Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Schooling for Ruling

August 8, 2011 - Deborah Meier

This is Deborah Meier's speech at the Save Our Schools Rally, Saturday, July 30, 2011, on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C.

One thing that is interesting is that only mad dogs, Englishmen and teachers could imagine having a rally at noon in Washington DC, in the middle of the summer. But I am willing to be a mad dog and a mad teacher.

There are some advantages to being old, and that is that you have been there before. As Diane Ravitch reminded us yesterday, even in my one limited life this is about the fifth major crisis caused by teachers. But I do think there is something special about this crisis.

We are in a crisis, but not the one they are talking about. We are in a crisis about human relationships, and a crisis about the survival of democracy. That is what we are fighting for. The word public is even in the word republic. There can’t be a republic if there is not a public, and there can’t be a democracy if there is not a republic.

The latest great idea for solving the public school problem is to abolish it.

We are fighting for saving the idea and the existence of a public school system in the belief that the only alternative we are being offered is one whose faults we know are greater still. That is a marketplace, unevenly stacked between competing consumers. That is what is being offered to replace the public school system.

There could not be a worse idea.

Oddly, some of those who are the most active in promoting this idea are the very people who created the last crisis of the free marketplace.

Isn’t that intriguing? They hope to use it to increase their power, not to increase our power. What infuriates me the most is that they do it in the name of civil rights. This last economic crisis wiped out virtually half of the wealth that existed in the Black community, built up over the last 40 years, wiped out in the housing crisis. We have done more damage to the poor, the Black and the Latino communities in this economic crisis than, believe me, I did in first grade.

Yes, this attack on public education is being used as a distraction from many of the other problems facing us, but more than a distraction it is undermining everything I have spent the  last eighty years (I started a birth) struggling for. Only Russia today has a greater concentration of wealth than the United States. Think of that. Only Mexico, in the European/American world, has a higher percentage of children living in poverty. We are a little bit ahead of Mexico, and way behind the rest of our competitors.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts