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A July Fourth Reminder for Myself

July 4, 2013

In a few hours, I will make myself at home at PJ’s Coffee Shop and write for most of the rest of the day. I will stop for a bit to visit my sister and watch her children light their fireworks. Then, I will go home and write some more.

I am a public school teacher, and I am not teaching for the summer. What that means is I have spread my ten months of pay over a twelve-month period. It does not mean that I am being paid by the state for my time outside of the classroom.

This summer, I am writing a book. It is about key individuals and organizations pushing hard for the privatization of American traditional public education.  Thanks to the convincing recommendations of two friends, a publisher has already signed with me for this book, which I hope will be published by the end of 2014. We will see.

Writitng a book takes a lot of time and energy, and the summertime is my prime time for writing.  In addition to writing the book, I also intentionally work in some blog postings. I have readers who depend upon my posts. Plus, I want to be balanced and not allow my blog to wither despite my concentrating on the book.

With all of my writing it is easy to forget that today is a holiday and to consider what this holiday means for me, even as I spend most of my day writing.

In America, I can afford to live indoors, in a house that keeps out the weather and creatures and is climate-controlled. I sleep in a comfortable bed. I do not worry about my safety as I sleep.

In America, when I awake, I have ample choices of food to eat. I do not worry that the food might not be fresh and that I could die from it. I have fresh water to drink and to use to wash my face and brush my teeth.

I am healthy, and if I were not, in America, I have adequate access to medicine and medical care to address the situation.

In my early hours, I devote time to studying the bible and to prayer. In America, I do not face arrest or harsher punishments for doing so.

As an American woman, I have legal rights. I am not considered some man’s property. I am not denied education or employment. I am not forced into marriage. I am allowed to make my own decisions for my life.

I am very grateful to be an American.

As an American and as one whose ultimate faith is in God (even my American money tells me to trust in Him), I realize full well my responsibility to leverage my freedom for the greater good, both in America and throughout the world. I realize that not all Americans are experiencing the benefits I listed above, though as people living in such a land of plenty, they should be. For me, my best weapon is my writing. My arena is education, where certainly the fight is on.  There are those who work to destroy the democratic foundation that is traditional public education in America. They do so in the name of  “market principles,” of  “free enterprise” and “choice,” but their motivation is nothing more than a barely-disguised, self-serving greed. They refuse to use their positions to address the incredibly embarrassing American issue of childhood poverty and instead insist that American teachers are the blame for a fabricated “urgency” regarding our national security.

They are propagating a huge lie. As an American, it is both my honor and my duty to expose them.

God Bless America.

25 Comments
  1. Alan Maclachlan permalink

    Well said!

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Thanks for the message.
    I don’t like to write, but it is a way to teach, and in more than byte sizes chunks.
    I thought I was starting an article.
    Last week it was looking like a monograph.
    Today is is looking more like a little book.
    Thanks for the blogs, and exposing the scams.
    I hope to be doing the same, for a relatively small number of colleagues in arts education who are still left in public school classrooms.

  3. Thanks, Mercedes! Throughout history we have been warned about the power of the half-educated. They are giving away our culture and freedoms to false ideologies parading under such deceptively simple headings as free market capitalism. This is an atheistic, one-world, plutocratic system which enriches greatly a tiny royalty, ruling class, and creates huge amounts of poverty. It destroys this middle class which is a government created phenomenon occurring after WWII when we decided to honor our returning soldiers with the opportunity to have a life based upon personal and social meritocracy. This middle class has been systematically attacked by the international forces, free market capitalism, which have no loyalty to any country, people, or religion. The destruction of the public school as the regenerative agent of the community is the best means to create a permanent lower class living in poverty. Nothing the reformers has done has increased the abilities of these communities to recreate themselves. It is about community not individual children. The privatization of public services results in huge amounts of money spent for ever decreasing qualities of service. Wake up, America. We have been “drinking lightly at the Pierian springs.” It’s time to drink largely and sober up to the reality of giving our republic away as Jefferson warned us and choosing voluntary bondage. Thanks Mercedes! Let’s expose the half truths which have taken the flag ship positions.

  4. Bridget permalink

    Thank you for reminding us… We should all stop for a moment to remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in a country with such freedoms, but at the same time reflect on the tragedy of those who are not so lucky as ourselves. We should also commit ourselves to do whatever we can to help improve things for those less fortunate than ourselves. This might be little things or big things depending on our own situation and inclinations. Either is fine, as long as we remember… There but for the grace of God go I.
    Today I celebrate our country and our independence and our freedoms. I also mourn for those both in and out of our country who are not as blessed and wish for much blessings upon them. I will continue to do my best within my school to improve the lives of my students, to the best of my ability. Happy Fourth!

  5. John Young permalink

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  6. Ellen permalink

    Mercedes…the depth of your faith and commitment is a wonder to me. I always learn from you.

