Democracy itself is never an easy path to take. But we cannot nourish what we don't practice, so the fearfulness of teachers (which is actually an old trait which unionization did not cure—it just meant teachers relied on the union to be outspoken) is enemy No. 1 of serious school reform—and democracy. What we're engaged in now is "de-form"—an intensification of the old factory-style ideal with the advantages of modern technology. (In some states, teachers get their daily lesson plan by way of the computer which they must check each morning.)
In the Indiana school I visited, the principal was powerless to prevent her teaching staff from following the absurd "pacing guides" in every academic subject. (There are only two: language arts and math.) They must literally be on the same page regardless of whether their students do or don't understand what they're being taught. Enforcement involves both regular "formative" assessment tests and "coaches," who are obliged to act like spies for the central administration. The staff's respect for their principal and each other remains high, but it is wavering as they face her powerlessness to preserve innovative practices that the school was built upon or protect the staff when they do what they believe in.
Lesson plans mailed to teachers every morning. Prescribed lesson plans that MUST be followed to the letter (and hour!) or the spies sent from the central administration bring you up on charges. And the principal, even if she or he wants to, can do nothing to save you.
Yeah, that's change we can believe it.
Except, of course, it's not.
It's centralized Stalinesque control by the few over the many.
Only this time the Stalinists are corporate whores like Klein and Duncan, Bloomberg and Obama.
We're not education children for democracy, we're educating them for the corporatocracy.
Socializing students to work 60 hour/6 day work weeks, receive pittances from the corporate coffers for pay, work into their 40's or 50's - then get downsized and spend the rest of their work lives toiling at some McJob for minimum wage...
That's the future in Obama's America, in Bloomberg's America - the top 1% engorging themselves off the work and lives of the other 99%.
It's not pretty.
It's not change we can believe it.
But it is the future unless we do something about it soon.