Zombies Walk the Earth

I read a piece this morning about the U.S. public education system (“How to Do the Right Thing in a System That is Wrong?”) that compares teachers’ positions in today’s system to the citizens under the regimes of the former Soviet Union.  Setting aside the hyperbole (so far, we don’t have an educational secret police) the author’s rallying call makes a lot of sense: “Do the right thing, America. Protest. Stand up and stand against your state’s annual orgy of standardized testing.”

What’s so striking about this piece is its timidity and its apparent ignorance of history.  The writer, Marion Brady, seems to assume that the defeat of organized resistance is complete, and that “citizen groups… petitions… speeches… books, articles, op-eds, and letters to editors” are the only legitimate forms of collective resistance. That’s not true. The first line of resistance for teachers has to be their unions. Those communist regimes weren’t defeated by letters to the editor.

It’s important to remember that the successful fight against the Soviet System began with the solidarity movement in Poland. It’s not workers protesting alone, although the risk to individuals was great, it’s large numbers of workers working together towards a common goal.  At one time,  here in the U.S., we understood the power of collective struggle and work; it’s how we built the modern world. We have to fight the amnesia that tries to fool us into a self-defeating individualism.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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