An estimated 2000 – 3,000 parents, teachers, and public education supporters marched in Washington, D.C. and in eleven support rallies in other cities including Sacramento, California on July 30. The Sacramento event had about 100 participants. The events were organized by parent groups and other pro public education groups and supported by teachers unions. The rally, although small by Washington standards was at least 20 times larger than the Tea Party rally held in Washington this week in support of the Tea Party’s proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to balance the budget.
There was limited media coverage of the Save Our Schools rallies. The Save Our Schools March was organized by a wide variety of local groups and education advocates. Speakers included Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, José Vilson, Deborah Meier, Monty Neill, Cornel West, and Pedro Noguera, among others. Schools around the country are suffering from severe budget cuts and teacher lay offs imposed by the economic crisis and the resultant decisions of legislatures to cut budgets.
In addition parents and teachers say they are fed up with so-called “reform” policies in No Child Left Behind that falsely label more than 80% of U.S. public schools as failures. They oppose several programs of the Obama Administration included Race to the Top including the proposed new amendments to the NCLB law that would increase competition between under funded schools. March participants, including many teacher union members, oppose the shift to more for-profit charter schools rather than public schools, the assault on the teachers’ unions, and the emphasis on high stakes testing which has driven many public goals from the school curriculum.
Parents and teachers insist on more democratic participation in reform effort rather than the current domination of “reform” agenda by corporate and Right Wing interests including the Gates, Broad, and Bradley Foundation, among others.
More information on the ongoing effort to organize parents into a support system can be found at http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/
The media typically selects other school reform “performers” as experts although few of these have ever taught in a public school for more than a few months. The corporate sponsored performers pit their slogans , such as “All Children Can Learn, “ “No Excuses.” or “No Child Left Behind,” - wrapped up in the populist appeal to common sense - against the views of parents and teachers who actually work with children. At the same time the corporate sponsored performers oppose discussion of the results of the economic collapse of 2008/2010 on school budgets and oppose discussion any notion of social and economic justice. They hide their reactionary politics and their corporate funding, beneath their appeal to over simplified slogans that fail to deal with budget realities and school realities during this economic crisis .
The anti-democratic tendencies of fast food thought and sound bite discourse are clear in the media recognized voices of “school reform” from Joel Klien, Michele Rhee to Arne Duncan and dozens more.
For these media recognized “reformers”, over simplification of complex school issues is wrapped up in self serving slogans. These foundation and corporate sponsored over simplifications, undercuts the ability of the public and teachers to participate in making informed decisions.