"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marching To Washington D.C.

Three days till the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. Today I read yet another, "Why I'm Marching" post. This one is from a teacher in NYC (formerly a teacher in D.C.). It focuses on something that I think is the core issue for education in America.
Public Education is worth fighting for.
Those so-called reformers don't seem to believe that...we do.
Why I'm Marching in DC This Weekend

By James Boutin

As I wait in the airport for my flight to Washington, it strikes me that it might be worth taking the time to flesh out some of the reasons I decided to blow nearly $600 on a weekend in DC.

At first I thought I would create a list, but then I realized that no matter how many different points I came up with, they essentially all boiled down to one reason.

Public education is worth fighting for.

Few people seem understand the importance of public education. Most people would agree that education is important, but public education almost has a negative connotation for some. Public education means public employees, government involvement, and bureaucracy. For many, that means inefficiency, waste, abuse, and mediocre standards for students. But it is also a test of our ability to act responsibly toward the needs of our communities.

The degree to which we commit ourselves to ensuring a quality public education for all students is ultimately a test of our commitment to democracy and social equality. On their face, offering choice and competition may seem like a worthwhile means of improving school quality, but all too often the relieve us of the collective responsibility to provide excellent schools for all students. To be sure, handing our commitment to democracy and social equality over to the forces of some educational market would be easier than providing public education, but it is not in our best interest.

I don't believe any society is capable of realizing true democracy without a commitment to quality public education. And that, I suppose is why this debate is so fierce. Not all of us agree on the importance of democracy. And I guess that's why I'm going to DC this weekend. I want to be around the many wonderful people across the country who agree with me.
If you're interested...here are some snippets from a couple more "Why I'm Marching" posts.
Principal: Why I’m marching to ‘save our schools’

This was written by Carol Corbett Burris, the principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. 
By Carol Corbett Burris 
I fell in love with teaching the first moment I stood before a class. I have worked with those who can’t learn enough and with those who dared me to teach them. I have beamed with joy at graduations, and wept for students lost. I have worked through great frustrations and been humbled by how much I do not know. Through the days, both easy and hard, I try not to forget why it matters so much. As John Dewey reminds us, “schools are the fundamental method of social progress and reform.”
Why I Am Marching on July 30 
by Diane Ravitch 
I want to protest the federal government's punitive ideas about school reform, specifically, No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top. Neither of these programs has any validation in research or practice or evidence. The nation's teachers and parents know that NCLB has been a policy disaster. Race to the Top incorporates the same failed ideas. Why doesn't Congress know? 
I want to protest the wave of school closings caused by these cruel federal policies. Public schools are a public trust, not shoe stores. If they are struggling, they should be improved, not killed.
And, if you can't make it to D.C. Parents Across America has some suggestions for what you can do instead...Go to the website for more information.
Can’t go to the SOS March? Here’s what you can do instead!

Strengthen our voices in DC by adding your own. Please call or fax your Senators and Congressmen this week – Thursday would be best!

Tell them that they need to listen to their constituents on ESEA, not to rich education hobbyists who have spent billions marketing a false image of our public schools and promoting ideas that are expensive and don’t improve education. 
Tell them that you oppose HR 2218, the charter school expansion law. 
Share your own experience with high-stakes testing, school closure, charter school encroachment, or other problems that have come about due to NCLB/ESEA.
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2 comments:

James Boutin said...

Although when you consider the larger picture it's not, the energy in DC and across the country right now in support of public education makes me feel like it's a great time to be a public school teacher.

Stu said...

I hope you're right!

I hope that President Obama and Secretary Duncan listen. It just seems like the business interests (Gates, Walton, Rhee, Klein, et al) have their ear and the teachers of the country don't.

I'm not in the classroom any more...the appearance from my perspective seems bleak. Teachers are frustrated and restricted by test prep requirements. I remember having much more pedagogical freedom. Are you saying that picture is wrong? I would love to be mistaken.

In any case, giving up is not an option. Public education needs strong support.