"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

John Kuhn: ". . . parents opt out of having their children make bullets for privatizers."

John Kuhn has a solid commentary on the opt out movement, and especially on the hypocrisy of those who criticize opt-out parents, when the critics have been opting their kids out for years. Take the Obamas, for instance, whose girls go to Sidwell Friends. Or any other parent who has chosen private schools where mindless testing does not take up most of time that should be dedicated to learning.  It's a good piece--read it and share it.

Here are a couple of the attacks being circulated on those who opt out, with my reactions to them:  From Kuhn:
I’ve seen folks shame opt-outers by comparing them to anti-vaxxers, insinuating that they are selfishly harming the public good by not letting their kids test (ignoring, obviously, the scientific validity of inoculations and the lack thereof for test-driven sanctions). 
This is a wild comparison, since it is those on the side of science and common sense who are opting out in an attempt to stop their children from being used as guinea pigs for corporate experiments that have no scientific or common sense basis to support their use.  The best you can say about the CorpEd testing regime is that it hopes to use various admixtures of snake oil that will somehow have an effect on the deadly poverty that is killing communities and ripping the country apart.
Others note that the opt-out movement includes significant numbers of suburban parents, thereby calling into question its legitimacy as a representative movement for civil disobedience in the service of a greater good.
And who is it that has declared that geography or income must govern the rightful use of civil disobedience?  Middle class parents can't exercise non-violent resistance for a legitimate cause that may include the health and safety of their own children, too?  That's simply nonsense.  

We know from history, in fact, that most revolutions only happen when the upper classes locate their rage and act on it. It is only where “there is some reason to suspect that conditions could be changed and are not [that we see] rage arise” (Hannah Arendt).  Furthermore, the absence of rage or resistance among many urban parents offers clear indications of successful dehumanization by a racist and classist system.

I see all parents and children involved in the struggle to reclaim public schools, whether middle class or poor or wealthy, as some of the freedom riders of this generation of anti-status quo CorpEd, who have finally found their indignation, good sense, and moral centers.



  1. Mr. Horn,

    Emily Talmage here (formally Emily Kennedy... we spoke several times about Ascend Learning in the past). I just wanted to add to this... in the district where I work in Maine, we have a handful of schools populated primarily by middle/upper-middle class white families, and a handful of schools populated primarily by low-income and Somali immigrant families. I work at one of the low-income high-immigrant schools, and can tell you that the reason our opt-out rates are so much lower than at the higher income schools is that our families simply do not know they have this option. I begged my superintendent to simply let me send a note home informing my families that they have a right to choose, and he said no. When we spoke in person, he spoke condescendingly of our middle-class families who are "undermining" public education by opting their children out. I told him that the only reason my students' families aren't opting out is that they do not have access to the same information as our other families - this by his very design. It's infuriating.

    1. Great to hear from you, Emily. We can only hope the growing opt out movement will "undermine" your knuckle-headed principal.