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What has happened to our profession?

Publication Date: 2010-11-16

Don Perl wrote this poem in February 2001, shortly after refusing to administer the Colorado state test to his middle school language arts students. Don called a news conference to announce his decision not to administer the test. For demonstrating the courage of his convictions, Don was suspended for the two weeks of CSAP testing-- without pay. Don resigned from his position at the end of the year and now teaches at the college level. He heads the grassroots Coalition for Better Education, an organization whose motto is "Created to dignify the autonomy of our children and of their teachers."

Don was one of two teachers--in the nation--refusing to give state tests. Gloria Pipkin and I interviewed them for Substance.

Can you answer Don Perl's question? Your professional life depends on it.

What has happened to our profession?

Weâve seen the passage of a generation
in which open minds have passed from fashion,
and the items on our job description have drastically changed their political position.

What happened to shared thoughts and imparting wisdom?
Now we teach to tests, dull childrenâs minds
and have become a collective administrative technician.

What has happened to our profession?
It's been on trial at some secret adjudication
and been abandoned without adequate representation.
Itâs been attacked and maligned at every legislative session.
Some say thereâs already been a secret, subversive elimination.

What has happened to our profession?
When will we join together, stand and say
that politicians donât know the way?

Democratic schools are not to be factories of production.
True education serves a nobler function.
The insidious results of categorization
will starkly come to light in the devastation and desolation
of the minds and spirits of the coming generation.

Weâll wonder what happened to the ancient Socratic concept of cooperation.
Weâll see our society ever more in isolation.
Oh, those bleak visions are replete with trepidation.
And then, too late, weâll ask again,

What has happened to our profession?
Now, before we witness further deterioration,
we must give our colleagues some supportive representation.
We must ward off this horrific political invasion,
and allow hearts and open minds to return to fashion.

We must nurture the concept of cooperation,
and dignify the ideal of true education.
We must say no to standardization,
assembly line production,
and cowardly administration.

We must revive the dignity of our profession.

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