So… you want to be a teacher.

You need to really, really think about this.

I’m not trying to scare you away; I’m just trying to prepare you. You can’t go thinking that liking kids, that kids liking you, that believing you can make a difference, that wanting to make a difference, that being smart…you can’t think that any of that is enough. It’s prerequisite, sure. But it isn’t nearly enough.

Not even close.

You need to be ready to pretty much give up a chunk of your life.

Once you have been teaching for a while, you’ll find yourself strategizing ways to carve out time for yourself, your family, your own health…because that time will mostly be taken by other people’s children and by other families. Planning, correcting papers, grading, and just decompressing can eat into your home life-the “you being you” for your family.  Challenging days will dry up your well of patience, and then what happens when you get home? What is left for your children? Your spouse?

If you decide to be more involved, in coaching, running clubs or activities, taking a leadership role in your union…be prepared for even more sacrifice. Attending board meetings or participating in the PTA, lending a hand for special events…deciding to be an educator, if you really take it on rather than just going through the motions, means time given to the endeavor and taken out of your life.

You need to prepare to have your heart broken.

Again, and again and again, in a hundred different ways. You will see kids beaten down psychologically and emotionally by the lives they live and the families their losing-life lottery dumped them into. Don’t think I’m being “judgy”, there is not enough time for me to share all the mothers who leave, fathers who return after getting out of jail, live-in boyfriend, custodial non-related “grandmother”, busted for meth and heroine stories I know. What I can tell you is that children come to school bearing this weight and you will have to try and shoulder some of it to help them get through the day and what you are told you have to do. The grit, the rigor, the “raised bars”, the tests and whatnot.

You will likely see girls having babies far too young, boys unable to take responsibility even if they are willing to try, and that custodial grandparent cycle will come back around for another generation. You could very well end up teaching the grandchildren of your former students. You could also see former students die. In war, by overdose, and in the most heartbreaking ways. You may hear of a sweet, funny, freckle-faced boy from your very first real elementary classroom who, for whatever reason, made it through high school but then took his own life.

You need to be prepared to have your profession both revered and reviled.

Despite all you will have dumped onto your lap and into your life, there will be rewards. When children are thrilled to see you, either in school or out in public, when you get notes of appreciation from them or from parents, it lifts a little of that weight and helps to keep the heartbreaks patched together.  Notes that say “[Enter student name here] never liked reading until he had you,” or “[Some other student] wants to come to school now because of you,”  are little pieces of treasure to keep safely tucked away to be pulled out and reread on those days you wonder why the hell you went into teaching.  Your students will know, and their parents will know how important you are, and you’ll see the “aha” moments in the classroom (where students get excited about learning something new);  when their work shows that they grasp a concept and gain some skills…those are the times that make a teacher keep coming back to brave the bad days.

At the same time, you will have to suffer the deliberate attacks on the profession you chose. Education “reformers” will look to reduce your worth to test scores, and the value of education to empty slogans like “college and career ready”. They have been and will continue to campaign to dismiss the parts of the job you have no choice but to do, while they promote schools that avoid those parts. They will paint you as greedy, because you expect a living wage and the deferred pay you contribute to a pension fund once you retire. You will be lumped into the “lazy” category because you get holiday and summer breaks that others don’t get (never admitting that if it were such a wonderful gig, it would pay more and more people would be doing it). You will see these “reformers” look to cheapen and de-professionalize teachers, reducing them to gigged, at will hires to fuel the education market they want to profit from.

They stake proud claim to agendas called “school choice”, and “the rights of parents”, while avoiding the essential truths behind what those slogans mean in practice and why more communities and schools and students are struggling to achieve better outcomes.

Good news is: despite reformer attacks on communities, schools, educators and students: parents overwhelmingly support public education and teachers, and want to see it funded and supported.

You will be confronted with your own old age.

