The DC Save Our Schools March and Beyond


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.

Good.

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.

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About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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3 Responses to The DC Save Our Schools March and Beyond

  1. jenny Kastner says:

    I take issue with anyone wishing to separate this vital movement from union support. We must NEVER give in to the right wing demonization of our unions. This is precisely the kind of division that groups like Stand for Children, and the administration, would like to see and foster. Please stand firmly together with our union sisters and brothers, and focus on the issues that matter!

  2. ELF says:

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52284068-78/schools-education-charter-film.html.csp#disqus_thread

    “But not everyone in the audience agreed with the film.

    Miriam Bugden, who has worked as a long-term substitute teacher in the Granite District, said she didn’t feel the film addressed the serious issues facing schools today.

    “This sort of bashing of charter schools, to me, is a whole separate issue,” Bugden said. “The issue we need to deal with as educators is how do we improve education.”

    Robin Hough, a board member of the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts charter school, said she worries unions are putting too much of an emphasis on charter schools as the enemy.

  3. Ayn Marie says:

    Rather than a single issue of charter schools vs public schools in general, which appears to some folks as a bread & circuses approach, it is critical to strike a blow at the heart of the question of how to provide the best education possible for each student. How do we effectively and efficiently improve education and ensure stakeholder input from parents, the community and teachers on behalf of students, along with proper allocation of taxpayer-funding? The status quo just won’t do anymore, and that means unions, administrators, parents et al need to step up to the plate and refocus their vision and energies as well. There is far too much casting of blame, creating the wrong focus and not enough introspection with regard to the part each entity plays. This should be about educating students and creating an atmosphere of collaboration among these stakeholders. After all, taxpayers must pay for public education, but from my own experience, they have very little say in the education of their own children. (Co-author: Exposing the Public Education System)

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