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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Walking Man is in DC!

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This one is rough people it’s nearly 2:AM, and I just unpack. I’m in DC people. I'll edit it in the morning, but in the meantime I want my readers to feel what it is like.

Well, well, well, the Walking Man is here in DC for the Save Our Schools March. I am looking forward to attending the SOS conference at the American University, and meeting all those stand up do right marchers. A year ago Bess Altwerger, Sabrina Stevens, Vivian Vasquez, and I were praying someone would show up in DC last Labor Day to hear about my walk to DC, and to discuss the negative impact of NCLB on children, parents, teachers, and local schools. 80 people show up at Bus Boys and Poets, and 25 people show up at the American University the next day. We saw that as a success. Bess Altwerger always said Jesse walks this year, and next year we all walk. We joined Chris Janotta and Laurie Murphy from SOS Million Teacher March, because they said they were marching to DC. We started plotting, but the National Park Service said we would need to raise 150, 000 to hold a rally in DC.  Well that left some of us with shaky legs, but Bess said we could do that! I like to say I felt confident about that, but I was shaking in my boots.
The seed for Save Our Schools started there short a 150, 000 dollars. Somehow Laurie and Bess convince people we could to it. We wanted parents in so we grew into Save Our Schools March and became a genuine grassroots movement when Rita Sonnet from “Parents Across America” said we’re in. Then Rita said I think I might be able to bring Diane Ravitch on board as well. Anthony Cody’s Teacher Letters To Obama were always in, but when they officially came on board things really started to take shape.   
CELT, the Center Expansion of Language and Teaching, (CELT) gave us our first real donation, (We were only 149, 000 dollars away at that point). Then brought the NCTE, (National Council of Teachers of English), and IRA, (International Reading Association). CELT members kept their support coming, and Diane Ravitch not only came on board like Rita said, but gave us a 10,000 donation, (only 139,000 short then). Then the endorsements just started rolling in every single day, and people started giving small donations 10 and 20 dollar ones. They started to add up. We were nearly at 90,000 with those small donations. I forgot to mention that the Freedom came on board. They empowered us, and lifted us morally and spiritually as well. They wanted to come, but needed help. Matt Damon even kicked in some money to help bring the Freedom Riders to the March as well, and said I’ll be there my mother is a teacher.
Then the American Federation of Teachers said we want in, and we want to help, and help they did. Next the National Education Association jumped, and started helping as well. Parents, educators, and teachers started registering for the conference, the conference sold out, but people said that’s alright we are still coming for the march.
People came through it looks like we raise the necessary funds, but the executive committee is still a little worried that we might end owing money. We have put our names on the line for this, and let me tell you I haven’t slept easy for the past 6 months. We most certainly are grassroots.
My Momma use to say sometimes a person has to testify. You just have do what is right no mater what the consequences. She knew silence and apathy are not acceptable.  That who we “Save Our School Marchers” are the do right- no matter what people.

Well back to my walk from Connecticut to DC to protest NCLB/RTTT I met with individuals, small groups (2-4 people), and groups ranging between 12 to 30 people all along the way.  One day I calculated I met and spoke to roughly about thousand people on my walk. A couple of newspapers gave my walk a passing glimpse. No CNN, MNBC, or Fox news they were too busy hanging on every word Arne Duncan had to say. Not one person out of that thousand told me they had a positive view of what NCLB was doing to their children and schools, and messages of support were coming by the truck load from Facebook groups like "Stop Senate Bill 6", " Parents Across America, Teacher letters to Obama. These were my lifelines on the days were no one show up. Teachers and parents from every corner of America started emailing me, and posting messages on our Facebook Children Are More Than Test Scores group. Membership in that group went from 2 in March to over 7000 members a year later.  Last year people use to say are you really walking. This year people are saying walk Jesse walk.
I’m in DC Secretary Duncan, and I am available to meet with you anytime you are ready. I think you know my message, but just in case Mr. Secretary I am here to tell you that Children Are More Than Test Scores.
Jesse  

2 comments:

  1. I am glad you are there. And I know this will make a difference in education. Maybe Mainstream Media will take time to see us and hear us! I'll see you in DC on Saturday!

    Donna Mace

    Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history. ~Joan Wallach Scott

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  2. Donna, It was an amazing day. It's like a million angels coming to lift us up. For too long too few have been fighting this battle, and today others picked up the fight. I loved the passion coming from all directions. People get it! We are no longer alone.
    See you at the march,
    Jesse

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