Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Network For Public Education | Network for Public Education News! Volume 1, Issue: #4

The Network For Public Education | We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together, we will save our schools.:


Welcome to the fourth edition of the NPE News! In this issue, we share news from Occupy Dept of Ed 2.0 in DC, and some great ways to get involved in grassroots activism. Please share this newsletter with friends, so we can build our network of those working to support our schools. If you would like to make a donation, or become a member, you can do so here. And don't forget to "like us" on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!
Note from Anthony
Report from Washington, DC

Dear Friends and Allies,

I am just back from Washington, DC, where I spent three days on the pavement in front of the Department of Education building, with several hundred others from around the country, at Occupy the Department of Education 2.0. There were teachers, students, parents, principals and professors, all pouring out their frustrations and hopes on that plaza. The doors of the building opened once to allow in a small group of students from the protest, who met with the DoEd staff youth outreach team. The students reported that the staff seemed unaware of the ways that students' lives have been scripted and standardized by test after test.

We stood up together, and we listened to one another. We marched to the White House, and we met in a church basement to talk some more. 

We learned. We heard from teachers, like Michelle Gunderson of Chicago, who shared how she had built unity at her school so that they were able to stand 100% united in last year's strike. We heard Lois Weiner remind us that teachers in the United Kingdom and Mexico are facing the same issues that we are. This is not just a national movement, it is international. Brian Jones gave us hope when he pointed out that the victories the "reformers" have won are temporary at best, and rest on false promises that they don't have the ability to fulfill. Denisha Jones told us about her research into the threats to teacher preparation programs. Deborah Meier pointed out that schools are just one of many democratic spaces that are under attack. And dozens of other speakers inspired and taught us.

Perhaps most inspiring were the students. Sarah Smith, the daughter of a kindergarten teacher, protested at Wisconsin's capitol every day in 2011. Stephanie Rivera, who joined with others to organize a new group, Students United for Public Education.

A Chicago student said:
 "I am #378947. That is my CPS code number. Student voices have been shut out, and we are here to change this. I am not just a number. I am Israel Muñoz, and I am one of the Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools." 
Israel told us what is happening in in his community:
"The largest school closings in history are set to happen in Chicago this year. All these closings are in low income, African American and Latino communities. As a result, young students will have to cross dangerous gang territories. This is genocide. Our education is dying. 30,000 elementary students will be affected - but every student in Chicago is affected. Students will be crowded into classrooms, rival territories. Unacceptable. Not necessary. Underutilized schools have been neglected. Reduce the number of students per class and use all the rooms! Of course, that would require investing in our schools. Rahm Emanuel says there is no money. Every year, $250 million in tax increment financing is taken from money that's intended for blighted communities. But these monies go to downtown businesses, not our poor communities."

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis advised us to always think about three things before deciding on what to do. First, will it unite us? Second, will it make us stronger? And third, will it give us more power?

Really, these three things can be boiled down to one word: Solidarity. It is our greatest asset.

The Network for Public Education is looking to build solidarity with all those who protested last week at the Department of Education. We also want to support even more grassroots activism. Today we are watching the news from Newark closely, to hear how the students there have walked out in protest of budget cuts.

On Saturday, April 13, we will host our first webinar, focused on grassroots organizing, featuring our allies in Indiana. Our movement is growing, but we need to reach out, organize, and find greater strength. Please join, and spread the word to others.

A Nebraska activist sent along this quote today:
"Each of us feels some aspect of the world's suffering acutely.  And we must pay attention.  We must act.  This little corner of the world is ours to transform.  This little corner of the world is ours to save."  Stephen Cope.

Each of us has that little corner we are working on, and when we help one another, that is what solidarity is all about.
A Chicago Teacher Shares her Pledge for the Ethical Use of Student Data

Chicago elementary teacher Michelle Gunderson has authored a Personal Pldege for the Ethical Use of Student Data.
She writes:
"We see standardized test scores used to justify privatizing our schools. Over and over again our downtown administration starves neighborhood schools of resources and refuses to address the needs of our impoverished students. Then when these schools have low performing test scores, they are closed. Charter schools, which are private enterprises even when non-profit, are opened up to fill this void."

"Hence, in my career as a CPS teacher I've witnessed standardized testing used to sort, punish, and privatize."

"And I am saying enough is enough."

"I've developed a Personal Pledge for the Ethical Use of Student Data. This pledge is my way of communicating to fellow teachers, parents, administrators, and education policy allies my stance on standardized testing. It's a document that helps codify my moral stance, and it is hoped it will help others take a similar action."

You can read more, and download your copy of this pledge to share with others here. 
Join Diane Ravitch in San Diego Monday

Diane Ravitch will be in San Diego on Monday, April 15th, at 5 pm. at
Kearny High school, at 7651 Wellington Way. She will be hosted by the San Diego Education Association. Anthony Cody will be there too. Come join us!
T-Shirt Slogan Contest: Voting Time

Here is Nancy Carlsson-Paige sporting a Network for Public Education t-shirt. But it still needs a slogan!
We asked for suggestions, and about fifty people offered possible slogans. 
  • Whose Schools? Our Schools!
  • Public Schools Keep Us Free!
  • Public Education is a Public Good
  • Working to provide every child a meaningful education
  • Public Education: We're All In!
And many more to choose from!

Please go here and vote for your favorite slogan. We will get the t-shirts online and available soon!
Grassroots Report: A Letter from Indiana 

A member of the North East Indiana Friends of Public Education has shared a moving letter that she wrote to elected leaders in her state. Take a look here, and start writing -- and sharing -- some letters of your own.
NPE Webinar #1: How to Organize a Grassroots Group
Organizers share ideas
Many of those who have joined our network want to get involved in grassroots work to change the direction of education in our communities. We are now planning a series of web forums to share concrete ways to do just that. The first will focus on how to organize grassroots groups.
Phyllis Bush and members of the North East Indiana Friends of Public Education
will share their experiences in getting organized. Formed just two years ago, this group helped elect teacher Glenda Ritz as state superintendent of education.  
The webinar will take place on Saturday, April 13, at 2:30 pm Eastern time, 11:30 am Pacific time. You can register here. You will be emailed a link to the webinar a day or two before the event. 
Please forward this newsletter far and wide! 
In solidarity,
NPE sq

The Network For Public Education