Marching on Washington

Given the recent political theater (as one friend termed it) over raising the debt-ceiling it may not be surprising that The Save Our Schools (SOS) rally in Washington at the end of July garnered relatively little attention nation-wide.   That’s a shame on many levels.

The SOS platform includes equitable funding for all public school communities, teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies, and curriculum developed for and by local school communities.  Makes sense, right?  While few could argue against these guiding principles, many can and do argue vociferously against the fourth plank in their platform – an end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation.

Political and educational heavyweights, such as Jonathan Kozol and Linda Darling-Hammond weighed in.  Star wattage was supplied by Matt Damon (in person) and Jon Stewart (taped), both sons of teachers.  There were poets, musicians, folk singers and rappers.  And there were a lot of ordinary people; teachers, librarians, children and parents from around the country gathered in the sultry steam of midsummer Washington to protest (who even does that anymore?) the direction of public education today.

I can’t say that I agree with every plank in the platform.  I was raised at my father’s knee to debate and can usually see two or multiple sides to any argument.  But I am public school educated and proud to say that I may be a doctoral student right now, but I will always be a teacher.  I’m deeply concerned, both personally and professionally, about pernicious achievement gaps and systematized inequities in schools.  And while I’ve been taught by and had to supervise some incompetent teachers, I’ve been privileged to know and to experience many more inspiring ones.  So I was proud of the profession, and the gumption of the grass roots organizers, and of my friend for convincing me to set aside the dissertation to attend.  (Thanks, Jean!)  AMF

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