It’s My Anniversary, But I Won’t Stop Fighting Your Reforms Until the Sun Sets on Your #ReignOfError

Dear Bill and Melinda,

It’s my 20th wedding anniversary today, but on a day when I ought to be celebrating — just like every day — I found myself talking to my husband about the damages of your corporate reforms. I found myself encouraging friends to critique your interview in Education Week, Melinda. I found myself Tweeting edgy videos of satire made for reformy resistance and using Facebook to pass on a petition to ask John King in New York to resign. I found myself making memes to encourage resistance to your reforms. This was not part of my life plan. This was not how I dreamed I would spend my 20th wedding anniversary. But I won’t stop fighting your reforms until the sun sets on your “Reign of Error”.

What about the hopes and dreams of America’s public school children and their teachers? What about the hopes and dreams of those speaking out to you in this movement? What about the hopes and dreams of the children, parents, and teachers fighting your reforms in Chicago, Philly, Detroit, NOLA, DC, and here in Seattle? What about the hopes and dreams of the children and parents fighting your reforms implemented by John King in New York? You seem totally unaware your impact on our every day lives — the IMPORTANT lives of children, teachers, administrators, and communities — is devastating.

A quote on the Gates Foundation from you, Melinda says:

“Whatever the conditions of people’s lives, wherever they live, however they live, they share the same hopes, the same dreams, as you and I.” ~ Melinda French Gates

Melinda, you are right. We do have the same dreams, but we don’t have the same opportunities. Your opportunities and those of your children are very different than ours. And your reforms are making those opportunities for us and our children much less promising…

Because of your reforms:

  • Our choices and opportunities are at stake.
  • Our hopes are at stake.
  • Our dreams are at stake.
  • Our futures are at stake.
  • Our democracy is at stake.

The day-to-day lives of children, teachers, and our communities are at risk because of your reforms.

You see, because of you and all of your reforms — those of us who are fighting for children don’t feel we have the luxury to take any rest from this movement. Your reforms impact us in ways that we didn’t plan for in our daily lives. Your reforms impact our health. Your reforms impact our futures. Your reforms impact our democracy. Your reforms impact the quality of our lives, our peace of mind, our very rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Some of us in this movement have lost our marriages, some nearly so. Some of us have committed suicide over the PTSD your reforms cause. Some of us have high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and a wide array of medical or psychiatric side effects from your reforms. One teacher, ExasperatedEducator recently wrote, “Teaching is Going to Kill Me”.

‘I won’t die in a headline-garnering tragic fire at the “factory.” I’ll die at home from a stroke or a heart attack but all the same my death certificate should say, “Cause of Death: Teaching.” ‘ ~ ExasperatedEducator

Yet, you have the nerve to be concerned about YOUR “hurt feelings”? Diane recently wrote:

“It is true. I heard from a mutual friend (well, not so much a friend anymore) that Bill Gates was very hurt by my comments about his effort to remake American education.”

She even apologized in the Huff Post, “Dear Reformers, I Didn’t Mean to Hurt Your Feelings.

Diane is great, and like all human beings, I think you are human beings who are worthy of respect. Yet, I would like you to know that we are going to continue to be a part of the death of your reforms. The impact on our daily lives is something YOU should respect, but that would require some deep soul searching on your part.

In many of our lives in this movement, not a day goes by without a discussion, a brainstorming strategy session, a protest, a blog, meme making, video production, song writing, poster making, passing out flyers, teach-ins, social media posts, petitions, letters to the editors, or letters to our legislators. But you need to know, you won’t wear us down. We are not giving up. We wear this badge in battle proudly, Bill and Melinda. But is it enough?

Henry Giroux tells us we need to be stronger in our actions:

“Educators need to be more forceful, if not committed, to linking their overall investment in democracy to modes of critique and collective action that address the presupposition that democratic societies are never too just or just enough. Moreover, such a commitment suggests that a viable democratic society must constantly nurture the possibilities for self-critique, collective agency and forms of citizenship in which teachers and students play a fundamental role.” – Henry A. Giroux, “Can Democratic Education Survive in a Neoliberal Society”

Today, with the help of of many teachers’, parents’, and students’ voices like my own — we are critiquing your reforms. We are shining a light of truth on the damages you create through people like John King, Tony Bennett, and Michelle Rhee. And we will not apologize. The very basis of your reforms are built on nothing but a house of cards. The sun is setting on your HOAX , Bill and Melinda.

It’s my anniversary, but I won’t stop fighting your reforms until the sun sets on your “Reign of Error”.

