Friday

Save Our Schools March in Washington D.C.

I am attending the Save our Schools Conference, March, and Congress in Washington, D.C. from 7/28/11-7/31/11 as an unaffiliated observer; while I have received a scholarship for the Conference fees, I am not presenting in any sessions or participating on any panels.

I support the stated demands of the Save our Schools (SOS) movement with one important caveat – the realization of the stated goals and demands requires a radical alteration of the legislative strictures currently imposed on urban schools.  Specifically, in order to manifest any of SOS’ stated demands and indeed in order to resuscitate our urban schools and communities, the bloated octopus of No Child Left Behind must be repealed (and its poisonous tentacle Race to the Top must be severed).
                        
Learning Connections to SOS March in D.C.

One simple thing teachers can do is to begin to inform their students and families about international student movements against standardized testing including supportive movements like the SOS March and hold discussions about test preparation and how class time is spent, standardized testing, and their dreams and hopes for American education.

Teachers in year round or summer school session can use 7-30-11 and the SOS March to engage their students in learning opportunities about the importance of civil activism, NCLB, standardized testing, and asserting their vision for American public schools. Students can write and perform poems or songs to present their viewpoints, and a community panel does not take much time or resources to organize.

Beyond the Classroom 

Beyond the classroom, on 7-30-11 in D.C. I hope to see teachers, students, parents, families, administrators, administrative assistants, coaches, consultants, bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria staff, unionized employees from every spectrum, community/civic leaders, and religious figures, out for the mid-day rally and march to Save our Schools starting at the Ellipse. Budgetary concerns may prohibit many of us from attending in DC, but participation in this national effort can be fulfilled at an official or unofficial local event.

While I am not affiliated with the SOS March organizers or any interest group, we’re in this together. The struggle for public schools is the struggle for our very lifeblood. It’s time to bring our views from the hallways, the lunch rooms, the happy hours, the venting sessions, and the living rooms into the streets to demand an end to standardized testing, equitable funding for all schools and communities, a living wage, genuine teacher and community inclusion in education policymaking and curriculum developed by and for local communities.  At the core for me, what is required to accomplish any of these demands is a repeal of No Child Left Behind and end to Race to the Top. NCLB and RttT are wrong for urban schools, wrong for Gifted students, wrong for students of color, wrong for students with disabilities, wrong for teachers, wrong for administrators, wrong for states, wrong for districts, wrong for communities, wrong for public schools, and just… plain… wrong.

I’m excited to meet others with a similar interest in meaningful education reform led by parents and educators who have the physical proximity and/or financial wherewithal to make it to D.C. this summer, but I also recognize that the vast majority of us may be unable to attend for various reasons.

In solidarity.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:43:00 PM

    How was the events?

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  2. Here are my thoughts and suggestions about the Save our Schools Conference, March, and Congress…

    The Conference

    The conference contained many exciting speakers and presentations. The most valuable aspect was meeting so many people committed to community and teacher-led education reform.

    This is a bit if a side note, but something I learned from conference attendees who shared their stories… SHAME ON NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, the ORLEANS PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, and THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE for its sickening actions following Hurricane Katrina: firing teachers and school staff wholesale, sending out final checks to houses that were under water, and privatizing over 100 public schools with charters. They used a natural disaster to advance their corporate greed and vision of privatization. It is the first time this has happened in the history of American public education. Everyone needs to take note of this. Many teachers and school staff remain completely discarded and unemployed (read more about such corporate legislative maneuvers in The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein).

    The March

    Boy was it hot and about 10,000 of us marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol under the banner of the Save our Schools demands!

    The Congress

    The conference was excellent, the march was great, and the congress was most effective in the final 10 minutes wherein the National Steering Committee members signed up for service. The Congress was an internal meeting subject to confidentiality so I am not at liberty to share the details of the discussion.

    However, without going into detail I will share that the vision building component was not the best use of our brief time together… that part was already done with the extant executive committee; this is where the demands came from and the people who traveled to the event clearly supported the demands in some way, shape, or form. More focus must be on how we will organize to meet these demands. By the by, I speak not from hindsight, but from foresight, which was provided to the forces at large at an actionable moment. Sometimes, our best planned lesson is radically altered by the needs of the situation… completely altered. And the willingness and ability to flexibly respond to the emergent needs of dynamic environments is the mark of an educational leader. It would be senseless for me to meticulously plan and then bullheadedly execute a lesson or robot read a script (to keep forging ahead with it because I invested so much time and research planning it) when I realize that the class it is intended to serve already understands the basal concept and is ready for the next level of development.

    Looking Ahead

    The local community outreach was poor. I met and saw very few DC teachers. Again this speaks to the need to engage urban communities more if the SOS movement is indeed concerned about the conditions that are directly and disproportionately affecting urban schools.

    Looking ahead, I will say this… there must be a coordinated outreach to educate and embrace urban schools, communities, and teachers – this is a struggle for all schools but in particular urban schools that are hardest hit by these corporate education policies and the resultant human realities. This includes not only greater representation of urban communities and people of color in the SOS organizational structure, but also greater outreach to the urban educators that directly combat these forces in their efforts to teach on a daily basis.

    I volunteered along with 20+ other individuals to be a member of the SOS National Steering Committee. Not much has been communicated to us so far, but I am hopeful that we will be given a meaningful voice and seat at the table to begin organizing to meet the stated demands.

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