Standing Up for Children and for Freedom of Speech

bats-351As we approach the New Year, I am more and more grateful for the existence of BATS United Opt Out and Lace to the Top. Every day, I read, or am sent, stories of teachers being intimidated by administrators for speaking out against new curricula and evaluation methods, and micromanaged to the point that all joy departs from their jobs. Along with these come stories of children tested to the point of humiliation, and of families threatened for daring to opt their children out of excessive or developmentally inappropriate tests, or even asking questions about these tests.

Our public schools have never been perfect, and in some parts of the nation they have been troubled, but never has intimidation and the suppression of free speech become so epidemic in school districts throughout the nation, be they rural, suburban or urban, low, moderate or high performing. And the situation is even worse most of the charter schools which are presented as an alternative to public ones.

This poisonous culture of intimidation is not just a threat to public education, it is a threat to democracy itself. The imposition of Common Core Standards is a perfect example of this. They have been forced upon school districts throughout the nation without any field testing, without discussion, and above all without dissent. Those who raise questions are attacked, marginalized, sometimes threatened with loss of employment.

There is no polite way to fight this. It must be resisted fiercely, by people willing to speak out in and if necessary disrupt meetings, engage in marches, demonstrations and strikes, vote out candidates who support the testing and intimidation machine, and take actions to disrupt the flow of data that makes the system run.

mak-naison-175It needs people who are bold, disruptive, and impolite — in a word BADASS.

There are tens of thousands of us now. There will be a lot more of us by the Summer.

There is no compromise with Abuse of Children and Violations of Freedom of Speech!

Mark Naison
With A Brooklyn Accent

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