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The Good News is that people across the country are resisting.

Spare Parts, Unite!

by Morna mcDermott


The factory process of schooling fueled by a neo-liberal corporate ideology believes that placing children and teachers on conveyer belts to fit the machine of self serving profit is the best way to reform education. Or at least, they promote this for other people's children. Their children go to pricey private schools that remain far away from the factory. Like form fitting cogs, squeezed into molds by high stakes tests and a common core the reformers, led by high priced billionaires and multinatinal corporations, will ensure we all take our "place" in the society they construct.

But many of us are, or are becoming factory model defects. The reformers who demand complicity and silence find us unacceptable. Our factory model "defects" make us unsuitable to be sold as part of the machine that will make the education corpocracy billions of dollars. Therefore we have been cast off, or perhaps jumped off, the assembly line.

But here's the good news. That makes us all spare parts.

And you know what passionate and creative communities of people in desperate times do with spare parts? They construct new ideas, new systems-- they create new worlds.

Spare parts are powerful in their potential-that they can become something different than the role they were designed for. Right now, there are educators all over the country dismantling the corporate-reform machine. I will mention just a few here:

The No History is Illegal movement fighting against the elimination of the Ethnic Studies program and book banning that has swept over Tucson, AZ.

Long Island Principals continue their fight against the new teacher evaluation with signatures for their petition continuing to rise. According to Diane Ravitch, "In a matter of weeks, they had the signatures of more than a third of the principals in the state."

The New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCORE) has ongoing actions, workshops, and teach-ins across New York in a grass roots effort to take back NY public schools.

United Opt Out has called for a boycott of all Pearson related products and services.

In Texas, more than 400 school districts have signed a resolution to take a stand against the current testing system in which every Texas public school is graded.

A national resolution against high stakes testing, written and endorsed by a host of powerful, passionate, and informed groups (236 groups signed to date) and individuals (5934 signed to date) is making its way across the country and garnering momentum.

Save Our Schools is organizing a People's Platform Convention to be held in Washington, DC in August 2012. I like to think of it as a special convention for spare parts ... like me.

Action is critical. You don't get off the conveyer belt by thinking about it. Talking about change is important. Without it we cannot change the dominant narrative. But what̢۪s most important is what we DO with this information. We need to act. Now. Every minute we wait another school is closed (or forty if you live in Philadelphia). While we continue to allow our public discourse to be mired in bogus debates intended to confuse the public, another good teacher is fired, another child suffers at the hands of abusive testing practices, and companies like Pearson roll another million into their stock portfolio. We cannot wait.

But actions require risk. Being a spare part is not about being comfortable.

In Detroit, students walked out of school in protest against school closures. They were suspended for their actions.

But what we are collectively learning, as one painful piece of legislation after another gets passed, is that the risks are even greater if we DON̢۪T act. There's a famous slogan used by the Situationists in Paris, 1968: "All power to the imagination!" This statement is a call to force . . . a call to transform what is, to what could be. Through the imagination we can reclaim our power of, our vision for, and our right, to a democratic, socially-just, equitable, sustainable and meaningful public education for all children. We do not accept the corporate brand education that comes in the form of pre-packaged cereal boxes which we are forced to consume. We have read the information on the side of the cereal box and we find it's ingredients toxic. And we know there is no prize inside waiting for us at the bottom. We will not consume this product. We want to tear the box open. Remember, we are spare parts. We imagine our own future.

There's a new freedom in our collective capacity to imagine how we can fit together, work together, each with our own strengths- -each of us is a vital spare part--each has a part to play in building a new creative design for educating our children and for the life we seek to build-but one spare part cannot do as nearly as much as those that have been brought together--we will build ourselves as self determined, cooperative fragments-- rearranging the bigger picture--if we can change perception we can change reality. We don't need a machine to tell us how this will be done--they tried that once before. It was called No Child Left Behind. They fooled us once. Now the corporate machine is called "reform", or Race to the Top. But you know what? That's why we, as spare parts are fighting back--we won't get fooled again.

— Morna mcDermott
Baltimore Education Reform Examiner



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