Save Our Schools March On the March to Save and Transform Public Schools Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:00:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SOS at the Clearwater Festival Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:12:59 +0000 I just arrived home after a wonderful weekend for SAVE OUR SCHOOLS at the Clearwater Festival. This year, it was a glorious memorial to Pete Seeger and a celebration of the arts. We worked out a schedule where our table always had at least one of us while others could attend music performances. I attended an extraordinary performance by Lucinda Williams to close the Festival that included a very moving new song she wrote, “The World After Peter.” If you do not know her powerful songs with extraordinary poetry filled with feelings and imagery, check it out. Her voice is so strong and her rock band drives the messages home.

We had the only activist table focusing on Reclaiming our Schools. Other dominant activists focused on closing Indian Point nuclear plant on the Hudson River, ending fracking in NY and all over our country, climate change and sustainability; and so much more.

The two Clearwater Activist Area coordinators expressed great respect for both our movement and our activist commitment. They also set up a very moving memorial to Pete and Tosh that took those of us who visited on a journey of the impacts they have made. After walking through the memorial we were invited to write a heartfelt response that was publicly posted. I gave them complimentary SOS T-shirts at the end of the Festival to express a small “thank you” for all the work they do to support and promote activism.

We brought Terry’s lyrics to “This School is Your School” and it was the hit of all our handouts! Everybody loved them. I ran out of copies.

Great, rewarding weekend as we “keep on keepin’ on,”

Michael ShawSOS Steering Committee Member

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Corporate Reform = Civil Rights Fraud Thu, 29 May 2014 19:46:12 +0000 Devastating Report Condemns Corporate Reform as Civil Rights Fraud
Anthony Cody May 16, 2014

As the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education arrives, a report has been released by the Journey 4 Justice Alliance, a coalition of community, youth and parent-led organizations, which declares corporate education reform a civil rights fraud.

Death by a Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures and Public School Sabotage, Voices from America’s Affected Communities of Color,” ought to be required reading for every citizen and policy maker in the nation. While the nation is capable of identifying racism in the words of an 80 year old basketball team owner, we seem to have lost the ability to stop the re-segregation of our schools, and those who claim to be “civil rights” leaders are sometimes contributing to the problems.

The report begins by explaining the source of destructive policies:

Right-wing conservatives have long sought to eliminate public goods such as public education, and dismantle organized labor, especially teachers’ unions. Thus, for decades they have advocated – often successfully – for cutting spending to public schools. They have also long pursued the replacement of public schools with non-unionized, privately managed schools that receive public funds, either through a voucher system or a system of charter schools. Their privatization proposals received little support until they were joined by billionaires willing to invest heavily in education reform such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton family; members of the business community, especially Wall Street and large corporations, who realized there is considerable profit to be made by outsourcing education to private management; and Democratic policymakers who bought into (or were at least willing to promote) the unproven assertion that privatization and “school choice” would create improved educational opportunities for students. As a result of this political shift, there emerged a well-organized and extraordinarily well-funded group of individuals and organizations that has exploited any political opening they could find to destabilize neighborhood public schools – almost exclusively within communities of color – and instead promote the expansion of charter schools.

These policies have resulted in school closures and the expansion of more selective charter schools in the communities represented by this coalition – predominately low-income communities of color. The report’s authors point out that in spite of prominent reformers donning the mantle of the modern “civil rights movement,” corporate reform is no ally.

First, it is appalling that anyone would dare to equate the billionaire-funded destruction of our most treasured public institutions with the grassroots-led struggles for racial equality to which many of our elders and ancestors made heroic sacrifices.

