SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education


SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education

By Betsy L. Angert

Save Our Schools [SOS] is an organization devoted to fair and equitable education for all. We work to preserve and transform public education.  We are a venue for active, people-powered, grassroots education innovation.  In cyberspace and in communities throughout this country we advance solutions that bring learning back to our children, education back to public school classrooms, and policy decisions back to the students, teachers, and parents.

SOS is dedicated to finding a better, more balanced, path for education reform in this country.  In that spirit, we propose The Equitable Education Policy Path.  We establish that public education must be an American priority. Education is a basic civil and human right.  Every child has the right to attend a high quality public school.

“America’s future will be determined by the home and the school.

The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”

-Jane Addams [Public Philosopher, Sociologist, Author]

Our initiative was born out of an overwhelming awareness that today, and for the last several decades, students and teachers have been increasingly reduced to data-points.  Humans are no longer given the opportunity to learn for more than the mere moments required to memorize facts and formulas for a battery of tests.  

Schools have been “restructured.”  Bureaucratic business models have been adopted, imposed, and anointed as “Real Education Reforms.” As a Nation, we abandoned “The Great Society” program; which acknowledged that when a culture allows poverty to flourish, failure follows.  Instead of addressing what prevents true learning, Americans favored quick-fix agendas, such “No Child Left Behind.”

Standardized lessons were put in place.  One-Size-Fits-All High-Stakes Testing policies were employed. Curricula, void of substance and sustenance, were fed to students whose bellies were empty.  Standards are now the norm in our schools.  Test scores are deemed a sign of success or reflect a dearth of achievement.

For decades now, students who perform poorly on examinations are punished, as are their teachers.  Today, these same learners, educators, and institutions are told, starved as you are, it is time To Race To The Top!

Do policymakers not realize that without food or funds to sustain them, massive breakdowns are inevitable?  There is ample evidence.

Young bodies need attention if they are to grow healthy, happy, and strong. Food first. Motion and Emotional Stability too. Each nourishes a soul.  Test scores?  Anecdotal and empirical research reveals, these bring about little learning and increase the level of stress.

Clinicians acknowledge the long and short-term effects of tests and/or distress.

Equal access to excellent and equitably funded schools, superior, well-trained teachers, and curricula that offers opportunities for critical and creative thought, will begin to grow our children’s minds.  Play too is a phenomenal educator.  Children learn when they see facts within meaningful contexts, invent their own ideas and problems, explore, solve problems, and share their solutions.

Presidents, Philanthropists, and the policymakers, each of whom embraces Corporate Education Reforms, which establish business-efficiency-models, miss the obvious – performance measures the pressure to perform do not further education.  

The Obama Administration, through Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reported in 2011, 82 percent of American schools are failing. The Center on Education Policy studied the numbers and asserts the claim is “overstated.” In 2011 their estimate shows 48 percent are failing.  This is up from the 39% percent calculated in 2010.  That number too was the highest recorded since George W. Bush established No Child Left Behind.

Fortunately, there is agreement. The law is broken.  Waivers are issued. However, the one aspect of the NCLB policy and the more punitive Race To the Top that remains strong and stable is the over-reliance on high-stakes testing.  That is the problem.  High-stakes testing serves no one well, that is with the exception of publisher profiteers.  

The young and their elders do not learn quickly.  Solutions too take time and energy.  The thought that we might eradicate the achievement gap or poverty in a week of exams is anachronistic.  Still, there is reason to believe we can we can rebuild the American education system. Let us renew our belief in the commonweal.  Let us again advance democratic principles in education policy and practices.  It is time for true change.

It is in this spirit that Save Our Schools puts forth, the People’s Education objective.  Through sound people-centered policies and actions such as Seminars, Webinars, Town Hall Meetings, Rallies, Protests, and Marches Save Our Schools works tirelessly to effectuate change.  We address the issues of import in education.  Topics include and are not limited to, Early Childhood Education, Curriculum [Creation and Use of Curricula,] Accountability and Authentic Assessments, Racial and Socioeconomic Integration, Student Voices, Equitable Funding, Parent and Community Involvement, and Labor.


REBUILD THE AMERICAN DREM THROUGH EDUCATION


 1. INVEST IN AMERICA’S CHILDREN..  Preserve and transform public education. Keep public education strong. Hire, not fire teachers.  Rebuild our crumbling classrooms.


 2. INVEST IN PUBLIC EDUCATION..  We must provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. A high-quality education system, from preschool to vocational training and affordable higher education, is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now.


   3. FUND SCHOOLS EQUITABLY..  We must invest in American innovation. American needs to provide the funds to pay for quality resources and teachers regardless of the socio-economic status of a community.  Twenty-First Century technologies need to be made available to impoverished children, as well as the wealthy and those of middle-means. We must provide our children with the latest and greatest tools, and ensure that education is inspirational. Imaginative minds crave a challenge.


   4. OFFER PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE..   Education is the foundation that establishes a safe and stable society.  Unemployment rates among Americans who never went to college are double those who have a postsecondary education.   By 2018, an estimated 63 percent of all new U.S. jobs will require workers with an education beyond high school. Let us adequately and equally prepare our young, and establish affordable institutions of higher learning.


 5. ENSURE EQUAL EDUCATION FOR AL  Keep our schools equal. Current court decisions strengthen the deleterious divide. We must ensure that physical, mental, and emotional challenges do not hinder access to quality education.  Non-English language speakers and children whose second language is English cannot be shut out from our schools. Funding inequities must be remediated


 6. PROVIDE AGE APPROPRIATE  EDUCATION..  Learning is a process. Children develop in time when challenged to explore constructs that are meaningful to them.  Increasingly, 3 to 5 year olds are required to perform academically at a level once deemed appropriate for 1st – 3rd graders. The result is our young experience more rote “learning,” less direct play and hands-on experiences that lay the foundations for later academic success.


   7. RETURN TO FAIRER/BALANCED, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT. End, high-stakes testing used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools. Adopt Authentic Assessments, Portfolio Reviews, Student Journals and Interviews.  Abandon the quick-fix, one-size-fits-agendas of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top that have established failure as the norm in our schools.


   8. PUT THE PUBLIC BACK IN THE LEAD. The people make all our schools better. Parents and students are profoundly aware of what aids learning. Teachers, trained experts in education, are there in the classroom and are in-tune. Rely on the people; they will rebuild the education dream.


   9.  STRENGTHEN DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION FOR ALL.  We need equal education – a system in which money doesn’t buy policy, a curriculum plan, or secure a contract for services rendered to public schools. We must ban anonymous political influence, posed as philanthropy, and end the corporate endowments that misshape education.  The doors in D.C. cannot be open to entrepreneurs and closed to the people. Immigrants and their children want to join in our democracy. The challenged child and children of lesser means cannot be scorned in a democratic country.  Each deserves his or her right to dream. . http://owl.li/eCZ6a

Together, we must rebuild our education dream and reinvest in our young and their schooling. We have a civil and human rights crisis, not an education crisis, and we must begin to solve it now.

