Posts Tagged ‘SOS March’

SOS Webinar with Monty Neill Friday

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

From SOS:

Save Our Schools Webinar: Overhauling Testing and Accountability with Monty Neill of FairTest

June 15, 2012, 9 PM Eastern Daylight Time [EDT]

Please Join Us!

FairTest Executive Director Monty Neill will present and lead a discussion in three parts:

1) what is wrong with current testing and accountability;

2) what are some educationally sound goals in these areas; and

3) action steps at local, state and federal levels to overcome the problems and win the goals, such as building on the national Resolution on High-Stakes Testing.

To register for the Webinar Friday, June 15th, 9 PM [EDT]:
If you choose to donate to the Save Our Schools Cause Please go to:

PSAT for 8-2-11: Take the Matt Damon test

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Are you as well-informed about education issues as Matt Damon?

Check out his interview with Gotham Schools here and his SOS March speech here.

Did you know all that? Why is he so smart about school issues? Well, apparently he’s actually really smart. Also, he has a smart mom who is a professor of early childhood education and hangs around with Diane Ravitch.

But all of us can get smart, and we have started hanging around with Diane R., too, at least virtually, by reading her blogs and tweets, right? And we can share them with our friends and family the way Matt’s mom shares news and information with Matt, right?

So, let’s do it. For Public Schools Action Tuesday (PSAT) this week, take the Matt Damon test and find out if you are as smart about education as a Hollywood movie star. Then share the test with your friends and family. Let’s all be as smart as Matt.

The sun shone and the stars came out for the SOS march

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

SOS March in DC July 30, 2011

After two days of movement-building speeches, workshops, and networking, the SOS march ended with a sun- and passion-drenched rally and march in the middle of Washington DC.

It felt like a huge family reunion. Our brand new Parents Across America group was well-represented. It was so much fun to meet up with Chicago Teachers Union members and to see our PAA members meeting up with their friends from home.

You know who

We even had star power – Pedro Noguera, Deb Meier, Angela Valenzuela, Diane Ravitch and, yes, Matt Damon, whose mother, Nancy Carlson Page, a professor of early childhood education, introduced him.

Matt actually gave a fantastic, personal and heartfelt speech. He asserted that creativity, imagination, love of drama  and theater – the things that made him who he is – cannot be tested. He said that he came close to standardized tests once, until his mother went to the principal and told him that Matt would not be taking the test, which she described as stupid, a waste of time, and not useful.

Here’s a short clip of his wind-up.

There will be more stories and photos in the coming days, but for now we are heading home happy.

Parents Across America

PSAT for 7-26-11: Can’t go to the SOS march? Here’s what you can do instead.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Thousands of people will be converging on Washington, DC this week to speak out in support of our schools at the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action.

I’ll be there with a contingent of parents, members of Parents Across America. We have a full schedule.

On Thursday we will be meeting with members of Congress. We have packets prepared for them with the PAA position papers on ESEA reauthorization and on the recent House bill to expand charter schools. We will also share some fact sheets including “Why Tying Teacher Salaries to Test Scores Doesn’t Work,” a comparison chart of the relative success of reducing class size versus using Race to the Top strategies (no surprise – class size reduction works better!), and a summary of recent independent polling information showing a drop of 11% in the American people’s support for the Obama administration’s education policies since 2009 – now 33% give him a “D” or an “F”.

On Friday, I’ll be listening to Diane Ravitch and presenting a workshop on how to work for a better ESEA, with PAA’s crack legislative consultant, Gene Fisher.

On Saturday, of course, we’ll be marching to the White House with Matt Damon and several thousand other people.


Strengthen our voices in DC by adding your own. Please call or fax your Senators and Congressmen this week – Thursday would be best!

  • Tell them that they need to listen to their constituents on ESEA, not to rich education hobbyists who have spent billions marketing a false image of our public schools and promoting ideas that are expensive and don’t improve education.
  • Tell them that you oppose HR 2218, the charter school expansion law.
  • Share your own experience with high-stakes testing, school closure, charter school encroachment, or other problems that have come about due to NCLB/ESEA.

You can use PAA’s summary points on ESEA below. You can find more information about many of these topics under the links provided.

