CALL FOR ACTION: EDUCATORS UNITE!by Paul Thomas
5 December 2011
As public educators committed to democratic principles, we are charged to:
Advocate for authentic reform initiatives that support public education to ensure PK-12 students develop the critical thinking and process skills necessary to become informed citizens capable of supporting an effective democracy,
And, in support of this goal, resist, and support resistance of, forces that seek to connect standardized testing to teacher evaluation.
The current political climate is marked by powerful attacks on public institutions, including schools, colleges, universities and public employee unions. These attacks are dangerous because public education is an essential component of an effective democracy: for citizens to self-govern, they must be able to engage in the process of recreating society in meaningful, intentional ways.
Today, neoliberal policies threaten the ability of public institutions to foster critical, thoughtful, active citizens. Education is being viewed as a commodity and the labor of teachers and students – at all levels – is being exploited as a means to generate data for private entities which then, more often than not, use those data to confirm the perceived ineffectiveness of the public institutions themselves.
As a public institution that prepares future educators, we must model the critical stance that we want our teacher candidates to develop. We must not simply comply with policies and regulations that we know are unjust, flawed, and designed to undermine and destroy the power of the public sphere.
These actions may seem unnecessary and excessive; however, the actions of neoliberal reformers are, in fact, far more extreme and debilitating to our society – especially to those who are least powerful. Moreover, if we can lead a movement that involves Schools of Education throughout the state and nation, our efforts could have a significant impact by harnessing the power of education for social justice.
If these actions seem misguided, consider the following question: what would we expect our students to do? We hope to graduate educators who advocate for democracy and social justice; therefore, we must demonstrate our own commitment to these values.
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