Undoubtedly, I’ll receive some pushback from fellow educators on this piece. Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice an ominous tide emerging out at the sea of education reform. This potential tidal wave of unregulated criticism dangerously resembles the likes of an Occupy ______________ protest. Even if the message is worthy, the tone of the messenger is becoming more and more counterproductive.
Opponents of the CCSS and high-stakes testing need to cautiously tread the line between sophisticated, researched –based critiques versus populist, conspiratorial rants. If left unchecked, the arguments against the so-called corporate take over of public education, albeit true or not, is going to taint the valid concerns of all educators and parents alike.
Putting aside the message and it’s delivery, what exactly is the ultimate end game, anyway? Are we to throw the baby out with the bath water? Are we to shun for-profit partnerships within public education? As a public school teacher, am I not supposed to use my smart board or any high-tech apps because they have a corporate logo? Am I to use chalkboard and chalk, or white board and dry erase markers only?
We cannot go back to the 20th century. There IS a need to redefine how we educate a tech-savvy generation of students. Many of us – educators –were not born with iPads or iPhones, so I can understand the reluctance to change. But, if you don’t meet the students where they are, then you will risk losing them. Why? Well, because our students live in a flat, technological world. There is no denying that fact.
Therefore, there IS a need to reform instructional practices, at the very least, to include the use of technology in classroom. To suggest otherwise would be foolish and disconnected. Those who incessantly bash the corporate world “agenda,” all the while tweeting on their iPads or iPhones, are falling for the irrational “it’s us versus them” narrative. This is an extremely dangerous shift. In order to maximize teaching and learning in the 21st century, don’t we need to use technological products? Do we really believe that taxpayers’ monies, alone, is sufficient enough to fund tech-ready classrooms and schools?
*** Side Note: This is NOT the part where you insert the 99%-ers argument about the uber-wealthy. As much as I can agree that we – the U.S. – need a fairer income tax formula, shouting about injustices, alone, doesn’t necessarily change the realities on the ground. ***
Please understand that I’m not parroting a message, “brought to you by ____________, Inc.” I’m genuinely concerned that the cause, i.e. a need for more bottom-up education reforms, is becoming tainted by unfettered anger. Education independents, or moderates, need more than the 24/7 all-you-can-tweet rants about the corporate take-over of public education.
So, again, what exactly is the endgame for the anti-CCSS movement? What exactly is the endgame for the anti-charter school movement? Are you asking for an end to high-stakes tests, or an end to the CCSS aligned, or not so aligned, high-stakes tests? Are you asking for an end to teacher evaluations based on VAMs, or teacher evaluations altogether? There needs to be a clear, concise agenda if the cause is to remain valid. If not, the message risks treading into the conspiratorial echo chambers of social media. There’s a thin line between love and hate, but the line between a great cause and a grandiose conspiracy is even thinner.