One of the privileges of being on a big city school board is my ability to meet with and learn from organizers, leaders and ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in times of crisis.
And, our public school system in SF is definitely in a time of crisis today as the draconian No Child Left Behind law is being reauthorized in the next weeks with even more punitive changes like 'pay for performance' for teachers and a continuation of the high stakes testing system that is destroying education as we know it and furthering the opportunity gap for low income kids of color.
It's also a crisis because of the ongoing de-funding of the public education system while President Bush backed by House Democrats this week have appropriated $46 billion more for the war and the occupation of Iraq. [Hopefully our October 27th Anti-war demonstrations around the country help to counter this]
On the bright side, the 'extraordinary things' going on include many grassroots organizing campaigns and efforts highlighted in the new issue of the incredible journal Race Poverty and the Environment which is published by the Oakland-based Urban Habitat.
SF Freedom School founder Kathy Emery and I contributed a piece on "Democratizing the Public School System" with lessons from our work in the San Francisco Unified School District and our histories as teachers and activists in using popular education to build our people's movements for social change.
The articles are all online but editor extraodinaire Ben Jesse Clark would kill us if we didn't encourage folks to subscribe and support the Race Poverty and the Environment Journal and Urban Habitat's important and strategic work to deepen our understanding of social issues and help build stronger movements for our future.
This past Wednesday night, Kathy and I and my 7 year daughter Jade had the pleasure of sharing food and dialogue with teachers, students, parents and longtime community organizers at the Urban Habitat offices in downtown Oakland to celebrate the new issue. When I am feeling 'beaten down' by No Child Left Behind, Bush's War Spending, and my own teaching load and worsening working conditions, it's community gatherings and anti-war marches that keep me inspired and moving forward.