I am a Louisiana schoolteacher. For years I have watched as government policies have slowly, steadily strangled public education with incomprehensible curriculums, overemphasis on standardized tests, demoralizing teacher evaluations and policies that have turned school discipline into a joke.

I know most teachers and many principals feel the same way. When I protest to my superiors, I am told that there is nothing they can do about it because “it comes down from the state.” These state policies are established by politicians, bureaucrats and bean-counters who are known for being shortsighted and getting it wrong. Since, they don’t know anything about education, they hire high-priced “experts” eager to sell their agendas and programs. It’s not surprising that things are so fouled up.

However, I don’t blame the state, I blame us — the education professionals who go along and don’t push back. We, the teachers and administrators, are the experts. We’re the soldiers in the trenches fighting the war against ignorance and mediocrity. Why are we so willing to abdicate our responsibility to our students, schools and communities and accept policies that we know are bad for education? Why are we so afraid to stand up for what is right?

What would happen if one teacher, principal or superintendent refused to go along with state policies that they know are hurting our schools and students? They would probably be quickly replaced. However, what if all the teachers, all the principals, all the superintendents politely refused to go along with those state policies and gave as their reason that they know those policies are hurting our schools and students? What politician, bureaucrat or bean-counter is going to stand up to that? Furthermore, I guarantee that if you asked experienced teachers and principals which state policies are hurting education there would be an amazing consensus.

Since civilizations began, oppressive government policies have always depended on good people “following orders” and going along. Educators are generally “good team players” and perhaps too eager to bend to those in authority. Plus, no one wants to be the first one to be fired. Nevertheless, I want to make an appeal to my fellow educators: Aren’t you tired knuckling under to mandates that harm our schools and students and don’t make sense? Don’t you long for the days when you felt proud to be an educator?

A quote attributed to Edmund Burke states, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Mohandas Gandhi observed, “Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.”

Fellow educators, it’s time to stand up for what we know is right.

Tom Wellman