Please Join Save Our Schools [SOS]! Help us work to preserve and transform public education. Let us end policies that promote separate and unequal, and for all time ensure that public education is not influenced by or operated as a for-profit industry. Let us restore  pedagogical principles and prescribe practices that return learning to our classrooms.  Let us not fail our youth, while labeling them “failures.”  It is time to honor humans and the Whole Child.   Now, and in the future, let us Rebuild the American Dream Through Equal, Equitable, and Excellent Education For All.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively
and to think critically. Intelligence plus character –

that is the goal of true education.

~ Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 March on Washington

Betsy L. Angert is an Educator, Author, and an active learner. She advocates for Empathy and Education and Save Our Schools.

The Good School; Principals or Principles



copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

A few organizations have attempted to answer The Good School Question.  Each asks, “What epitomizes a great learning center?”  “How might we, as a society, give birth to quality institutions?” The solutions are many.   All of  the associations speak of guiding principles. A few also strongly favor Principal or Teacher Leadership.  The various alliances advance the premise; our first and foremost priority must be our children.  In prose, beautifully composed, mission statements submit, adult wants cannot come before the needs of our offspring. Yet, after careful examination it is difficult to discern this truth.  Many aspirations. Many a mirage.  How might we know which is which? Once reviewed, every one of us will decide what works well in education and how might we execute a plan. Will principles, Principals, or pedagogy lead learners to salvation.

Some associations are familiar to most Americans.  Several, such as Michelle Rhee’s Students First, have recently come into being. For most of these prominent groups, the goal is to shape legislation.  The guise or what guides these alliances is an intense interest in our children.  Missions are eloquently composed.   However, a constant thread transcends each mission statement.  Cash Counts!

There is money to be made in Charter Schools.  Testing too is a gold mine industry.  Even lobbying for education policy has become a big business.

Backers such as the Broad Foundation bring big bucks to the charge.  “Transforming K-12 urban public education through better Governance, Management, Labor Relations, and Competition” is the banner headline displayed boldly in Broad Education literature.  The developer ‘s investment firm, cleverly characterized as an “entrepreneurial philanthropy,” stresses the need to “dramatically” change “urban education.”  The implication might be that suburban and rural children can and do help themselves. Possibly, this philosophy might be associated with an acknowledged truth stated in the original adopted Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965). Poverty is a significant problem. Except the profoundly poor are frequently enrolled in rural schools.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson understood this veracity; he lived it.  The father of the nation’s “War On Poverty” spoke of his own reality as he signed the education Bill into law, “As a son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is the only valid passport from poverty.”  President Johnson also put forth a plan.  He said…

“It (ESEA) represents a major new commitment of the federal government, to quality and equality in the schooling that we offer our young people. By passing this bill, we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than five million educationally deprived children. We put into the hands of our youth more than 30 million new books, and into many of our schools their first libraries.

We reduce the terrible lag in bringing new teaching techniques into the nation’s classrooms. We strengthen state and local agencies, which bear the burden and the challenge of better education, and we rekindle the revolution — the revolution of the spirit against the tyranny of ignorance.”

The President did not say, as a nation, we need place the onus on our Teachers.  Mister Johnson did not claim to be the bearer of corporate gifts.  Quite succinctly, the Head of State spoke of the need to strengthen civil services within our State and Local communities.   Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a deep desire to connect our children, not corporations and the dots these industries print on innumerable test sheets.

The Good School; Principals or Principles



A few organizations have attempted to answer The Good School Question.  Each asks, “What epitomizes a great learning center?”  “How might we, as a society, give birth to quality institutions?” The solutions are many.   All of  the associations speak of guiding principles. A few also strongly favor Principal or Teacher Leadership.  The various alliances advance the premise; our first and foremost priority must be our children.  In prose, beautifully composed, mission statements submit, adult wants cannot come before the needs of our offspring. Yet, after careful examination it is difficult to discern this truth.  Many aspirations. Many a mirage.  How might we know which is which? Once reviewed, every one of us will decide what works well in education and how might we execute a plan. Will principles, Principals, or pedagogy lead learners to salvation.

Some associations are familiar to most Americans.  Several, such as Michelle Rhee’s Students First, have recently come into being. For most of these prominent groups, the goal is to shape legislation.  The guise or what guides these alliances is an intense interest in our children.  Missions are eloquently composed.   However, a constant thread transcends each mission statement.  Cash Counts!

There is money to be made in Charter Schools.  Testing too is a gold mine industry.  Even lobbying for education policy has become a big business.

Backers such as the Broad Foundation bring big bucks to the charge.  “Transforming K-12 urban public education through better Governance, Management, Labor Relations, and Competition” is the banner headline displayed boldly in Broad Education literature.  The developer ‘s investment firm, cleverly characterized as an “entrepreneurial philanthropy,” stresses the need to “dramatically” change “urban education.”  The implication might be that suburban and rural children can and do help themselves. Possibly, this philosophy might be associated with an acknowledged truth stated in the original adopted Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965). Poverty is a significant problem. Except the profoundly poor are frequently enrolled in rural schools.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson understood this veracity; he lived it.  The father of the nation’s “War On Poverty” spoke of his own reality as he signed the education Bill into law, “As a son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is the only valid passport from poverty.”  President Johnson also put forth a plan.  He said…

“It (ESEA) represents a major new commitment of the federal government, to quality and equality in the schooling that we offer our young people. By passing this bill, we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than five million educationally deprived children. We put into the hands of our youth more than 30 million new books, and into many of our schools their first libraries.

We reduce the terrible lag in bringing new teaching techniques into the nation’s classrooms. We strengthen state and local agencies, which bear the burden and the challenge of better education, and we rekindle the revolution — the revolution of the spirit against the tyranny of ignorance.”

The President did not say, as a nation, we need place the onus on our Teachers.  Mister Johnson did not claim to be the bearer of corporate gifts.  Quite succinctly, the Head of State spoke of the need to strengthen civil services within our State and Local communities.   Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a deep desire to connect our children, not corporations and the dots these industries print on innumerable test sheets.

However, over time, the essential element expressed in the original legislation evolved.  While the progression was slow at first, with the 2001 Reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act, the language and the leaning changed.  No longer was equality for pupils and people at-large the issue of import. Instead private firms and their financial gains became the subject and the ones served.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) explicit “purpose is to raise achievement for all students and to close the achievement gap. This is done through accountability, research-based instruction, flexibility and options for parents, so that no child is left behind.”

In other words, our nation’s youth will be assessed relentlessly and repeatedly.  Scores gathered will be used to validate and generate further well-financed studies. Versatility for Moms and Dads was defined as a choice; lift your child out from the ruins of schools (selectively) deemed “failures” and place that little learner into a crisp and clean Charter School.

No one mentions that students who do not meet a set “standard” need not apply.  Attendance will be refused to those who might stain a record of exemplary performance.  Nor will anyone give voice to a disturbing statistic. “By the end of the 2004-05 school year, national K-12 education spending will have increased an estimated 105 percent since 1991-92; 58 percent since 1996-97; and 40 percent since 1998-99.”  The thought loudly articulate and promoted is, “Importantly, the increase in funds has been linked to accountability for results, ensuring taxpayers get their money’s worth.”

