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