Jennifer C. Berkshire

Jennifer C. Berkshire is the creator and editor of the popular blog EduShyster.com, where she chronicles the end of public education with a wry eye, and is also the Northeast Regional Progressive Education Fellow. Aaron French is the creator and former host of EDUCATION ON TAP, a podcast produced by Teach For America.

How she spent almost a million and a half of her own dollars to turn Detroit's education system into a laboratory—in which an out-of-control lab fire now burns.

Protestor outside a school bus holds sign that reads, "Stop Killing Black Men"

St. Louis TFA’s Brittany Packnett on Ferguson, the *belief gap* and the need for disruptive change that’s actually, well, disruptive. Image credit: Getty

Teachers learning about PARCC standards

Before the first day of PARCC testing, the results are in. Push back against indefensible state policies and the state will crack. Image credit: Dan Callahan

Image credit: Joy Kolitsky

When the city of Chicago shuttered some fifty neighborhood schools last year, officials used antiseptic-sounding words like “underperformance” and “underutilization.” But visit neighborhoods that bore the brunt of the closings and you’ll hear that the battle over the city’s schools is about something much larger. Image credit: Joy Kolitsky

When news broke this summer that Teach for America was expanding its presence in Chicago amid the largest school closings in that city’s history and the layoffs of thousands of teachers and school staff, the reaction was swift, furious and extended well beyond the usual chorus of TFA detractors. At the time, I argued that the heated-back-and-forth, while welcome, missed the point.

Scratch the surface and you’ll find a whole lot of green behind the education reform movement—and it’s not grassroots.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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