What did Thomas Jefferson once say? He said something to the fact that if a government no longer protects your interests, it must be overthrown. Well, we live in a democratic society and I do want to keep it that way. Thus, to overthrow this present government, we have to defeat an entity called the Republicratic Party. Sadly, I used to believe there was a real difference between the Democrats and Republicans. The progressives that controlled the Democratic Party from the time of the New Deal until the 1960s had a view of government that was mainly positive. Most really wanted to use the power of government to increase economic, social, and political equality and opportunity. There was a social contract between average Americans, government, and even corporations that lead to ever increasing opportunity for many citizens. However, I now believe that there is really only one political party that has two wings. What used to be two entities are now controlled by a corporate elite controlled by old money and a new monied class that I label the Kiddy Billionaires. This wealthy class gained their wealth by harvesting the Internet. They are very smart when it comes to computer technology, but in terms of ethics, they are no better than the Robber Barons of the 19th century. All you have to do is watch “The Social Network.” As portrayed in the movie, the founder of Facebook, looks like someone suffering from Asberger’s and thus has no social conscious .
This old and new money elite are now setting the education policy for both political parties. Unfortunately, their policy is simple: The power of government should be used to further enrich themselves by impoverishing most Americans economically, politically and socially. This is why they want to destroy teacher unions–one of the last strong unions left in this society, as well as public education. Their goal is to create a two tier educational system. One group will go to charter schools subsidized, but not regulated by what is left of the government. Those who are chosen to go to those schools will have the privilege of getting a higher education as a ticket to enter the corporate world. However, those who remain in defunded public schools will get an inferior education based upon passing watered-down ELA and math assessments. They will not garner the skills to access a higher education and will become the drones who will be the minimum wage workers who must toil at two or three jobs just to survive. And no one will want to educate the disabled or truly high needs student for fear of being fired because the poor unfortunate teacher who may want to work with such students will not be able to get them to grade level. A shill who works for Chamber Street (Department of Education) once told me that there is no such thing as a disabled child, only disabled teachers. This person said to me that a superior teacher can get a mentally retarded student to college. Then I asked this person ,who works for Joel Klein, if a profoundly retarded child can get to college? The answer this person gave was yes and then I was accused of limiting such children by having low expectations.
I read many blogs and I see mostly anger and despair among progressives and educators. I feel that the time has come for us to turn this anger into action. Two years ago, the Republicans created a fake Tea Party movement that has unfortunately gained legitimacy because the old media has lost its ability to truly investigate who is funding such organizations. We must form a new political organization, a new political party. It has to be made up of public educators, parents, and true progressives who want to use true data driven research to save public education as well as to create true economic and political reforms to benefit middle class, working class and impoverished Americans. I believe there are many Americans who are waiting for such a movement. They want an alternative to the Republicrats who are unable to get us out of this economic mess. History tells us that most true reform movements in this country were started by educated middle class people. We are teachers. We are educated. We are sophisticated. We are not sheep. We must now push back politically. If a third party is formed and becomes a political force, American history also tells us that possibly one of the political parties may begin to incorporate the ideas of such a party. And if they do not, it may be time for one or both of the present parties to go the way of the Federalists and Whigs.
A two prong approach will be necessary if we want to save public education. A new political entity must go to the courts to litigate each and every aspect of this fake reform movement. If laws are passed to remove tenure, then we have the 14th Amendment. This is the denial of due process. If disabled kids are not being educated by charter schools that accept public money, again, the 14th Amendment will help us. Judicial precedent has stated that education is a property right and to deny a child the right to attend a school that takes public money is a denial of that property right. And the second prong is to elect candidates under a different banner who will support public schools as well as other social reforms.
Charter schools should not be destroyed. They have a place. We have to go back to their original purpose as stated by Al Shanker. They should be a place of experimentation so we as educators can come up with new ideas and new ways to educate those who are uneducable. But to do this, charters have to be regulated. If they accept public money, then their budget has to be open to public scrutiny. If they have lotteries for limited spaces, then that lottery has to be a blind lottery. They, as public schools must, educate all children. Finally, those who work in such schools should have the right to unionize and due process. Because those who presently fund and support charters oppose such reforms, it proves they are afraid of something. If there is a charter in which teachers and administrators work collaboratively and pay these dedicated teachers handsomely for the extra time they put in to educate their children, there is nothing to worry about. There would be no need for a union. However, we know that I did not describe the real world.
We have to take back our schools and our country. Anyone who is interested in doing this, let me know.