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Why Are We the Enemy?

Dear Education,

What happened?

Where was the paradigm shift?

At what point in time did parents become less than worthy of your consideration?  Our opinions on our children, our family beliefs, our hopes and dreams for our children’s futures would appear to mean nothing to you anymore.

At some point in time this paradigm shift occurred and education altered from the enlightenment of society for the purposes of literacy to empower self determination, both the hallmarks of a free society, to something other, and in that something other was born the battle of parents v school, or in most cases, school v parent.

Clear battle lines exist.  Sadly most have no idea this has happened or that the lines are even there.  Most are just living their lives, blissfully unaware.  Few see the battlefield for what it really is, what it has truly become.

In one corner, you have the school establishment shouting about how great they are, giving awards to schools and labeling them with “Gold Ribbon Status” for standardized test scores, yet these same schools have illiterate children walking their halls, falling through the cracks in a system not designed to educate them and no one caring one way or the other.  They know the battle is there.  They’re the tool, the battle-bot, mindlessly doing what they’re told.

climb the tree

In another corner you have the compassionate, empathetic, well-intentioned teachers, you know the ones, those that truly care about each child that walks through their door, that want to help parents find the answers, they sometimes might do so in secret, but they’re always looking over their shoulder, afraid of losing their jobs, afraid someone might see they’re not following the rigid establishment culture that shames and punishes those that step out of line.  These teachers usually don’t last long in the system.  They’re empathy for the children they’re blessed to teach, they’re dismay and broken hearts over what they cannot fix, those they cannot save hurts their heart too much.  Do they see the battlefield?  Yes.

Dear Teacher

In another corner you have the fanatic teachers.  We all know these well too.  They enforce that rigid line.  They don’t care to deal with the parents and won’t listen to questions about why the same thing they’ve done year after year after year in their highly decorated classroom isn’t working for Little Johnny and Little Susie.  Their attitude is they’re excellent, top notch teachers, usually with some kind of accolade to prove it, who can teach every child, but if Little Johnny and Susie can’t learn, which certainly isn’t the teacher’s fault, then maybe they should repeat it all, in someone else’s classroom next year.  One can question why they’re fanatic.  Is it just because they drank the lemonade or is it out of fear?  Do they see the battlefield?  No, or if they do, they don’t care.

crazy teacher

In yet another corner you have the cheerleaders.  Boy, we all know these too.  They attend every function, volunteer and decorate, always with gigantic smiles on their faces, but they only “like” their own kind, they just tolerate the rest with fake smiles and platitudes.  They defend their school with blood if necessary.  Don’t diss their school, their district or their community.  They will gladly rumble in the streets to defend it all and anyone who says anything even remotely minuscule against their school (no matter how factually accurate) are just crazy, stupid, lazy, bad parents, or any other litany of insults that means that parent is just flat out wrong and should move away before they decrease the property values.  Do they see the battlefield?  What battlefield?

Cheerleaders

In a corner close by you have the sheep.  They’re on the heels of the cheerleaders.  They eat up everything the cheerleaders say, repeat it all, sell popcorn to the rumbles.  The cheerleaders never need to lose their voices screaming at the fray, because the sheep do it for them.  They’re loyal followers without any original thought; just mindless drones following the “cool kids.”  Do they see the battlefield?  Um, not if it punched them in the nose.

sheep

And in another, you have the ostriches who are physically present but ignore what’s around them.  They can’t cope so they won’t.  No battlefield in sight.

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And another, you have the prairie dogs who are vigilant yet terrified.  They do everything they have to for their children to survive the system year after year after year, defending their family by hiding in the shelter of their home.  They may or may not have already been beaten up by a carnivore they didn’t understand, but for the sanctity of their family and their belief one cannot fight “the system,” home defense is the best defense.  They see the battlefield.  They’re fully aware it’s there, but may or may not see the full scope.  Again, home defense is the best defense.

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And another, you have the “I don’t cares” who don’t pay attention.  Year after year they send their child to school and don’t care about much of anything.  They move through the universe punching a clock, not engaging, disconnected, it is what it is.  Definitely no knowledge of any battlefield.

I don't Care

And another, you have the abusers of the system.  They take many forms.  Some think their kids are absolutely perfect and so any wrong doing is the teacher’s fault and so they abuse the teachers and the administrators.  Some just don’t think any rules in life whatsoever apply to them, so truly all around them are abused, including their own children.  Either way, their apathy and entitlement makes life challenging for all.  Do we even need to ask if they see the battlefield cause the answer is H-E-double hockey sticks no.

