Dear Fighters of Educational Corporate Reform,
I think we can all agree that it's in all of our best interest, in fighting corporate reform, to point out the many inaccuracies in the CR argument. However, there is something to be said for doing it gracefully, with dignity. On the other hand, there is something destructively polarizing about doing it with vitriol. Demonizing those who disagree with us, to the point where anyone standing on middle ground would look at the debate and be disgusted or unimpressed with our side, is not a useful technique for demonstrating the merits of our argument. I sincerely doubt the utility of anger and hate as a method for advocating for the best interest of public education and children. To that end, I think it's incredibly important that those who are used to debating in this manner rethink the way they choose to address the ideas and people they disagree with. I also think it's in all of our best interest to stop promoting those people until they do. Their rhetoric only provides fodder for anyone out there looking to prove that teachers and parents resisting corporate reform are a bunch of crackpots uninterested in listening to the other side because we're only interested in self-preservation or some sort of arthritically misguided ideology. Furthermore, the treatment of anyone, regardless of whether they're rich, privileged, idealistic, or TFA corps members as if anything they say or think is worth less than a pile of shit is reprehensible regardless of what debate you're having or what side you're on.
As advocates for meaningful change in the world of public education, it is as equally incumbent upon us to cry foul when members of our own side go awry as it is when the corporate reformers get it wrong. While there are undoubtedly loads of people playing this reform game who have no real interest in helping children, and may even deserve some of the harsh things we want to throw at them, there are at least as many (and I think more) who think this is legitimately the best way to do right by kids, either because they lack experience or because they simply have a different perspective (I used to be that way). If those of us fighting in the name of public education fail to push back against fellow decriers of corporate reform who go too far, we risk important opportunities to engage with people who, while they may be of a different opinion right now, are open to discussing alternative ways of improving education in this country (e.g. me three years ago).
While I sympathize with the frustration the corporate reform movement causes, and I've not been entirely innocent of spewing inappropriate venom toward those I disagreed with in the past (Seyward Darby comes to mind), seeing the degree to which some have taken it has reminded me of its ultimate futility. I'm deeply concerned that everything my blog and much of the collective advocacy of many of the stellar people fighting corporate reform have worked for is indefinitely injured by this ongoing venom. While I support freedom of speech, I'm afraid it's a far cry from our best interest to promote it when it's invective.