I am privileged to be a founding member of the Council on the Future of Education, and to be – as Dr. Rob Furman said – the “Thomas Jefferson” of its Declaration of Educational Independence.
Reproduced here, as originally posted on EduFuture.us, is that document:
In Collaboration, November 16, 2017,
by the Representatives of the Council on the Future of Education
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the educational system which has connected them with the past and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of educators requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the need for change.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all children are created equal, that they are deserving by their innate nature certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, happiness, authenticity, and an individualized, future-inspired education.
— That to secure these rights, learning environments are instituted among educators, deriving their pedagogy from the consent of the students ,
— That whenever any form of education becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the students and their teachers to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new digital-age educational system, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety, happiness, authenticity, and skill mastery for the future of their choosing. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that schools long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown that students and teachers are more disposed to suffer, while teaching is sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such teaching, and to provide new structures for their future learning.
— Such has been the patient sufferance of these 21st century students; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of education. The history of the present educational institution is a history of repeated errors and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over children. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
Current policymakers have refused to accept the need for change in our educational system or to create the necessary new system that fits needs most wholesome and necessary for the good of our students.
Corporate masters and special interests have forbidden great teacher leaders from changing practices of immediate and pressing importance, such as the elimination of high stakes testing.
Preservers of the status quo system and state have refused to pass or permit appropriate policies for the accommodation of our students’ unique needs.
Politicians, without educational credentials or experience, have called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the true and proper aim of American public education, for the sole purpose of fatiguing children and teachers into compliance with their measures.
These owners of the system have dissolved representative teacher voices repeatedly, for opposing with teacherly firmness those owners’ invasions on the rights of children.
These owners have refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to allow educators to be uplifted, whereby good pedagogy, incapable of annihilation, has returned to the true teachers at large for their exercise; the school remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of ideological, corporate, and institutional invasion from without, and convulsions within.
These owners have endeavoured to prevent the modernization and futurization of these schools; for that purpose obstructing emergent research and best practices; refusing to give voice and power to those who serve children first in all things, and instead appropriating schools to serve as incubators of their antiquated idea of schooling.
These owners have obstructed the teaching of social justice by refusing to acknowledge truths and facts in favor of establishing and advancing partisan political bases.
These owners have made teachers dependent on the command of the uninformed elected alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
These owners have erected a multitude of new tests, ineffective evaluations, and irrelevancies, and sent hither swarms of corporatocrats and lobbyists to harass our schools and eat out their substance.
These owners have kept among us, in times of great public crisis, weapons of physical, emotional, and social violence without the consent of our profession.
These owners have affected to render the Standardized Testing Commercial Complex independent of and superior to the teacher and the child.
These owners have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to teaching and learning, and unacknowledged by our pedagogy; giving their assent to their agents’ acts of pretended instruction:
For denying children their rights, their voice, and their sovereign independent humanity:
For abusing them, through mock school and through obedience-demanding punishment for any natural acts of curiosity, thoughtfulness, humanity, or childhood which they should engage in the course of learning:
For cutting off our critical thinking and our curiosity with all parts of the school:
For imposing high-stakes, commercial testing on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of appropriate staffing and funding:
For insisting upon compliance with traditional and institutional mores despite lacking evidence of their value:
For abolishing free play and childhood joy from seemingly every aspect of the modern school, establishing instead an arbitrary system of corporatized testing and imposed standards so as to render the school an instrument for introducing privacy influence into the lives of children:
For taking away our public funding, abolishing our most valuable principles of education, and disabling fundamentally the ability of teachers to genuinely teach:
For suspending our research-based and academic understandings of how to teach and how children learn, and declaring themselves invested with power to decide for us in all cases whatsoever.
The political, corporate, and non-educator owners of the system have abdicated sense here, by declaring us failures and waging social war against us.
These owners plundered our budgets, ravaged our schools, burnt out our veterans, and destroyed the free childhoods of our people.
These owners are at this time transporting large armies of corporate mercenaries to complete the work of privatizing, dismantling, and crushing our schools, already begun with circumstances of ignorance and stupidity scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous pedagogy, and totally unworthy of the children of a civilized nation.
These owners have constrained our fellow citizens taken captive by this uninformed and unscientific ideology to bear social will against their schools, to become the ruiners of their children’s and their friends children’s education.
These owners have excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and have endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our communities, the merciless privatizers whose known rule of for-profit “education,” is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
In every stage of these old principles educators have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated petitions have been answered only with repeated ignorance. A politician, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a non-educator, is unfit to be the decision-maker of a free 21st century educational system.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our neighbors and fellow citizens. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our own education and our calling to the profession of teaching. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of common cause. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in policy, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the Council on the Future of Education, in general congress assembled, appealing to reason, research, and ethics, do, in the name and defense of children everywhere, solemnly publish and declare, That all students are, and of right ought to be free and independent human beings, that they are absolved from all allegiance to bad teaching, and that all ontological and pedagogical connection between them and antiquated schools, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent people, they have full power to learn authentically, think critically, express individual thought and autonomous agency freely, and to do all other acts and things which independent people may of right do.
— And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of loving adults, we mutually pledge to our children and our children’s future, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.