Myra Blackmon, who writes regularly for the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia, returned from the Network for Public Education conference in Austin ready to write about what she learned and how it applied to Georgia.

She realized that the Common Core is just a symptom of a larger problem.

She writes:

My “a-ha moment” came when I realized CCSS and testing aren’t the real problems. They’re symptoms of a bigger problem. The real problem is a systemic, far-reaching one that can be stopped only by a revolt among parents and educators. The real problem is that a very few, very wealthy individuals override the voices of thousands upon thousands of experienced educators and parents.

The real problem is that Bill Gates, who has put more than $200 million into the CCSS, has more influence than his millions of customers. The Walton family has more influence than the 1.4 million Americans who try to scrape together a living working at their stores. The Broad Foundation carries more weight than the 15,000 elected school boards in this country.

The huge education companies, with Pearson at the head of the pack, have a hugely profitable lock on the education system. They write the tests, which favor their own textbooks and packaged teacher training. They administer and score the hundreds of thousands of tests administered each year. They pour huge amounts of money into the coffers of politicians and so-called “reform” organizations.

Friends, this is, pure and simple, a corporate takeover of American public education. When the education companies have more say-so in developing standards than experienced educators, we are out of whack. When education decisions are driven by profit instead of real student achievement, we have utterly surrendered control of what happens to our children in public schools.

The job for the public, she saw, was to wake up and take back their schools from destructive federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

If it sounds like doomsday, it could well be if we don’t get busy and change it. We have to recommit at the local level, electing school boards willing to stand up to big money and the state and federal governments when they see policies that damage our children.

Thanks, Myra, for helping the public understand what is at risk today: our schools, our society, our future.