Second, we simply cannot tolerate anyone telling us these policies are for our own good. Because we are the students they claim to be doing this for. We are the parents and fam- ily members that they claim to be helping. The communities they’re changing so rapidly are our communities, and our experience with school closures and charter school expansion confirms what an abundance of research has made quite clear: these policies have not produced higher-quality educational opportunities for our children and youth, but they have been hugely destructive. Closing a school is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a community; it strikes at the very core of community culture, history, and identity, and produces far-reaching repercussions that negatively affect every aspect of community life. It has been nothing short of devastating to the health and development of many of our children and youth, has put a strain on our families, has contributed to the destabilization and deterioration of our communities, has undermined many good schools and effective school improvement efforts, has destroyed relationships with quality educators, and has contributed to increased community violence. It also frequently triggers a downward spiral from which many school systems have yet to escape. Indeed, one of the most likely outcomes from school closures is that additional ones will soon follow, to the point that many of our communities no longer have a single public school in them.

The report describes this process in detail, drawing on the voices and experiences of people affected by these “reforms.” And those quoted make it very clear that the core problem is racism and systemic disempowerment.

We have seen school closures closely tied to the expansion of charter schools, which have become, in effect, parasitic in these communities. The dimensions and impact of these changes are described, with testimony from parents of disabled children who find themselves no longer “a good fit” for any school in their community. The link between “zero tolerance” charters schools and the school-to-prison pipeline is laid bare. As the report states, “While Secretary Duncan may want to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, the reality is that his policies are creating entirely new sections of that pipeline for our children and youth.”

It is hard to write about this report without simply quoting the entire document. The authors identify the problems, and also call for six “Necessary Action Steps,” which should be endorsed by everyone in the movement to support public education. Here are those steps:

  1. The U.S. Department of Education should replace its four school “turnaround” models with the “Sustainable School Success Model.”
  2. President Obama should call for a national moratorium on school closures and charter school expansion and spearhead the creation of a “Public School Bailout and Revitalization Fund.”
  3. Congress should revoke all tax credits and other incentives for charter school investment and replace them with equivalent incentives to invest in public schools.
  4. All charter schools that fail to both provide an innovative educational model that is unavailable in local public schools and demonstrate superior performance in educating all of their students should not have their charters renewed.
  5. The White House Domestic Policy Council, United Nations, and Permanent Court of International Justice (or “World Court”) should participate in a “Grassroots Impact Tour” of the communities affected by mass school closures to hear from students, parents, educators, and community members, and witness the community-wide effects.
  6. Due to the harm inflicted on our communities by corporate education interventions, the Journey for Justice Alliance seeks a Senate hearing on the impact of these policies.

The election of Ras Baraka this week shows that there is a new energy emerging in communities most affected by corporate reform. It is encouraging to see this clarity of purpose and upsurge of activism. One of the core concepts that will make it possible for this to grow is the healing of divisions that have been sown between teachers and community members. The report states:

To be sure, our public education system has never been as effective or as equitable as it should have been. Nevertheless, it took decades of unified struggle by students, parents, teachers, and other community members to achieve the admittedly flawed system that we now have. School closures undermine that unity and imperil future efforts to address our deep, structural barriers to education justice. For example, many “reformers” have attempted – and in many cases, succeeded – in driving a wedge between low-income communities of color and the teachers that serve their schools by placing the blame for budget crises and under-performing schools squarely on teachers’ unions. Additionally, the emphasis on “school choice” – without providing high-quality choices for all – has exploited parents’ desperation and forced communities to compete against each other for scarce educational resources.

When others seek to divide, we must seek unity. This week will see numerous actions across the country organized by various coalitions. The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools has listed events here. Another coalition of educators and parents is organizing the Taking Back Our Schools protest this Saturday in New York City.


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Press Release – SOS NYC Metro Rally May 17th Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:20:59 +0000 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2014
For more information contact:
David Greene, (914)523-6835, Save Our Schools,
Lisa Rudley, (917) 414-9190, NYS Allies for Public Education &

Advocacy Groups Unite to March in Support of Public Education

On Saturday, May 17th at 2pm, thousands will gather in Manhattan’s City Hall Park and march to the NYC Department of Education to support and celebrate the efforts of parents, teachers and community members who have worked to fight to preserve and protect public education. Save Our Schools is proud to partner with New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), MORE, Change the Stakes, BATs, Lace to the Top, FairTest, NY Principals, Students United for Public Education and other advocacy groups (a complete list can be found at in calling for community activists, parents, educators, and lawmakers to join together and march in support of a developmentally appropriate and equitably funded public education free from the influence of corporate reform and high stakes testing.

