Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vice or Virtue?


illustration by Robert Rendo

(click to enlarge)

(Feel free to lift this image and/or article and use it in a free license in your own advocacy material . . . simply provide a byline, nothing more!)

We already know the undemocratic consequences of corporate style reforms to public education. We've been living it since NCLB, and now we're attempting to machete our way through its steroid filled cousin, Race to the Top.   

Most of this reform mischaracterizes teachers, bullying them in a false, destructive light. Yet, there is this very tangible realm of protest, questioning, lobbying, and the still functional "write-a-letter-or-pick-up-the-phone-and-tell-your elected-official" strategy that are beginning to light a few key matches in a very parched forest. 

But, really, in all of these slowly burning fuses that stand to potentially burn down privatizing interests, how much voice is reported from a child's point of view? 

Children . . . . remember them? The ones who have among the highest stakes and the weakest voices. The ones whose verbal and body language increasingly spell out stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and a sort of pediatric angst that most children in other modern countries can only dream of or rarely encounter. 

Just as media outlets like Disney and Nickelodeon feature programs where children voice themselves on consumer issues, what media forum really showcases children and what they're experiencing under this whole reform movement? If minors lack autonomy, where at least is their voice, their perceptions, and the articulation of their own self image?

Mainstream media is completely indifferent. Surprise! But what about alternative, off the grid media?

If your students, pre-K through 12th grade, could be interviewed with the same intimacy Oprah approaches Lance Armstrong or the same grace and seriousness Barbara Walters uses with her taffy headed celebrities, what would your students say about how they feel about what and how they are learning? I often wonder about the kind of words that would flow out of those non-adult mouths?

Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, the War and Peace Report, and Bill Moyers of PBS . . . . are you listening?