The organizers of the Save our Schools March and National Call to Action are saying "no thanks" to a White House invitation to meet with education advisers to President Barack Obama tomorrow.
Organizers instead say the White House can come to them, or they'll come to the White House on Sunday. Obama officials had no comment on the executive committee's response to their invitation.
In a statement this evening, the executive committee said:
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 and 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.
This evening, Save our Schools spokesman Bob Schaeffer told my colleague Nirvi Shah that corganizers are not turning the White House down. "We think it's important for them to see the breadth and depth of our concerns," he said. Schaeffer explained that the executive committee has a full day of programming on Friday, but is available on Sunday for a meeting. And, the "best path" for the White House to hear the concerns of those marching is to come to the rally, he said.
Up until at least 7 p.m. tonight, the White House thought the meeting was still on. A White House official told me: "A couple of the President's education advisers (including Roberto [Rodriguez]) will meet with folks from SOS tomorrow as part of our ongoing commitment to listen to and work with teachers as we reform our education system to deliver a 21st century education for every child."
And, Save our Schools leaders had even talked to Nirvi about a press conference they were likely going to hold after the meeting.
Yesterday, three key organizers met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his senior staff at the department to discuss their concerns about the direction of education reform. An invitation to the White House isn't to be taken lightly, and while organizers surely have a busy day on Friday, White House officials may have other things to do on Sunday.