A Handbook for the Education Revolution ….It’s Here


An Activist’s Handbook for the Education Revolution

United Opt Out has crafted a book accessible to parents, teachers, and activists. What can you expect? An “Education Reform 101” for those looking for a comprehensive history of how public education got here, a personal narrative from our organizers describing our journey to build a movement, research-driven explanations about how test-driven “reform” is designed to destroy public education, and a brilliant Forward by Ricaro Rosa… But wait! There’s More!  Each chapter includes an “Activist Workbook” to help readers build their own local efforts.

The scales are tipping and we CAN dismantle harmful corporate-driven policies that: 1) use high stakes testing as the cornerstone to privatize public education, 2) treat children like data bites, 3) bilk tax payer dollars as their personal saving account,  and 4) re-segregate and colonize urban communities in the name of “choice”. They have millions of marketing dollars — but if you want the facts, you can find them here.

Here are some of my favorite passages:

“Today, as we face this redistribution of wealth firmly rooted in neo-liberalism and facilitated by the bi-partisan political attack on public education and collective bargaining, it is right to fear for the future of both. What has been passed off as a friendly and symbiotic merging of public and private is actually a hostile take- over by a systemic force that has never acted in the best interest of people of color, women, or laborers. The use of the achievement gap between non-whites and the impoverished and their white counterparts coupled with this pseudo-philanthropic market-based reform effort utilized to take over public education completely via the erroneous notions of ‘accountability’ and ‘choice,’ is driven by them.”

-Ceresta Smith

“Data is a power and a weapon that is being used again public education. However, the administrators of UOO say that the absence of data is also power. It is also the one weapon that we can use against our ed reform opponents.”

-Laurie Murphy

“When reformers claim that opt out is only against testing they are trying to set the boundaries of the debate.  The same is true for those who critique opt out for not offering an “alternative.”   What they are trying to do is maintain ownership over the conversation.  In their world, it is simply a conversation about anti-testing and pro-testing; this makes opt out a non-nuanced position against testing with no alternative—nothing to replace the standardized tests.  This is crap!   They frame the debate as only two positions and to try to paint opt out as a single dimensional, anti-testing movement. ”

Tim Slekar

“I firmly believe that the decision to teach (at a subconscious level) is a choice to pursue social justice, to inspire children to find their passion, to make a small difference in the world, and to nurture children’s ability to become a part of this democratic society. Did we all know that we would be fighting for resources not only for the schools in which we taught but for all schools? Absolutely. Did we all know there were glaring inequities in the system to which we were committing ourselves? Without a doubt. Did we understand that this incredibly challenging and rewarding job would be difficult? Definitely. Did we ever believe in our wildest imaginations that a few individuals would change the landscape of teaching so dramatically that we would be called to become what some would call “radical” in order to defend authentic assessment, teacher autonomy, equitably funded neighborhood public schools, and a positive and appropriate learning environment? Unequivocally, no.”

-Rosemarie Jensen

“We also share this book in the hopes of showing the human side of this work. Corporate reform has no human side – they have only greed, ego and power.  Our side – the ethical side – is one of humanity – we have heart, we make mistakes, we play, we work hard, we care for others – we care very much about our country, our public schools, and America’s children. We care so deeply, that at times, we are driven to do things that place us in harm’s way. But, our relationships with one another carry us through these difficult times – and that is what activists must always do for one another. Hold hands tightly – together – we can lift one another up.”

Peggy Robertson

“If the amount of money that has gone into the hands of the testing industry complex had instead gone to answer the needs of  deprived schools in the urban districts, MA would indeed be living up to the reputation of being number one. Massachusetts has the opportunity to return to the policies that helped the state established itself as the leader in education by abandoning the corporate agenda.  It can be the voice that cries out in defense of all the children by denouncing the measures  that are creating a dual system of schooling. ”

Ruth Rodriguez 

For more, visit the publisher website.

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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