The thirteen organizers were among a group of 200 from last weekend’s Save Our Schools March that met Sunday . The liked what they saw the day before, and they’re not done. This wasn’t a one off.
“There are tremendously high spirits,” Bob Schaeffer, one of the spokesmen for the movement, told me after the Sunday meeting, which was not open to the press. “Everybody thought the march and conference that preceded did it exactly what they wanted. They delivered the right message.”
What message, exactly?
“There needs to be more input by the local school community, including teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, and an end to top-down dictates by politicians and their campaign donors who have little understanding about the realities of classroom education,” Mr. Schaeffer said.
The organization will probably be restructured, at least a little, but it’s likely that at least some of the 13-member organizing committee, which includes teacher educators, and current and former teachers, will continue to lead the group.
In addition, it’s likely the group will expand their goals beyond high-stakes testing, equitable funding for all schools, unions and collective bargaining, and changes to curriculum. The importance of quality early childhood education will likely become a part of the group’s platform, among other issues, Mr. Schaeffer said.
I share the desire to include early childhood education to the platform, but I want to continue to caution against too closely aligning with our unions. There’s no denying the fact that teacher’s unions were responsible for $50,000 of the $125,000 that they group raised. But the inclusion of a supportive position paper for public service unions (a position share) is not included with Save Our Schools’ Guiding Principals.
Continuing clarity will need to be part of SOS’s message on their association with unions. Perhaps it needs to be emphasized that its more that unions support SOS. This needs to be certain as the movement goes forward, picks up allies and yes, raises money.
I made a comment in a FB conversation with a colleague from the west coast in the run-up to the march that I will own up to. I said that we need to make sure this doesn’t become a “freak show.” I said this out of concern that the March might become a photo opportunity for other groups who would discredit the intent and goals of the organizers. This would have been the focus of the media – especially those like Fox News who are not sympathetic. It didn’t happen. Future event planners will have to make sure of the same.
People are fired up and its noteworthy that other events went on around the country.
I’m fired up, too.