Starving the beast, at the very least, will just increase its hunger. Go right ahead and starve me dead. It will only make me stronger. —They Might be Giants

If They Might Be Giants sing it you know it’s true! They wouldn’t lie to children, and neither should we. But the clock is running so fast in many states that it may be too late to call for repairs.

The truth is that we like our educational system. We support teachers and the work they do. We think our kids are getting a good education. We like our public schools. Really. 

So, what’s the problem? I think it’s that we’re not even having the same conversation. You heard me: we’re having parallel conversations. Yes, we’re using the same language. But as The Little Prince said, “Words are the source of misunderstandings.”

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Here’s another truth: We all have the same goals for our kids. We all want them to be hard workers, to set realistic goals, and to be able to communicate effectively. Since we don’t agree on the means to the end, it has become imperative for conservative legislatures to end public education once and for all. But since they can’t end it, because you like it, the only solution is to strangle public schools. To starve the beast. It’s not kosher to say this, of course. So they’ve moved to Plan B. Vouchers! For-profit charters! No oversight! Let ’em eat cake! 

Tick toc…..are you listening? Are you finally ready to act? Call your state legislature. Write to Arne Duncan (do not think I am a one-party person when it comes to the keeping public education healthy). Opt Out of State Tests. Join us at Occupy the DOE April 4-7 in Washington, DC. Join Parents Across America 

Tick toc…..

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About The Author

Nancy Letts

Nancy Letts consults with school districts, professional organizations and public sector agencies.Her teaching appointments have included public schools in Pennsylvania and New York, and at Pace University and the City University of New York. She and her work have been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Teaching K-8 Magazine, Thinking: the Journal of Philosophy for Children, and on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” She has been a contributor to the Teachers College Record, The Quarterly at UC Berkeley, and Teaching magazine. Audio tapes include”Building Learning Organizations,” and “Getting Started With Portfolios,” from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Her book "Creating the Caring Classroom" is published by Scholastic Professional Books.

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