this is the second in a series of diaries about the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action that I will be posting in the runup to the the March itself on July 30. The first was
Mary Tedrow teaches in Northern Virginia. She begins a recent blog post, called Why I'm Marching. . . like this:
I was born and raised in Washington, DC.
In the summer the humidity settles down and the sky turns a sick, pale shade of yellow. The swamp the city was built on seems to rise up and sit in the air just above the traffic lights.
Mary is a gifted writer, and an even more gifted teacher of writers, having been very involved in the National Writing Project.
She describes what her childhood in DC was like, in days before air conditioning was so omnipresent. And then she offers this:
In Washington, D.C., July is a beast, but August is worse.
So, why return to Washington, DC on July 30 to march from the ellipse to the White House at a time when experience dictates that one should really just be sitting very, very still?
I will be marching because I do not want to lose another thing I bring from my childhood: A public school education.
Please keep reading.
Like me, Mary Tedrow is a member of the Teacher Leaders Network, a group of educators recognized not only for the quality of their teaching, but because they also work to make the voices of teachers more widely known. We are friends.
Those who know her know how gifted a writer she is. The piece from which I am quoting had such an impact that an (unfortunately, not done well) edited version appeared in Common Dreams.
You should read the entire piece.
She talks about what public school meant to her, and to her three children. She reminds us of how much public schools made America what it was when it was at its best, for example:
A public school opens its arms to the "poor and huddled masses" and America has been innovative, creative, and unique because we have brought all Americans together in the common school.
Her children, also educated in Virginia's public universities, are themselves now giving back
in substantive ways because of the investment made in them. Their friends are white, gay, straight, African- American, wheelchair bound, and the children of Indians, Asians, Quakers, Sudanese--and more.
But now, the system of schooling that has produced innovation, new ideas, new ways of entertaining and communicating with others, is threatened.
This is very much a result of the increasing emphasis on high stakes testing. She finds it disengages students from school, that the students
are fully aware of the importance of these tests which now cloud the classroom atmosphere as thickly as the humidity in Washington DC.
Then comes a paragraph worthy of being repeated over and over:
Remember Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the message. Well, the kids have gotten the message: the test is all that matters. The intrinsic rewards of discovery, creativity, flow, spontaneous celebration, and feeling competent after working through something hard--not emphasized.
Like many of us, she sees the direction of our national educational policy as perverting the teacher student relationship, and and an unfortunate serious increase in inequity for the young people in our schools.
I am going to return to Mary's word in a short while.
Allow me to repeat some of what I wrote yesterday:
Let me repeat the link for our website.
You can go there to read about our four guiding principals.
You can see the people and the organizations that have endorsed us. Today we found out the Washington (state) Education Association has joined in support of us.
You can read about the speakers who will address before we march, noted figures in education like Linda Darling-Hammond, Angela Valenzuela, Pedro Noguera, Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch. Matt Damon, whose mother Nancy Carlsson-Paige is herself a noted figure in education, is flying in from filming on the West Coast to speak to us. Jonathan Kozol is also speaking to us.
We expect thousands. We don't know how many. The conference before the March is now oversubscribed. There is still lots of room on the Ellipse.
Now back to the words of Mary Tedrow, before I close as I did yesterday.
She goes through a lot of things she finds wrong with what is happening with our schools. She acknowledges that those are important reasons for her to march on July 30. Then she goes on and concludes like this:
But I will also be marching for three very important, pressing reasons:
Granddaughter Ainsley starts kindergarten in 2013.
Grandson Aiden begins in 2014.
Grandson Eli--due to arrive July 30--goes to school in 2016.
I surely want these very special people to love school, to love kids of all colors and ethnic stripes, and to love America the way I loved my hot, steamy childhood.
Maryu Tedrow is one of many teacehers - and parents, and concerned citizens - who will be joining us on the Ellipse on July 30. We hope you will also join us if you can.
If not, check our website for related events happening around the country.
And if you can, consider contributing to help us make this march successful.
The March is not the end, but will be the beginning of an ongoing process to change the discussion on education, this time including the voices of teachers, of parents, of concerned citizens.
We ask for your support.
We thank you in advance for considering our request.
Thank you for reading this posting.
Please help make it, and the ones that will follow, more visible.
We do this for the children we teach.
We do this for the future of our schools, and thus the future of our nation.