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Friday, July 29, 2011

Day number 2 at SOS

We are not alone any more.  For the first time in many years I sat back, and listened to other people fight the good fight.  After two years of walking for change I was able to sit down, and rest these tired feet. The SOS House is full; people are not on their knees, they are not silent; they are working for change.  This  house is not a house of silence and apathy, it is the house of change, and we are marching.
 Jonathon Kozol gave the challenge, and the challenge is being met by people from every corner of America. This is a sharing of actions, a sharing of resistance stories; this is a sharing of parents, teachers, educators, and yes-even students.  There are vocal students here from New Orleans, and I am in love with their energy, their passion, and most of all their commitment.

Yesterday I attended the session “ The New Parent Involvement” by Parents Across America’s Karran Harper Royal and Pamela Grundy. I leaned that our parents in New Orleans and Charlotte-Mecklenberg, North Carolina are truly organized, fighting back with information, and resisting the mental slavery of NCLB/RTTT.
Pamela shared the story of how parents reached out to teachers, and how a North Carolina district chased a “Can’t Get Enough testing crazed Superintendent” out of Charlotte-Mecklenberg.  Karran took us through the tragedy of what is happening to the New Orleans Public Schools where state approved charter schools use push-out/trick out schemes to remove special education and low performing students from their schools.  Their goal is to get these students out . This is why The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing the State of Louisiana. Karran said “ I am here to tell you that New Orleans is the canary in the coal mine, and the canary is dead! Please do not replicate what is happening in New Orleans”.

Another session I attended was “Think/Do Tank”
Mike Klonsky led a brain storming session on how we need to defend ourselves from the forces of privatization in public education. This session was like something from the 1960’s. At this session we began the work of building a foundation under this resistance to NCLB/RTTT.
This session focused on reframing the public school debate from teacher bashing to supporting teachers, children, and our local schools.
When asked about why people were here…over and over again conference attendees said “we are here to march, to act, do something, to stand up for children and teachers, and we are marching”.
My favorite moment came from a Principal named Buzz Howard who said: “We should frame this discussion around who we are and what we do.
 I suggest the following mantra:
We are your public schools, the place where young people come to develop habits of
·      The mind and intellect
·      Character and citizenship
·      Social and emotional intelligence
In a nourishing and challenging environment to become happy, responsible, and responsive participants in American society. The place where teachers are professional men and women who make school work”

At the end of the day we invited the White House to our March:
We sincerely appreciate the interest of the White House in the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. We’d be pleased to host any White House or Department of Education personnel on the Ellipse on Saturday so they can hear firsthand what teachers, students, parents & community members from around the country have to say about public education. Thousands of concerned citizens will be sharing their experiences and their thoughts on the future of our schools. July 30th is your opportunity to listen to us. After the March, we will be open to meeting with White House or Department of Education leaders to further discuss our specific proposals.

All in all, the cat is out of the bag, the revolution is here, and we are marching. Come one, come all to DC, your schools need you this Saturday.
I am marching,

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