Denny Taylor is author of the influential books Family Literacy and Learning Denied, two books that had a huge influence on my thinking about literacy instruction. When she speaks, we all should listen. After years away from publishing, but not from researching, Denny is back with a vengeance. She deserves our support. Please read her letter below.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am writing to urgently request your help. If you find the political circumstance and the research base for the four propositions that I have outlined in this letter are compelling, and you support the course of action suggested here please send this letter to friends and colleagues. Use your websites, Facebook, and any other means to get the message out. Given that I rarely enter the public sphere my friends will know that the situation of which I write is pressing. Time is of the essence, I fear.
Some of you will have read books I have written based on forty years of longitudinal research in family, community, and schools settings with children, families, and teachers who live and work in challenging social and physical environments. Except for my doctoral dissertation, all my research has taken place in sites of urban and rural poverty.
About fifteen years ago I became more focused on catastrophic events, including extreme weather events, industrial disasters, war and armed conflict, and acts of mass violence that occur with little warning and in a matter of a few seconds change the lives of children, teachers, and their families forever.
I haven’t published during this fifteen year time period, but I have been working as a researcher and writing on a daily basis. Much of the time I have spent studying the research on trauma and mass trauma with a mentor in the field. Still more time has been spent studying Earth system science, and eventually writing qualitative research papers that were peer reviewed by researchers in the physical sciences. Based on the reviews, I have participated in research conferences and meetings with Earth system scientists whose research focuses on quantitative studies on the anthropogenic changes that are taking place to the planet.
My own research has evolved, and I have found my place between scientists, policy makers, and the public. The mix of social and physical sciences is making it possible for me to share the findings of these fifteen years of daily study, which are firmly grounded in scientific evidence, and in the lived knowledge that has come from living and working in places where catastrophic events have taken place.
There are eight book length manuscripts on my bookshelf and the first three books based on them are being published this summer. These books are very different from each other, but they all focus on the interconnections between two of the greatest threats to our children’s future:
- The dismantling of the US public education system; and
- The acceleration of anthropogenic change to the planet.
The Earth system scientists from the global scientific community who participated in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report categorized climate change as “unequivocal”, and 195 countries signed documents in agreement with these scientists. In addition, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has produced 40 reports, the first in 2005, raising concerns about climate change and in the 2014 report the GAO has elevated the impacts of climate change to “high risk” status. The Department of Defense (DOD) has issued similar reports and warnings and is preparing for catastrophic events that might occur because of climate change.
But the US Congress still refuses to act. Many members of Congress are still denying that climate change is unequivocal, and they refuse to acknowledge that both the people of the United States and the entire global community are at “high risk”.
Even more inexplicable is the fact that there is now one political party in the US Congress that is not only denying climate change, but has powerful members on Congressional sub-committees convened to focus on climate change who are also outspoken in denying basic science.
The three books connect the dots between the dismantling of the US public education system and the denial of climate change, and they present four propositions:
First Proposition: By defunding public education the federal government is selling the future of children in the US to private corporations, creating huge revenues for companies and a bonanza for shareholders, while at the same time undermining and destabilizing the neighborhoods and communities in which schools are privatized.
Second Proposition: By profligating denial of climate change, defunding and limiting expenditures on mitigating climate and environmental problems, the US Congress is actively engaged in protecting the corporate interests that have supported their political campaigns, while willfully ignoring the very real and very grave threat that exists to the American people, especially children, and to all human life on the planet.
Third proposition: By defunding public education and selling the children in the US to private corporations that are in large part responsible for climate change and the destruction of the environment, the federal government is ensuring the indoctrination of America’s children into the State-Corporate Complex that is threatening their future, while at the same time actively interfering with their capacity to develop the problem-solving capabilities they will need to tackle the potentially life-threatening anthropogenic changes to the planet that they will experience in their lifetime.
Fourth proposition:If we are serious about preparing our children for an uncertain future, in which they will be confronted by many perils, then we must stop the corporate education revolution immediately and recreate the public school system based on democratic principles, ensuring equality and opportunity for all children to participate in projects and activities that will ensure their active engagement in re-visioning and re-imagining human life on Earth.
For our children and the planet, the third and fourth propositions are far reaching in their implications. The three books unpackage the political propaganda, and focus on the scientific research that is being obfuscated for political power, and corporate revenues and profits. Each book explores the relationships that exist between what Noam Chomsky calls “the State-Corporate Complex” and the acceleration of climate change, and the defunding andcorporatization of public education. Together they provide compelling evidence why the Common Core should be abandoned and Pearson’s “global education revolution” immediately ended.
Here are the titles of the three books:
Nineteen Clues: Great Transformation Can Be Achieved Through Collective (just published in paper and also available in electronic formats for Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks).
Save Our Children, Save Our School, Pearson Broke the Golden Rule (proof copies of this political satire have arrived and the actual book should be available in two weeks with eBooks to follow).
Keys to the Future: A Parent-Teacher Guide to Saving the Planet (is in the final edit stage and will be available in paper by September, again with eBooks to follow).
Together, based on the evidence, these books make the case that there are three things we know for sure:
- What happens to the future lives of our children and grandchildren depends on us;
- We should not expect the powerbrokers of the State-Corporate Complex to come to our aid or rescue our children;
- Extreme inequality is not only bad for people it is bad for the planet – the poor are at greater peril than the rich.
Many teachers and parents are already leading the way in the struggle for equality and more humane learning environments for children. Their courageous activism is the struggle not only for the re-establishment of the publiceducation system, but also for the future of humanity.
The dangers to our children are real, and at Garn we volunteering our time to work for the Press, because we regard ourselves as first responders in an emergency situation. Our mission is to publish books with actionable knowledge that can be of use to educators and the public. We are hopeful for the future and we put our trust in the people, especially parents and teachers, who are working to make the planet a child safe zone.
Please consider supporting Garn Press by sharing this letter with everyone in your social networks and encouraging your friends and colleagues to read the books. Reviews are welcome!
Our hope at Garn is that when our children and grandchildren ask us what we did to respond to climate change we will be able to tell them that:
- We saved their schools and made them sites of equity and justice;
- We made their schools places where every child developed the capacity to be resourceful and resilient;
- We insisted that they had the opportunity to participate in great projects about the Earth and about the Universe;
- We made sure their education included both the scientific and the literary so they could see the deep connections between these ways of thinking and ways of being;
- We were adamant that they learned together in classrooms that valued the ways in which they could support one another;
- We insisted that their classes included the arts, dance, music, drama, painting and drawing in seamless lessons that encouraged joyfulness and a sense of belonging to a community.
We will be able to tell them that because of the ways in which we insisted they were educated the ethos of the nation changed. Because of their children the public began to regard the Earth differently. People began to reassess what was important to them. They acted on what they already knew, that liberty cannot exist without justice, and that the price of great wealth for a few was too high for the public to pay and would no longer be tolerated.
We will tell them we stood strong, and we used these newfound beliefs in our re-Imagining of the ways we live on the planet. We will tell them because we love our children so much the world changed.
We must do whatever we can to make this happen, so we can tell our children, “We worked together and we made the Earth a child-safe zone.”
July 15, 2014