A Declaration of Independence from Corporatist/Behaviorist Education

A Declaration of Independence from Corporatist/Behaviorist Education

When, in the course of a teaching career, it becomes essential to break from excessively rational beliefs and schemes and to begin thinking openly and freely, disregarding the dictatorial influences of political hacks, the insidious prodding of education gurus and the bleating of complacent peers, it is necessary that the thinking educator admonish the world with the whys and wherefores of their intended independence from those scourges of productive learning, Corporations and their Behaviorist lackeys.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that education is best described as a journey, not a destination; that education is not a medicine or treatment to be inflicted upon learners; that a partnership between willing learner, skilled teacher, and supportive guardian forms the foundation of productive education; and that a democratic society sustains itself by practice of its ideals within the educational environment. Numerous corporations and anti-public education fronts—including, but not limited to, the Gates FoundationWalton Family Foundation, ALECState Policy NetworkTeach for AmericaStand for Children, and Teach Plus— plot and contrive to dictate educational policy, conduct and beliefs. When unelected billionaires use their financial clout to promulgate a destructive vision for American education, it is the right—nay, the obligation—of every educator to break all the Windows® they can, chop down every Solution Tree that stands, consign their Common Core lesson plans to the reformatorium, and renew their commitment to student-centered instruction in order to preserve their claim to professional status, ensure their future happiness, and maintain their present sanity.

A glance at the attempts by corporatist forces to deform public education provides ample evidence that ideas and opinions formed in the business world are all too tempting to politicians who rely on corporate funds for re-election. Behold: political narrow-mindedness, focus on data rather than humanity, the tendency to blame those who teach for the ills of society, and an unwillingness to consider humane methods of instruction as acceptable alternatives to techniques of indoctrination serve as warnings to the nation’s teachers and learners that they, too, are doomed to a future of boredom and inner turmoil if they do not act against the domination of Corporations and their Behaviorist toadies in public education today.

When narrow-mindedness reaches that point where afflicted educators are shamed for considering alternatives to the shallow reasoning and attitudestaught them by the nefarious Dufour Duo, their uprising is most justified. So have I and my fellow educators suffered. We rise above this morass of ridiculous ideals today to present several of the offenses of the Corporatist/Behaviorist Cabal for consideration:

They assert a corporation’s right to legal status as individuals in order to exert unrestricted financial influence over public policy, while also enjoying exemptions from the obligations which citizens affected by those policies must endure.

They degrade democracy by excluding teaching professionals from the process of creating standards and imposing those standards without public debate.

They devalue the professionalism of teachers by demanding the surrender of all autonomy in favor of scripted lessons and prescriptive standards.

They claim without evidence that setting “standards” will transform education for the better.

They threaten the privacy of students and seek to transform public schools into another source of profit.

They demand unswerving loyalty and obedience from educators, rather than encouraging professional discourse and promoting respectful dialogue.

They vilify the professional associations of educators and encourage citizens to view teachers and other public servants as parasites on society.

They use non-profit fronts to conceal profit-seeking enterprises.

They alienate youth from their educations by placing undue emphasis on outcomes as opposed to personal investment in the process of learning.

They reduce the beauty and complexity of academic endeavor to atomistic standards as part of their crusade to deprive educators of professional discretion.

They strip seasoned professionals of dignity and destroy their morale.

We, therefore, educators of America, straightforwardly and without dissembling, appealing to the Master Instructor for the iGeneration, do, in the name—and assuming the authority— of public school teachers throughout this Land, brazenly publish and declare that we are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent of Corporate Influence; that we are absolved of allegiance to Arne Duncan and his ilk, and that all connection between educators and Bill Gates’ connivances is hereby dissolved, and that as Free and Independent Tutors, we have full power to offer learners a democratic environment, disregard the CCSS, ignore John Hattie’s latest work of fiction, and do all things that free-thinkers of the world might do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the dearly-departed Socrates, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives (such as they are after semester grading), our meager salaries and 403(b)s, and what little honor we have left after attending PLC conferences.

WE SIGN OUR NAMES…

David Sudmeier

Seattle, WA; Social Studies Educator in the Lake Washington School District; member, Washington State Badass Teachers

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