Change starts with individual acts of moral courage.

It seems impossible until the day it becomes inevitable.

Change starts with individual acts of moral courage.

I posted the above comment on my Facebook page as an accompaniment to this article discussing growth of the protest movement within the NFL that manifested itself this past Sunday. On that day numerous players and owners allied themselves with a small but tenacious group of protestors who had joined Colin Kaepernick in the year since he first sat then took a knee during the playing of the national anthem. His intention: to draw attention to police brutality and oppression of people of color. You can read the transcript of Kaepernick’s comments and rationale here. Recognizing that our mythic “America” is built on genocide and the enslavement of people of color for profit is foundational to being able to move forward towards achieving any semblance of a just society. The fact that white supremacist violence erupted in Charlottesville not quite a year after Kaepernick’s initial protest makes it clear many are not yet ready to take that bitter pill and reconcile our brutal past with our present reality.

Kaepernick stood alone for a long time. There were consequences for him, emotionally and financially. He came to understand systems of oppression, and while he could have used his privilege to stake a place where those systems would be less likely to impact him, he instead chose to put himself in the center of the storm. In this individual gesture he became the pebble with the power to unleash the avalanche.

The status quo resists change mightily. There is too much power and profit riding on the continuous, uninterrupted operation of oppressive systems. Those of us watching recent developments in artificial intelligence, smart city surveillance, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and impact investing realize the capacity to inflict harm on black and brown communities is about to rise exponentially. Outliers who question become targets of criticism, their message intentionally obscured by character attacks, criticism of the appropriateness of the method protest and other technicalities. Let us talk about anything other than the issues being raised, because recognizing and organizing around those issues could compel change, perhaps revolutionary change. Change is a threat.

While one expects criticism from those holding opposing views, people contemplating direct action outside acceptable norms of group-sanctioned protest must realize that criticism and obfuscation may also come from those technically allied with your cause. There are those who will propose a more “moderate” approach. Such tactics have the appearance of resistance, but are not intended to actually tip the apple cart. There is no meaningful change without risk. Actions taken within the comfort of groupthink may make one feel popular and accepted but are unlikely to push the envelope in any significant way.

American brutality comes in many forms: sometimes physical, sometimes financial, sometimes spiritual. Sometimes it looks like this.

First Graders

This is the next wave of oppression, and it is rolling into classrooms across our nation and across the globe. Once again, communities of color will be targeted for tech-based interventions under the guise of bridging the “digital divide.” Though over time no one will be safe from the onslaught of financialization. As Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Reed Hasting, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates make their next moves I pose this question:

Will you be a Kaepernick?


Or will you hang back, waiting for some higher authority to sanction your protest?

Five things one person can do today to begin disrupting the Ed Reform 2.0 agenda:

Identify and occupy contested spaces.


Give public testimony. Film and share it.

Speak truth to power. Even if it gets you banned.

Scott Ravitch

Research, write, and share the information you find like this great blog from Baltimore County parents.


Educate those around you and start to build a movement and plan larger actions. You too can take a bucket of sidewalk chalk and go out into the world. You might be surprised at the conversations you generate.

We don’t all have Kaepernick’s status, but we can all do something right where we are. Over time, individual actions can coalesce into broader movements of like-minded people. Don’t wait for established groups to catch up. You can affect change, even when acting alone. We each have that within us. There was some lively discussion generated on my Facebook post. I will close with a comment I left on that thread.

“I know I will not change your position, nor you mine. Nevertheless people who put themselves out there to spark important conversations and disrupt the status quo are people we should cherish in our society.”

To take on the monster that is Ed Reform 2.0, we ALL need to be channeling our inner Kaepernick. Taking the first step is hard. Holding the course when many turn against you is hard. But I believe in my heart that if we each take action and hold to our principles with steadfastness, our Sunday September 24 will come. We must overcome fear and take those first steps to fight this new game before the venture capitalists seize our children’s futures. What is holding you back? Think about it, then go forth and disrupt.

5 thoughts on “Change starts with individual acts of moral courage.