    Although I too am glad I am not living in a country that disrespects women and rules with religious fervor, I try, however, not to forget the things that worry me about the country of my birth.

    I worry about the vast disparity of wealth between the rich in America and everyone else.

    I worry that we do not have single payer universal health care as does every other industrialized nation.

    I worry that our government is made up of too many legislators who do not care for their constituents but rather feather their own economic nests.

    I worry that our Department of Justice continues to ignore the banksters and their on-going frauds which enrich them at the expense of We, the People.

    I worry that we are having our civil liberties eroded rapidly, and we are not doing enough to stop this. Our voices are being silenced in so many legal ways that it takes my breath away.

    I worry that there are so many homeless and starving people in my community and nationwide who live in abject poverty. Every time I drive to the university I pass the VA Hospital and see the homeless vets who are forgotten by our government and left to sleep and beg on the streets.

    And through it all I see the 1%, and even the 2%, who call all the shots motivated by their drive for power and their insatiable greed.

    Yes, I am a Democratic Socialist and an atheist, but now that I am an older woman and have spent a long life as an educator looking at society, and studying other societies history, I worry that with all the hard work of the many who believe in justice and the rule of law, still the world is manipulated by the worst of us, the war mongers who feed off what is now our perpetual state of war.

    I cannot bring myself to feel any sense of celebration today.

    • Hi, Ellen. I keep my head up as I think of the words of Christ: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart: I have overcome the world.”

      So I expect the trouble. And I trust Christ as I work to do my part to remedy the issue.

      I celebrate the victories and enjoy the camaraderie of others as we work for the common good.

      I am glad that you are in this fight with me.

      Chin up, my friend.

      –Mercedes

  7. Yeshua of Nazareth said,

    “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

    and

    “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

  8. KrazyTA permalink

    I share you optimism. Change will not come quickly, but with folks like you the edubullies will not have their way.

    “Let the people take heart and hope everywhere, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning.” [Eugene V. Debs]
    🙂

  9. As someone who just became a teacher four years ago, I remember my college instructors saying that the single most important factor affecting a child’s academic achievement is the teacher.
    If teachers are being taught this, in such an unnuanced way, it makes it difficult to argue that poverty has to be tackled, too. Teachers are taught they are super men or women.
    I think teacher education needs to change. Perhaps there needs to be an element of advocacy / democracy in their training. Of course, I think it is a pity that the unions are responsible for training each new cohort of teachers.

    • (Correction: I think it is a pity that the unions are NOT responsible for training each new cohort of teachers.

      • Hi, John. I am sure that some teacher training programs do need to change. However, let me add that as a profession, teaching is not valued in the paycheck. I am not advocating merit pay. I think merit pay is a lost cause in teaching. However, if teachers drew higher salaires in general, the profession could be more selective about criteria for both entrance and certification.

        Having noted as much, let me add that I felt well equipped in my oww training at LSU. But it was as much of what I chose to invest of myself as a student as it was what they university offered to me by way of learning opportunity.

        I graduated in the top 5% of my entire class (all majors)– top 100 out of 2000 grads. Still, if a student comes into my class not having eaten for a day, I must address that issue if I expect to have the student focus on my teaching.

        –Mercedes

  10. Mercedes, (Dr. Schneider)
    Thank you for keeping the public informed to the prevalent issues that exist within the education arena. I also appreciate the sacrifice you make on a daily basis to keep the information flowing. Writing takes time and commitment. I am elated you have chosen to write a book about the education reform effort in Louisiana and I am quite certain your book is not specific to Louisiana. We all know the education reform effort has no boundaries and there is the national agenda advocated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
    As I celebrated my July 4th holiday, I chose to spend it away from the IPAD, the cell phone, and the computer. My husband and I chose to sit much of the day yesterday in New Orleans to “people watch” and to reflect on how blessed we are to be free and to live in our wonderful USA. As you suggested, while we have our challenges, specifically with hastily implemented reform initiatives, we are indeed free to stand up and speak out against them. There are so many brave men and women to whom we owe our sincere gratitude–we can sleep peacefully knowing they are our protectors. Thank GOD for our military personnel and our USA!

    Additionally, I thank God for you, Mercedes. Your PURPOSE is defined. Continue the “fight!”

    • Thank you, Lottie. I deeply appreciate your role in this fight, as well– a shining light on BESE.

      –Mercedes

  11. Robert Rendo permalink

    Mercedes,

    I don’t do the Christ thing at all nor am I into very much organized religion. But if ever there were a good example of a Christian, or just of a highly respected, moral individual who is sensitive to the needs of not just herself and her immediate community, but to society at large, it’s you.

    Thank you for inspiring us all, we who read your work on this and the Ravitch blog.

