Thursday, August 15, 2013

Matt Damon Still a Save Our Schools Superstar

This week Jeb Bush, a shameless supporter of these destructive corporate reform policies, had the audacity to criticize Matt Damon for choosing not to subject his children to the test-driven, standardized public education Bush has helped create.
Jeb Bush and ed deformers are afraid of Matt Damon. Following up on NYC Educator's great post on Matt Damon (Who's Afraid of Matt Damon?) the other day, this from SOS:

        To most Americans, Matt Damon is a Hollywood celebrity and superstar. But to Save Our Schools supporters Matt Damon is a very different kind of hero. In the summer of 2011, he put the filming of his new movie, "Elysium" on hold and flew overnight to Washington, DC to address the thousands of teachers, students, and families assembled in the sweltering heat for the Save Our Schools rally. In his Speech he told the crowd of the many contributions that his own well-rounded, enriching, public school education made to his future personal and professional success. He decried the damage being done to public schools by the corporate based reforms of high stakes testing and standardization and promised to "have our backs" in the fight ahead. His words energized and inspired the crowd and gave us hope that our plight to save public education would not go unnoticed.
Since 2011, the damage of corporate driven reform policies has been further compounded by the widespread closing of neighborhood public schools in many cities, rampant privatization of public education by for-profit charter operators, and the Race-to-the-Top mandates that tie teacher evaluation to high stakes tests. Common Core Standards are ushering in a standardized national curriculum that is impervious to the individual needs of children, the wishes of families, and the professional judgment of teachers. A "new generation" of national assessments has been initiated and funded by corporate giants, and threatens to suck the remaining sparks of creativity and imagination out of our nation's classrooms despite the valiant efforts of teachers.
This week Jeb Bush, a shameless supporter of these destructive corporate reform policies, had the audacity to criticize Matt Damon for choosing not to subject his children to the test-driven, standardized public education Bush has helped create. In a cynical twist of reality, Bush accused Damon of supporting "choice" for his family but not for the rest of the country. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The kind of "school-choice" touted by Bush (and his many bi-partisan allies) offers nothing but a phony solution for parents whose neighborhood schools have been financially decimated or closed and whose kids are forced to travel across cities (and gang lines) to attend school. "School-choice" reformers know that school vouchers don't come close to buying a ticket into the kind of private schools their own kids attend. They also know that privately-managed charter schools (not parents) have all the "choice" when it comes to providing an education to children who are low-performing, those who have special needs, or those who are learning English as a second language. Reformers know that parents aren't the ones choosing to hire non-unionized, underprepared "instant" teachers, and they're certainly not choosing to warehouse our poorest children in scandalously overcrowded classrooms.
The kind of "choice" Matt Damon and his mother, Early Childhood Educator Nancy Carlsson-Paige support is entirely different from the type advocated by corporate funded politicians like Jeb Bush. It is the choice we must make as a nation to provide all our children with great public schools right in their own neighborhoods. It is the choice to ensure that public schools have small class sizes, enriching individualized and age-appropriate curriculum, professional career educators in every classroom, authentic and meaningful on-going assessment, and a wide range of community support services to offset the effects of poverty afflicting an astounding 20% of our nation's children. It is the choice to furnish schools with fully stocked libraries that spark the love of reading, to offer meaningful professional development options for teachers, and to build partnerships between schools and families to ensure that we serve the needs of all our children, not just the privileged and more able. Once we succeed in making these choices, the dilemma that Damon and so many parents face will dissolve.
So, is Matt Damon still a Save Our Schools superstar? You bet! And so are the growing numbers of parents "opting out" of high stakes tests, teachers who are boycotting tests and resisting one-size-fits-all national standards, and students who are beginning to make their opposition heard. 
Save Our Schools invites all supporters of public education to join us on August 24th as we participate in the 50th Anniversary March on Washington. Our banner will remind the nation that "Public Education is a Civil Right." We know that Matt Damon agrees.

1 comment:

joe cole said...

Teachers oppose a one size fits all testing system. Yet these same teachers support a one size fits all public school. They want to force kids into schools where they are not safe. The teachers do nothing to stop bullying, yet want these kids to keep coming to school so they can get beaten up every day.