Joshua Liebner, a National Board Certified Teacher in Los Angeles, has been fighting the destruction of public education in Los Angeles and across the nation. He was alarmed to learn that the 1% just became sponsors of education coverage in the Los Angeles Times. He now believes it is time for the Black Lives Matter movement to ally with those who are fighting the corporate assault on public education:
This is an urgent appeal to the leaders of Black Lives Matter:
It is not that far a distance from "I can't learn" to "I can't breathe".
The objectives and consciousness raising of Black Lives Matter is inextricably linked to the education that all our kids are exposed to.
The Education Reform movement as being pushed by all the GOP candidates, but alas, is backed by many Neo-liberals in the Democratic Party including President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
The 1% of this country funds "philanthropic" foundations that support a disastrous public education policy that offers more testing, more computerized instruction, less field trip and enrichment opportunities, larger class sizes and more scripted instruction to the children in urban school systems.
It is the complete opposite kind of education that they desire for their own children.
The Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Wassermans and The United Way are just a few of the organizations that are dedicated to making the world MORE unequal and MORE unjust with their Orwellian perversion of Civil Rights language. They seek to create more disparity, more dysfunction in our communities.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was brilliantly capable of seeing how many factors were linked to his original cause of equality and justice. In the last years of his life, King was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and a champion of the War on Poverty for all people. All these issues were part and parcel with Civil Rights and by addressing them, King was advancing his original calling to the rights and dignity of black people in America (and ultimately the world over).
King was fearless in criticizing the power structure of this country who operated under different rules than the rest of its people. Even when they were on "his side" for some issues, he never compromised in "shutting up" on all the other causes they were still guilty of "shutting down" that affected black people.
There is nothing more glaring than the type of education that leaders of the wealthy Education Reform Movement desire for their own kids in contrast to what they prescribe for everyone else's children.
I would hope for activism and a presence at Sidwell Friends where President Obama sends his kids.
I would hope for activism and a presence at the University of Chicago Lab School where Arne Duncan sends his kids.
Black Education Matters and if Eli Broad and the other plutocrats believe that Dr. King would be on their side in this struggle, it is time to mount a mighty offensive to disabuse this belief.
Consider where your kids go to school, how they are funded and their daily conditions and experiences. Imagine how different their future and opportunities would be if the priorities of the rich were the birthright of them as well.
We in the front lines of urban education are committed to social justice for all children and believe in the rights of parents, schools and communities to act in the best interest of their children. Not the Super PAC's of the 1% who have vested interests in profiting off the system that is supposed to assist our children--not fatten their own stock portfolios.
I would hope our causes can be linked in the mutual interest of our children.
We want these kids to breathe and learn and go on to change the world.
Yours in solidarity,
--Joshua Leibner, NBCT