Actually the massive infusion of money into the school system ensured that, education could be bought and paid for.  The delivery of dollars, Entrepreneurs saw as an endowment to their cause. Philanthropy for profit.

The Broad charitable fund, just as Students First and its subsidiary Teach For America informs us that adults are both the nemesis of the young and the saviors our offspring need.  You might wish to evaluate the message of each fraternity.  It would seem from the rhetoric, there is a consensus; Teachers or adult Leaders are the salvation or the bane  of struggling students.  Circumstances such as poverty, hunger, and the lack of reading resources within a home matter not to those who profess a Teacher can provide all a child needs to learn. A parent’s education and socio-economic status are of little consequences when, as is posited by these “Foundations,” an excellent “tested” Teacher is available to lift a young learner up from the weight of Earthly concerns.

Let us examine the messages.  Perhaps, you too might see a trend.

  • Students First Mission…While there are many factors that influence a student’s ability to learn, a great teacher can help any student overcome those barriers and realize their full potential.
  • Teach For America is growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education.
  • About Broad Education…To become effective, efficient organizations that serve students well, American school districts and schools need strong, talented leadership.  

    Many more “coalitions” clamor for controlled corporate education change.  Stand for Children sees “Empowering” education as an “entrepreneurial” enterprise.  Trained “Leaders” will reshape our schools and policies that pertain to our progeny, our pupils.  

    Parents Across America may be the antithesis to the “No Excuses” clamor of corporate command.  The message “Our Children. Our Schools. Our Voices” speaks to actual students in a way that the aforementioned and much acclaimed associations do not.  In their own words . .

    What Works:
  • Proven Reforms: We support the expansion of sensible, research-based reforms, such as pre-K programs, full-day Kindergarten, small classes, parent involvement, strong, experienced teachers, a well-rounded curriculum and evaluation systems that go beyond test scores.
  • Sufficient and Equitable Funding: Resources do matter, especially when invested in programs that have been proven to work.
  • Diversity: We support creating diverse, inclusive schools and classrooms whenever possible.
  • Meaningful Parent Involvement: Parents must have a significant voice in policies at the school, district, state and national levels. We are not just “consumers” or “customers” but knowledgeable, necessary partners in any effective reform effort.

  • The Moms and Dads who make up this collective reap no financial rewards for their work.  Cash does not count, children do!  Green backs do not grow Good Schools. These organizers do not have the dollars to lobby legislators; nor do the persons involved have easy access.  For these committed caregivers educated children are their just compensation. Parents Across America is not alone in their charge.  

    “Save Our Schools” the March and National Call to Action too, was born out of a need to respond to the corporate reform cry.  The creed this council promotes are much like those of the former.

    For the future of our children, we demand:
  • Equitable funding for all public school communities;
  • An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation;
  • Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies;
  • Curriculum developed for and by local school communities.

  • However, neither may present as profound a principle as one adopted by an organization, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that has worked for more than one hundred years in the interest of equal education for all children.  Please ponder what might best define the dynamics necessary for The Good School.  

    Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

    Today there is nothing short of a state of emergency in the delivery of education to our nation’s communities of color. As our communities quickly grow on pace to become a numerical majority, it is clear that confronting the issues we face is not just our challenge alone but all of America’s challenge. As a nation, we are failing to provide the high-quality educational opportunities that are critical for all students to succeed, thereby jeopardizing our nation’s ability to continue to be a world leader.

    As a community of civil rights organizations, we believe that access to a high-quality education is a fundamental civil right. The federal government’s role is to protect and promote that civil right by creating and supporting a fair and substantive opportunity to learn for all students, regardless of where and to whom they were born. This objective is advanced by many components of the proposed FY 2011 education budget and the Blueprint for Reform setting forth the Administration’s priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). For instance, we applaud the Administration’s goal for the United States to become a global leader in post-secondary education attainment by 2020 and its efforts to develop specific strategies for turning around low-performing schools.

    While there are numerous positive aspects of the Administration’s education agenda, more comprehensive reforms are necessary to build a future where equitable educational opportunity is the rule, not the exception. As civil rights organizations, it is our responsibility to seek to close and ultimately eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by communities of color. To this end, we outline six major principles that we will collectively advocate to strengthen the ESEA and ensure that the federal government provides the support necessary to protect every child’s civil right to a high-quality education:

  • Equitable opportunities for all;
  • Utilization of systematically proven and effective educational methods;  
  • Public and community engagement in education reforms;  
  • Safe and educationally sound learning environments;  
  • Diverse learning environments; and  
  • Comprehensive and substantive accountability systems to maintain equitable opportunities and high outcomes.

  • Might this mission be your own? If you prefer one of the other frameworks, please share why this might be. Principals? Principles? Or Principally Lessons that promote a love of learning? Personal anecdotes are much appreciated.  Experiences explored are lessons we might learn from.  Please share your thoughts. What is a Good School in your mind? Why? What has lead you down the path you chose?  We thank you for your reflections.

    References and Resources . . .

    businesscard.aspx

  • The Good School; Principals or Principles



    copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

    A few organizations have attempted to answer The Good School Question.  Each asks, “What epitomizes a great learning center?”  “How might we, as a society, give birth to quality institutions?” The solutions are many.   Every  association offers guiding principles. A few also strongly favor Principal or Teacher Leadership.  The various alliances advance the premise; our first and foremost priority must be our children.  In prose, beautifully composed, mission statements submit, adult wants cannot come before the needs of our offspring. Yet, after careful examination it is difficult to discern this truth.  Many aspirations. Many a mirage.  How might we know which is which? Once reviewed, every one of us will decide what works well in education and how might we execute a plan. Will principles, Principals, or pedagogy lead learners to salvation.

    Some associations are familiar to most Americans.  Several, such as Michelle Rhee’s Students First, have recently come into being. For most of these prominent groups, the goal is to shape legislation.  The guise or what guides these alliances is an intense interest in our children.  Missions are eloquently composed.   However, a constant thread transcends each mission statement.  Cash Counts!

    There is money to be made in Charter Schools.  Testing too is a gold mine industry.  Even lobbying for education policy has become a big business.

    Backers such as the Broad Foundation bring big bucks to the charge.  “Transforming K-12 urban public education through better Governance, Management, Labor Relations, and Competition” is the banner headline displayed boldly in Broad Education literature.  The developer ‘s investment firm, cleverly characterized as an “entrepreneurial philanthropy,” stresses the need to “dramatically” change “urban education.”  The implication might be that suburban and rural children can and do help themselves. Possibly, this philosophy might be associated with an acknowledged truth stated in the original adopted Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965). Poverty is a significant problem. Except the profoundly poor are frequently enrolled in rural schools.

    President Lyndon Baines Johnson understood this veracity; he lived it.  The father of the nation’s “War On Poverty” spoke of his own reality as he signed the education Bill into law, “As a son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is the only valid passport from poverty.”  President Johnson also put forth a plan.  He said…

    “It (ESEA) represents a major new commitment of the federal government, to quality and equality in the schooling that we offer our young people. By passing this bill, we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than five million educationally deprived children. We put into the hands of our youth more than 30 million new books, and into many of our schools their first libraries.

    We reduce the terrible lag in bringing new teaching techniques into the nation’s classrooms. We strengthen state and local agencies, which bear the burden and the challenge of better education, and we rekindle the revolution — the revolution of the spirit against the tyranny of ignorance.”

    The President did not say, as a nation, we need place the onus on our Teachers.  Mister Johnson did not claim to be the bearer of corporate gifts.  Quite succinctly, the Head of State spoke of the need to strengthen civil services within our State and Local communities.   Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a deep desire to connect our children, not corporations and the dots these industries print on innumerable test sheets.

    However, over time, the essential element expressed in the original legislation evolved.  While the progression was slow at first, with the 2001 Reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act, the language and the leaning changed.  No longer was equality for pupils and people at-large the issue of import. Instead private firms and their financial gains became the subject and the ones served.

    The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) explicit “purpose is to raise achievement for all students and to close the achievement gap. This is done through accountability, research-based instruction, flexibility and options for parents, so that no child is left behind.”

    In other words, our nation’s youth will be assessed relentlessly and repeatedly.  Scores gathered will be used to validate and generate further well-financed studies. Versatility for Moms and Dads was defined as a choice; lift your child out from the ruins of schools (selectively) deemed “failures” and place that little learner into a crisp and clean Charter School.

    No one mentions that students who do not meet a set “standard” need not apply.  Attendance will be refused to those who might stain a record of exemplary performance.  Nor will anyone give voice to a disturbing statistic. “By the end of the 2004-05 school year, national K-12 education spending will have increased an estimated 105 percent since 1991-92; 58 percent since 1996-97; and 40 percent since 1998-99.”  The thought loudly articulate and promoted is, “Importantly, the increase in funds has been linked to accountability for results, ensuring taxpayers get their money’s worth.”

    Actually the massive infusion of money into the school system ensured that, education could be bought and paid for.  The delivery of dollars, Entrepreneurs saw as an endowment to their cause. Philanthropy for profit.

    The Broad charitable fund, just as Students First and its subsidiary Teach For America informs us that adults are both the nemesis of the young and the saviors our offspring need.  You might wish to evaluate the message of each fraternity.  It would seem from the rhetoric, there is a consensus; Teachers or adult Leaders are the salvation or the bane  of struggling students.  Circumstances such as poverty, hunger, and the lack of reading resources within a home matter not to those who profess a Teacher can provide all a child needs to learn. A parent’s education and socio-economic status are of little consequences when, as is posited by these “Foundations,” an excellent “tested” Teacher is available to lift a young learner up from the weight of Earthly concerns.

    Let us examine the messages.  Perhaps, you too might see a trend.

  • Students First Mission…While there are many factors that influence a student’s ability to learn, a great teacher can help any student overcome those barriers and realize their full potential.
  • Teach For America is growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education.
  • About Broad Education…To become effective, efficient organizations that serve students well, American school districts and schools need strong, talented leadership.  

    Many more “coalitions” clamor for controlled corporate education change.  Stand for Children sees “Empowering” education as an “entrepreneurial” enterprise.  Trained “Leaders” will reshape our schools and policies that pertain to our progeny, our pupils.  

    Parents Across America may be the antithesis to the “No Excuses” clamor of corporate command.  The message “Our Children. Our Schools. Our Voices” speaks to actual students in a way that the aforementioned and much acclaimed associations do not.  In their own words . .

    What Works:
  • Proven Reforms: We support the expansion of sensible, research-based reforms, such as pre-K programs, full-day Kindergarten, small classes, parent involvement, strong, experienced teachers, a well-rounded curriculum and evaluation systems that go beyond test scores.
  • Sufficient and Equitable Funding: Resources do matter, especially when invested in programs that have been proven to work.
  • Diversity: We support creating diverse, inclusive schools and classrooms whenever possible.
  • Meaningful Parent Involvement: Parents must have a significant voice in policies at the school, district, state and national levels. We are not just “consumers” or “customers” but knowledgeable, necessary partners in any effective reform effort.

  • The Moms and Dads who make up this collective reap no financial rewards for their work.  Cash does not count, children do!  Green backs do not grow Good Schools. These organizers do not have the dollars to lobby legislators; nor do the persons involved have easy access.  For these committed caregivers educated children are their just compensation. Parents Across America is not alone in their charge.  

    “Save Our Schools” the March and National Call to Action too, was born out of a need to respond to the corporate reform cry.  The creed this council promotes are much like those of the former.

    For the future of our children, we demand:
  • Equitable funding for all public school communities;
  • An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation;
  • Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies;
  • Curriculum developed for and by local school communities.

  • However, neither may present as profound a principle as one adopted by an organization, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that has worked for more than one hundred years in the interest of equal education for all children.  Please ponder what might best define the dynamics necessary for The Good School.  

    Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

    Today there is nothing short of a state of emergency in the delivery of education to our nation’s communities of color. As our communities quickly grow on pace to become a numerical majority, it is clear that confronting the issues we face is not just our challenge alone but all of America’s challenge. As a nation, we are failing to provide the high-quality educational opportunities that are critical for all students to succeed, thereby jeopardizing our nation’s ability to continue to be a world leader.

    As a community of civil rights organizations, we believe that access to a high-quality education is a fundamental civil right. The federal government’s role is to protect and promote that civil right by creating and supporting a fair and substantive opportunity to learn for all students, regardless of where and to whom they were born. This objective is advanced by many components of the proposed FY 2011 education budget and the Blueprint for Reform setting forth the Administration’s priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). For instance, we applaud the Administration’s goal for the United States to become a global leader in post-secondary education attainment by 2020 and its efforts to develop specific strategies for turning around low-performing schools.

    While there are numerous positive aspects of the Administration’s education agenda, more comprehensive reforms are necessary to build a future where equitable educational opportunity is the rule, not the exception. As civil rights organizations, it is our responsibility to seek to close and ultimately eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by communities of color. To this end, we outline six major principles that we will collectively advocate to strengthen the ESEA and ensure that the federal government provides the support necessary to protect every child’s civil right to a high-quality education:

  • Equitable opportunities for all;
  • Utilization of systematically proven and effective educational methods;  
  • Public and community engagement in education reforms;  
  • Safe and educationally sound learning environments;  
  • Diverse learning environments; and  
  • Comprehensive and substantive accountability systems to maintain equitable opportunities and high outcomes.

  • Might this mission be your own? If you prefer one of the other frameworks, please share why this might be. Principals? Principles? Or Principally Lessons that promote a love of learning? Personal anecdotes are much appreciated.  Experiences explored are lessons we might learn from.  Please share your thoughts. What is a Good School in your mind? Why? What has lead you down the path you chose?  We thank you for your reflections.

