THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE CHILD
For many folks Labor Day is the real New Year’s Day. The sun begins to lose its blister, tans start their fade, and the evenings catch a chill. For kids, the new school year should be exciting stuff … all about new teachers, new friends and new clothes. Moms catch the excitement, too. Not this year. This year is different.
This year “labor” has an entirely different whiff. This isn’t the year of the shop steward or the bridge-builder or the craftsman. It’s not about the blue-collar artisan or the white-collar professional. This year it’s all about heart muscles, instincts and souls you can’t see. This year is different.
You can thank Arne Duncan and Common Core for the “new” Labor Day twist. Remember this slam? That mothers are upset that “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” Well, he’s made Labor Day all about motherhood and a special sort of “labor” … the sort that involves a sacred kind of miracle. A child.
That miracle is all about distended tummies and creaky backs. And morphing bodies into an almost holy nests … ingenious, portable incubators with built-in dairy supplies and vitamin stock-piles. It’s about temporary contortions and accommodating a life within a life. This kind of “labor” doesn’t produce a boxcar or move freight or lift an airplane. This labor is all about life. And we all begin life the same way … as a child. And when some educrat … far removed from real life … mocks the mother and her instincts you get a special sort of labor war. You don’t knock miracles.
Common Core mocks mothers. It mocks their instincts. The Common Core message is subtle and disturbing. Mothers don’t know best. Arne Duncan knows best. Bill Gates, too. And David Coleman and John King. Mothers are just child-minders, not very fit for any crucial decisions. And absolutely unfit for shaping a life … beyond incubation. Once their days as diaper wipers and walking juice-bars end, well, it’s time to fanny-pat those children into the arms of the new life-shapers who’ll see to it that the child shucks off that childhood nonsense in flash so that real life preparation can finally begin under the glow of rigor. You see, childhood is a wasted time. Life is serious stuff, better to get right to the serious life-stuff. The New Socrates are in control.
Mothers have some rights. They have full custody, but little control. But the New Socrates have spoken. Mothers’ instincts are no match for data points and norms and percentiles. Kids need to be bar-coded. It’s the new science … bellied-upped by technology and foundationed by universal prescriptions devised by the New Socrates who’ll guide every child down the rugged road of the college-bound and the career ready.
For the New Socrates, joy is a waste. Play is a bigger waste. Curiosity is a danger because, well, the child might break stride … can’t have that. Every child drinks the same starch and gets the same crease. Education is to be a pin-point science … colorless and tangent-free. It has to be on course and on time because Common Core says so. That’s the new dogma … instincts be damned. And mothers be damned.
A mother’s instincts are just primal left-overs … no longer quite suitable for successful child-rearing. Their child’s education needs to be regimented and stop-watched and then plotted. Wonder and giggles are flaws … and individuality is the new narcissism. Education has run beyond its medieval roots and every child … yours included … will buck-up and gestapo-step to the new nonsense. Change is here and mothers don’t quite make the grade.
Stop right there! Once again here’s the memo the New Socrates didn’t take seriously enough. Listen up.
This is what the “new” Labor Day is all about. Children now have their own union. And mothers are the new union brass. The kitchen counter is the new bargaining table. And unless the Common Core contract is swapped out for more child-centric, kid-friendly conditions there will be the mother of all strikes. There will be stoppages of all sorts … from opting out of tests to questioning every lesson and every text. Homework gets new scrutiny … everything is to be questioned because schools are the new battleground. This year is different.
Common Core is over. Done. Mothers want their schools back. They want real teachers for their children … not Teach for America scabs. They want administrators who are fearless in defense of children and childhood. They demand school standards that are proper and curriculum designs that complement a child’s age … and allow for the oxygen of creativity and individuality. They want master teachers as the engineers … not theoretical imposters and their subliminal messaging. The tables have turned. This school year every educrat and politician will be assessed … at the ballot booth. Mothers are raising THEIR bar. This is the Year of the Child.
These are the demands. They are non-negotiable. This year is different.
Happy New Labor Day.
Guest blog by Denis Ian. New York teacher, parent, grandparent, common core activist.