Revolution is Necessary
I have been in this field since 1970 when I first volunteered in an experimental classroom for children who were cast aside as troublesome. But that classroom had federal funding to do what we teachers thought was best for our children. All we had to do was show results and we were funded again. Federal taxpayer dollars funded my education, just as the GI bill funded my father’s education, which enabled me to be who I am. It also funded the creation of one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the world: widespread community and junior colleges across the land. Because the colleges were to be responsive to our communities, we built an early childhood program at North Seattle with five full-time faculty and over 200 students. That use of public funds for education with a local focus gave me the opportunity to run a laboratory with video documentation. The result of that investment flows onward through generations with ever widening ripples.
In 1980 it all changed. On television I saw the limousines pour forth people in diamonds and furs for the inaugural parties for Ronald Reagan. I didn’t understand that those parties meant that the end of federal support for the public good was coming.
The inaugural image I have of George Bush is a helicopter shot of a limousine traveling for 30 minutes down empty streets of Washington DC. There was a deathly silence as it traveled, surrounded by running secret service men with trench coats covering their weapons. I didn’t understand that a government protected by a phalanx and barricades against we the people meant the end of common sense and common voice.
I used to think the state of early education was gradually getting better in our country. As each 10-year period passed I could see growth in public interest in what was best for children, even though it was usually phrased as “my” children. But in the last 20 years, despite more attention to the brain and broader public acceptance of the importance of the experiences of the early years, a control over what children get to do, especially poor children, has become a seeping poison. It is as if public policy were intentionally designed NOT to help poor people stop being poor, but for those with wealth beyond reason to be protected by the power of guns to amass even more incredible fortunes at public expense.
Obviously, a rational argument for public investment in spaces for very young children and families is meaningless to those with power. We have the evidence of 8% to 12% return on every tax dollar for investment in early education. Nothing rivals the return. Despite a 0% to negative return for public investment in business relocation or sports arenas, billions of dollars of public money goes for business will little return. It is beyond reason that trillions of dollars of public money goes to killing people who are different. We cannot fathom the terrible consequences of that for everyone on the planet. I submit this is proof that data, research, and argument do not matter. Something is driving a centralized control of state policy and the mindless authoritarianism of low-level administrators to block the light, to stop people speaking, and to prohibit dissent.
When Boeing, Microsoft, Gates, and Broad decide what public education of very young children should look like, I despair that we will reach the lockdown point prohibiting political action at the same time we pass the tipping point on global warming.
If we are going to stop it, we have to take action everywhere the darkness eases out, everywhere that the voices of the people are manipulated silent, and everywhere loving kindness is absent.
We must take action. The Force is with us.