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John Ogozalek is a high school teacher in upstate New York. He has taught for nearly 30 years.
Secret Service agent Jerry Parr died Friday. He was the agent who on March 30, 1981 shoved President Reagan into the armored limo amid a spray of assassin’s bullets. But more importantly, it was Parr who recognized moments later that the president had actually been shot, then diverted the limo to the nearest hospital It was that quick thinking that is credited with saving Reagan’s life. Parr also broke the rules that day.
“Doctor Ruge, President Reagan’s personal physician, later told me that he probably would have gone in three or four minutes if we hadn’t gotten him to the hospital,” Parr later recalled. “So the decision was right to take him to the hospital when everything in your training says take him to the White House where it’s safe, don’t take him to the hospital where you don’t know what’s going on.”
A real education involves teaching not just the rules but helping our students learn the wisdom to recognize when it’s time to break those rules, too. That’s what agent Jerry Parr understood back in 1981. And, this is the vital concept that many of the so-called school “reformers” seem to have missed as they create a one-size-fits all, top-down, standardized school system. John B. King, the new Acting Education Secretary for the entire nation, seems particularly wedded to an authoritarian model of education, where students are taught to obey without questioning, without ever breaking the rules. Suspend ’em all! See Diane’s “A Revealing Looking at John King’s Roxbury Prep Charter School” https://dianeravitch.net/2015/10/07/a-revealing-look-at-john-kings-roxbury-prep-charter-school/ Also, https://dianeravitch.net/2015/10/09/charles-p-pierce-of-esquire-gets-it
And, it’s not just our children who are being muzzled in this brave, new educational world. How many of us teachers have been told by the “reformers” to just shut up and follow their orders? Read the module, parrot the script, give the test, all in lockstep. And, of course, anyone who questions this top-down authority is marked for career destruction. Too many teachers have been bullied into submission. What a sad lesson for our students.
It’s also not the sort of lesson previous generations of Americans were taught. Take, for example, the evidence in Stephen Ambrose’s account of front line GIs during World War II, Citizen Soldiers. What really won the war, according to Ambrose, wasn’t the top line generals, sitting comfortably far away from combat. It was the independent thinking and willingness of the typical citizen soldier to sometimes even break the rules that made the difference.. The “Greatest Generation” was smart and tough. Many of those soldiers were also wise asses. I can only imagine how they would mock us because of the SNAFU we have created in our public schools today.
The United States of America was created by rule breakers. It’s right in the Declaration of Independence: ” 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 Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”
Of course, this is NOT the sort of independent thinking that John B. King will be promoting anytime soon. No, John King is such a good….follower.