"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, April 09, 2010

March In DC Tomorrow to Save Public Education and to Fire Arne Duncan

March and Rally to Defend Public Education

  • Demand that Arne Duncan Stop Toying with Our Students' Lives!
  • End the "Race to the Top" Scheme Now
  • Release All Federal Education Funds to the States Based on Need

Saturday, April 10, 2010, Noon
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW

  • End the Attacks Against Teachers and Black, Latina/o, and Poor, Working-Class and Middle-Class Students of All Races
  • No Privatization of Public Education
  • No More Separate and Unequal
  • Restore Dr. King's Vision for America

Get more information

Some background here at HuffPo by Bruce Dixon:

On April 10, representatives of communities around the country will converge in D.C. to demand the firing of Arne Duncan and the reversal of the Obama administration's policies on public education. There is an unbroken line of bipartisan continuity, grassroots activists for public education say, between the education policies of Republican George Bush and Democrat Barack Obama. Even before Bush Secretary of Education Rod Paige declared teachers unions to be "terrorists," organized educators were targets in the crusade for corporate-friendly school reform.

Activists claim that the Obama administration's current "Race To The Top" awards federal education dollars to states based largely on how many public schools they disband and privatize, and how many public school teachers they fire. This wholesale dismantlement of public education and the scattering of public school workforces will have profound consequences well beyond education for inner city communities.

Most urban public school teachers actually live in and near the communities where they teach. The majority are women, often minority women, who have struggled for years to attain advanced degrees and additional certifications. They take part in frequent high-level instruction to hone and enhance their skills. Even when they are not the heads of their households, they are pillars of their own families and communities, the most active members in local churches and neighborhood civic organizations of all kinds. They are well-paid enough to make mortgage payments and send their own children to college.

What happens to inner-city communities when hundreds of thousands of highly educated, superbly qualified community residents, mostly women, lose their retirement and medical benefits, find their pay cut in half, or lose their jobs altogether? Many, in their forties and fifties won't find new employment easily or at all, and those that do will be paid less, often much less.

Some won't be able to pay those mortgages any more. Those that find new jobs will have to travel far afield, where their distant employment won't contribute to the building of social capital that enriched the lives of their communities as their former work as public school teachers once did. Commuting to distant jobs will mean less free time to take part in the activities of churches and local organizations that constitute the social fabric and civic life of neighborhoods. "Every ten minutes of commuting," according to sociologist Robert Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone, "reduces all forms of social capital by 10 percent."

The current wave of what's called "school reform" is replacing these well-paid and experienced teachers, again overwhelmingly women and minorities, with a younger, whiter, less well-paid workforce with few ties to the communities where schools are located. In Chicago hundreds of former teachers have filed a civil rights suit against former Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan and his successor for racial discrimination.. . . .

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