What is the movement called Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action? What do you hope to accomplish?
The Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action is a grassroots movement dedicated to restoring educator, parent, student, and community influence over education policy and practice. We are a varied group of people with different perspectives, experiences, and views on education. But we agree that those who know the most about education, our schools, and our communities—the educators, students, families and communities in and around them—should be the ones to have the most influence over education policy and practice. Our goal is to put public school stakeholders back at the center of all education policy conversations, and to refocus national, state, and local efforts on providing the resources and support schools need in order to provide a high-quality education for each and every student.
Short answer: a diverse and growing group of people and organizations who are committed to preserving and improving America’s public schools by putting educators, students, families, and communities at the center of the decision- and policy-making process. This movement is the natural result of increasing dissatisfaction with failed and failing policies like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which have substituted high-stakes testing, rewards, and punishments for genuine investment and support for public schools. You can learn more about the original planning committee here, and view a sampling of our growing list of endorsers here. Soon we will have the names of our Interim Steering Committee up on the website too.
The DC Rally/March, along with the conference and congress, was our “National Call to Action.” So to answer your question: Of course not. But it did draw sustained attention to the critical issues, and it served as a rallying point for citizens and educators to seek change in their own communities and states. And because of the congress, we are now on the verge of forming a permanent steering committee which will provide the leadership to move us forward and put our Four Guiding Principles into action.
Excellent question. Our most cherished hope is: permanent and positive changes in the national conversation and national action around improving our public schools and education system. The event itself is just a beginning, a notice to the economic and political powers-that-be who have taken decision-making power away from local communities: We are reclaiming our right to make the major decisions that affect how our schools will function. We’re always looking for good ideas from all the volunteers and marchers: What’s next? How do we sustain momentum? What do you plan to do to improve your local schools? What support do you and your schools need in order to get started? YOUR voice can help determine our vision for the future of the Save Our Schools movement. Post your comments on the website, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your ideas at this critical time so that once our permanent steering committee is set up, we can share your ideas and your vision with the members.
Were the principles refined or further defined at the 2012 People’s Education Convention? What was accomplished?
Just as the DC Rally/March, Conference and Congress did, we accomplished much. The Principles as defined and refined appear on our webpage. As is always a must considering change is a constant, updates will appear. The work to make these Principles more real within the broader public conversation is never ending and has begun! In 2012, committed citizens came together for “three wonderful days” to organize, strategize, mobilize, and Save Our Schools for the Seventh Generation. We established more substantive “planks” and created an action-filled agenda for the “re-schooling” of America.
Authentic-education advocate Deborah Meier articulates, “We agreed on a basic governing structure. We set a few key “targets” for this year–locally and nationally. A March has its values, but this was even better than last year–in terms of making me confident that we can sustain this work. Because there is no quick fix, and the powers against us are awesome. We need long-term distance runners.”
We are certain that we have these now. Still, more long-distance runners are needed. We know that there are people ready and willing to work for the cause, the children and their education. There is always more to do and that does not negate that we have done much!
Our “National Call to Action” is stronger; the principles and purpose are better solidified. As is true of learning, progress does not end. It cannot be accurately measured with a simple “yes” or “no.” We continue to galvanize the conversation. Save Our Schools draws sustained attention to the critical issues, and it served as a rallying point for citizens and educators to seek change in their own communities and states. The 2011 and 2012 Congresses, our actions and indefatigable efforts build on the Four Guiding Principles.
We currently have several active committees that are always open to volunteers; you can learn more about what kinds of needs these committees have on our Volunteer page.
We are looking for a contact person in each state who will not be asked to coordinate or plan events but who will keep track of them. That person is called an Information Coordinator. If you are interested in that position of if you are interested in helping to coordinate actions (like marches, rallies, letter-writing campaigns) and/or fundraising and awareness-raising events, please contact us at email@example.com.
You can do as much or as little as you like and are comfortable with, as a grassroots supporter. You can write (blogs, letters to the editor, op-eds) and/or share pieces of supportive media with family, friends and colleagues. You can organize a local or statewide event. When we get some new items up on cafepress.com, you can buy a T-shirt or mug and use it to start conversations. You can develop your own set of two or three talking points, about why public education matters, and what you believe should be done to support and improve it.
And we’re always happy to accept small donations. Every little bit helps!
So far we have volunteers willing to keep up the website and do some clerical duties. But if we lose those volunteers, we’re in trouble, and we may need to pay for those positions. Many members would like for us to gain a presence among the general public by way of paid advertising — after all, how will we educate voters, most of whom do not spend time in the blogosphere? Many teachers, parents, students and administrators have still not heard of our movement. For us to make a difference, we must educate otherss and become a force to contend with.
Right now, many of the Information Coordinators spend their own money printing out flyers from their home printers. We already do have needs, so we know that we will need financial resources.
It will be the Permanent Steering Committee that will set our course and decide what resources we need in order to accomplish our goals and fulfill our vision.
BTW, members of the original planning committee were all volunteers– and the same can be said of the Interim Steering Committee and the Information Coordinators — all of us donate our time and talents because we believe in this cause.
Yes and no. SOSMTM from the get-go was the inspiration for some members of our original organizing committee The date of the March itself came from the ideas and efforts of SOSMTM. And we—individually and collectively—continue to work with the many groups and individuals that are rising up to resist the market-based policies and practices that are destroying public schools, and posit constructive, collaborative, community-based alternatives to such trends.
There are many people and groups working for this kind of change. Some are large and national, some small and local. Some are entirely based on social networking sites, while others gather face to face. Some have particular issues of concern, others are more generally worried about the direction in which policy and practice are moving. Some are mainly educators, some are mainly parents, some are students, others are a mix of concerned citizens. Most have been frequently overlooked in state and national education policy discussions, and are raising their voices to oppose being forced to the sidelines in their own communities and schools.
In whatever form it takes, we see this bubbling up of support for public education, locally driven curriculum, a reduction of testing and more equitable distribution of resources as a tremendous resource. We also believe we’ll make a bigger impact if we work together and share information and support. That was the goal of the March and this movement: to unite the energy and insight coming from the real grassroots and use it as a catalyst to promote positive, lasting changes in our educational system.
In Diane Ravitch’s column on CNN, she said the SOS March was started by a group of National Board Certified Teachers. What is the March’s relationship to the National Board?
Some of the early organizers and supporters are NBCTs, but the SOS March has no formal affiliation with the National Board. The planning committee and subcommittees were made up of a very diverse group of members, including educators and non-educators alike. The March itself was inclusive of all who desire a voice in creating an effective, equitable school system for all of America’s students, because we know it takes a village to raise a child. We emphasize collaboration among families, students, and teachers as a means of achieving a just, high-quality school system, and we continually strive to build a movement that reflects that kind of collaboration.