Why I’m Occupying the Department of Education

With only 6 hours away until I board the train to go to DC roadtrip with 2 amazing friends of mine, I figured I’d send out a post before I left. With this image as my profile picture this past week, I can only imagine what some others were thinking. I will admit, when I heard of anything “Occupy” related about 5 months ago, I used to think: “What in the world?” I remember an old classmate of mine was posting Facebook statuses  about being at NYC occupying, and I used to think he was nuts! I saw it on the surface and didn’t see what the point was. That was changed when my TA for Immigrant States made us watch Inside Job. My mind was blown. Basically, it put together the missing pieces of the Occupy Wall Street Movement–the reason behind their motives.

Other than that, since my TA is an Immigrant, it was fascinating seeing her express her frustration because she couldn’t Occupy due to her lack of citizenship (she has a Visa to receive her PhD). She couldn’t Occupy because if she got arrested, she would be immediately deported. Aside from her passion and love for what she did, she did something incredibly important and life-changing for me. She took a little pin and popped that bubble of ignorance I was living in. That’s how I view Occupy movements and any kind of protest or rally, popping bubbles of ignorance. People think it’s all about getting or receiving something. People ask, “What does that even achieve?” How I see it, it’s achieving awareness. Many have yet to realize that awareness and consciousness about an issue is at the heart of most pivotal changes. From how I see it (correct me if I’m wrong) is that many Government officials, most priviliged and wealthy, are restricting knowledge from “the People,” aka the Democracy that you and me are supposed to be a part of. Whether it’s through uninformative media, depriving quality education, and all the alike, they seem to make their decisions based on the idea that as long as the people don’t know the tricks they’re playing, they can keep on playing them.

Protests demanding rights challenge those tricks. Protests bring transparency to their little tricks and games, protests give that one simple message they thought they could avoid, the message of, “We know.” You can see in the way they react with police abuse, attempts to implement laws on protest and free speech, that these protests are in fact achieving something.  I always put this ideal image and scenario in my head, imagining if all people in the U.S. understood what was going on in our government right now. What a revolution…

Occupy the DOE actually is not associated with the OWS Movement, it is with UnitedOptOut. Yet, the passion is still the same. To give a quick summary, this weekend in DC, teachers, parents, students, and all those passionate about the sake of our education will be doing various activities to raise knowledge of what our education system is going about. There will be Teach-In’s, Speeches, Mic-Checks, and more. Oh, and it’s also all completely legal. Unlike Occupy Wall Street, the coordiantor of this event was able to get permits.

Yet, why am I going? What is the issue with the Department of Education?  I’m going because awareness is critical in this time of Education Reform. I’m doing this because my excitement for my future as a teacher is constantly growing, but I cannot ignore the destructive attacks that are continuously being made on the career of teaching. I’m going because I believe education is not a corporation or a business, therefore by no means should it be treated as so. I can’t stand back and just watch politicians and “Education Reformers” who have minimal knowledge\experience in the education field take their blows on the Education System. I’m doing this because students–people–are worth more than a test score or a number on a standardized test. I’m doing this because I know how valuable sports and extra-curricular activities are at K-12 level, I know for a fact without a lot of the extra things I had the opportunity to participate in, I wouldn’t be the same. I’m doing this because the Department of Education needs to understand they are posing a genocide on what makes students unique, what makes minds glow, excel, and spark, the aspects of the human mind that has led to the greatest results. They have a vision that puts limits on the human capacity. There is so much more the mind is capable of than just filling in circles on a scantron sheet, there is so much more to be praised than the capability of choosing from A. B. C. or D. I have seen way too many brilliant people be reduced to a score a machine gave them. I have always been a lover of books, reading, and writing, and had the dream to become an English teacher my entire life. When I received a poor score on the AP exams, I let that convince me I was never destined to do so. Fortunately, I found my way that a test does not determine the outcome of my life, now I believe it is my job to make sure others see that too. I am Occupying the Department of Education because I believe our society should not be shaped by humans who can get high scores based on luck or non-critical thinking. I am Occupying because they have too many futures in their hands they can crush with nothing more than a stroke of a pen. I am Occupying because I believe in standing up for what is right, because if students can, then there is no excuse to why we can’t either.


Northwestern High School
Students Arrested for “Thought Crime” for Walk Out


Detroit High School Protest: Students Suspended
After Demanding ‘An Education’ 

March 30, 2012 


Newark High School Students
Try to Save Public Schools


John Dewey High School Walk-Out
March 9, 2012
Brooklyn, NY

Lehman High School Walk-Out
“Save Our School, Cut the Crap, Not Our Teachers.”
February 7, 2012
Bronx, NY 

High School Students from Bronx, NY asking for Change

Leon M. Goldstein High School in New York Walk-Out
“All Cuts Don’t Heal” – June 2011 

Cross Examination of Mayor Bloomberg
Sheepshead Bay, March 26, 2012


High School Student asks Governor,
“Are you setting us up for failure?”
Pittsburgh, PA — February 14, 2012


Garfield High School Occupies Seattle City Hall
“No more cuts in Education,
we’re the future of our Nation.”
November 30, 2011

BC High School Walk Out – Seattle, Washington
March 2, 2012


If you would like to join in on the adventure with me, please follow me on @stephrrivera, and my Ustream.

About these ads

8 thoughts on “Why I’m Occupying the Department of Education

  1. Pingback: Post-Occupy the DOE | Teacher Under Construction

  2. Pingback: Why I Stand Against Students For Education Reform « Teacher Under Construction

  3. Pingback: I Am A Student, and I Stand Against Students For Education Reform (SFER) « Cooperative Catalyst

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s