Community groups are working to ‘Reclaim The Promise’ we made to future generations to provide a strong, well funded, high quality public education.
The national debate on education reform rages on everyday, in every school district, in every state across the country. Some say that schools are failing our children, while others say the schools are failing our children. No that is not a typo, both sides are essentially saying the same thing; we need to fix our broken education system to provide a better education for our future generations.
The major differences erupt when both sides offer their solutions to fixing our broken education system. Those ‘fiscally conservative’ politicians on the right blame teachers unions and bad teachers, and suggest we eliminate public schools for private charter schools. Proponents of public schools see the problem stems from a lack of community support.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, has been outspoken about the attacks on public schools and this idea that privatization is the only option to help our public schools. In recent phone interview Weingarten stated, “Austerity cuts are starving our public schools.”
Karen Schow is special education teacher working in Boise, Idaho. She has seen these austerity cuts directly affecting her students. Due to budget cuts, Schow is now the only special education teacher in her entire school. She works with multiple special needs students including students with Down’s syndrome, all alone. Just last year the school had two full time special education teachers, but the school cut that down to one. “These cuts are hurting my kids,” Schow told me in a phone interview. “Politicians are short changing not only my students but students across the state.”
Kia Hinton is parent and outspoken public school advocate from Philadelphia. Hinton highlighted how “Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett, cut over one billion dollars from the state’s education budget”. This forced dozens of school closures, mostly in areas that directly effect children of color. Areas that are already struggling to fight poverty, violence, and other community issues.
Closing public schools makes it harder for working families. Schools are farther away, underfunded, and overcrowded. These cuts hurt the children the most.
Hinton talked about how some of the schools in her area no longer have a school librarian if they are still lucky enough to have a library at all. They have also cut art programs and music classes, which are necessary for a well-rounded education.
Weingarten said that, “politicians are pushing to ensure that public schools are failing to open the door to their alternative ideas”. Their alternatives include; charter schools, privatized schools, or to just close the school entirely. Politicians have been pushing for privatized for-profit charter schools, yet these charter schools are failing to meet the needs of their communities.
Just like in Philadelphia, Chicago and Kansas City as closing public schools to open private for-profit charter schools. John Jackson President and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education said, “Corporations are making profits on the backs of our students.” Not only are they making money on our children, they are taking your tax dollars to bolster their profits. Yet there these for-profit charter schools are not preforming any better than their public counterparts in the same area.
Lora McDonald a social worker and the Executive Director of More2 said these for-profit schools failing in Kansas City. McDonald said that four of these for-profit charter schools have closed in the last year. McDonald said that not only are the charter schools failing, “kids in public schools have continually out-preformed those in charter schools.”
The American Federation of Teachers, The National Education Association, other unions and community groups are working to ‘Reclaim the Promise’ that we have made to our future generation by provide a high quality public education.
Everyone deserves his or her chance to reach the American Dream. For many this dream has become more of a myth, completely unattainable. Weingarten spoke to how a strong public education is crucial to reaching the American Dream. Weingarten stated, “This is a movement to reclaim public education.”
Talking about ‘Reclaiming the Promise,’ John Jackson stated, “Public education is strong at and it works. Want to make sure it works for all children. Public education is the foundation for economic prosperity for millions of Americans.”
This is why communities are rallying behind the need to ‘Reclaim The Promise’.
- Reclaiming the promise is about fighting for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning.
- Reclaiming the promise is about ensuring that teachers and school staff are well prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.
- Reclaiming the promise is about making sure our children have an engaging curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not testing, and includes art, music and the sciences.
Communities throughout the country will be standing together to on December 9th in a national day of action. Over 100 community groups and unions have signed up to take part in this event. Weingarten stated that this is a “bottom up event.” Unlike other union lead events this one is coming up from parents, and community organizations that want to make real change in their communities.
Everyone deserves to be able to get a high quality education, and public schools can provide that. We need to invest in our future by investing in our public school system. A strong public school is the bedrock of our society. When your son or daughter says they want grow up to be President, it is a strong public school system that can make their dream a reality. Just as President Clinton, a graduate of Hot Springs High School, a public magnet high school in Arkansas.
Click here for more information about the National Day of Action.
If you are interested in hosting your own event as part of this national day of action, click here and tell AFT about it.