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Please Don’t Call Me an Education Reformer

Over the course of my blogging and education activism, it wasn’t rare for people to attach “education reform” to my name or my blog. For example, during my campaign for my election, many of my peers posted Facebook statuses (which I am forever grateful for) encouraging people to vote for me because of my “advocacy for education reform” (eek). Every now and then, people will share some of my posts, including things like, “from a young education reformer!” But, whenever things of those sorts popped up, I usually just let it go. I was thankful for the share, thankful for the support, and just told myself, “they aren’t into education stuff as much as I am, so it’s not like they’re intentionally trying to insult me.” I mean, as much as I was thinking


I understood. After all, when I began my blog back in January 2012, my “About me” included that I was an aspiring education reformer.

But why? Why do I please ask you not to call me an education reformer? Because unfortunately, the term education reformer–as I see it–has become synonymous to people and groups who want to dismantle public education and turn schools into a business. Which is a load of


bologna….oh man, do I hate bologna

Just a few people and groups who have tainted the word “education reform,” and pride themselves as being an “education reformer” and\or “pro education-reform”:


Michelle Rhee, CEO of StudentsFirst

Bill Gates

  • Personally it is just frustrating to me when people persistently claim they have the credibility to implement education policy with no teaching background, but maybe that’s just me…
  • Aggressively advocated for programs that link teacher evaluation and compensation to standardized test scores.
  • Why is this a bad thing? ”[Teachers are] not pets. Rather, teachers should be paid well, freed from misguided mandates, treated with respect, and provided with the support they need to help their students become increasingly proficient and enthusiastic learners. ” (Merit Pay: The Bad Idea That Won’t Die)

  • But, I do acknowledge that he has (possibly) changed his position on such programs

  • But can never be too skeptical: “No one in America has done more to promote the raising of stakes for test scores in education than Bill Gates….You can read his words…, but his actions have spoken so much more loudly, that I cannot even make sense out of what he is attempting to say now. “ -Anthony Cody (Read full article here)

Students for Education Reform

The list could go on and on, but I’ve spent enough time detracting away from studying for my finals.

So finally, if not an “education reformer,” then what?

I would like to believe I encompass the characteristics of an education revolutionary, or a  ”fighter for educational justice,” so if you use that term to describe me, that’s cool with me.

But if you’re not gettin’ that vibe from me, please tell me. Because if that’s the case, then I’m doing something wrong.


P.S. Once finals are over, I have upcoming blog posts ready to be written:

  • My Experience Running for School Board – I will describe the challenges I’ve faced, the controversy that drained the life out of me, things I would do different, and advice to students who are considering running.

  • Students: Why You Must Attend the National Student Power Convergence - This experience changed my life. I wouldn’t be half the activist or organizer I am today if I haven’t met them. You can check out their website here, and read about my experience last year here.

  • List of Student Protests Thus Far in 2013 - Remember my list from last year? It’s about that time again! I’m already in the process of collecting protests, so if you have one to add, please submit it here. This year will go beyond education and include all issues students are working on.


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Stephanie Rivera

Stephanie Rivera is a student at Rutgers University. She is a future teacher and educational equity activist. ...