Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Everyone Ignored the United Opt-Out Conference in Philadelphia: No News is Good News

This past weekend marked  the United Opt Out conference in Philadelphia called “Transcending Resistance, Igniting Revolution.” I follow this anti-standards and assessments/school choice group, so I googled the conference to find news coverage.

Guess what? There is not a single news piece on the conference. There was a one blog post by Steven Singer (reposted by Diane Ravitch: does that count as two?) who was so verklempt during a speech by Chris Hedges that “my chest was heaving, tears were leaking from my eyes and I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop.” Singer, a member of the Badass Teachers Association Leadership Team, explained what moved him so:
Rebellion, [Hedges] said, is not about changing the world. It’s about changing yourself.

When you stand up for what is right, you become a better person – whether you achieve your goal or not. In a sense, it doesn’t matter if we destroy the testocracy. But in trying, we transmute ourselves into something better.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I’d like to think so.
There’s a kind of self-indulgent solipsism here that seems particularly appropriate to United Opt Out. Goals are secondary to self-actualization. Children's educational needs take second chair to the soloist’s self-improvement agenda.

Here’s one example: United Opt Out expresses strident animosity towards Bill Gates because he supports Common Core and the “corporatization” of public schools (i.e., charters). Never mind the Gates Foundation’s extensive history of  philanthropy for causes right up the morally-upright liberal alley: vaccine development and delivery, climate change, water sanitation in third-world countries, HIV, maternal and infant health. But Gates' name is dirt because he funded elevation of national academic standards.

How do these people reconcile their myopia with their righteousness?

Beats me. Anyway, the United Opt Out conference in Philadelphia was apparently non-newsworthy and attended by the usual suspects. The tree fell, but no one heard it.


stevenmsinger said...

Thanks for quoting me at such length. It was a great conference. Perhaps you should have come and seen for yourself before dropping all that negativity. Anyway, a few corrections. 1) I wrote 3 articles about the conference: United Opt Out Conference Highlights Dual Role of Technology in Education, https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/united-opt-out-conference-highlights-dual-role-of-technology-in-education/, How Radical Must We Be To Get the Schools Our Children Deserve? United Opt Out Musings, https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/how-radical-must-we-be-to-get-the-schools-our-children-deserve-united-opt-out-musings/, and Dr. Jill Stein is the Best 2016 Presidential Candidate, But Can She Win, https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/dr-jill-stein-is-the-best-2016-presidential-candidate-but-can-she-win/ There was also an article about Jill Stein addressing the conference: Stein to address United Opt Out Conference, http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2016/02/26/stein-to-address-united-opt-out-conference/ And I'm sure there is more to come. We all work for a living and write when we have a chance. Finally, I'm not sure your thesis is a good one. What does media coverage have to do with quality? Sure the mainstream media ignores us. That doesn't mean we aren't doing good work or represent a significant segment of society. Anyway, thanks for your interest in Opt Out.

Melissa T said...

I find it funny that you are reporting on something that you did not attend. I have to wonder if the lack of media coverage was due to the fact that mainstream media has been basically told to ignore the Opt Out movement because outlets are owned by people that have a direct interest in profiting form the corporate education reform movement.