    References and Resources . . .

    businesscard.aspx

  • Save Our Schools; Let Us Never Forget the Mission, March, and Movement



    SvSchlsMrchJly30.2011

    copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

    Near a month has passed since the Save Our Schools storm swept through Washington District of Columbia.  As with all squalls the effects of such an event linger long after the winds die down.  A physical space cleaned-up after a tempest takes place does not erase the memory of what occurred.  Be it a blast of air or an action, the calm does not close a chapter in our lives.   The current, commitment, the cause, and our concern do not wane with time, that is, unless we choose to move on or tell ourselves that that is possible. I believe the notion the past is past is fallacious. Our past permeates the present and is a foundation for the future.  Thus, for me, the thought, and the March to Save Our Schools are strong. It survives as is evidenced by the now named Movement.

    I believe the Movement did not begin with the March.  The happening was but a moment, albeit an extremely significant historical occurrence.  The energy exhibited on July 30, 2011 was an expression of what preceded it and illustrates what will follow. Determined not to invite the doom of a forgotten precedent, demonstrators such as I reflect on what was.  Together we will build a better potential for our progeny.  May we begin to extend the journey today?  Ask yourself what you saw, did, felt, tasted, touched; tell your Save Our Schools March story.  I offer mine as a gift to you.

    I ask and answer questions presented to me. Whether you were in Washington, District of Columbia for what some characterize as the main event, at another Demonstration elsewhere, or connected only through the tube, YouTube, radio, and papers, what did you perceive, receive, or retrieve?  Please share your personal story!

    May our offspring, schools, society, and we, grow greater through our caring and sharing.  Let the past, the procession, and the prospect be our guide.



    1. Describe what you saw at the Save Our Schools March, July 30, 2011.


    As I approached the Marchers, or where the throng would be, before the actual walk began, I saw only a loosely dispersed crowd.  I looked for familiar faces.  Fortunately, I was made aware of an opportunity to lead the “parade.”

    A good friend of mine was selected to escort the procession.  He would chant into the megaphone.   I would be just behind him, or so I thought at the time.  Slowly, people gathered around us.  The Save Our Schools banner appeared, accompanied by those chosen to carry the sign.  The “pilots” took their positions.  I watched it all.

    As we Marched, I saw more.  I was astounded.  City dweller and visitors to the nation’s Capital stopped in their tracks.  Cars and cabs stopped.   Passengers took photographs of the event.  Visibly, conversations centered around our appearance.  Thumbs went up.  Frowns turned to smiles as the Save Our Schools protesters approached.  A few applauded.  Many mouths were agape.  Some seemed stunned.  No one was numb.   Even the one dissenter did not stand idly by.  He addressed the crowd and began a tête-à-tête.  Talk is what I observed at every turn.

    However, I never saw the depth and breadth of the moment . . . that is not until the March was over.

    2. Describe what you heard at the March.

    While at the March, as we proceeded up and down the streets of Washington, I heard a harmonic hum.  The voices of two persons with megaphones, my friend’s and another man’s, sang out.  The amplified sounds filtered through the air.  The now massive following repeated the words these individuals sang.  “Our Children.”  “Our Schools.” “Our Voices.”  “Save Our Schools.” These slogans were among the more easily recognizable refrains.  Other odes were also opined.  However, none was more memorable or meaningful to me than the one that I continue to hear in my head.  Aloud, marchers offered an appeal, “Show me what democracy looks like.”  In response, we all trumpeted, “This is what democracy looks like.”  As we did so, I heard and felt my own sobs.  Tears streamed down my face.

    3. Describe what you felt (emotions)

    Oh my!  What I felt?  Empowered. Energized. Emotional which is not my usual.  Indeed, feelings have never been my friends.  I prefer living in logic. You cannot imagine my surprise.  I was struck by how often I choked.  My first March, or the first time I ever participated in a civic action was long ago, I was eleven or twelve, enrolled in Middle School.  Equal Rights for all races was the issue.  Black Americans had finally found their voice and all those years ago, I mine.  As I marched this July in Washington District of Columbia I realized the connection.  The two topics have tugged at my heartstrings.  Each has torn my spirit into tatters.  They are one.

    For me, society, our schools, our students have forever been separate and unequal.  As a culture and a country we segregate.  We speak of fairness and justice, and then act on inequitable simplistic “solutions.”

    Children of commoners are seen as scores and statistics.  Even those in the Middle Class and Upper Middle are given few chances for true fulfillment.  I think of my own experiences.  At times in my life, I was poor, comfortable, or well-off.  I was part of every population, all but the most elite.  Yet, in each, as an auditory learner, I was subjected to examinations meant for a visual learner.

    The young are often used as a means to serve adults and their silly need for some mythical sense of accountability.

    Black and Brown people are treated as slaves. White people may wish to deny this; however actions speak.  African-Americans are also taught to serve.  Rarely does the majority expect much of those forced to live in miserable circumstances. Indeed, I believe for generations we have been taught to fear persons of color.

    Lest I forget to mention another thought that troubles me.  I observe that the poor, the impoverished, Black, Brown and Caucasians, who have far fewer means than the affluent do, do not have equal access to high quality education.  These persons too are economically enslaved.  The difference is, traditionally, society does not easily define the paler of these individuals as inadequate to achieve. One is standardized; others are defined as substandard.  Neither is given a chance to truly thrive.

    The emotional effect of what I experience as true hit me, hard, as I marched.

    4. Describe what you touched (physical sensations)

    I touched less, far less, than what touched me!  In truth, other than the water bottle in my hand and perhaps, another persons body as we brushed by one another, I do not think I placed my hands on any object, being, or entity.  All the physical sensations were felt through a mere presence at the event.

    Indeed, I wonder; did my feet touch the ground?  Perhaps, my head made contact with the clouds.  Surely, my vision soared far above the skies.  Stars surrounded me!  No, this is not a reference to movie star Matt Damon, who in truth, as a thinker and writer impresses me more than his acting ability does.  The light and luminaries were seen in people; persons who stood strong to support a Movement, Save Our Schools!

    Physical contact with individuals’ intent on their work for the cause touched my heart, my head, and helped me to ascend to greater heights.  I will forever feel the climb worthwhile.  I can see the peak from here.

    5. Describe what you smelled.

    The sweet scent of strong support for public education filled the air as we marched.  I could smell it, taste it. I ate in every savory bite.  The saucy speeches were a spicy brew. Aromatic essences, energy filled the air before demonstrators pounded the pavement.  Hot as the day was, and as long as the Rally might have been, hours in the sweltering sun did not cause us to break out in a shared sweat.  No, the only smell I detected was one of success.  Everyone appeared satisfied.  If nothing more Teachers, Pupils, Parents, Principals, Psychologists, Guardians, Grandmas and Granddads made a statement.  It was obvious to each of us; we were heard. Smells?   How do you describe the indescribable? Delicious!

    6. Describe what you thought (random thoughts, consistent thoughts, or anything that comes to mind when participating)

    At the time of the March, my thoughts were many.  Indeed, all of the reflections experienced then linger.  In this moment these are no less large.  I could not get my first March ever out of my mind!