Susan, Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

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About Highlighting Members' Needs

We are running for the following Renton Education Association positions because we believe in the following planks: Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President, Nelsen Middle School, Computer Tech Susan DuFresne, Candidate for Primary Executive Board, Maplewood Heights Elementary, Integrated Kindergarten ✅  Demanding a healthy work-load/life balance. ✅  Bargaining competitive professional compensation. ✅  Challenging the status quo test culture with: Less is more! ✅  Emphasizing our professional expertise. ✅  Prioritizing equity and access for all. ✅  Utilizing 2-way 21st century communication tools. ✅  Acting in solidarity with all unions. ✅  Supporting ALL members. ✅   Implementing developmentally appropriate K-3 curriculum/assessment.
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9 Responses to It’s My Anniversary, But I Won’t Stop Fighting Your Reforms Until the Sun Sets on Your #ReignOfError

  1. I just want to commend you and this site. Your work here is very much needed. I am a former Elementary special education teacher and know what it is like today, opposed to yesteryear. I gave up teaching for my health. I have always missed it. In 1980-1996, teaching was different then it is now. I prided myself on my creative way of teaching, I saw children learning things, that most thought they would never learn. Now with all the testing, my way of teaching is lost, so would the children I use to teach. None of them would perform on tests. But, they learned a lot. They are creative, skilled, smart, productive people today. They have talents others only dream of, not under the new regulations, none of them would be where they are today. They all, since I worked with mentally disturbed, what I called hard to handle, they would be in jail or on some public assistance now. I kept up with most of them. Most of them have straightened out their lives, have good jobs, nice families, and want the opportunities they had for their children. One of these young boys, works at John Hopkins, studying brain disorders. So I am saddened to here these horror stories from teachers, who like I use to do, teach because they care so much for those kids in their classroom. I never was able to have children of my own, yet all of those children that came through my classroom, I considered mine, and I am so proud of each and everyone of them. Just as I am proud of my profession. Teaching is a noble job. None of you forget that. And remember “those who can Teach, those who can’t make laws on how to teach.” Bless all the teachers, administrators and especially our children. Thank all of you for standing up for education profession and for the children. Sharon Scott (Miss Daley, to those I taught.)

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Good afternoon, Miss Daley,

      Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. We need retired teachers to take a strong lead in fighting education reform, for teachers have their jobs on the line every day. We hope you can find a group to engage with and take a leadership role for the sake of children and democracy. Please encourage other retired teachers to join you!

      Kind regards,

      Susan, Co-Author, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  2. akgreenberg says:

    Great post. Thanks for all you do. Gain, Happy 20th!

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Thank you for the very kind anniversary wishes and for the gratitude. We hope teachers and the public are listening. We doubt if Bill and Melinda are listening, but that is not so much a matter.

      Here’s what I think:

      Teachers, please read the links attached to the photo and write your own letter to Bill and Melinda Gates. Whether they read them or not matters little. Your letters help wake up a nation of sleeping teachers and give fearful teachers courage to speak out. Your letters wake up the public and give them insight into your classrooms and the impact of corporate reform. Your letters wake up our union leaders and give them the message that their members are awake and active.
      BADASS Teachers all know that corporate reform – including #CommonCore has put democracy at risk.

      Bill and Melinda Gates have funded most of Common Core, placed their Gates Foundation and Microsoft employees in high levels of the federal Department of Education, funded astro-turf organizations, and MOLDED public education NOT in the image of what THEIR own children receive – but in the image of PURE PROFIT, POWER, and CONTROL.

      Teachers, please read the links attached to the photo and write your own letter to Bill and Melinda Gates. Whether they read them or not matters little. Your letters help wake up a nation of sleeping teachers and give fearful teachers courage to speak out. Your letters wake up the public and give them insight into your classrooms and the impact of corporate reform. Your letters wake up our union leaders and give them the message that their members are awake and active.

      Please write YOUR own letter to Bill and Melinda Gates to tell them how YOU feel about how their influence has impacted DEMOCRACY.

      Here are some links for you to review. Be sure to share this photo and ask your fellow BADASS teachers to write! You can message me or Katie Lapham with your letter. Anonymous letters are welcome and are kept anonymous.

      http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/10/process_matters_in_a_democracy.html via Anthony Cody

      http://vtdigger.org/2013/08/13/ohanian-28-questions-about-the-common-core/ via Susan Ohanian

      http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/a-call-for-non-cooperation-so-that-teachers-are-not-foreigners-in-their-own-profession/ via Paul Thomas

      http://atthechalkface.com/2013/10/26/can-leaders-be-activists/ Tim Slekar

      http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/category/democrats-and-republicans-agree/ via Common Core, Education Without Representation

      What do you think?

      Susan, Co-Author, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  3. akgreenberg says:

    You’ve said it all. Thanks.

  4. Pingback: It’s My Anniversary, But I Won’t Stop Fighting Your Reforms Until the Sun Sets on Your #ReignOfError | NoFi Jazz Cafe by Matt Scott

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Thank you for sharing our blog. Keep up the good fight.

      Susan, Co-author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  5. Pingback: It’s My Anniversary, But I Won’t Stop Fighting Your Reforms Until the Sun Sets on Your #ReignOfError | sharon

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