Regaining our Humanity and Co-optation
Right now across the country there are students, teachers, parents, and community members rising up in an act of civil disobedience, stating their proclamation to reclaim public education by refusing to be servants to the corporations and the federal mandates which attempt to destroy our schools, and ultimately our democracy. We are refusing the tests.
As we rise up and feel our own power - our power to restore dignity to our teaching profession, our power to give children what they all deserve, our power to be truthful, good and kind to our school communities, and shed our skin of the horrible mandates which have attempted to pit all of us against one another, we should recognize our ability to change the world, and indeed embrace it, and one another. We can regain our humanity; it takes immense, hard, back-breaking work, but we can do it, and we must harness that power and success, and feel it. It feels good to be human and no longer a serf fulfilling mandates that harm our country. When you regain that feeling, take stock - pause - and create a space in your memory to bring that feeling back - we must not forget what it feels like to truly be human in a country that is founded on democratic values.
However, as we see success surround us, that doesn't mean our work is done. Our work right now is based on a solid foundation of civil disobedience. Our ability to refuse tests gives us such immense power that we literally may take down the common core national tests this year. But there are other forces at play right now that could attempt to stop us by co-opting the Opt Out Movement.
What is co-optation?
Movements can also decline, if their organizations are highly dependent on centralized authority or on charismatic leadership, through co-optation. Co-optation occurs when movement leaders come to associate with authorities or movement targets more than with the social movement constituents. For example, a leader could be asked to work for the organization that is the target of a movement with offers of being able to change things from the inside. Instead they themselves become integrated into the organization and take on its values, rather than the social movement’s values. Leaders could also be paid off by authorities or target groups who ask them to redirect their activities in exchange. See more here.
Co-optation is occurring right now in multiple ways.
For example, ECS recently came out with an "opt out" document. The Education Commission of the States created this document to let folks know the legalities around opt out. This document is now being shared in tweets, on FB, as well as in articles by educational groups and individuals. This document allows folks to jump on the Opt Out Bandwagon, while defeating the main reason we have been successful as a social movement. We are successful because we recognize opt out as an act of civil disobedience. When folks share this document, while ignoring the social movement constituents - we are looking at a co-optation. Why share this document when local grassroots Opt Out movements are going strong across the country - why not share information from the local and nationalPeg with Pen: Regaining our Humanity and Co-optation: