Finally . . . the Grassroots Movement We’ve All Been Waiting For

by theschoolprincipal on January 24, 2011

Once the Elementary and Secondary Education Act had been reauthorized as  No Child Left Behind during the first year of George Bush’s administration, parents and educators all over the country began to wise up one by one. Diane Ravitch wrote a book about the disastrous effects of NCLB on our schools.Someone will write a book someday about the movement against it. I don’t know who the first person was to publicly sound the alarm: Rita Solnet, Angela Engel, Anthony Cody, Ken Bernstein, Nancy Flanagan, Jesse Turner . . . . but hats off to whoever you are. Perhaps it was Russ Feingold, recently defeated Senator from Wisconsin, who was one of the very few in Congress to vote against it.

Now, ten years later, hundreds of blogs and  thousands of voices continue to speak out. Finally these voices  are coalescing into a national call to action. Save Our Schools March and National Call to began coming together about a year ago. It’s what I’d had been hoping for and waiting for. I didn’t begin this blog a few months ago just so I could complain. I wanted action. I want No Child Left Behind to disappear. Finally, we have an organized national movement that can  bring all of us together. It began with little points of light that spread throughout every state across the nation. Now we have a vehicle that will make it easy for us to communicate with one another, a vehicle that can provide leadership and focus.  We can now speak with ONE VOICE. The group’s new webpage went live last week, and a new, more comprehensive website will launch in February.

Plans are underway to provide four days of workshops, seminars and advocacy in our nation’s capital July 28 – 31, with a march taking place on July 30. Diane Ravitch has already agreed to speak. In the few days since the website was launched the response from across the country has been rather incredible. Volunteers are signing up through our webpage from all across the nation.

Anthony Cody, Nancy Flanagan, Ken Bernstein, Joel Shatzky, Sabrina Stevens, Victoria Young, Jesse Turner — among many others — have all been working tirelessly to get this movement off the ground. Most of the  organizers have full time jobs and families. All of us are doing this  because of our belief in  public education, which our Founding Fathers wisely advocated as a way to promote the common good. The organizers have kicked in their own money to hire an event planner for the days in D.C. and to hire a web designer to get the webpage set up.  Not one of the organizers is getting paid.

Of course, there will be expenses in conjunction with the march. American University is providing a few classrooms and an auditorium for free, but we will need donations so that we can book additional meeting places. Right now, we don’t know what our numbers will be for the seminars, but  we expect  thousands of participants for the march.

Here are our demands:

  • Equitable funding for all public school communities
  • An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation
  • Teacher and community leadership in forming public education policies
  • Curricula developed by and for local school communities

Parents and parent groups  are lining up to endorse us: Rita Solnet from Parents across America, Julie Woestehoff  of PURE (Parents United for Responsible Education), Mona David of New York Charter Parents Association .  .  . the list continues to build.

We’re organizing to take our schools back. Every one of us in this group believes in school reform. Every one of us wants to make our schools better. But before that can happen we must first rescue public education from the hands of the federal government and the Bill Gates and Michelle Rhees of this world. The battle begins.

NOTE: It was estimated that 5000 or more people showed up for the march in D.C. After the march we all went home exhausted. As time passed different members became involved with other groups. The battle still rages.

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