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Saturday Solutions: Get Active

September 25, 2010

We’re in a scary moment in the history of our public schools. While school budgets shrink and class sizes swell, the money being dumped into useless tests and “solutions” that have been shown not to work is only increasing. Stultifying pay-for-play scripted curricula and assessments are gaining even more traction, while the teachers forced to use them are also forced to accept more accountability for student outcomes. The media distortions are growing bigger and louder by the day. People who were once trusted to provide a balanced, supportive perspective on issues like education appear to have jumped onto the sensationalist, public school bashing bandwagon. It’s enough to send decent people weeping toward the nearest pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

But, as I’ve said in the past: if the vultures are surrounding, we’d better not look like dead meat.

Roll up those sleeves...

It’s time to get active. Though straining under the incomprehensible rise of centralization and mayoral control, democracy isn’t dead yet. Parents, teachers, and students need to get together and defend one of our last and most important shared institutions– our schools. We need to push back against the misguided (or straight up self-interested) people who spread misinformation about what is happening in our schools, and what it will take to improve them.

Folks with blogs and media access, use them! Write and circulate petitions. Educate yourself about the local education issues in your area, and lobby your legislators. Build parent-teacher-student partnerships within your classrooms and schools, and resist others’ attempts to sow the seeds of mistrust amongst you. Educate yourself about what the research says, and about what’s really going on in your local schools, so you can make up your own mind about what is being said. Unite with others doing this important work.

If you’re hungry for more, join Teachers’ Letters to Obama for our monthly electronic roundtable this coming Tuesday, September 28 at 8:30 PM EDT/5:30 PDT! This discussion, called Stop Griping, Start Organizing! will be all about activism, and will feature Lily Eskelson of the NEA, Walking Man Dr. Jesse Turner, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters and Parents Across America, Seeds of Tomorrow author Angela Engel, and Chris Janotta, who is organizing a march on Washington. It promises to be a lively, informative discussion– be sure to register!

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