Today, on September 11, what I feel deeply is that we are again under attack. It is not a swift, flaming, explosion with fire and smoke and screaming voices. It isn't bombing and visible devastation. No, it is more insidious and creepy. James Madison said, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” And he’s right on.
I’m supposed to be finishing work on Right-Brained Fractions, but ever since I saw the news about the Special Education Mandate the other day, I have been suspended in a world where time doesn't exist. One thing I read led to another, and to more until I can hardly sleep at night for feeling the horror sink into my very being. What I have read simply cannot be true! Or can it? I wake up in the night asking myself if I made this all up.
While I have been going through my life, working, gardening, cooking, creating product for kids who need images and body movement in order to learn, hanging out with my family, some pretty creepy and just plain wrong stuff has been going on.
I say my naiveté knows no bounds because for the past decade, my conviction was that once the word got out that 65% of our children learn best via images and not symbols, suddenly we would have a uprising of people who joined together in support of our visual, spatial, kinesthetic children and embraced the idea of offering them what they need to learn successfully. Of course doing so would mean being proactive as we use materials and approaches that are different from what the schools dictate our children are taught with. And that is scary to do because “they” are the experts after all. They are supposed to know more about how my child learns than I do, right?
I imagined that once administrators in schools saw how their failing students could excel once they had what they needed – visual tools for learning – suddenly we would be able to make a greater impact on the thousands of children who are failing, are defeated, have given up, have resorted to acting out because they are sick of being singled out as the weirdo who can’t learn.
But guess what? Guess what I have realized just like a punch right in my gut? It isn't that people don’t know better. It isn't that administrators need to see an alternative to what they are using with their kids that are failing. It isn't that there is no money for good supplies. NO. It is not at all about the kids and what they need, it is not about the teachers not being competent, and it is not about trying to make our schools an emotionally safe and healthy environment.
Because I am by nature an optimist and sanguine, it devastates me to have to face the fact that there is deep and ugly corruption at the very top. That corruption is oozing and sliming down and down and blanketing our children, suffocating them. Oh, and on the way to our children? It is delivering a death knell to our schools, demoralizing our teachers, and putting our children’s parents in untenable situations. Parents now have to try and make up for the damage that is being done to their children in school …the very place children are supposed to be able to go safely every day to have their hearts and minds expanded. A place where their gifts should be encouraged to blossom and grow.
But that is not what is happening.
Here are the facts:
In my business I hear complaints almost daily about the lack of money for school resources. And yet it is not about lack of funding for good educational supplies! It is all about how the available money is spent. “New York officials signed a $32 million five-year contract with Pearson PLC's subsidiary, NCS Pearson Inc., in 2011 for its Common Core test merchandise. Pearson, a British consortium, is the world's most influential purveyor of educational supplies and holds numerous contracts with New York and other states. Texas, for example, is paying Pearson $462 million for its five-year contract.”
My reason for writing this blog post is pretty simple.
Our children are being hurt immeasurably. The only way we will change our children's situation is when we realize that America is OUR country and when we demand what we want. We pay for our children's education, and we pay the wages of every single person who is making decisions that directly impact us without asking us what we want. We are not frail and helpless and not yet without a voice! If we don’t like what we are getting, if we don’t like getting what we didn't ask for, if the product we got for our money is unsatisfactory, we need to refuse it!
Last I checked, it still is OUR country. And I am so not political, but I simply cannot remain silent on this one. If we don’t like what is happening, we must act. If we are not heard, we need to fire some people starting with Arne Duncan. Along with firing Arne Duncan, we need to break every contract with Pearson and Microsoft. I don’t want a British publishing company controlling our education system!
Today, on September 11, what I feel deeply is that we are again under attack. It is not a swift, flaming, crash with fire and smoke and screaming voices. It isn't bombing and visible devastation. No, it is more insidious.
Let’s wake up; let's get informed! Let's exercise our right to know how OUR money is being spent and on what. Let’s say no and stop and shut up and go away ! There are many people and organizations that have been calling for Arne Duncan’s dismissal. Let’s join them and make sure it gets done.
Next, let’s look at our own leadership in our own states. Let’s get rid of any other person that has his or her hand in the cookie jar and who is choosing against us. Let’s exercise the rights we have and make an educational system that is truly FOR the benefit of our children.