This morning Diane Ravitch announced the launch of a new organization to connect supporters of public education across the country. This could not come at a better time.
Tuesday's election in Los Angeles showed the raw power of the money driving corporate education reform. Supporters of corporate reform, including Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg poured close to $4 million into the race. In spite of this mammoth spending, and a barrage of TV ads, Zimmer won. His supporters, including the Los Angeles teachers union, walked the precincts and made thousands of phone calls to help voters understand what was at stake. This shows us the path forward to defeating corporate power is not through money, but through grassroots organization.
And in West Sacramento, another race pitting National Board certified teacher Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez against a candidate backed by Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst also ended in a victory for the grassroots campaign. Kirby-Gonzalez said, "I'm not for the status quo. I'm for change. All teachers are for change, but from people who really understand education, instead of people from the outside or billionaires pouring money in to our campaigns."
That organization will be made a little easier by the creation of the Network for Public Education. This group will bring together grassroots activists from communities across the country to share information, ideas and resources, and support one another. I am serving as the group's treasurer.
We will support candidates willing to stand tall for our public schools. We will help them mobilize support on the ground to make sure that, as in Los Angeles, their message is not drowned out by TV ads bought by billionaires.
You may have heard of some of the officers of this new network. We have parent activists Robin Hiller of Arizona, and Leonie Haimson of New York. Former Mississippi Teacher of the Year Renee Moore is on board, as are education researcher Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, and Alabama activist Larry Lee. A retired teacher from Indiana, Phyllis Bush is also with us, and Diane Ravitch is our president.
Here is the part of the statement the Network released upon its launch:
Our public schools are at risk. As public awareness grows about the unfair attacks on public education, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens are organizing to protect our public schools. Public education is an essential institution in a democratic society. We believe that we must stand together to resist any efforts to privatize it.
We must also stand together to oppose unsound policies that undermine the quality of education, like high-stakes testing and school closings.
High-stakes testing takes the joy out of learning. It crushes creativity and critical thinking, the very qualities our society needs most for success in the 21st century. High-stakes testing does not tell us whether and how well students are learning or teachers are teaching; it does waste precious time and resources.
No school was ever improved by closing it. Every community should have good public schools, and we believe that public officials have a solemn responsibility to improve public schools, not close or privatize them.
The movement to support public education is growing every day:
From teachers in Seattle who are boycotting the MAP test, to students testifying in Washington about the devastating effect of school closures, to children, parents and teachers standing together in Chicago, to voters in Indiana, to students organizing against excessive testing in Providence, Rhode Island, and Portland, Oregon; from school boards in Texas opposing high-stakes testing; parents, educators, students, and other citizens are taking bold action to speak out for our schools.
We reject phony reforms that undermine our schools and set them up for failure and privatization. We oppose the constant increase in testing, with ever higher stakes attached to them. We have had enough of school closures, and the rapid expansion of selective charter schools.
Our public schools need our support. Our schools are part of our democratic heritage. They should be anchors of stability and hope in our communities.
We believe in keeping public education public. We oppose efforts to transfer public funds to private corporations. We oppose the transfer of public funds and students to for-profit corporations. We say to big business: hands off our public schools!
Today we are launching a new organization, the Network for Public Education. This group will serve to connect all those who are passionate about our schools - students, parents, teachers and OTHER citizens. We will share information an research on vital issues that concern the future of public education. We hope to inspire one another as we work together and learn together about how to resist the attacks on public education.
The group also plans to support candidates who are willing to stand up for public education.
It's website is here, http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org
The Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/networkforpubliceducation
You can follow the tweets here: https://twitter.com/NetworkPublicEd
What do you think of this new project?
This group is not in any way supported or endorsed by Education Week.