This rally is the culmination of growing resistance to corporate reform as evidenced this spring by over 33,000 test refusals throughout New York State, resistance of high-stakes testing rallies led by NYC principals, and parents, superintendents and school board members coming together to oppose inBloom and student data sharing. Kicking off the event will be renowned education scholar and activist, Dr. Diane Ravitch. In addition to Dr. Ravitch, those attending the Rally we will hear from a diverse panel of speakers who have been actively working to resist corporate reform policies. Speakers include Carol Burris, Leonie Haimson, Brian Jones, Jeanette Deutermann, Dao Tran, Mark Naison, Joe Rella, Jose Vilson, Bianca Tanis and many more.

“This has been an incredible year,” said Jeanette Deutermann, parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out. “Parents across NYS have taken a clear stand and are letting those in power know that we will not stand by and let public education be destroyed.”  According to David Greene, Treasurer of Save Our Schools and Chair of the ‘Taking Back Our School’ rally’s steering committee, “We must assure that students have access to locally developed curricula that honors local languages and cultures while addressing the unique needs of special education students, English language learners, and the poor and children of color who have been marginalized into a second tier system of education.”

Dr. Mark Naison, Co-Founder of BATS says, “BATS is thrilled to join with teacher, parent and student organizations from around the city and the state in this very important rally. It is time we showed the billionaire school reformers and the politicians they have bought that is our city, not theirs!”

“This month’s controversial NYS ELA exams and their secrecy are a prime example of the education leadership’s failure to heed the concerns of parents and educators. While we have made tremendous progress, we still have much work to do,” said Bianca Tanis, parent and co-founder of NYSAPE. Kevin Glynn an educator, parent, and co-founder of Lace to the Top says, “2014 is the year parents and teachers take back their schoolhouses. We are shutting the door on corporations and so called philanthropists that seek to profit from labeling our children as failures. We will not let test scores define us as students, teachers or parents.  Together, we will protect our schools and secure our students’ love of learning’ as one.”


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Selma Jubilee 2014 Recap Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:51:25 +0000 SOSers joined the masses of people who assembled in the Selma, Alabama on March 6th-8th.  Among the many highlights that came with participating in such an event were the inspiring speeches offered by Rev. William J. Barber II.  Many may know the work of Rev. Barber through his courageous work in the Moral Mondays movement out of North Carolina.  His words reminded us that the difficulties faced by our public schools are merely a side effect to a massive moral problem: the privatization of public goods and institutions.

SOS took part in the education forum, The Road to Advocacy, Activism, and Transformation in our Public Schools: Education is a Civil Right, and Equity in our Public Schools is still the Prize, and we had the pleasure of speaking with and learning from many people during the weekend. Of course, the march across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge was an invigorating reminder of what is truly possible when human kind set to walking the path to justice.

IMG_1407 IMG_1413 IMG_1415 IMG_1416 IMG_1418 IMG_7230

SOS will be attending the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee in 2015 for the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March. Join us!

This historic three day event commemorates the Selma to Montgomery marches, also known as Bloody Sunday and the two marches that followed, were marches and protests held in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. All three were attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery where the Alabama capitol is located. The marches grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.

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Taking Back OUR Schools Rally & March – NYC Metro Sat, 12 Apr 2014 16:57:43 +0000 SOS May 2014 Revised 1

NYC Metro
“Declaration, Protest, Successes, and Call to Action”

Calling all NYC Metro Area community activists, the “voices of resistance”, families, students, civil rights advocates, voters, immigrant families, policymakers and legislators, union members, teachers, faith leaders, and all communities that believe in a good public education for all!