Through the advancing lives of your students, you will see the truth in “Days crawl, but the years fly.” It is exhilarating, scary, and inspirational. One of my early career students is now substitute teaching in my school. She was in the staff room eating lunch and I noticed an engagement ring. Her fiance was a student in my homeroom two years before her. He has been working in the school also. Two of the sweetest kids ever…But holy cow! Where did the time go??? My oldest daughter just went to college, and many students I taught have as well.

I guess that must mean I’m getting older, right? I mean, that’s how time works…if it passes for them, it passes for me too. You don’t really feel it happen, but one day it hits you. After that day the hits keep coming. My god, the time has flown. But I am so happy I chose to do what I do.

Just be prepared to be reminded one day of how old you are getting.

So…do you still want to be a teacher?

If so, you are the type of person I want doing it. The type of teacher I would have wanted for my own, the type I want my someday grand-kids to have, the type I know kids desperately need.

And I hope I get to work with you before I’m done.


What The President “Said”

You know what I mean. I don’t need to repeat it. The quotes around “said” in the title of this piece are because there is no recording or video of this, no solid proof that I’ve seen. Maybe there is and if so I’d want to see it, or hear it, because I am in that uncomfortable place where I believe it was said- but have to filter it through the accounts and opinions of others instead of verifying it with incontrovertible evidence. I have to think about it with the balance of what others say and what I have seen and heard in the past.

It’s one of my weaknesses, I sometimes spend too much time in internal deliberation before making a judgement. Maybe it’s the Libra in me, I don’t know.

But one thing I am very good at is reading “tells”, analyzing words, behavior, body language, demonstrated character and patterns. I’m also pretty good at spotting a weak or specious defense of abhorrent behavior offered up by those desperate to defend the indefensible (because they benefit when they do).

Case in point,  Jesse Watters, the Fox News version of Kelly Bundy, made the dismissive observation that  “…this is how the forgotten men and women in America talk at the bar.”

But his time spent working with grouchy pervert Bill O’Reilly, doing his hard hitting ambush interviews of Occupy Wall Street stoners and bikini-clad spring break coeds, may have made his thinker soft and broke his integrity meter.

It isn’t “how the forgotten people talk in barrooms around the country”. Trust me, I have been in barrooms with those folks. Grew up with them. And yeah…the “talk” can get kinda filthy, but there’s some differences:

  • The filth is usually for dramatic effect, emphasis and punctuation-not used to belittle and objectify some “others” for their “otherness”.
  • It’s very rarely done with absolute disrespect of anyone who doesn’t either fit a preconceived image of success or human potential, or occupy a similar station in life.
  • It’s almost never getting “talked” by someone who themselves spent a lifetime of unearned privilege and entitlement while also going to great lengths to avoid the obligation and efforts. Those talkers have lived lives of responsibility, worked hard, served their nation bravely and proudly (not just by going to a military academy)
  • These people, unless we’re talking about a different breed of the forgotten, would give you the shirt off their back and respect and appreciate those who they know would do the same. Can we say that about the man-baby in chief?

The way Trump talks is how entitled, fake-fancy, full-of-themselves and empty-of-heart people talk when only they can hear-except he is loud and proud with it, unaware that well-adjusted and decent human beings capable of empathy just-don’t-talk-that-way. Maybe they do in the country clubs, and men’s clubs, in places those “forgotten people” could never afford to go to and wouldn’t want to go anyways because arrogant ***holes unwilling to do the work and make the sacrifices they, their peers, their parents, and their parents’ parents made make good beer taste bad.


Jan 15 2018


Growing up Then, What About Now?

Retitled from a past post here

My great grandmother, Ada (Burgess) McConnell taught in a one room school house in Summer Hill, N.Y. Her son (My grandfather Halsey McConnell) served in the army during W.W.II. My grandmother (Lucille) was a woman of faith and family. Her neighbors, her church, all of them and all of us were among her primary concerns.

I remember them all well.

