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SOS March: Teacher bashing wakes a sweeping giant

One of the many regrettable by-products of the Republican political victories in the 2010 midterms has been the wave of teacher-bashing initiatives emanating from GOP-led state legislatures from coast to coast.

However, if there is a silver lining to this tsunami of "reform" (much of it of dubious value, of course), it is the fact that there is a growing backlash among teachers, parents, and those who care about education.

A powerful symbol of that awakening among true education advocates is this weekend's Save Our School March and National Call to Action, taking place in Washington. The event has been months in the making, and has been inspired in no small part by the assault on public education being waged across the country.

Baltimore educator Alan Rebar offered a solid synopsis of why thousands of folks are gathering in DC this weekend:

We're looking for solutions that really involve teachers, parents and students, including teachers' union members. We don't see the solution in the demonization of teachers' unions, or high stakes testing, for-profit charter schools, or unrealistic laws such as No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, which are based on these methods. Real reform has to be based on democratic participation in education policy decisions, and sufficient funding.

The march and rally is happening today, after a two-day conference where some of the most respected advocates for teachers have offered their assessment of the current educational and political landscape.

One prominent example is former Asst. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch (who is a must follow on Twitter). Yesterday, she minced few words:

She reiterated her opposition to merit pay for teachers, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top measures and school vouchers. On teacher tenure, Ravitch lampooned critics who view educational work protection rules as lifetime employment guarantees: “[Teachers have] a right to a hearing if someone wants to fire [them] … it’s not so onerous ,.. it’s due process.”

Ravitch provided a handful of policy prescriptions, beginning with electing “a whole lot of different people.” She also urged teachers, parents and activists to participate in the recall efforts underway in Ohio and Wisconsin — two states that have aggressively curbed public sector wage protection laws and public service expenditures.

One hopes this is the start of a movement that rekindles the climate of respect afforded to teachers for decades, after a brief darkness where Republicans (and an unfortunate contingent of labor-bashing Democrats) tried to make teachers the fall guys for all educational ills.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 10:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Progressive Hippie.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn"
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

    by Steve Singiser on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 10:15:38 AM PDT

  •  I hope they get a good turnout. nt (4+ / 0-)

    I am the fellow citizen of every being that thinks; my country is Truth. ~Alphonse de Lamartine, "Marseillaise of Peace," 1841

    by notdarkyet on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 10:27:15 AM PDT

  •  If they want to treat teachers like fast food (4+ / 0-)

    workers, they have to accept that their children will turn out like chicken mcnuggets rather than productive individuals.

  •  Wish I could be there (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, grimjc, buckybadger1988

    Thankfully, one of the by-products of 2010 was Raul Grijalva:

    If we let the schools go down, we have nothing left. Nothing. Education is the first principle of any successful country, no matter what age you're talking about. Public schools will have my vote until they nail my coffin shut.

    Great comments by Rebar and Ravitch.  :)

    •  Hopefully he is prepared to buck Obama, then. (4+ / 0-)

      And the present day Dem party.

      Because the President's education policies, and where he has led the happy-to-follow majority of Dems, on this issue, is where Bush left off and then some.

      As Diane Ravitch often and so correctly points out.

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hear you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYCee, buckybadger1988

        If you follow Grijalva at all, you will see that he has no problem with bucking, whether he is addressing public education, environment, or any issue valued by progressives.

        Imagine what would happen if everyone reading dkos started hitting the streets and working tirelessly on behalf of Grijalva and every member of the CPC.  Grijalva is not my rep, but I intend to do that for him.  

        Take care!

        •  Unfortunately, the CPC caves... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          passionateprotagonist

          They dont if they conveniently dont have enough votes to rattle the establishment Dem agenda (the one that always wins out), but when it is imperative to the Dem establishment that they roll with them, well, even the last lone holdout can be brought over that line in the sand (Kucinich on the hcr bill, after taking a ride on Air Force One).

          It has happened so often that I have stopped seeing the CPC as a progressive, principled wing and more of a necessary part of the stage show, to keep more progressive folks on board with the party, to give them/us hope that someday, some way... we will break on thru to the other side.

          I do understand your hope and enthusiasm. I hope someday I will be proven wrong.

          Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

          by NYCee on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 12:28:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  IF there's going to be merit pay, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jofr, buckybadger1988

    it should go to the teachers who go into the worst schools and get kids there interested in learning, not to those in the cushy districts with plenty of money and parents who have time to be involved with their child's education.

    Now to try to end the wars we ask our gay and straight soldiers to fight. -- Chris Hayes

    by Cali Scribe on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:20:53 PM PDT

    •  Even those cushy districts (0+ / 0-)

      are not that easy to teach in because the parents are very demanding. Often they are helpful, but sometimes they expect too much.  But I have worked in schools at both ends of the spectrum and the worst schools as you put it, do need good teachers.

      There is also a need for good principals, good leadership is important if you want good teachers to stay. One of the problems with schools in poor areas is the high level of staff turnover.

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