Join us in a march and rally seeking to create & sustain a public school system that provides a fully funded, equitable, community-based education for every child. This means that decisions about our children’s schooling would be made democratically by families and professional educators, free of corporate and political intervention.

Some of those speaking will be Mark Naison, Brian Jones, Carol Burris, Jeannette Deutermann, Leonie Haimson, Joe Rella, Jose Vilson, and representatives of parents groups, educators, and students. Stay tuned for some more keynote speakers!

Participating groups:

BATS – Change The Stakes – Children Are More Than Test Scores – Class Size Matters – Coalition for Public Education
Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action at Manhattanville College – EDU4 – iCOPE – Lace to the Top – LI Opt Out
MORE – New York Allies for Public Education – NY PRINCIPALS .ORG – NY Student Union – NYCORE – Parent Leadership Project
Parents to Improve School Transportation – Port Jeff Station Teachers Association – Radical Women
Reclaiming the Conversation on Education – Save Our Schools (SOS) – Save Our Schools-NJ – Stop Common Core in New York State
Students Not Scores LI – Students United for Public Education (SUPE) – Teachers United – Time Out from Testing

This rally and march is part of the national Testing Resistance & Reform Spring campaign. We aim to support the efforts of parents, teachers and community members to have public schools that work for the community.

Donate now!

Like this event on Facebook!

Share the press release & flyers

Join us on May 17, 2014 in NYC!

City Hall Park @ 2:00 p.m.


For further information contact:

David Greene 914-523-5835
Rosalie Friend:

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“Save NYC Public Schools” – April 10th Event Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:10:00 +0000  

Pub Ed Rally - Spanish

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BATs March on D.C. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 04:33:30 +0000 BATs March on D.C. on July 28th

Save the Date! Details are still developing, but watch the site for updates.

Like this event on Facebook!


9:00 – 12:00 BAT Leadership Training

2:00 – 7:00 BAT Social with familes

Holiday Inn – Washington Capital



10:00 – 6:00 BATs March on D.C.

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Rally to Save Education – Seattle Thu, 20 Mar 2014 04:03:03 +0000 Rally to Save Education
June 26th @ The Gates Foundation

5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The struggle between corporate ‘reform’ groups taking public schools hostage vs. educators & parents who know what kids need to thrive is at its zenith. Teachers and school staff have systematically been left out of MOST policy changes occurring at every level. We are inching our way each year to a caste system of schools; private schools, charters, and affluent communities supplementing basic education of their own kids….. Meanwhile all public school kids (especially in poor communities) are suffering from standardization of curriculum, new teachers certified only if they’ve married CCSS and of course hundreds of hours of tests that DO NOT improve authentic learning outcomes. Often our best teachers are punished for choosing to work with students of color, at-risk kids, English language learners, and every other young person who wasn’t born into an affluent family in a high income zip code.

WA has the 47th worst class sizes in the nation, a supreme court who has ruled TWICE that our legislatures is in violation of our state constitution for NOT funding education, and hundreds of ‘reforms’ that are hurting kids.

Teachers work too long and too hard to be the type of advocates they need to be in these times. Our unions are strong (compared to other states) but we are up against the endlessly deep pockets of ALEC, the Koch Bros., AFP, WPC, Freedom Foundation, the Walton Foundation, charter school corporations, Stand for Children, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and many others who seek to make our kids’ school experience reduced to test scores. PARENTS and TEACHERS HAVE FINALLY HAD ENOUGH. The time is now to take action.

However you are willing to join with us as we fight this tragic iteration of corporate takeover, please do so.

The intent of this BATS protest is to shine a very big light on what is happening in schools. The Gates Foundation is our backdrop (I’m more than happy to expound on WHY we’ve chosen GF, just ask).