Ada lived to be 96 years old and was always a gracious and clever woman. When I was a young boy, she was adept at keeping me busy looking for four leaf clovers, swatting flies for a penny a piece, or going through photos from long ago-telling me about the people and places in them. She never stopped being a teacher. My grandmother was determined to get us to church. I can recall a few different head pastors in the church, many of the “regulars”and while it wasn’t the most favorite place for a boy to be on a beautiful Sunday morning, that country church was part of my childhood. Sunday church in Sempronius often came with an after church stop at the general store for a candy bar-possibly a slight detour to the rod and gun club for their chicken barbecue. Grandma was good at getting us to church on time, no matter how we attempted to thwart her. She had a comb at the ready. Tissues and grandma-spit were the wet wipes “back in the day”. I remember thinking one time that getting my church clothes dirty would be my ticket to unsupervised outdoor country trouble instead of church.

I had underestimated my grandmother.

From the depths of the house, fashion from the 50’s showed up. Probably having once belonged to my own father or Uncle Denny (his younger brother), the clothes were close enough to my size to get me redressed, far enough away from current trends and my size to get me beat up if I had been going to school instead.

My grandfather was practical and wise about the world, while still being inappropriate in the most awesome ways. If you could have combined W.C. fields, Groucho Marx and Archie Bunker, you would end up with someone like my grandfather. He lived to a respectable age, but it’s likely that lifestyle changes might have added another decade to that life. If I close my eyes and imagine him, it’s with a beer in his hand. A cheap beer. In his other hand is a cigar that was smoked down about halfway, but gone out long ago and more of a placeholder in his mouth to be possibly re-lit at some point, but maybe not as well. Chewed down, black and soggy on the end, I sometimes catch myself wondering why he didn’t just chew tobacco, but then I remember that he simply chewed his cigars.Sometimes there were car rides after the kids came back from church with Grandma, where my grandfather and my father would take the front seat, me and my younger brother would be in the backseat. The trip would often be a long and winding circuit to Moravia to pick up a 12 pack, maybe a watermelon and a Sunday paper, sometimes other things. Often the trip back would stick to the back roads: taking us up behind Fillmore Glenn State Park on an indirect course home.

Dad and Gramp handing back empty cans, us boys handing up the refills.

My grandfather would drive casually, left elbow out the rolled-down window concealing the beer held just out of sight in his left hand. Right hand on the steering wheel somewhere between 12 and 1 o’clock and that cigar/pacifier in between his index and middle finger when it wasn’t in his mouth. Sometimes we’d go by the birthplace of Millard Fillmore. Sometimes we’d stop and see Charlie Peak, who sold discount shoes. Sometimes we’d go by the Summer Hill nudist camp, and my grandfather would say “Keep your eyes open boys-you might see something!” He was the best kind of wise-ass you could ever want to know. He really was laughing with you, not at you.

Gramp used to tell stories about his time in Europe while he was in the army. The German soldiers captured, he said, were decent guys-just doing what they had to do. The officers now, they were the Nazi’s, the arrogant bastards. You could tell they thought they were smarter than you. Not that smart I guess now, were you? The soldiers would try to run to be on the work detail Gramp was guarding. They liked him so much that Gramp could grab a nap and they would work and wake him if an officer was approaching, and he had to tell those prisoners to not be so enthusiastic about running to be on his detail or t They were, Gramp said, happy to have been captured. Their treatment and conditions as prisoners of the Americans were far better than the conditions they had been in.

Dad tells stories about Gramp. About how when Gramp was a boy the local law was a constable. An honest to goodness man on a horse who would patrol the area, staying the night at one family’s house or another as he made his rounds. Gramp dumped wood-stove ashes in the constable’s boots one time while the constable slept. Another time, skipping school to go pheasant hunting, Gramp encountered the constable. They made an agreement that if Gramp laid low and didn’t get caught, the constable wouldn’t tell. When Gramp returned from the war, that same constable picked Gramp up at the train station. He had moved up from the horse and now had a car. The constable took Gramp out for a drink before delivering him home.

