Today parents, educators, students and activists around the country are staging a “Day of Action” with scores of coordinated events in more than 60 cities that sponsors hope will draw national attention to the problems of corporate-influenced school reform and to build a national movement to change the public education conversation and to increase funding for schools.
Protests, rallies, town halls and news conferences are being held to draw attention to the failures of standardized-test-based modern school reform and to discuss how to comprehensively improve schools and student achievement. A coalition of education, labor, civic and civil rights organizations is sponsoring the day nationally, with the American Federation of Teachers launching a $1.2 million in radio, print and online advertising campaign.
“Test-fixation, austerity, privatization, division, competition are not working for our students,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “… Our schools need evidence-based, community-based solutions like early childhood education, wraparound services, professional autonomy and development, parent voices and project-based learning.”
How effective the day turns out to be in building support remains to be seen. Protests have been growing over the past few years across the country against against school reform that is centered on the use of standardized test scores as the chief “accountability” metric and school “choice” that has led to the growing privatization of public schools. Today’s “Day of Action” marks the first time so many events — including in New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, California and D.C. — have been coordinated on the same day.
In New York, despite the bad weather, protests and rallies are being held in numerous cities, including New York, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, with scores of local and organizations participating. The events began with a 7 a.m. rally at Nyack High School with New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Teachers around New York are wearing blue shirts in solidarity.
The Day of Action is being sponsored nationally by these groups: Alliance for Educational Justice, American Federation of Teachers, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Dignity in Schools Coalition, Gamaliel Network, Journey for Justice Alliance, Leadership Center for the Common Good, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Education Association, National Opportunity to Learn Campaign and the Service Employees International Union.