Saturday, November 21, 2015

Silence Isn't Always Golden

It is said that "Silence is Golden".  At times, yes, silence can be a lovely thing.  But, it is not golden when silence is a result of intimidation, fear and an attempt to silence a voice.  When we are silenced into compliance, there is something very wrong.  Intimidation is a form of emotional abuse.  When a person is afraid to speak the truth or give voice to concerns, then they are being manipulated into compliance.  I see this all the time and it infuriates me.  

At the State level, teachers are being silenced from voicing their concerns.  First, there is the farce of the Common Core Survey.  It is lengthy, standard specific and worded in a way that teachers cannot voice their true concerns.  It is nearly impossible to finish in one sitting.  It also comes with a notification that NYSED can view where you visited online prior to taking the survey.  The intent of the survey is to "tweak" the standards, not get rid of them or to involve real, live educators in the process of writing standards and benchmarks that are appropriate.  Early results are already being manipulated to say that "over 70% want to keep the standards".  Intimidation.  Who wants to take a survey where they can spy on your website visits, take up gobs of precious time, answer questions that are standard specific and then make sure that the outcome is already decided?  Not me. I know the standards and I don't want to be bogged down in that #shitshow for hours on end.  I can't imagine how the average parent feels, but I can guess they may feel intimidated.

If the survey isn't bad enough, we have the Common Core Task Force (AKA The Listening Tour).  How convenient that they hold meetings at times that are inconvenient for parents and teachers to attend.  How about the rumors that they have "plants" there to sing the praises of Common Core and have seats reserved for people who don't show so that it limits the audience?  Best of all, they wait to announce the time and location until just prior, making it harder to find childcare and adjust schedules.  Intimidation.  

It's no better on the local level either.  Teachers have been warned about speaking about the OptOut movement.  We have been reminded that our facebook pages can be checked.  We are careful about conversations with colleagues out of fear.  We are being watched, monitored and checked on.  We are even getting our own version of the Listening Tour, which is turning into a carefully scripted affair where only certain people are supposed to speak.  Intimidation

Personally, I know what it is like to be intimidated into being silent.  I know what it is like to emotionally abused.  I see how voices are being silenced.  I see teachers who are too bogged down in all the new curriculum and data collection to take the time to speak.  I see teachers who are afraid to veer off script and allow the kids a moment of fun for fear that an administrator may walk in and check the learning targets.  I know of teachers who are reprimanded for speaking their minds, voicing their concerns about the time expectations, developmentally inappropriate materials and practices, amount of testing and the stress that is being placed on their students.  I hear of teachers who are physically ill as a result of the stress that is being placed on them.  

Silence is not golden.  
Silence is compliance.  
Silence is what got us here in the first place.  
Silence must not prevail.  

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