Save Our Schools: A National Call to Action

August 15, 2012
Bess Altwerger, Action Committee
Save Our Schools


Challenges Choice of Beneficiary for “Teachers Rock 2012” Concert

The national public education advocacy group, Save Our Schools, is challenging the CBS network and corporate sponsors of the heavily promoted musical event “Teachers Rock 2012” to engage in a public dialogue regarding their choice of Teach For America as a beneficiary.

SOS Steering Committee member Lee Barrios said, “The concert is a promotional scheme for the upcoming anti-teacher movie “Won’t Back Down.”

Leonie Haimson, a co-founder of the parent activist group Parents Across America and an SOS endorser said, “The movie is supposedly based on a process called the ‘parent trigger’ which purports to empower parents. But actually, the ‘parent trigger’ has a track record of 100% failure and has pitted parents against parents and torn apart school communities at the two schools where it has been tried.”

Won’t Back Down was produced by Walden Media, owned by conservative mogul Philip Anschutz, a major donor to anti-gay, creationist and other right-wing causes. Walden Media was the co-producer in 2010 of “Waiting for Superman” which SOS characterizes as an anti-public education pseudo-documentary.

The live concert, held in Los Angeles August 14, is to be broadcast Friday, August 17 on CBS. It is billed as a charity event celebrating teachers and educators. Save Our Schoolsquestions why the education organization selected to receive the proceeds was Teach For America (TFA).

SOS sub-committee members responding to media events such as “Teachers Rock 2012” note that at its inception, TFA’s mission was to place college graduates with five weeks of intensive training into high poverty, inner city schools only with shortages of certified, experienced teachers. Barrios added, “Since then, TFA has grown into a fast track employment agency to provide charter schools with low-cost instructional personnel, avoid union membership with collective bargaining, eliminate costs of retirement and health benefits and provide submissive employees who may be unaware of federal and state laws designed to protect the welfare of our children in public schools. TFA instructors are no longer limited to filling vacancies but have displaced thousands of highly qualified certified teachers.”

“Teachers Rock 2012” is sponsored by Walmart, the retailer owned by the Walton family. The Walton Family Foundation has given over $159 million in support of charter schools and vouchers. SOS contends that both of those initiatives have drained public school districts of funds for traditional schools and that the Walton Foundation is one of the most anti-union corporations in America.

Barrios questions whether the celebrities who have attached their names to “Teachers Rock 2012” are aware of what they are really supporting. “Many are members of unions like Actors Equity and The American Federation of Musicians (AFTRA) and yet they are willing to get behind a project sponsored by companies with anti-union agendas,” she says. Among the listed performers are Dierks Bentley, Fun., Josh Groban, Carrie Underwood, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Morrison, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Usher, Maroon 5’s Adam Levin and Garth Brooks.

Representatives ofSave Our Schoolsand other education advocacy groups such as Parents Across America are asking CBS and other media outlets for equal time to voice their concerns and to make the public aware of the veiled attempts to push a privatization agenda that threatens the teaching profession, and the quality of public education.