    My Mount Olympus dream panel of education policy makers on federal level and state levels or as individual candidates for the next AFT and NEA presidents would be you, Diane, Leonie Haimson, Susan Ohanian, Michael Winerip, Robert Shepherd, Arthur Goldstein, Kenneth Bernstein, and Mr. Krazy TA (He only gives his nom de plume).

    Keep on writing and teaching . . . .

  12. H.A. Hurley permalink

    I admire your dedication to ‘all that is right with the world’, and I share your concern for the damage caused by the corporate greed stronghold on education. I have been a teacher and an administrator since 1970. I dedicated my professional life to my profession, and continue to do so in my retirement.
    Given the massive destruction caused by corporate know-it-all’s and legislators to children, teachers and communities, I continue to speak up, along with thousands of others. My concerns increase as time goes on. More schools close, thousand of children are moved across cities, families holding their collective breaths and enormous numbers of teachers leaving the profession (fired, QUIT or retire). The exit of this highly trained group of dedicated educators may bring joy to the greedy hearts of EdReformers, but our Nation will pay a very high price.

    Our great country celebrates Capitalism and it has worked for us for years. We may not be prepared for the combination of highly developed technology, access of information to almost EVERYTHING, Power of Access and $$$, endless supply of $$$ by some, and the goodness or evil of mankind.

    Children are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ and teachers are their first responders in school. This relationship has been seriously damaged in the name of ‘getting rid of BAD teachers’. Such poppycock! That is the oldest excuse for insecure, unskilled and power hungry so-called leaders. Now, the stakes are the highest!

    I am often discouraged, feel hopeless, and get furious about the needless harm caused. If Finland were not so bloody cold, I would consider moving. I am boosted by the daily fight so many good people demonstrate in blogs, publications, demonstrations, radio and twitter. I continue to believe that these sharletons will find other greedy matters to sink their teeth in, and leave education to those of us who know how to do it right.

  13. Jeannette permalink

    I think you’re amazing and so smart! ….really an inspiration. I look forward to your book!!! See if you can expedite it! 🙂

    • Thank you, Jeanette. I have written 92,000 words in four months. I think this is as “expedited” as I can get.🙂

      –Mercedes

  14. Jeannette permalink

    lol and you’re funny! I understand.🙂

  15. BRomero permalink

    Wonderful piece! So glad you are doing the book and the blog!

  16. KrazyTA permalink

    KrazyMathLady: I beg pardon for taking up more of the comments section, but your reply to Robert Rendo moved my fingers to my keyboard—

    “I feel the weight of your compliments.”

    Please pardon me for not wishing to remove the “weight” of his “compliments.” With no disrespect to a few other stats/numbers folks who blog [e.g., Gary Rubinstein and Dr. Bruce Baker] I think you have proven by your blog and your comments elsewhere that you set the very highest professional and ethical standards for yourself in presenting your case in favor of public education. And the standards setters amongst the Eduluminaries? Well, just four examples should suffice:

    a), Doctor Steve Perry [“Men lie and women lie but numbers don’t”];
    b), Billionaire Bill Gates [98% of teacher evals consist of just the word “satisfactory”];
    c), Dr. Erik Hanushek [on BRIDGING DIFFERENCES with Deborah Meier: “In our conversations about accountability, we have skirted around the issue that I think drives the most heated debate—namely, that accountability involves evaluation of teachers and administrators. And teachers and administrators are ‘agin it,’ period.”];
    d), the apparatchiks of the NCTQ [see Aaron Pallas, published by The Hechinger Report: “the NCTQ website does rate some features of our teacher-prep programs. I was very gratified to see that our undergraduate elementary and secondary teacher-education programs received four out of four stars for student selectivity. Those programs are really tough to get into—nobody gets admitted. And that’s not hyperbole; the programs don’t exist.”].

    In other words, I presume [please forgive me] that you will not only try to make your case but that you will take pains to show that there are numbers/stats people who haven’t, and aren’t, and will not be bought off, co-opted and silenced. To model how a specialist can skillfully use data in a transparent, ethical and useful way. That’s the standard I feel you have set for yourself. And that’s a standard the edufrauds can’t truthfully lay claim to.

    Hence, for only the second time in my life [the first being for Diane Ravitch’s upcoming new book] I have already decided on the 1 + 2 plan for your projected book—one for me, and the others for two other people I hope will read it seriously. I ask others to consider doing the same.

    So to put it briefly: I know you won’t disappoint the rest of us because you will refuse to disappoint yourself.

    “Rather fail by honor than succeed with fraud.” [Sophocles]

    That’s for you as a blogger and soon-to-be author.

    For all you do as an educator: “Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.” [Aristotle]
    🙂

  17. Join our page on FB. You would be such an asset to our page. We are fighting common core .

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  1. Mercedes Schneider: Why I Am Glad to Be an American | Diane Ravitch's blog

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