    When a little more than a child, enrolled in Middle School, I demonstrated for Civil Rights, Equal Justice, and Opportunity for All.  Then, it seemed apt that the chant “Power to the people” would be uttered.  For but a moment, this July 30th, in Washington, the Marchers sang the same tune.  I was instantly taken back or aback.

    When we repeated words that spoke to Schools, Tests, and more so the Children, I cried!  So often I choked as we marched.  The fears I feel as I contemplate the future of public education came out in my tears.

    My belief is the need for authentic instruction and assessments is great. Yet, I see that in action, as a society, we turn away from these.  The mantras recited reflected the meaning of a genuine education.  My heart melted with most every phrase.

    However, for me personally, nothing was as profound as what still resonates within me.  The tune rings in my ears even now . . . “Show me what democracy looks like.”  “This is what democracy looks like.”  At one point, early on in the March, I realized that five thousand persons stood physically behind me. Hence, as I spoke the words, I extended my arm in a sweeping motion.  My intent was to point to the voice [the power] of the people.

    I never in my life felt the intensity I did on that date . . . during the Save Our Schools March. Imagine all the people, sharing the entire world and serving our children, society, and future.  I do.

    7. What was the March about / what was the message/story being told?

    I smile.  The thought that there might have been a single message, a singular focus, or but one story being told fascinates me.  Over the past year, as plans for the March were being made, I had the opportunity to speak with many on the subject.  I chatted with a few on the Save Our Schools Executive Committee.  Conversations with volunteers were also abundant. Interested parties and persons, activists engaged me in discussions.  The apathetic too happily joined in dialogues.  Talk of the subject can be heard on every street corner.

    Individuals, who, for a long time did not seem to care about our schools, now, apparently, feel a need to respond to reforms they perceive as painful, punitive or pernicious.  I spoke with parents, pupils, Principals, and those whose guiding principle is privatization.  Each mentioned the error that is, or the erroneous policies that exist within, our current education system.  Yet, even those who hold similar beliefs differ on the message, the mission, and the narrative.

    How we might enact any extraordinary plan[s]? This is a question debated endlessly, just as it was on July 30th at the Save Our Schools March.

    Some say programs such as No Child Left Behind and or Race To The Top are anathema.  Fix these and all will be well. Others argue testing is the terror.  Were we to teach to children not to tests, life would be good.  Teachers tremble at the thought of merit pay and how this practice might affect performance, or at least the review of these.  Then, there is the issue of poverty.  Tis true; dearth dictates how well a child, a community, and a culture might do.  However, today holes are found on the hearths of the poor and in the hearts of the affluent.  Students slip through all sorts of cracks.

    For me personally, the problems are not unique to our generation.  What occurs today is a reflection of shortsighted solutions from the past.  I believe what was and is void from the system, in schools and in our society, is Emotional Intelligence.

    In my mind, were we to ever respect the construct, change is incremental perchance we would learn and provide our progeny with this opportunity.  If elders were to honor the invisible, to acknowledge what adults knew in their infancy and adolescent years, that true learning and the love of it is innate, then, perhaps our children would have a chance.

    I think if are to teach the young well we must begin with their parents!  Let it be known that Accountability in the form of “facts,” figures and formulas is Arrested Development!

    If we are to ever address authentic instruction and assessment, we must remember how we felt when we were young.  All those decades ago we knew that who we were as a whole unique being was being ignored by a system that score us, ranks us, separates and segregates us from our innate creative, curious, and critically thoughtful selves.  We understood that tests did not accurately evaluate our edification.  No one of us had a day when what occurred at home did not have an effect on our school days or daze.

    As children, we were as we are, brilliant.  The difference is, then, we did not accept false notions as fact.  “I am not an “A,” “B,” “C,” or “D,” student.” My school is not a “failure.”  “The adults defined me; thus negated me.”  Remember when we begged to be seen as a Whole Child?  Now, as adults, sadly, supposedly “mature” persons do what was done to them.  

    8. Were there any villains or heroes presented at the March? Explain

    Audibly, I grunt and groan at the thought of villains and heroes. Granted, people seem to seek each.  An adversary spurs them on.  A hero inspires.  Yet, neither can save a school, a system, or a society.

    Several saw Diane Ravitch, Matt Damon, or Jonathan Kozol as our champions.  The Department of Education, Arne Duncan or the man who appointed him Secretary of Education, President Barack Obama, were frequently posited as scoundrels.  Any or all might be thought of as Supermen or women, dependent on whom you speak with.

    However, to me, each is but a mere mortal.  Humans can do harm and can aid health.  Yet, none are saviors.  Perchance they play these on television or people think they do.  That posture is as false as the premise there is one solution that will Save Our Schools.

    9. According to what you heard at the March, who has the voice in public education decisions, i.e., who has the power?

    I wish I could offer a quote or two from the March.  I only have my memories.  From what I heard, read, before and after, have experienced, and believe, Big Businesses have the power.  Unfortunately, the Obama Administration, just as those in the past were, is inextricably linked to corporate lobbyists.

    [This reality is as it was with the Bush bunch. No Child Left Behind: A Primer for Business The Clinton collective was also well connected to corporations.   Are We There Yet? and Clinton Presidency: Expanding Education Opportunity All have emphasized standards and accountability.  Administrations before these three were also less than friendly towards education.  Many reflect and recall . . .

    Ronald Reagan’s impact on education today

    From my personal experience the veracity Power Belongs to Policymakers has been true for longer than I can remember.  Educators in 18th century Prussia, precursor to the American education system, were not seen as policymakers..  Autonomy existed only behind closed classroom doors.  Thus, the beat goes on.  Rally speakers, some, and Save Our Schools supporters, several, spoke to this . . . my personal truth.

    10. Who do you think will be affected by this March?

    I believe, as I did for long before the March, the Save Our Schools demonstration will do little in the immediate to generate genuine education reform, and that “little” is a lot!  The March is but a moment, a necessary moment!  The Walk will bring attention to a problem easily lost in the education legislative shuffle.  Parents, Teachers, Principals, Pupils and the peers of each will be able to vocalize their frustrations, their fears, and even shed some tears.

    Our schools are in a shambles and never needed to be.  Students yearn to learn. Teachers chose to inform and inspire.  Parents want their progeny and the offspring’s’ Professors to succeed.  Principals and Administrators, as well as School Boards strive for superior scholarship. Yet, for too long those on the frontline have been forced to stand behind the scenes.  The March ensures that Educators and those who seek an excellent education will be seen and heard!

    11. Was this March effective? Explain.

    Effective is exactly the word I would use to describe the March.  While it was but a moment in the grand scheme of the Save Our Schools Movement, I think it is, was, and will forever be a vital one.

    I trust it was crucial for each of us to connect to the whole, the whole of the frustration, situation,  the possibilities, and the policymakers.  What better way to make the shared angst and our aspirations known than to communicate the love we feel for learning and learners loudly.

