November 11, 2011
I am still stunned by this sentence…
<—- pg.46 “Most people are unaware that Mahatma Ghandi publicly acknowledged the influence suffragists had on his belief in civil disobedience and non-violent revolution.”
Given the complex challenge corporate education reform poses, today’s teacher activists cannot just have a strategy which is solely school or teacher centered. They must become community organizers who fight school closings, the proliferation of tests, and the weakening of teacher bargaining rights as attacks on the ability of working class people and people of color to fight for better opportunities for themselves and their children. In this setting, Teacher Activists must put forth a vision of Radical Democracy which envisions an education which empowers students as critical thinkers and agents of historical change, not just as obedient test takers and which envisions schools playing a central role in neighborhoods united and mobilized to get a fair share of the nation’s resources. Occupy Wall Street has provided a language and an example to put that model of Radical Democracy into practice. But it cannot work unless teachers link their own fate to that of the students they work with and the people in the communities where their schools are located. Unless Teacher activists become community organizers and justice fighters in the broadest sense, they will lose the battle to defend their classrooms from the incursions of corporate interests.
The dominant feeling within North America social economy and solidarity economy practitioners is that no real change will come about in the economic system unless economic alternatives are built from the ground up. Building concrete alternatives provide examples that show that there are other economic paths: that worker owned and run enterprises with good working conditions and environmentally sound practices are achievable and viable. No amount of protests or demonstrations, or even elections, will change the “system” by itself. In other words, we must roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty to show that this other economy is possible. Indeed, more and more people feel that this is the only way. After all, other changes in economic systems did not come out by sudden upheavals or revolution. Capitalism did not replace feudalism by a sudden revolution. It took something like 3 to 5 centuries for the bourgeoisie to overtake feudalism. It was a long process and they fought hard to take hold of the economy. In other words, they strengthened their class until it got stronger than the old forces. Of course, this way of explaining fundamental changes in society is open to debate. But, certainly this is a possible, or plausible, explanation: we need to have a long term approach. Even if we could all hope for rapid and radical changes, we must recognize that they could take a long period of time. The society and economy we strive for is a people‟s centered economy. By definition, this means that this new economy will be governed to the greatest extent possible through direct participatory democracy at all levels..