This past weekend marked the United Opt Out conference in Philadelphia called “Transcending Resistance, Igniting Revolution.” I follow this anti-standards and assessments/school choice group, so I googled the conference to find news coverage.
Guess what? There is not a single news piece on the conference. There was a one blog post by Steven Singer (reposted by Diane Ravitch: does that count as two?) who was so verklempt during a speech by Chris Hedges that “my chest was heaving, tears were leaking from my eyes and I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop.” Singer, a member of the Badass Teachers Association Leadership Team, explained what moved him so:
Rebellion, [Hedges] said, is not about changing the world. It’s about changing yourself.
When you stand up for what is right, you become a better person – whether you achieve your goal or not. In a sense, it doesn’t matter if we destroy the testocracy. But in trying, we transmute ourselves into something better.
I don’t know if that’s true, but I’d like to think so.
There’s a kind of self-indulgent solipsism here that seems particularly appropriate to United Opt Out. Goals are secondary to self-actualization. Children’s educational needs take second chair to the soloist’s self-improvement agenda.
Here’s one example: United Opt Out expresses strident animosity towards Bill Gates because he supports Common Core and the “corporatization” of public schools (i.e., charters). Never mind the Gates Foundation’s extensive history of philanthropy for causes right up the morally-upright liberal alley: vaccine development and delivery, climate change, water sanitation in third-world countries, HIV, maternal and infant health. But Gates’ name is dirt because he funded elevation of national academic standards.
How do these people reconcile their myopia with their righteousness?
Beats me. Anyway, the United Opt Out conference in Philadelphia was apparently non-newsworthy and attended by the usual suspects. The tree fell, but no one heard it.