This was a time when it wasn’t who you know, or how high you could climb above them and/or others-it was about how you treat the people you know.

My experiences as a child were interesting, most of the places I spent time at, the things I saw/did, the people I hung around…they are the things you hear about kids today (kids who struggle with the responsibilities of the school day) and shake your head in disapproval. I cannot ever remember a time when my parents were together, but I never once remember seeing them argue, or even have unkind words. I lived with my mother, had bookshelves full of books, family gatherings, lots of cousins to play with…I had this variety of questionable experiences and more within the context of a family of people who were all there for each other, any time, all the time, no matter what. My models were those of responsibilities first, informed by a wide array of people who had little in terms of material wealth but a vast amount of character and integrity, and usually a very colorful vocabulary. Somehow, I seem to have turned out okay.

What has happened in our country that makes it so difficult for people to succeed and why are public schools suddenly being held responsible for citizens’ failure to thrive?

The version of reform being forced upon our system of public education is only advancing the lack of integrity we have seen advancing upon our society. Reality TV portrays a path to success that includes the lowest of low behaviors: the promotion of self-indulgence, greed and dishonesty as the path to success.

I should not even know who Honey- Boo-Boo is.

Or the Kardashians.

Nor should the name Carlos Danger mean a thing.

Lloyd Blankfein and Goldie Hawn get top billing at an Education Nation event, Diane Ravitch is invited to watch the spectacle from the audience.

Is it really schools that need to be reformed?

Is our problem really an achievement gap, or an integrity gap?

This is the how and why


Lloyd Blankfein testifies that he deserves every damn penny 
Goldman Sachs pays him for screwing investors.

(This is from 2013)  The current  attack on public schools had its beginnings in the financial crisis of 2008. At that time the blame for the economic woes of the nation had appropriately been pinned on the financial games and the players within the investment community. Everybody knew whose fault it was and that the people to blame had made out very well at the country’s expense. There were congressional hearings, the country was hopping mad, and it was about time-thank you very much.
Unfortunately, the tone of the game players was not apologetic, in fact it was dismissive. You got the feeling watching that they felt put out by this congressional hearing silliness, and that the way they do business is the industry standard…a “ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances” midway challenge. Little time was spent dealing with the fact that as industry insiders, the heads of big banks and finance industry insiders had not only been instrumental in designing the rules to be almost impossible to understand, they had designed it so they would win even when their customers and the economy lost.
So we all lost. “Too big to fail” meant incredible amounts of taxpayer money went to bail out and prop up the institutions that had already abused their position and our trust. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (2008) authorized the U.S, Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to buy up distressed assets from financial institutions that found themselves heavily leveraged in a failing market. Those funds were then redirected to inject capital directly into those institutions. Finding themselves flush with taxpayer cash one of the first things they did was pay out executive bonuses. (Los Angeles Times, July 2010)

(A couple tidbits from that L.A. Times story):

  • The Obama administration’s pay czar on Friday came to the same conclusion about fat Wall Street bonuses that average Americans have already reached: There’s no logic behind them, except greed.
  •  There’s simply no justification for multimillion-dollar bonuses that are paid out to people who were irresponsible,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who this year proposed legislation levying a tax on bonuses of more than $50,000 at TARP recipients. The money would be used to increase loans for small businesses.

But this criticism and attention (and outrage?) dissipated quickly. When the occasional hard question about incredible salaries and bonuses paid to top executives in the financial sector arose, the response had something to do with the necessity to pay competitively in those fields to attract talent.

A good question would be talent to do what?

