Steven Singer, who teaches in Pennsylvania, wrote about the exciting first day of the Network for Public Education conference in Raleigh. It is hard to capture the camaraderie, the fun, the sheer pleasure of meeting with fellow activists from all parts of the nation. But Steve does a good job of describing the exhilaration we feel.

 

He writes:

 

 

“Do you remember three years ago when I said this would all be over in 6 months?”

“And we all laughed. Me the loudest, because back then I had thought the same darn thing.

“Corporate education reform is on its last legs. Once we tell people about the terrible mistakes of standardized testing and Common Core, it will all be over in an election cycle or two.

“Kelly, that incredibly dedicated member of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) from Ohio, hadn’t been the only one.

“It seemed so reasonable back then. Once it became common knowledge, our leaders couldn’t keep perpetuating policies that harm our children, we thought.

“No one would actually continue to stomp on the futures of our little kids once we’d pointed out that that was what they were actually doing! Right?

“Now the Network for Public Education is having its third annual conference – this one in troubled Raleigh, North Carolina. And far from being on its last legs, the testocracy is mightier than ever with a new federal education policy, the Every Student Succeeds Act, rebranding and refreshing its same horrific disdain for the young.
“But that’s not really news, is it?
“The powerful have always tried to find ways to keep the poor and minorities under heel. It’s a struggle as old as civilization, itself.

“What’s new is us.

“Yes, us – the ragtag band of rebels and revolutionaries who gather together every year to celebrate our victories, lament our losses and plan for the future.
“This is a real community – stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced. During the year we all have our separate support systems, be they Badass Teachers, United Opt Out, our teachers unions, our communities or – for many of us – some unique combination.
“But once a year we all come together from our separate corners of the country (and in some cases beyond) to commune, to gather strength from each other so we can carry on the fight.
“I cannot express to you the power and the glory I got this morning listening to Chicago parent activist Rousemary Vega talking about the pain of losing her children’s community school. This is still a raw wound for her, gushing blood. One moment she was heartbreaking sorrow; the next she was frightening strength and determination.
“She told us how to learn from her example, how to put up a fight, how to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to ever do this again. And when she was done and I had dried the tears that she had somehow cried with my eyes, I found that I had a tiny Rousemary inside my heart. I will never forget her story. I hope I can call on even a fraction of her strength.”