Virtual School Meanderings

February 21, 2012

Supporters Of Public Education To Occupy Department Of Education

Yesterday, I mentioned that online learning was big business, well on Saturday I saw this scroll through my Twitter stream…

Click on the image of visit

This is quite interesting and makes me kind of wish I was in the DC area… I’ve copied and pasted the item below.

Group to demand the end of the corporatization and privatization of public education and test-centric educational reforms by marching on White House, meeting with Senate Staff and occupying the DOE.

From March 30-April 2, Americans from across the nation will gather in Washington D.C. for Occupy the Department of Education. Through Occupy DOE, participants will demand an end to the legislative reforms and mandates that threaten the quality and existence of the American public educational system.

Supporters will also offer viable alternatives and solutions that enhance critical learning, focus on the student needs versus profitability, and which improve and strengthen public education.

Occupy the Department of Education (DC) is being sponsored by United Opt Out National, a grass roots organization of teachers, parents, students and community members dedicated to ending inappropriate and punitive high stakes testing in public education.

Playing off of the April 1st /April Fools date of the Occupy DOE event, the group’s rallying cry will be “You Can’t Fool Us!”

Occupy DOE will highlight the misrepresentations, flawed logic, and false promises of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Through a series of marches, teach-ins, and meetings, Occupiers will focus on increasing awareness of the issues, ensuring public inclusion in all discussions, and presenting positive, research-supported options and solutions.

For more than a decade, the reform narrative in education has been dominated by three major concepts: test-based accountability, competition, and punishment. Ignoring the findings of a broad base of research studies, a handful of powerful corporate entities and foundations have declared that schools work best when treated as a business. Using their financial and political weight, they have spent the last decade propagating market-based principles like school choice, pay-for-performance, and for- profit management of schools.

A staggering amount of private wealth is focused each year on influencing legislators and other public officials to enact reform practices that place private profit and political ideology ahead of the needs of students. Key to these reforms is high stakes testing which focuses on competitive and punitive evaluation of teachers, schools, and students. Hidden in these reforms is their overriding purpose of increasing entrepreneurial opportunities and corporate profit through the dismantling of public education.

“Children are suffering at the hands of high stakes testing,” states Peggy Robertson, one of the founders of United Opt Out National. “They have no voice in this battle – the 1% is determining their fate – which is that of test prep schools, narrow curriculum, no fine arts, and loss of recess, nap and developmentally appropriate play. A child’s fate cannot be determined by one test score. To punish a child based on one test score in order to achieve privatization is a crime against humanity.”

Robertson adds, “Minority children and children in low socio-economic areas -where fear of punitive school closings is the greatest – are suffering the most. These children are placed in lock-step regimented teach to the test day to day routines with no reprieve and no opportunity to think critically, conceptually or creatively.”

Schedule Summary:

On Friday, March30, Occupy will take its message to Capitol Hill, issuing an official Proclamation that Opting Out of High Stakes Testing should be a parental right to be protected in all fifty states. Opt Out representatives will also meet with Senator Bernie Sander’s educational counsel, Jessica Cardichon, to discuss the consequences of a test-driven curriculum and the negative impact it has on learning, teaching and public schools.

Saturday and Sunday focuses on Bringing the Public Back into Public Education through the sharing of stories and a series of teach-ins led by leading experts. Those tentatively scheduled to attend include Stephen Krashen, Liza Campbell, Brian Jones, Tracy O’Connell Novick, Ann O’Halloran, Ruth Rodriguez-Fay, Liza Womack, Jesse Turner, Mark Naison, Ira Shor, David Greene and Mike Klonsky. Saturday evening will include a special showing of the film, TEACH, at American University. On Sunday evening, participants will gather at Busboys and Poets for networking and a performance by the Barry Lane Cabaret.

Monday’s events will focus on positive answers. A special session, Solutions for Educators, will be led by Bess Altwerger, Morna McDermott McNulty, and Peggy Robertson. A public reading and endorsement of the Professional Schools of Conscience for Educators and Declaration by Ken Goodman will be held. Mike Klonsky will lead a session on sharing Solutions for Communities. Monday’s events will feature a march to the White House to share examples of Real Learning, Real Assessment, Real Teaching. The Occupy DOE event will close with the regrouping at the DOE for the passing of the torch to Save Our Schools: A national movement dedicated to saving, rethinking and transforming public schools.

About United Opt Out National:

United Opt Out National is a grass roots organization consisting of parents, educators, students, community members and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education. Core to the organization is the belief that high stakes testing is destructive to ALL children, educators, and communities. The group believes that test-driven schooling fails to foster the development of critical thinking, narrows the curriculum, and shifts emphasis away from fully preparing students to meet the complex challenges they will face in future years. United Opt Out National believes that a quality public education is a basic human right for all children, one which must remain in the hands of our communities and out of the hands of big business, corporate reformers and politicians. If we are to save, and transform, public education into spaces where ALL children have an opportunity to flourish, grow, question, challenge, think and be prepared as democratic citizens, we must begin with the fight to end the high stakes testing movement.

For more information, please visit or contact Peggy Robertson at 720-810-5593 or at

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