“The anger at these corporate subsidies was justified because breaks like these are a symbol of a budget process designed to shift money and power to people who already have too much of it”

Ironically, public workers during this time came under attack for their salaries, benefits and pensions. It was the only move that could be made when it had become clear that policy makers were either unable/unwilling to address, or culpable in the abuses of our economy. Someone had to fry, and public workers with the pensions that were not only an obligation-a debt to be paid,  but a source of play-money were a strategically smart target.  And this is one of the most vital things to keep in mind:

As average Americans struggle more and more financially, a very purposeful effort has been made to avoid contrasting the wages and benefits of public employees with the segment of the upper class that controls an astronomical amount of wealth, continues to see its fortunes grow, and controls policy. Instead, the powerful have used the media to make the comparison between public workers and the “average American worker” who has struggled with stagnant or declining wages on an economic playing field tilted towards the wealthy. For the wealthiest, fostering resentment and suspicion between the classes below them has been their solution  to the potential danger that those citizens might unite with an agenda of social justice and equity.

Our Present Situation

   The promise of “hope and change” that we had been sold by candidate Obama has vanished in swirl of bailouts and an assault on public workers. Suddenly the public is responsible for repairing the damage done by the irresponsible behaviors within the banking, mortgage and investment community. The loss of jobs; the loss of value in our homes; the difficulty in securing financing for the simple projects or possessions that the average American hopes for: a new car; a home equity loan or refinancing… Portraying public workers and public schools as the significant economic burden worked as a blame shift away from the true culprits while the myths of  investors and job creators went only briefly examined. Time and time again politicians called for that “shared sacrifice” in these trying economic times-but they weren’t usually speaking to the top 1-2 percent. They were signaling to everyone else that they would need to tighten their belts.

Shared sacrifice, really?

These calls for shared sacrifice, criticisms of public workers pay, doomsday prophecies regarding social security…all  have been echoed repeatedly by news pundits with little real connection to the majority of citizens already victimized-now being told they should accept being further disrespected.

And more often than not, the word “unions” is attached to the narrative as if it is at best a quaint but outdated concept-at worst a parasitic scourge and job-killer. Even gentler assessments of unions and their purpose miss the point.

“The struggle between teacher’s unions and conservative think tanks to influence educational policy is clearly a key battleground in the context of school reform.” (Neoliberalism in the classroom: The political economy of school reform in the United States)

It isn’t about influencing “educational policy”.

In the same way that teachers and schools are supposed to be apolitical in the way they deliver an education and support learners inside the school and the school day, politicians should refrain from assuming an understanding of the job of teaching that they have not earned. It’s about professional autonomy and the difference between a mission statement for teaching that we can all agree on, and one that is either loudly ill-defined or silently shameful.

Common Core, College, Career? Too Many C’s!

From 2013

I have always said that common core standards are a good idea, for some consistency and continuity. I’m not sure that they are always developmentally appropriate at the younger years, and the “college and career” stuff is a starry-eyed, back-handed slap of an accusation that comes without the conversations:

1) Careers?!? What careers? We are not long off a Clinton-to-Bush run where our leaders more or less told us that good jobs were gone, retraining and acceptance of less might be the lot of a lot of us, and a town hall where Bush II just didn’t get it when a clearly well spoken and educated, almost middle-aged mother lamented the need to work three jobs just to make ends meet.

Bush: “Three jobs? That’s truly American!”
The movies really do get it right once in a while: “If you build it, they will come.” When “job creators and investors” really did, and supported the nation/workers/economy that gave them investor/creator powers…our schools churned out workers that participated, and kids who went to college were ready. The investors creators have turned to hoarders in a speculation based economy and now they are speculating on the value of people, their public institutions, and finding a way to restrain and milk them on their public-to-private farm. If good jobs existed, parents would be working, feeding, loving, preparing students to succeed.

2) College? What exists after that would pay back the Sallie-Mae master? Not only that, but are we really going to pretend that so many American students are ready for the rigors of college level study? Are we instead going to alter “college” into a costly vocational/trade-prep option for some, or are we going to honestly look at the fact that we push more students onto the college path than we really should, that the payback on that investment is harder to find these days, and that negative comparisons to other systems around the world (where students are more filtered along the path to higher education) is simply not fair?

