PSAT for 6-7-11: A smorgasbord of action!

First, the good news:

Our efforts are paying off! The forces of privatization and school segregation via charters and high-stakes testing are definitely on the defensive.


  • The research supporting our opposition to high-stakes testing just gets stronger. Here’s a review of recent reports on the failures of too much testing, merit pay, and other Obama/Duncan administration education policies and the success of strategies we support such as collaboration, strong unions, and peer evaluation.
  • House Democrats put out a press release detailing their concerns about problems with charter school accountability. Quote from House Ed Committee senior Dem George Miller: “The privatization of public schools under the guise of charter operators is very troubling to me and I intend to keep a close eye on this issue.”
  • Poll numbers are sliding for governors who have pushed for more school privatization and testing and weaker union contracts.
  • Duncan’s old basketball-related back injury is acting up, causing his doctors to prescribe a cut-back in his public appearances. Is it psychosomatic or just a PR reaction to the anti-Duncan rally he faced at Harvard last month or the sandblasting he got from teachers in response to a stupid statement he made this week about Diane Ravitch (see next)?
  • Duncan’s attack on Diane R. was quoted in a Bloomberg News blog by Jonathan Alter, better known to me as the dope who wrote this 1998 love letter to Paul Vallas, “Chicago’s Last Hope?” Alter’s prediction back then — “If Mayor Daley’s reforms fail, get ready for vouchers.” Oops.
  • Alter’s attack on Diane was a response to her weekend op-ed in the New York Times debunking so-called “miracle schools” like Chicago’s Urban Prep, whose major student attrition rate I was the first to point out in March of 2010.

So, let’s keep it up, folks! Here are a bunch of things you can do today for Public Schools Action Tuesday. They’re all quick – why not do them all?

1) Call or e-mail Governor Quinn asking him to sign SB 620, the fair facilities bill. Here’s what Facilities Task Force member Andrea Lee says: 

There is no reason to believe Governor Quinn will not sign the bill, but it is imperative you call or email him to remind him how important SB620 is to you, your children, your school and our State elected officials who voted in favor of the substance of the bill and that this needs to become law. You may call him at 217-782-0244 or email him through his website:  You can even ask for a date in which he’ll be signing the bill.

2) Sign this petition in support of the NAACP which has been taking an enormous amount of charter-generated flack after they joined in a lawsuit against NYC schools for closing schools or co-locating charter schools in existing public schools. (Here’s NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous’s essay about why they decided to join the case.) As we’ve seen here in Chicago, charter schools tend to get costly improvements that were denied to students attending the traditional schools.

3) The Bush tax cuts turned 10 years old today. 10 years later, the fiscal conservatives are still trying to convince the nation that massive tax cuts for the wealthy will create jobs and humongous salaries and benefits for corporate CEOs are necessary to “retain talent” but the rest of us don’t really need raises, jobs, homes, well-equipped schools, health care or pensions. In fact, we should join their efforts to take those things away from teachers, who are among the few that still have what all of our legislators take for granted, even those who only serve a year or more. So, to celebrate what Sarah Pain likes to call One Nation, how about joining in the National Call-in Day sponsored by USAction: m ake three (3) calls to 888-907-1485, and ask to be connected with your senator and two representatives. Tell them: "It’s time to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and increase tax rates for millionaires. No more budget cuts until millionaires and corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share.” Here are some events marking the occasion around the US.

4) Register for the SOS March! The July 30th march is free, the July 28-29 conference is $80 for both days (will go up to $100 after June 15). If you can’t be there, you can sign in to get updates or volunteer locally, or buy cool SOS March stuff to help the cause!

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.