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Don't Drink the Tea

A Manifesto: Posted on the NCTE Ning discussion of the LEARN (sic) Act (S2740. The context for this Manifesto is that the NCTE Executive Committee helped write the LEARN (sic) Act. Their argument that it's vital to have a seat at the table so as to influence corporate-politico legislation.

You are urged to join the discussion. See the hot link below.

by Susan Ohanian

I recommend dropping out.

Today. This minute.

There comes a point where the only honorable thing to do is shout, "Hell, no!" walk away from the table, and make A LOT OF NOISE about refusing to participate any longer with corporate-politico control of the schools.

*Don't drink the tea.

*Don't ride the bus.

*Don't crawl on your knees to get a seat at a corrupt table.

In our courses, we teach about resistance as though it were honorable and necessary, but notice how resistance is always historical? Yesterday but not today. Today is too dangerous. When push comes to shove in our professional lives, we seem to lean sharply toward accommodation and compliance.

I urge people to think what "Don't drink the tea" and "Don't ride the bus" translate to in our our profession. We need to do this while we still have a profession. We need to acknowledge that right now that profession is very tattered--torn apart by corporate-politico interests. We need to ask if NCTE's current policy of whispering sweet nothings into the corporate-politico ear is helping to strengthen that profession. Or hurting it.

Frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn about how "formative assessment" is defined. The corporate-politicos have no business whatsoever decreeing what kind of tests are used in our schools. Or how many explicit--or non-explicit--lessons you can dance on the head of a pin.

Shout it out: Our schools. NOT their schools.

The corporate-politicos have no business in ordering such things as:
strategic and explicit instruction in the identification of speech sounds, letters, and letter-sound correspondence. And I'd say the same thing if they were ordering an hour of read-alouds every day in every class in the land.

The Feds have no business micromanaging our classrooms.

I'm wondering what the medical equivalent would be--maybe ordering doctors to do chest x-rays on every patient? More likely it would be to put everybody on a course of anti-depressants.

My point is: Whatever the federal "cure" is, they have no right to prescribe it. And if we'd get up from the table we'd realize we don't have to swallow it.

Don't drink the tea.

Don't ride the bus.

December 23, 1776

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
--Thomas Paine

Don't drink the tea.

Don't ride the bus.

Don't sit at the corporate-politico table and thereby give credence to their corrupt practices which are destroying our profession and hurting the children.

— Susan Ohanian
NCTE ning





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