more than challenge individual or party-oriented confabulations. We need a set of guiding values or principles upon which we can generally agree.

Laying agreed upon ground rules

1)      1) I will not negotiate with any individual, group, or politician (regardless of their political affiliation) who engages in a free-market, neoliberal assault on our public education system in an attempt to privatize public schools and place it in the hands of private “entrepreneurial” hands.

2)      2) I do not believe in negotiating my way to getting a seat at the big-boy’s table. Fuck their table. I want to flip it over, and start our own. And they’re not invited.

3)     3)  I do not believe in creating a large umbrella that is so “inclusive” that it waters down and compromises our resistance at our children’s expense. I don’t treat this fight like baseball trading cards, “I’ll give you teacher merit pay if you stop funding XX amount of charter schools…”

4)     4)  Let’s make sure we’re operating under the same set of facts. Perhaps because of a psychological phenomena known as “confirmation bias,” some folks are grasping at straws of “evidence” to support their idea that common core is a leftist plot of some sort. This is a prime example of what McRaney calls “creating complete lies which they then hold to as reality.” If you go visit the website of the creators and supporters of the common core you WILL find conservative-minded free-market think tanks and billionaire philanthropies and corporations, not communists and radical leftists. Truth is that conservative corporations are collaborating with their supposed “enemy”-big government-to craft the world for the rest of us in a way that serves their own interests.

5)      5) We must acknowledge that Common Core does not exist in a vacuum. It is part of a multi faceted attack on public education. Common core is a vehicle that 1) delivers the data used to discredit qualified and good teachers, 2) uses data to support a conservative agenda of union busting, 3) creates the appearance of failing public schools which can be now be replaced with “innovative” privately owned charter schools that increase racial segregation and harm economically disenfranchised communities, 4) lines the pockets of (mostly conservative) billionaires and 5) ushers in greater forms of social control for the rest of us at the hands of corporations using the state and federal governments as their personal trained homing pigeons.

6)     6)  It’s not enough for me to fight against Common Core simply because of one facet of it that I don’t like, or because of what it does to the quality of my child’s education or violations to my child’s privacy. The well-being and rights of other people’s children is important to me as much as is the well-being and rights of my own.

7)     7)  I will not negotiate with individuals or groups whose policies or behaviors are grounded in a false construction of reality crafted consciously (greed) or unconsciously (confabulation) toward their own benefits at the expense of others. I base this not on what they say, or what I want to hear, or what their policies validate for me, but by the measure of the outcomes for those most greatly affected.

What do I advocate for?

1)      The right for all individuals to have viable access to basic human resources such as healthy food, clean water, humane living conditions, and quality health care.

2)      A legitimate and secure space for all individuals regardless of race, religion, culture, sexual orientation,  or social class, to enjoy equal access to the same opportunities, human dignities, use of public spaces, and legal rights as everyone else.

3)      A democratically-led balance between individual rights and freedoms and the need for state or federal regulation to keep the powerful corporate venture (vulture) capitalists from preying upon people and the planet.

4)      The preservation of well-funded, meaningful, sustainable public school access for ALL children, a system that meets all their developmental and human needs as a fundamental necessity for the maintenance of a democratic society.

If you can stand with me against all of these tentacles of reform, and support the goals outlined above, then I don’t care what your political affiliation is, whether or not you home school or pay tuition to the toniest private school in the nation. I don’t care whom you vote for, whom you pray to, or if you don’t pray at all. I don’t care what neighborhood you live in, whether you shop with food stamps, collect unemployment, or shop at Gucci. It’s simple: rather than relying on ideology to shape how I choose to perceive education reform, I use the facts and realities of what I see happening as the result of reform policies, and principles of fairness, equity, dignity, and freedom to shape my ideology.

Democracy necessitates discord, disagreement, and sometimes even occasional incivility. I’m sure even the Founding Fathers hurled their share of “fuck yous” or “Shut up, you’re wrong and I’m rights” across the table. Democracy cannot withstand apathy, insular thinking, or silence. I’d rather learn from my mistakes than relish in my unwillingness to try. We must invite various forms of dialogue lest we become a society that separates “me and mine” from “them and theirs.” I wish to avoid the “I’m right and you’re wrong” game because that’s the terrain of extremists and hate groups, and I wish to be careful to avoid such trappings and become the thing I detest. Such philosophies have led to the greatest human injustices we have witnessed in modern history. But I also stand firm in my beliefs, and I want to avoid the traps of watered-down compromises, concessions, and selling out. So what to do?

I am to take a stand, if I am to refuse compromise, if I am to go down fighting, it will be for principles and goals listed above. Does what I am fighting for result in the maximum benefit for the most people, not just me and mine? Will my efforts lead to greater positive humane outcomes for others? My opposition to Common Core rests in this litmus test. If yours does too, then let’s dance. You know where to reach me.