Education Reform: A Fractured Fairy Tale

100_0600Just completed an amazing journey through the streets of Seattle with the Washington BATS and other amazing teachers, students, and activists. We marched, a few hundred strong, to the steps of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organizers were kind enough to invite me to speak. 

Here is a link to what I said at the rally: 

But a full, more complete version of what I said and (having run out of time and wanted to) but was unabale to say is here:

I came out here to the Emerald City to tell you a fairy tale. A fractured fairy tale. About the magical delusion Bill Gates and other reformers are trying to sell us …to sell us out.

Once upon a time three powerful and mighty corporate kings journeyed to the Emerald City in search of the great and powerful Oz-the most mighty and wealthy of them all. The first corporate king, Jean Wilhoit, Director of the CCSSO, was the scarecrow…who had no brains. He was just doing what he was told as delivery boy for Bill Gates.

The second corporate king was Lou Gerstner, the cowardly lion who was co-founder of Achieve, CEO of IBM, member of secretive societies like Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg, and American Legislative Exchange Council. He was afraid that not enough profits were being made off of public education.

The third corporate king, tin man David Coleman (chief architect of the common core and now pr3edient of the College Board) had no heart. He wanted everyone in the kingdom to know that “no one gives a shit” what they think or feel.

Two of these three corporate moguls hail from the kingdom of Big Data, called McKinsey and Co., and they all came to the Emerald City to ask for billions of dollars from the might Oz, to cast a spell of education reform over the citizens.

Sir Michael Barber of Pearson also from the kingdom of McKinsey and CEO of Pearson stayed behind, wielding his power behind the scenes, using lobbyists to do his dirty work ensuring that Pearson’s finger prints and profits would be connected with every facet of education reform.

The great Oz and the corporate kings understood the power of big data to control the citizens of the kingdom. Using media, advertisements and other unproven promotional gimmicks, these mighty corporate kings cast a spell over the people, lulling them into the belief that they alone could “save” the kingdom’s children.

But as the great Oz, who fancied himself an emperor, paraded through the streets the parents teachers and students all realized the emperor had no clothes.

They cried out:

Why don’t these billionaires build more schools instead of spending 2.2 million into the private prison company the GEO Group?

Why don’t these billionaires use their money to equitably fun schools instead of trying to close them?

Why don’t they support paying real teachers a professional mage instead of replacing them with TFA scabs?

Why don’t they fund school libraries instead of testing companies?

Why don’t they fund nurses, artists, and social workers instead of common Core “trainers”?

Why don’t they?

The people of the kingdom took off their emerald glasses and they saw the truth.

This fairy kingdom was built on lies. But like all fairy tales, the ed reform story is built on an archetype…a predictable script. The same script these corporate kings to privatize other public goods, services and basic human needs.

Gates funds millions to support Monsanto and genetically modified food production. Never mind the health concerns with GMO’s. Never mind they are banned in all of Europe. Gates is treating our children like GMO seeds, to be modified, engineered, and owned by corporate interests.

Gates supports fracking, investing millions in BP oil. He is fracking public education, poisoning the waters of our democracy, mining our children as his personal natural resource.

Meet the totalitarian capitalism.

Gates claims that GMO’s are safe and fracking is clean. He also claims that charter schools and common core with help our children. Remember—this is a fairy tale, taking place in the land of illusions.

But Gates forgot about something. He forgot about us. His fatal Shakespearean flaw (arrogance) is assuming that parents and teachers will behave like lobbyists, government, regulatory agencies and corporations. But we, unlike them, cannot be bought. WE will not sell our schools to the highest bidder. We will not sell our children to the highest bidder.

We cannot be bought.

And our children and our schools are not for sale.

We can break the spell cast over our society.

Our modern history tells the story of a world dominated by the powerful, by elite interests, by oppressive systems. But it is also a history transformed by refusal and resistance, by people rising up.

Today, it falls to us to rise up and take action. Education is the critical centerpiece in corporate totalitarianism to solidify its global dominance.

The same man who wants to take our land, drain it and destroy it and then sell it back to us crap…

The same man who wants to take our rights to food production, process our foods, and sell it back to us as crap…

Now wants to take our schools, poison and process them…and sell them back to us as crap.

The corporate kings need us to create their kingdom of Big Data and profits. But we don’t need them. All over this country parents, students and teachers are REFUSING the tests, denying them the data, rejecting their manufactured claims about failing schools and failing teachers, and their false advertising about “world class standards.”

We can break this spell. Say these words with me:

We will not consent.

We cannot be bought.

Our world, our schools, and our children are not for sale.

We will shut you down.

King Gates, the powerful Oz…YOU LOSE>


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.

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