So…Common Core? I say okay. Wrap it around a turd sandwich that places the “no excuses” blame on teachers for not healing an economy wrecked by the same crew forcing the standards and test-based reform on us all (except for their privileged children)? No way…at least not quietly.

Is There a Better Way? Yes There Is!

… Yes, there Is! is another blast from the past. (Dec. 2012)

I am sitting at home in one of the regions made post-Christmas famous by the storm that just whacked the area with anywhere from six to thirteen inches of snow-maybe more, I haven’t had the chance to get my morning news/weather fix. Normally I would have gotten a decent helping of three-stooges style news with Fox and Friends, watching them stumble around the truth and poke real journalism in the eyes-one of the “anchors” (appropriately named, because FOX is the “cement shoes” of our nation’s collective soul) practically “nyuk-nyuk”ing. I’ll let you guess which of those schmoes is the curly-joe character.

     I am relegated to the spare room with my laptop, because two of my daughters and one of their cousins camped out in our living room for a girly slumber party. My littlest got up early and is forcing me to live, at this very moment, through one of the High School Musical DVDs-complete with her analysis of the acting and dancing, demanding my participation in the conversation. She’s six years old! That Troy Bolton has got magic that transcends age and grade level it seems. Or maybe my little girl just likes cute boys. Man, I’m in all kinds of trouble, and incredibly blessed at the same time. I have three beautiful daughters, and they are incredibly smart, creative, savvy, family oriented. When they are together, great things happen. The link I just placed is to the YouTube channel (or whatever) the girls have made for their videos and their “production company”, TwistedDollStudios. If you visit, hit the “Browse Videos” button. They really are quite warped and fun.

Chloe, my oldest daughter, used to strip her Barbie dolls naked and tie them up in various ways to mesh laundry baskets, bedposts, floor lamps…whatever. She was like three years old! The first video they made on my old cheap basic cell phone had several Barbies and a Ken involved in a love triangle of some kind-nothing nasty, just soap opera teen drama, it was hilarious! A sorceress Barbie transforms Ken into a plastic dog (it was a bathtub toy) and there was a song/video performance (C’mon Barbie, let’s go party-the “dog’s” line, with a close-up camera shot…)-all performed on my little cell phone. I wish I had saved that one, but the YouTube stuff shows some growth in concept, and the cooperative efforts of these kids, even the gross boy cousins, is inspiring.

I don’t worry about the ability of my kids and their cousins to have a great future, if they seek it. I see what they do when they’re together. Through their play and their talk, I see how they think and feed off each other-building products from grains of thought-sand. Smiling, laughing, cooking, camping…They live to get together and do things together, and even though some of what they do is maybe a little twisted, maybe slightly inappropriate, these kids are amazing, loving, brilliant and capable of almost everything.

So how does this happen? I can tell you FOR SURE that no %$#&!!@ standardized test is making these things happen. The teachers these kids have had did much to foster the skills (and the ability to use them), but the opportunities to CREATE are the most important. Generally the foundation for that ability is constructed and refined at home, but it is directed and applied in more practical ways in school. Wasting the time of children and dedicated lifelong educators on test-shackled goals and standards is doing a disservice to learners and teachers. There is a better way to reform education than by isolating the individuals involved in the process with endless, cumbersome testing in a data-fixation and stratification process.

The kids are finally waking up in the living room, Gabriella and Zac (I think) are almost done singing, pancakes and snow play are on the agenda I believe, and at least one more video on YouTube this vacation-especially once the boys from Virginia arrive.

There is definitely a better way to assess our children. Investing our time, money and energy into saddling our families, children, teachers and our schools with standardized baggage: not the way. We need to stand in opposition to this foolishness.

Wow, a blast from the past.

From my old blog that I need to do some curating from. Clearly I haven’t broken the quotations around “reform” habit. Oh well…I’ll keep trying.

