Such conditions are enough to make some people want to give up. And that's happening. New teachers leave the profession at an alarming rate, and veteran teachers are retiring early. It's anyone's guess how many additional students will give up and drop out because of the pressures of budget cuts and high-stakes testing.
At times like these, those of us who work with children and youth cannot succumb to pessimism. The urge is understandable, but we do see some reasons for hope.
On the global level, the unprecedented outpouring of anti-war, pro-peace sentiment last winter was inspiring. As the international situation deteriorates, the global justice movement continues to grow. We hope that more people in this country, particularly youth and teachers, will embrace this movement.
Here in the United States, we also saw an upsurge in the peace movement before the Iraqi war.
We're encouraged by national organizing for immigrant rights and the unprecedented grassroots activity in search of progressive possibilities for the next presidential campaign. In the education arena, multiracial movements against high-stakes testing in California and Florida are beginning to expose the absurdity of building a school reform agenda around such punitive measures. The Education Not Incarceration movement is another hopeful development.