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'Save Our Schools' Leaders Craft Next Steps

By guest blogger Nirvi Shah:

Now that the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action events in Washington, D.C. are over, organizers of this movement against high-stakes testing and test-based accountability are already plotting their next move.

During a four-hour meeting of about 200 people today, the group decided that the passion they witnessed during a two-day conference last week and a rally and march Saturday provided enough fuel to keep their passion burning.

"There are tremendously high spirits," Bob Schaeffer, one of the spokesmen for the movement, told me after the Sunday meeting, which was not open to the press. "Everybody thought the march and conference that preceded did it exactly what they wanted. sosrally-tmb.gifThey delivered the right message."

What message, exactly?

"There needs to be more input by the local school community, including teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, and an end to top-down dictates by politicians and their campaign donors who have little understanding about the realities of classroom education," Mr. Schaeffer said.

Education author Jonathan Kozol, who marched alongside a few thousand others Saturday, and educator and education reformer Deborah Meier offered to help the movement raise money to keep their efforts going, Mr. Schaeffer said.

The group had raised about $125,000 to host the conference and march, including about $50,000 from teachers' unions, but all of that money has been spent.

The organization will probably be restructured, at least a little, but it's likely that at least some of the 13-member organizing committee, which includes teacher educators, and current and former teachers, will continue to lead the group.

In addition, it's likely the group will expand their goals beyond high-stakes testing, equitable funding for all schools, unions and collective bargaining, and changes to curriculum. The importance of quality early childhood education will likely become a part of the group's platform, among other issues, Mr. Schaeffer said.

The Save Our Schools group said they are still interested in a meeting with the White House, should another opportunity arise. They declined to meet with White House education adviser Roberto Rodriguez on Friday because the meeting would have conflicted with their conference. They also wanted U.S. Department of Education officials and President Barack Obama to take note of their march Saturday before a meeting, and had suggested a chat today, but the White House did not offer such an opportunity. (They are a little preoccupied, after all.)

The SOS organizers haven't decided when they will hold another meeting of their own, but there was talk of another mobilization similar to events of the last few days during early 2012, Mr. Schaeffer said, adding that folk should "Stay tuned."

Note: Several people who blog for or have worked for Education Week are involved in the Save Our Schools March. Education Week Teacher opinion bloggers Nancy Flanagan and Anthony Cody are on the organizing committee. Endorsers of the event include Education Week opinion bloggers Peter DeWitt, Diane Ravitch, and Deborah Meier; former reporter James Crawford; and Ron Wolk, the founding editor of Education Week and the chair emeritus of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes it. Education Week and Education Week Teacher are not affiliated with the event and take no editorial positions about it.

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