Summary of PAA’s ESEA Position Paper, with links to further information

Parents Across America opposes:

  • Policies that use standardized test scores as the most important accountability measure for schools, teachers or students, and/or expand the use of standardized testing in our schools.
  • Competition for federal funds; a quality education is not a race but a right.
  • Parent trigger” laws, vouchers, charter takeovers or other forms of school privatization that take resources from the schools attended by most students and put them into private hands, with less oversight.
  • Limiting federally-mandated school improvement models to a narrow set of strategies, including charter schools and privatization, which are favored by corporate reformers but which have had little verified success.

A new ESEA/NCLB must include:

We need everyone to speak out this week – Thank you for adding your voice!

PSAT for 6-21-11, Part 1: Listen to Diane! Push back as hard as we can!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

For Public Schools Action Tuesday (PSAT) today, please read and follow the directions included in this article which was posted on over the weekend:


Many people have asked what they can do to try to change the conditions and misguided policies that I describe in my book. Wherever I go, the same question comes up: What can we do? How do we stop these bad policies and programs? Whether they are parents, teachers, administrators, school board members or citizens concerned about the future of our children and our society, they want ideas about how to persuade our elected officials to change course.

Education used to be a state and local function. Unfortunately, since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001–02, the levers of power now are in the hands of federal officials. With Republicans and Democrats both advocating policies that endanger the future of public education, the situation seems dire indeed. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s wealthiest philanthropies and individuals embrace the misuse of testing and accountability and the advance of privatization.

The odds against us seem overwhelming, but we cannot afford to do nothing. We must take action. At present, the Obama administration is embarked on a course of action that many find repugnant. The Race to the Top is built on the foundation of No Child Left Behind. It emphasizes high-stakes testing, judging teachers by their students’ test scores, closing low-performing schools instead of helping them improve, and promoting a huge increase in private management of public schools. These approaches will narrow the curriculum and promote teaching to the test, which will rob children of the opportunity for a good education. Furthermore, none of these strategies has a solid research base, none has been proven effective in practice, all have the potential to disrupt students’ education, demoralize teachers, and shatter communities. The burden of these policies will fall heavily on low-income, minority communities, but many other communities will be affected as well.

What we need to improve education in this country is a strong, highly respected education profession; a rich curriculum in the arts and sciences, available in every school for every child; assessments that gauge what students know and can do, instead of mindless test prepping for bubble tests. And a government that is prepared to change the economic and social conditions that interfere with children’s readiness to learn.

We cannot improve education by quick fixes. We will not fix education by turning public schools over to entrepreneurs. We will not improve it by driving out experienced professionals and replacing them with enthusiastic amateurs. We will not make our schools better by closing them and firing teachers and entire staffs. No high-performing nation in the world follows such strategies. We cannot be satisfied with the status quo, which is not good enough for our children, nor can we satisfied with the Bush-Obama-Duncan “reforms” that have never been proven to work anywhere.

This is what I suggest:

Join the Save Our Schools organization created by outstanding teachers. Their website is Whether you are a teacher or a parent, join the march on Washington, D.C., from July 28 – 30, 2011. I will be there, supporting the dignity of the teaching profession and our public schools.

Join Parents Across America. Their website is This is a group of parents who want to work together to strengthen public education and restore common sense reforms.

Write your elected officials. Find out whether any Congressmen or Senators from your state are on the education committee in their House of Congress. Write the members of the education committees even if you don’t live in their state. Ask your colleagues to write letters to them. Write letters to the editor. Comment on education blogs. Call in to talk shows. Speak up at school and community meetings. Speak up, speak out.

As the great Southern writer Flannery O’Connor wrote in a letter to a friend, “You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you.”

This age is pushing mighty hard against children, against educators, and against the very concept of good education.

Let’s all push back as hard as we can.

Diane Ravitch

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

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

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!

July is heating up!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

In addition to the national SOS march to support public education, there will be a national conference here in Chicago sponsored by CORE to share best practices in fighting back against the privatizers and union busters.

“Speak, learn and share with educators on the front lines in New York, LA, Chicago, Wisconsin, Oakland, Ohio, Indiana and beyond. Plan and organize to promote our vision of an equitable and just education system, for unions that fight for and with our communities, and help build a national grassroots strategy to defend public schools.”

When: July 6th,  9am to 5pm

Where : Chicago, IL. Teamster City

Spread the word!

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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.