Note:   When I write about reform, I usually put quotes around it (“reform”). This is because I believe the word is supposed to mean actively make improvements, or change something for the better. I do not believe that much of what is being called education reform really does that for public education. Using the quotes, though, puts me in the position of deciding whether to keep using quotes later on in the same piece when the word shows up. Do I NOT use quotes with later uses of the word and make the reader think I believe reform holds true to the meaning, or keep using quotes and have the reader think “Okay, okay-I GET IT. So… no quotes at all. Just know that I do not trust much of what is described as education reform.


The United States, is seeing an ever-increasing economic class division between those with the most wealth and power, and those with the least- in effect pushing out the middle class that historically has been a cornerstone of the economy. Policies (foreign. domestic, economic…) have served to allocate wealth and political power so that “the masses” continually find themselves victims of the desires of “the few”. As an effort, I believe to maintain and increase their power and position, the few have initiated a reform movement targeting public education. The motivation to target education as a means to their end is likely two-fold: economic and strategic. On the economic front there is a significant amount of money to capitalize on in both the public funding and private institutions that collaborate to provide schooling to the children of the country. That aspect of the motivation behind reform is quite easy to understand. If there is money to be had, someone will come along looking to have it-even the head of sensationalist infotainment style media sources. On the heels of the financial crisis, the current slow recovery means that corporations accustomed to hand-over-fist money-making need new sources of profit. The public funds going to public schools look good indeed to private corporations. In order to get their hands on that money they have to justify (politically) taking it away. This is why you see well funded reformers like Michele Rhee, travelling around the country-showing up on news programs and at speaking events to continually suggest that America’s public schools (and their students) are performing poorly. According to Diane Ravitch This assertion does not stand up well to the data . Low test scores, in addition, are more closely tied to poverty than poor teacher quality. The motivation to avoiding examination of this correlation, choosing instead to misuse testing data and scapegoat schools, allows bad economic and social policy to continue-essentially passing the responsibility for poverty off onto public schools.

The strategic basis of education reform is a more complicated issue, may be a speculative consideration, but must be considered because it implies more danger in terms of the future-for the majority of citizens and the state of our democracy. The growing trend of taking control of public schools in order to privatize and create price-layered options-selling it back to the people on a “you get what you can afford” basis is great for what may come to be the “business” of education, but will lead to a disparity in knowledge and service. Should this be the direction education in the United States takes, the easiest to teach (usually from the wealthier families) will receive even greater access to the benefits of education. Those families and students will grow into the positions of security, income and influence handed down to them. The most challenging students, requiring more time, effort and resources are likely to face an education that does not meet their needs or help them to maximize their true potential. Most often, the neediest students come from homes with fewer economic resources. While education is a key component to reducing poverty, poverty impacts the ability to succeed in school to begin with. These students will likely also inherit their position in society from their parents. It is very true that poverty is not destiny, but it is a significant hurdle that prevents more and more students from realizing their potential. For school reformers, weakening the public institutions of education would lessen the ability of public unions to influence policy collectively, and the straining of students into a caste-like system would help solidify the position of the groups already enjoying high caste placement.

This is how the current education reform movement, together with political policies of the recent decades, is serving to divide access to freedom, knowledge, and the political process. In education policy specifically, children are being subjected to a mechanized and controlled process of standardization that conflicts with their normal developmental process. We are essentially being moved towards a modern version of the “Dark Age”. Neil Postman, in his book The Disappearance of Childhood says of this time in history:

Our textbooks cover the transformation well enough except for four points
that are often overlooked and that are particularly relevant to the story of
childhood. The first is that literacy disappears. The second is that education
disappears. The third is that shame disappears. And the fourth, as a
consequence of the other three, is that childhood disappears.

This was Postman about 20 years ago, writing about a time in ancient history (following the fall of the Roman empire), but the parallels to modern times are uncanny.