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Overnight, the blog reached 18 million page views. The last time it hit the million mark was January 28, when it hit 17 million. I had no idea when I started blogging on April 26, 2012, that this would happen.
My goal since the blog started was to let others know that what was happening in their state and district was not an isolated phenomenon. I wanted you to know that if you don’t like the status quo in education today, you are not alone. If you don’t like the attacks on teachers, you are not alone. If you are alarmed by the way testing has become the main focus of schooling, you are not alone.
The movement to turn public education over to private management and entrepreneurs is national, not local. The movement to take away due process and collective bargaining rights for teachers is national, not local. The indifference to segregation and poverty is national, not local. I wanted to help build a movement against privatization and high-stakes testing by providing the information people need.
Over time, I realized I could magnify the audience for brilliant bloggers like Anthony Cody, Peter Greene, Mercedes Schneider, Paul Thomas, Paul Horton, Bruce Baker, and many others. When I saw how many insightful comments were posted by teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, and concerned citizens, I realized I could give them a platform to be heard. When new research appears that is relevant to our issues, I could share it. Most of what I post is written by others, not by me. I set the rules, I decide what to post, but it is your blog too.
I have posted more than 10,000 times; I have read more than 250,000 comments. I turned many of your comments into posts because I thought they were smart, provocative, informative. I love the conversation among the readers. Many are regulars. Others jump in when they feel the urge. All are welcome (so long as they don’t use certain four-letter words or spout conspiracy theories or insult me).
I have repeatedly tried not to overwhelm you with too many posts in a single day, but I usually fail. When I see something I really like or really don’t like, I feel a need to share it. So, despite my best intentions, you get too many emails from me. No one has to read them. No one has to sign on. So, I will go on doing what I love doing–being a disseminator of my thoughts, your thoughts, and the thoughts of others, in the service of “a better education for all.”
There is a movement against the status quo of privatization and high-states testing. It is growing by the day. It includes students, parents, educators, and others. It won’t succeed in a matter of months. But it will succeed. I don’t know if it will take a year, five years, or ten years. It will succeed. Everything the “reformers” have imposed has failed. Merit pay has failed. Charters are no better and are very often much worse than public schools, especially when they are run by non-educators or by people seeking to make a profit. Vouchers have failed. The usual punitive accountability schemes–like grading schools A-F or stack-ranking teachers–are a farce. The parent trigger has failed. The effort to measure teacher quality by test scores has failed. Despite all the money of the billionaires and the Wall Street hedge fund managers, despite their control of the U.S. Department of Education, their plan to privatize public education is a failure. They can make it happen here and there, but they can’t produce any real improvement that benefits all children. They can’t produce equality of educational opportunity. They produce more testing, but they can’t produce better education. They can cherry pick students and show off their Potemkin Village schools, but they dare not take responsibility for an entire district because they don’t know what to do with the children who won’t conform, the children with disabilities, and the children who can’t speak English.
Might there be common ground? Yes, I think so. But common ground must begin by ending the boasting, ending the false claims. Education in a large and diverse society is hard, not easy. There is no secret sauce. Common ground requires that charter promoters stop bragging that they are better than public schools. Teach for America must stop bragging that their idealistic and dedicated young recruits are better teachers than experienced teachers. And the funders of these institutions must stop the attacks on public education and on the teaching profession. Common ground begins when everyone recognizes that complex problems require collaboration and mutual respect. Common ground also requires that charter promoters stop using their students as political shock troops at school board meetings, City Council hearings, and state legislative meetings.
Every high-performing nation has a strong public school system with strong community support and equitable funding. They do not rely on competitive markets to provide education; competitive markets exacerbate segregation and inequality. A better education for all means a better education for all. It means equality of educational opportunity. It means well-educated, well-prepared teachers. It means a respected teaching profession. It means parent and community support for the mission of the schools.
These are my principles. And these are the principles of this blog. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for sending me articles and links. I rely on you and I thank you.