    Most accept, if education policy and practices are to be truly effective these plans and procedures must relate to those they serve.  Students, Parents and Teachers are the individuals served.  I believe if school children and their elders are to be fully effective in  the realm of education, they too must relate or communicate. Under these circumstances, people of every age must also relate, as was done during the Save Our Schools March.

    Common folks showed themselves.  Average Americans spoke with Congresspersons, and the Obama Cabinet about shared concerns.  Our presence and protest reached the ranks of corporate philanthropists, who now design education reform rules.  All this was achieved this July 30th. Thus, for me, the March was absolutely effective!

    12. In order for this March to be effective, what will have to happen in the short-term to make it so?

    I think what needs to occur has already occurred.  People were energized.  Participants were perhaps more eager to act than those unable to attend.  However, in my own life, I have come to see the power of such enthusiasm.  I have spoken with those back home in a manner that listeners said they found contagious.  Frustrated Moms and Dads who never knew of the Movement are ready to act.  It seems several were only waiting for someone to say Let us come together to Save Our Schools.

    Zeal for real and reasonable education reforms were realized.  The broader population viewed videos, read reports, and at times met someone who was there.

    From what was said to me once home, everyday people unaware of the happenings prior to the event felt connected once they learned of the Conference, Rally, and March.  Mothers and Fathers felt hopeful; Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles too. Perhaps, was the newer thought, if that many people were willing to speak out and endeavor to Save Our Schools, so too could they.  A few expressed a desire. Please keep them informed.  Next year, or next week locally, individuals who before never knew they could, said I am ready to March, Rally, to work towards real reforms for my children.

    13. How do you identify-Ethnically? Gender? Professionally? Politically? Age? (This information helps determine whether there was an underrepresentation or overrepresentation of any of the above categories).

    I am an Educator. For near three decades, I was in the classroom.  Indeed, in my youth, I helped my parents teach University students, graduate and Undergraduate classes.  Recently, the realities of our schools, and the sights of our students’ struggles to survive took me to a place that I cannot describe.  Challenged with a change in curriculums and thus, in attitudes . . .  for the young, the love of learning died . . . I realized my spirit too took a fall  What might have began as frustration turned into a distress so deep I could no longer go on doing as I had done for decades.  I am a Teacher turned Author, Activist, and Advocate for real excellence and equality in education reform.

    By appearance, I am Caucasian, although admittedly, my own experiences as a toddler and tot are not as those of the White Woman I am. I am intensely aware that this truth shades my reality.  I am equally cognizant that I cannot accurately be classified as being of another race or ethnicity.  My “color” too, be it only skin deep affords me a life that I would not have if my flesh were not pink.  Indeed, I am able to hear and speak to discriminatory commentaries that would never be expressed aloud if a person in my presence knew how I feel about being “White.”

    In truth, I do not feel good about being characterized as a “woman!”  Danish Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s words resonates within me; “Once you label me, you negate me!”  Perchance, the intensity with which I respond to stereotypes is the reason I relate so strongly to the notion of the Whole Child, the Whole Being, and the need to individualize instruction.

    My age and politics, and political activism speak to far more than my gender and ethnicity.  I grew up during the Civil Unrest of the sixties in a home where current events were customary conversation.

    As a child, the Black community cared for me and about me.  Those pale in color were not interested in me.  Indeed, Anglos rejected me, even, if not especially, my blood relatives.  Possibly, that is why I took the path I did early on. I spoke out and marched for Civil and Equal Rights as a Middle Schooler.

    In my teens, I became more closely connected to my family,  By then, much had changed, mostly my Mom and my newer Dad were transformed, as was my relationship with kin.  I am a third-generation Peacenik, extremely “liberal” if that word can be defined.  Yes, I was as I am, ready to March!

    14. How did/does your biography prepare you to participate in a March on Washington? (Meaning, were your parents organizers or are you a activist; or are you a fed-up teacher, etc.)

    I believe my response to question 13 [above] answers this question as well!

    15. Did this March change your thoughts, positions or feelings about the public school teacher?

    The March was my revival, renewal, a Renaissance I anxiously awaited.  My energy, enthusiasm, and eagerness have not changed.  Nor have my thoughts, positions, and feelings.  These are but enlarged.

    I continue to yearn for curriculums comprised of creative, curious, and critical thought.  Now, knowing that thousands stand with me, I will work harder to ensure such excellence  exists for all.

    My belief is that to ensure availability and accessibility to the best that is education, public schools must be preserved. Educational institutions must prosper.   Today, with renewed strength, and the visible support of so many, the quest continues.

    Authentic instruction and assessment, an equal education for every child, will be my vision and my mission. Today, I realize, the aspiration part of a magnificent and massive Movement.

    16. Did this March change your thought, positions or feelings about the American Public School system?

    I smile and say no.  The March change your thought, positions or feelings about the American Public School system could not have changed what for me has lived too large since childhood.  In my youngest years and throughout my education, I struggled with test anxiety, evaluations that never gave a hint of what I learned, and pedagogical agendas that preached learning modalities while ignoring these.

    As an adult and Educator I came to understand the conventions, controls placed on curriculums.  I saw as I felt, children respond not well to what kills a spirit.  The hunger for creativity, curiosity, and critical thought is not lessened only lost and sought elsewhere.

    My thoughts, positions, and feelings about the American Public Schools System are, as these were.  I see reason for hope, glimpses of light, and lots of darkness.  The latter, I believe is self-inflicted by a population beaten down over many decades.

    17. From what you can tell, who was at the forefront of this March, or who was leading this March?

    Physically, I was.  I was at the front of the procession.  In essence, I think even those who think of themselves as Leaders are not and were not on this occasion.  No one is moved to March because someone else said he or she “should,” “must,” or “needs to.”

    Leadership is myth.  This concept denies people their own power.

    Perhaps, as a society, were we to understand and accept that change, learning, walking, talking cannot be controlled by an outside force . . . that these are choices, people, at every age, make, then we would stop force-feeding children, their Teachers, School Administrators and even Moms and Dads policies and practices.

    I smile as I realize Advertisers and Philanthropists acknowledge this veracity.  That is why these persons spend billions on marketing their message.  “Privatize and standardize education;” that is the mantra the America people have been sold.

    Those who led the March are one for all.  We each listened to and responded to “me, myself, and I.” The way we individually feel about issues that affect our family, our friends, and all that is familiar to us promoted us to travel and trek!  No one could have told me to walk or stay at home.  I wonder if all those present would not say the same.

    I think of the words Rita Solnet, Co-Founder of Parents Across America, an organization more than twelve-thousand strong, articulated from the stage.  Anyone of us might have been the first to say as Marchers later chanted, “Our Children.” “Our Schools.” “Our Voices.” Each of us uttered the phrases from a heart that belongs only to us, as unique individuals.  No one can lead another to love and work to better the lives of those important to him or her.  

    18. In your opinion, how many people attended the March? (If you heard an estimate from the news media, please indicate the source.)

    My opinion as it relates to the numbers there changed as I read various sources.  I first read 3500, then 4000.  More recently 8,000 is the total. Thus, I know not with certainty, not that I did before.

    I share sources . . .

