An Activists Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt Out's Test of Courage

By Homana, Gary | JCT (Online), September 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

An Activists Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt Out's Test of Courage


Homana, Gary, JCT (Online)


An Activists Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt Out's Test of Courage An Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt Out 's Test of Courage Edited by Morna McDermott, Peggy Robertson, Rosemarie Jensen, and Ceresta Smith. Published by Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, NC.

ACTS OF RESISTANCE SERVE TO CHALLENGE AND SUPPORT the values and expectations that are at the foundation of our democratic society, ultimately pushing us to reflect upon who we are, what we cherish, and how we act to address inequality as we move forward as a nation. This timely book documents the ongoing struggles, successes, and determination of a core group of educator activists dedicated to addressing inequalities within our education system, especially those perpetuated as a result of high-stakes testing or under the guise of education reform. An Activists Handbook for the Education Revolution: United Opt Out 's Test of Courage offers a comprehensive analysis that is both personal and communal in nature, outlining how these activists have sought to take a stand on behalf of both children and the craft of teaching to reclaim the promise of education and public schools grounded in our democratic ideals of equality, access, empowerment, and possibility. Though many of these very terms have been co-opted through privatization, corporate take-over, and contemporary discourses of "education reform," the authors of this edited volume call upon educators, students, and parents/guardians alike to take back what is rightfully theirs.

The book provides an invaluable contribution to anyone and everyone concerned about the future of education, not only in the United States, but within the context of American global imperialism. It demonstrates the potential and power of how a small group of dedicated individuals can make a difference, despite enormous challenges, by cultivating a movement, which has already inspired thousands of others to participate. Just as Lindblum's (1977) classic work shines a spotlight on the relationship between government and capitalism to expose the privileged positions of business on a global scale, Ricardo Rosa's forward to this book explains how the efforts of United Opt Out (UOO) effectively extends such a critique of social inequity, moving from theory to action. McDermott, Robertson, Jensen, and Smith (2015) help carry the torch by framing public schools as institutions representative of democratic practice that are independent of neo-liberal corporate and political influence-that want to use schools to promote their own agendas-rather than teaching and learning for creativity, imagination, a sense of the possible, liberation of the human potential, and working for positive change in society. Importantly, the authors also situate their efforts within the larger social, political, and economic context-ultimately exposing and challenging the inequalities resulting from, and privileges granted to, market fundamentalism.

At its core, this new publication promotes a humanistic (re)conceptualization of education and challenges standardized testing as part of an unbridled assault on democracy, freedom of speech, humanistic values, and critical thinking. Chomsky and Robichaud (2014) among others argue that standardized testing is part of the wider neo-liberal ideology for the concentration of privatization and power. Jaramillo and Barros (2011) note large-scale investment in education by both private corporations and the federal government underscore the "hidden ideology of education in the service of capital rather than education as a means to resolve society's most imminent problems" (p. 74) such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, violence, and joblessness among youth and their families. Jaramillo and Barros further contend that these political and capitalistic acts of aggression commodify those things that make us human, leading to ignorance in our moral and ethical considerations, psychological and social health, and construction of knowledge. …

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