Smug

And in another corner, you have the deeply well-intentioned but oblivious.  Their kids are awesome, truly, because they’re smart, neuro-typical, creative and / or athletic and can’t do any wrong.  They’re the darlings of their schools because they shine in their grades, their standardized test scores and their yearbook pictures.  They’re who every kid wants to be, but few actually get to be.  The parents are really genuinely awesome too.  They show up, cheer on all of the kids, are highly empathetic to those around them, they’ll pick up your kid from school in a pinch and never think to complain, they deliver food to your house just ’cause; but since they do not see the ugly side, they have no idea that it exists and that’s why they’re oblivious.  If they do find out they cheer on their friends who fight, they offer love and support, but they don’t throw themselves into the fray.

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And another, you have the mice.  They’re just terrified period.  They’re doing everything they can to survive.  They love their children and do all they can for them.  They don’t rock the boat.  They set high expectations on their children to do well and be good and get through.  They won’t confront.  They’ll ask questions but likely won’t engage for fear of a false authority or retribution.  They do not want to be cast aside, or removed from the group as a whole.  If you don’t stick your neck out, then you can continue living life knowing the battlefield isn’t there, right?

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And yet another, you have the truly oblivious.  It just is what it is.  They don’t get involved, don’t ask questions, care about their kids, don’t get what the big deal is.  You mean there’s an ugly underbelly?  Are you sure?

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Back to the school establishment.

If I wasn’t clear, this encompasses the districts and the state education agency.

Honestly, they have the smallest corner, but the biggest army.

Again, you have the well-intentioned staff we’ve described above.

Again, you have the low level fanatics who follow the rigid culture, no questions asked, and shame those who don’t get in line.

Then you move up a step to the district administration.  Entrenched here are great empathetic ones who truly want to help (either don’t last long, always try to work to change things with great positivity, or ignore to survive), misguided ones who don’t know right from left (department heads), mouthpieces who never had an original thought (yet more department heads), public faces with fake smiles so large they blow the minds off plastic surgeons (school boards), bullies (also school boards), and lastly thugs and enforcers (top administration and legal).

They pass out accolades and have pictures taken showing them doing so, they get articles written about how great they are, retain attorneys skilled at keeping their clientele in the clear from all issues, retain PR and marketing firms to spin the bad and to help attract home buyers and investors and drive property development and therefore values to ensure maximum tax revenue for that big new state of the art school and the football stadium that has no real economic analysis and will fall down before the debt on it is ever paid off.

The cheerleaders have no idea they “work” for them.

Neither do the sheep.

I’m not yet done defining the corners.

In another, you have the puppet masters.  Fed government lackeys, policy makers, foundations “dedicated to education,” publishing houses, publishing house consultants, lobbyists, and others.  The others are well hidden.  They’re the ones at the top driving the agenda, truly pulling all the strings.  To what end?

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They created the battlefield.  They dynamically shifted education from the centuries old desire to instill literacy to enable one’s self determination to something other, something sinister, something for profit.

I’ll add here, that whoever came up with the idea to convert publishing houses into consulting firms was a genius!  Truly.  That was a brilliant move in the war to convert education into the travesty it is now.  Really, I’m extremely impressed.  From a business perspective, it was a truly brilliant move, and it happened without anyone realizing that it happened.  But it was pure evil because while it wasn’t the first move in the game to turn education into a for profit money tree, it definitely poured mountains of fertilizer and water on those money trees enabling phenomenal development.

In another corner you have the lone parent, fighting tooth and nail against the system and whatever went wrong that was unjust.  They battle alone.  Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t.  The establishment likes them to be alone.  If alone then the establishment can sequester the issues using FERPA, or they can come to a legal settlement and put a gag order on it to keep the parent quiet so no one else finds out.

Warrior

And, in the last corner, you have the parent armies.  For their own children they fight alone, but they talk, share, teach, reach out, link hands, talk to legislators, testify, push educational reform, publish.  Their energy and knowledge base make them worth fearing.  Individually the establishment tries to break them while they fight for their children, but they know that united, they are a true force to be reckoned with.  As a united group the bigger tools of the puppet masters attack, but the parent armies just laugh.

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Those are a lot of corners.

And the battle lines are deep, but the parent armies need more forces.

I don’t know how to tell you that you should not be intimidated, that you should not be afraid, because you really shouldn’t.  Being afraid of this war gives the educational establishment false power, which they will gladly take to further subvert your parental rights and authority.

This is YOUR child!  They are your heart and soul.  You dreamed of them before they were even born.  You hold them in your heart every day.  You cry for them every night.  Their joy is your joy and their heart ache is your heart ache.  They are your everything and you would die for them without question, without fear, a worthy sacrifice.

They deserve literacy.  They deserve self-determination.  Our forefathers established our country on these principles.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

We need to fix education.  Our children for generations to come deserve nothing less.

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