    The Save Our Schools MarchThe Answer Sheet – The Washington Post

    I don’t know how members of the audience (UPDATE Aug.9: a Park Service employee on the day of the march told me that as many as 8,000 attended; however, it’s worth noting the Park Service itself does not provide crowd estimates) withstood the heat but they did, and then they marched to the White House, in hopes that someone would let President Obama know about their disappointment in his education policies.

    Dora Goes to Washington: The Save Our Schools Rally and March

    The number of participants continued to grow during the rally. The Park Services estimated early on that there were approximately 8,000 people in attendance including a contingent of Parents Across America members representing North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, California, Iowa, Colorado, Louisiana as well as our fair state and others.

    Education Week: Education Policy Critics March on White House

    Organizers estimated the size of the crowd at 5,000, but a rough count by Education Week put it closer to 3,000. Before the event, organizers had said they were expecting 5,000 to 10,000 people.

    An Urban Teacher’s Education: SOS March in DC

    Although there were a few more events scheduled after the march, participants all but disappeared after the march was over. Anthony Cody estimated about 5,000 people turned up and hoped for 50,000 next year. Education Week suggested the turnout was closer to 3,000.

    More than 100 Wisconsin teachers attend education rally in D.C. JSOnline

    The Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action in D.C. on Saturday had around 3,000 participants, according to Education Week. The grassroots protest movement featured well-known speakers on education as well as actor Matt Damon.

    19. Based on your vantage point, what was the composition of the March (ethnicity, gender, age, ideological position, etc.)?

    From what I saw at the Save Our Schools March the crowd was overwhelmingly White. Many, if characterized by the formal Education acquired were bright.  Indeed, those with far less time in a classroom were truly learned.  [I think of the Piece By Peace and ReThink persons!  I loved these persons!!! After their performance I spoke with many of them.]

    The leaning would likely be considered Left of Center, “right” without being “Right”  . . . as though a correct or wrong exists.  Even directions such as up or down are dependent on where one stands.  Smiles.

    Most at the March would probably be defined as Middle Class and Middle Aged.  I thought of who attends Netroots Nation Conferences.  While countless of every age, near a half a million or more read Daily Kos, Caucasians of a certain age and financial status gather.  Even the more extreme philosophically seem to appear less often.

    I think this is a reflection of society.  Mobility correlates to money.  Those who have, can and do.  Those with less do not have the opportunity to be present.  If perchance the poorer find a way to a walk, a talk, or a forum, there will be but a few in attendances.  The reality that lives large in our schools and society, is economic slavery survives and thrives.  Most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  A trip costs time and depletes the dollars put aside to merely live.

    20. If you were to summarize the overall impression this March has made on you, what would it be?

    Wow!!!!  Not only did the March make an impression on me, one that is permanently etched into my being, I have yet to speak to a single person who did not think the event, the experience was essential!!!!

    I trust that every participant was energized and expanded, even those not present on that toasty July 3oth day.

    All of us spoke as one, and part of the many.  Indeed, I believe, the sum was far greater than the parts!  The total effect, for everyone will be felt as we walk with others to build a broader movement.  As individuals we will, as I did speak to persons who never knew of the March.  This action will advance further awareness, participation, and conversations . . . The garden created for future generations will grow.

    Last week, as I entered a plane, I spoke with the man behind me in line.  I told this stranger about the March.  Possibly, the tune that plays in my head ever since the demonstration prompts me to share what I still see and hum.  “Show me what democracy looks life.  This is what democracy looks like!”  Perhaps, never have I felt so empowered as a citizen . .  and I have been an Activist since Middle School.

    Nonetheless, that aside, the gentleman responded well.  As I said, he thought the March vital!!!  As the other passenger reflected further, I learned he thinks Tenured Teachers are responsible for Communism.  He warned, persons such as paid sages and the political philosophy he strong and loudly opposes are coming.

    “So true,” said the Flight Attendant who overheard the comment.  The Airline employee expanded the thought.  She offered, “We were just speaking about “Bad Teachers” and how they are the worse!”  The two happily engaged as I expressed my dissent, stored my luggage and sat down.

    Thus, my impression, my belief, my thoughts and feelings . . .  nothing I have ever done was as crucial.  I may help a child or children love learning.  I may nurture growth in toddlers, teems, tots, tweens, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty sixty, seventy, eighty and ninety something’s; still, as one person, I can never speak to the masses in the way I might when I am part of a whole far bigger than any I can easily measure.

    21. Will today’s events cause a shift, a rupture, interruption, mutation or otherwise in the current conversation about public school teachers? Shift, rupture, interruption, mutation, or otherwise? Explain.

    Absolutely!  Shifts, I believe, are eternal, invisible, subtle, seemingly slight, and sensationally huge!  Sadly, most do not realize what occurs.  We are each too close to fully comprehend the changes we create.  However transformations are constant!  Every conversation is a cause.  Reflections, ruptures, interruptions, just as interpretations, are the effect.

    I cannot predict what will occur, how, when, where, or why, what will be will be.  However, I am certain, whatever becomes of what we began will also evolve, as will we. Our education system will also progress.  I can only hope that in time the Movement will be a wise one . . . one that opens hearts, minds, souls, and society.

    May we see each other as uniquely whole beings, to be honored and revered rather than counted, scored, standardized, and seen as statistics!

    22. Reasonably, what will you need to see in the long-term in order to think that this March made a difference regarding the American public school teacher and/or the American public school system?

    There is nothing specifically I need to see in the short or long-term to think the March made a difference.  Years ago, I wrote of another frustration, action, and movement, Peace.

    I offer that thought to help illustrate why I look for nothing in particular, and why I do not think one moment is the only cause with a singular effect.

    Boca Peace Corner Participants Cultivate Harmony

    © copyright 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    “The heights by great men reached and kept

    Were not attained by sudden flight,

    But they, while their companions slept,

    Toiled ever upward through the night.”

    ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Peace comes upon us without much fanfare.  Most await an announcement or seek a moment of resolve.  However, the message never comes.  In this country, in our local communities, and perchance planet wide, a small number of people acknowledge goodwill is not created in an instant.  It grows.  The transition from warfare to common welfare is invisible.  Tranquility enters; and no one stands triumphantly.  Buglers do not blow their horns.  Twenty-one guns do not salute.  Serenity is a state of being.  This is true for individuals and for the world as a whole.  Harmony, once achieved will be but a hush.   Peace grows as a tree does, from the roots up.

    23. Did I leave out anything you’d like to address?

    For me, I have faith that I will ponder all that you asked about further.  Conversations, as the cause, Save Our Schools, have no beginning and no end. If any aspect was not addressed, it is I who was remiss in my responses.

    I thank you for this opportunity!!!!  The reflection, inspired by your inquiries, was and is truly wondrous in my life!!!!  The interview is the cherry on top of a glorious growing experience.  May our shared travel live on.  May the seeds we planted be sown eternally.  May our students, schools, and society bloom and blossom.

    Huge hugs and infinite kisses.  I thank you !!!!!

    businesscard.aspx