By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Teacher and blogger Anthony Cody, shown at a solidarity rally for Wisconsin workers held in Sacramento in the spring, is one of the organizers of the Save Our Schools March.
People from across the country will gather in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, July 30, for a Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. CTA has endorsed this movement where participants are demanding an end to so-called reforms that have undermined the public education system, demoralized teachers and threatened to reduce the education of students to nothing more than test preparation. Movie star Matt Damon and education experts Jonathan Kozol, Diane Ravitch and others are headlining the event, which will call for the Obama administration to restore public schools to places of learning, joy and democracy, instead of continuing the top-down federal mandates and overemphasis on standardized testing that have harmed public education for the past nine years.
For those unable to attend, there will be a rally in Sacramento on the same day on the front lawn of the state Capitol from noon to 2 p.m., co-sponsored by Student CTA and Save Our Schools.
The Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action is the product of a grassroots movement dedicated to restoring educator, parent, student and community influence over education policy and practice. Organizers are demanding:
- Equitable funding for all public school communities.
- An end to high-stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher and school evaluation.
- Curriculum developed for and by local school communities.
- Teacher and community leadership in forming public education policies.
Oakland Education Association member Anthony Cody, a blogger for Education Week, is one of 15 teachers, parents and labor representatives serving on the national organizing committee. Cody is known for his Letters to Obama project, in which he collected letters from teachers around the country expressing their concerns over the demise of public education. One of the teachers who submitted a letter was Jesse Turner, a reading instructor from Connecticut, who walked 600 miles to Washington to personally deliver a message of protest. Cody says Turner’s commitment was the “catalyst” for the Washington event, which he hopes will draw thousands of people from across the country.
“We see a lot of harm being done to our students as a result of education policies in place, and we want a dramatic turn in direction,” says Cody, who conducts professional development in the Oakland Unified School District. “We are concerned that politicians judge schools, teachers and students primarily on test scores. We are concerned about the mistaken belief that the way to improve schools is labeling them as failures and closing them down. We are concerned about the unlimited expansion of charter schools, often at the expense of public schools. We think an overreliance on test scores and test score data has greatly narrowed curriculum at many of our schools and alienated students from what learning is supposed to be all about.”
The Washington rally coincides with the Save Our Schools Conference planned for educators, parents and the general public July 28-31 at American University in Washington, featuring numerous workshops, strategy sessions and an education film festival.
Volunteers are needed to provide assistance during the four days of activities in the nation’s capital. The Fundraising Committee needs individuals to appeal to organizations and individuals for donations. The Advocacy Committee is seeking volunteers who can help draft messages to the White House, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education — as well as blog and write letters to the editor about issues and events. People are also needed to work on drafting local and state resolutions in support of alternatives to No Child Left Behind. For more information, visit saveourschoolsmarch.org.
Student CTA members and California Save Our Schools activists are co-sponsoring the rally in Sacramento on July 30 as an alternative for people who can’t make the trek to Washington.
“I really wanted to be in D.C., but as a student, I don’t have the financial capacity to get there,” says Amy Mayfield, president of the Student CTA chapter at CSU Chico and organizer of the Sacramento event. “We are trying to encourage organizational and public involvement using Facebook. We are trying to send out a positive message that teachers have voices, and should be more in charge of what goes on in the classroom.” You can find more information at www.facebook.com/SOSMarchCA.
Mollie Servatius, a member of United Educators of San Francisco, is also coordinating the Sacramento event and serves as the California liaison of the national Save Our Schools campaign.
“There are complex issues we are experiencing in education these days,” says Servatius, a teacher at Paul Revere Elementary School. “It’s very easy to be a bystander. But we need the public to get involved so that changes can be made. Together, we can create positive learning conditions for our students.”
Related Tags: Volume 15 Issue 9, Inside Educator, Make A Difference, Educator, Action Alert, Activism, Community, Curriculum, Endorsed, Events, Funding, Protest, Reform, SCTA, Testing,