June 26th, starting around 5:00 PM we will be marching from Seattle Center, will close part or all of 5th avenue and gather on the corner of Mercer and 5th for speakers to energize the crowd. Our demands will be made at that time.

There will be a handful of speakers of national fame-including Anthony Cody, a flash mob, an amazing chorus, a short march and an opportunity to learn what our demands are to reinstate public education as the largest pillar to a free society that it should be. Join us!

Like this event on Facebook
bats flyer

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Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week – Stand Up for Them: May 5th-9th Wed, 19 Mar 2014 15:22:17 +0000

Our Love > Corporate Reform

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters of Public Education,


Our public schools are filled with heroes who continually step up for the children and communities they serve.  Just look at the teachers of

Saucedo Academy; the loving and courageous Antoinette Tuff and Kaitlyn Roig; the dedicated school personnel across the snowy Southeast; or the pure humanity of Jennifer Rose, the teacher of Ethan Rediske. The true colors of our public school employees shines through everyday!

Save Our Schools is proud to announce the second annual teacher and staff appreciation actions that will take place this May.

You are all invited to support teachers and school staff by taking actions to strengthen public schools. We are working to have the traditional teacher appreciation day be more influential, informed, school_bus_driver_hug_-_Google_Searchand responsive to the political issues facing teachers and students. Here’s what’s happening.

1. During Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week, May 5-9th, 2014, help initiate and sustain actions to support public education by taking the attached Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week Flyer and making it specific to your locale. Adjust or adapt this word document as you need. You can also add your group’s logo.

2. Send the attached Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week Letter to legislators, officials, and/or your newspaper explaining why high stakes tests should not be used to evaluate teachers.  Change the form letter to make it specific to your local conditions.

3. Here is a more comprehensive list of ideas and actions that you can take to show your support of teachers and staff in our public schools.

teacher_hug_-_Google_SearchContact Terry Moore for more information:

Spread the word to as many colleagues as possible, and thanks for you all do to demonstrate your support of public schools!

The SOS Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week Committee


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Quit Clowning Around with OUR Schools Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:24:58 +0000 Maryland Teachers Dress as Clowns to Protest Testing
“Stop clowning around with education. That is the message a group of Baltimore City Public School teachers are trying to send and they’re willing to get a little silly to get your attention.
You may have seen them at the intersection of North Avenue and Calvert Street — a few teachers in plain clothes and a couple more dressed up as clowns.
“We feel like we’re clowns in front of the kids these days,” Peter French, a language arts and social studies teacher, said.
However, they couldn’t be more serious about the topic.
“It’s one day, two days, even four days that are meant to measure a year’s worth of learning for a child. It’s not a year’s worth of time. It’s not a year’s worth of work but it’s meant to show that,” Peter Redgrave, a middle school science teacher, said
As they work to get the word out one driver at a time, they said the problem is with the Maryland School Assessment or MSA.
The teachers said aside from the fact that it unfairly judges them and their students, it’s also based on the old curriculum, not common core.
“It’s a stop gap because they don’t have the tests ready for the Common Core and part of what we would like to see is a moratorium on testing until the tests that match the common core are ready,” Redgrave said.
“This test has a huge impact. Principals have come and gone in schools in Baltimore because of the results of this test but it really doesn’t speak to, if we really want a quality education, this test has nothing to do with it,” added French.
They would like to see Baltimore follow in Montgomery County schools steps where the superintendent proposed a three year break from standardized testing. They say that would give them time to reevaluate the purpose and execution of the assessments.
“We don’t want it to be the way we’re evaluating our students like this makes statement about the child, this makes a major statement about teachers and whether they’re teaching well. There are so many factors,” Joan Jones, a fourth and fifth grade teacher, said.
There were about five teachers in total out protesting Wednesday. The teachers said they were satisfied with the number of people who showed up in support, but are hoping more teachers, parents and students will show up next time.
They say they will be protesting in the same location everyday the test is given in their schools over the next few weeks.”
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