  1. Disambiguator says:

    Well gosh, could it possibly be that since Ravitch actually opposes the ed tech atrocity, aka Ed Reform 2.0 that she objected to being slandered and misrepresented? Her blog is full of posts that both pull back the curtain of deception around it all and outright oppose it. Comments like the cherry picked exchange from her blog you used to attempt to make your case against her have all of the hallmarks of a false flag attack, of a divide and conquer strategy, or worse, of simple jealousy or blind ideological purity well outside the bounds of reason and fact. But don’t trust me, go to Ravitch’s blog and type CBE into the search field. Case closed.

    • wrenchinthegears says:

      Still waiting to hear back from Ravitch about the MacArthur Foundation. Leaders who refuse to engage with material that may cause them to revisit their positions are not ones that have the best interests of their followers at heart. All she would have to do is examine their funding of Edovo, an impact-investment tablet-based online learning/”behavioral therapy” program that was piloted in Philadelphia. You know they don’t often fund private companies, but who can resist a great opportunity to make money off of “rehabilitating” the incarcerated through devices, right? Shame on her for not recanting. People should know. People need to know, and I will continue to speak the truth. Ignorance is no excuse.

      • Disambiguator says:

        Wrench, Ravitch answered you on your MacArthur Foundation accusation on her blog, as did others. Sorry if you didn’t like the responses. There is also nothing for her to recant, since she did not in any way support the program/company you cited.
        J. Johnsen, you obviously know naught of logical fallacies. I responded to a specific misrepresentation of reality within Wrench’s post, not the post as a whole which I agree with. That is not cherry picking. As to anonymity, it doesn’t matter what name a post is made under, the content of the post is what matters since that is where any argument or position on an issue may be found. Even a cursory examination of Ravitch’s blog will show that Tim Scott’s claim, as included by Wrench, that Ravitch is duplicitous and secretly supports what she publicly opposes was wrong. There is no evidence for that, and none was actually presented. Mr. Scott was not “banned”, he as asked not to return, essentially because he was lying and being a jerk. Ravitch doing a small bit of work as a judge on a MacArthur panel that was unrelated to EdReform 2.0 is in no way the same thing as her supporting those other activities of theirs. The bottom line for those who think otherwise, and not only about Ravitch, is that subjectively defined ideological purity tests buttressed by claims that struggle to rise to the level of conspiracy theories are just that, and such activities do not advance the otherwise just causes of all involved.
        The correct, rational and simplest course of action would be to ask those you accuse if and why they support or oppose the specific programs you object to that MacArthur or others have supported or advocated for, not to insinuate they do via unevidenced accusations.

  2. J. Johnsen says:

    I find it interesting, Disambiguator, that you post a negative comment on here accusing her of using a “false flag attack, a divide and conquer strategy, or worse (gasp!!), simple jealousy or blind ideological purity well outside the bounds of reason and fact” without signing your name and without commenting on the original intent of her post. The person cherry picking was you and says a lot about who you are.

    I greatly admire Colin Kaepernick and think of him as a hero. I hope I can be as courageous as him in standing up against the changes I am beginning to see in my district in regards to the corporate takeover of education I am seeing in different classrooms. Thank you for a great blog post!

    • wrenchinthegears says:

      “Ravitch doing a small bit of work as a judge on a MacArthur panel that was unrelated to EdReform 2.0 is in no way the same thing as her supporting those other activities of theirs.”

      I completely disagree. The content of her post was not simply an offhand note that she had served on that committee. No, in fact her post was to lift up MacArthur as a paragon of philanthropic nobility in contrast to Gates and Walton which is wrong-headed, deluded, and dangerous.

      “The correct, rational and simplest course of action would be to ask those you accuse if and why they support or oppose the specific programs you object to that MacArthur or others have supported or advocated for, not to insinuate they do via unevidenced accusations.”

      I did ask, and I have not yet been answered. See the content of my first response to you. If you are ok with supporting philanthropic efforts to mine profits from refugee children (Sesame Seed) and the incarcerated (Edovo), feel free to stay in the Ravitch camp. Not really looking for uninformed thinkers in the real resistance movement.

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