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.