« With New Mayor Coming in, N.Y.C. Teacher Contract Continues to Languish | Main | Teacher Training in Classroom Management Is Insufficient, NCTQ Finds »

AFT, Partners Push National Day of Action to Oppose 'Privatization' of Schooling


The American Federation of Teachers and several partners will launch a "Day of Action to reclaim public education" on Monday Dec. 9, with events taking place in 100-plus locations. 

AFT reportedly spent more than $1 million on advertising buys promoting the campaign, which will push against the "privatization" of schools by turning charters or school turnarounds over to private operators. (It isn't clear whether this refers to for-profit managers only or nonprofit ones as well.) And the campaign will take a stand against excessive standardized testing, making the case that policy should be set by parents, teachers, and school staff rather than by "corporate executives, entrepreneurs
, or philanthropists." It also will endorse community schools and wraparound services as more promising solutions.

The groups joining the AFT include the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, community-organizing groups, other labor unions, and a Brown University think tank and advocacy organization, according to AFT's website.

The National Education Association is also involved but its spending is smaller, Politico reports. That might be because membership losses at the NEA have cut back the amount it can spend on messaging and communications, as I've reported. 

UPDATED, 12:36 p.m.: NEA folks contacted me to assert that the union's membership losses aren't connected to its spending on this media campaign. It also underscored its affiliates' and leaders' involvement in several of the events. NEA's vice president and secretary-treasurer will be headlining events in Austin, Texas, while NEA President Dennis Van Roekel will participate in the Des Moines, Iowa day of action.

There is a distinctly progressive, anti "corporate education reform" flavor to the agenda, to borrow the Diane Ravitch formulation. Interestingly, not all of it completely aligns with AFT's historic policy perspectives. For example, the campaign's guiding-principles document opposes mayoral control, but AFT's largest affiliate backed that governance arrangement in New York in 2002. Similarly, the AFT was once open to the idea of test scores being part of teachers' evaluations but has recently taken a much harder line on testing, referring to "test obsession" and "test fixation" in many of its press releases.

Activities will include marches, rallies, press conferences, and meetings to promote the agenda. The activities run the gamut from statehouse rallies to support increased school funding in Boise, Idaho to the more symbolic, as in Chicago, where teachers will be giving city alderman lumps of coal or candy canes.

It's not clear whether the campaign will have the effect the partners desire of changing the dialogue around education policy. Other similar events, such as the Save Our Schools march, ended up weakened by internal politics. But we will see what this new push yields.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments