Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Schools.


All these people are out there at the one year anniversary of occupying Wall Street as if this is the reason they don't have jobs. Poor kids were duped into blaming and blocking what consists of a lot of average Joes putting in their 60 hours a week just doing what they know how to make a living. These protesters aren't occupying the real culprit behind the unfair economic system that benefits the rich and corporations at the expense of the rest of us...our public schools.

There is a clear and widening disconnect between what is happening in public schools and what young people need for success in the world. The reality is our nation has been sold a bad bill of goods. 

The "drill, kill, bubble fill" culture that is being rewarded today does not produce a suitable candidate for employment in our post industrial world. Even if our youth all march through a one-size-fits-all K-12 curriculum and go onto college, little has been done to foster the ability of young people to discover a livelihood best suited to their unique strengths, talents, and passions.


This is because every single kid is grouped by date of manufacture and expected to meet the same learning goals at the same time and pop out the same way at the other end with little to no attention focused on customizing a program to unique individuals. 

Instead they're served up a similar ration of English Language Arts (where work is rarely written for publication), math (which is rarely connected to the real world), social studies (that is rarely tied to social activism), and science (that rarely considers the environment in which children live).

At the end of the K-12 tunnel every kid emerges supposedly ready for college and career, but rarely have they had a chance to spend time focusing on what it is that "they" are passionate about. Instead they focus on earning the magic carrot of a grade and diploma rewarded to students who are best at memorization, regurgitation, and compliance along with following orders that we all know often are not in the best interest of children.

This system is of course not the one reserved for the children of the rich / corporations or the policy makers and politicians who send their children to the elite private schools that serve up a very different course selection which John Taylor Gatto so eloquently explains here and in part one of this series of videos.

As educators like John Merrow, Linda Darling-Hammon, Deb Meier, Diane Ravitch and most all of those who work in public schools have been trying to express, our corporate and politician-driven testing industry is at the core of the problem. It drives this dumbed down curriculum and severely punishes school leaders, teachers, parents, and our students who don't comply by shutting them down, firing them, threatening them, and leaving them behind.

Occupy Wall Streeters:  It's time to change direction. Charge forth toward schools and focus on the root of the problem.  Our students and teachers need your energy and insights. Find out the testing schedule in your school or district. Occupy those schools. Start an opt out brigade with a people's wall around that school protecting our public school students and staff from being subjected to these ineffective measures. 

You have nothing to lose but those in our public schools have everything to gain.
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