Monday, December 24, 2012

To the "Beloved Community" of Education Activists

When you speak out as a matter of conscience on issues that are important to you, it is impossible to predict the consequences. You do so because you can't look at yourself in the mirror if you don't. When I began speaking out in behalf of teachers under attack four years ago, it is because I couldn't stand to see the great teachers I worked with the Bronx being made the unremitting target of abuse by politicians and the press. Little did I know that this would link me to a national community of education activists fighting the same policies all over the country. Now, four years later, I have dozens of new friends in almost every state in the union who have, for me at least, recreated the "Beloved Community" that the southern Civil Rights Movement held up as a movement ideal in the early 60's. The courage these individuals display in fighting top down initiatives that destroy teaching and learning, sometimes with little support in their own communities, inspires me with feelings of solidarity and love and gives me the energy to fighting on. To all of you, whether in Florida, South Carolina, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Upstate New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Indiana, California, or the great city of Chicago, I owe a debt of gratitude for infusing my life with a new and higher sense of purpose. Please keep speaking truth to power and defend the right of all children to have an education that stirs their imaginations and builds on their strengths.

3 comments:

Maureen Reedy said...


Thanks Mark and Hello Fellow Education Activists,

How about joining together with Parents Across America and planning a “Public Schools Across America” event modeled after “Hands Across America” of 26 years ago?

For those of you who are younger than 35…

For 15 minutes, on Sunday, May 25, 1986, almost 7 million people (including thousands of us with our students), joined hands to form a line that stretched 4,152 miles from New York City’s Battery Park to the RMS Queen Mary pier in Long Beach, California. This nationwide event, called Hands Across America, raised 34 million dollars to fight hunger and homelessness.

Diane Ravitch introduced Parents Across America in her blog today ... PAA is a great group, I have been in touch with them and proposed this idea conceptually based on the event “Hands Across America.”

I will be in NYC Jan. 26th – Jan. 29th if folks within driving distance would like to get together and get the ball rolling on this idea…

Here is the basic idea:

• “Preserving Public Education Across America?” “Preserve America’s Public Schools,” (any other ideas for a title?)

~ National orchestrated simultaneous summits held in each state across the country
~ Summits would be held on the same date, a weekend afternoon in each state in U.S.
~ Summits would be centrally located in each state so people could drive without having to take off work/ school or spend $ on flights/hotels, etc.
~ States could choose to join neighboring states for a tri-state summit, ie. Ohio, Michigan, Illinois
~ The purpose would be to celebrate our public schools AND share the cold, hard facts of privatization and raise public awareness that For-Profit does not mean education reform.

• Obviously a lot to plan and organize but look at all the stories we have here on Diane’s blog!

• State Superintendents (Texas), District Superintendents (nationwide), Parents, School Board Members, Teachers, Principals, Students, State Supreme Court rulings (LA) concerned citizens for the future of our children and our Democracy…

We are all protectors and defenders of our public schools as the foundation of our democracy… we could do this together.

AND… I am serious about joining me in NYC, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Jan. 26 or Jan. 27th to get going on “Public Schools Across America.”

• Anyone have a place in mind we could gather?

Maureen Reedy said...

Thanks Mark and Hello Fellow Education Activists,

How about joining together with Parents Across America and planning a “Public Schools Across America” event modeled after “Hands Across America” of 26 years ago?

For those of you who are younger than 35…

For 15 minutes, on Sunday, May 25, 1986, almost 7 million people (including thousands of us with our students), joined hands to form a line that stretched 4,152 miles from New York City’s Battery Park to the RMS Queen Mary pier in Long Beach, California. This nationwide event, called Hands Across America, raised 34 million dollars to fight hunger and homelessness.

Diane Ravitch introduced Parents Across America in her blog today ... PAA is a great group, I have been in touch with them and proposed this idea conceptually based on the event “Hands Across America.”

I will be in NYC Jan. 26th – Jan. 29th if folks within driving distance would like to get together and get the ball rolling on this idea…

Here is the basic idea:

• “Preserving Public Education Across America?” “Preserve America’s Public Schools,” (any other ideas for a title?)

~ National orchestrated simultaneous summits held in each state across the country
~ Summits would be held on the same date, a weekend afternoon in each state in U.S.
~ Summits would be centrally located in each state so people could drive without having to take off work/ school or spend $ on flights/hotels, etc.
~ States could choose to join neighboring states for a tri-state summit, ie. Ohio, Michigan, Illinois
~ The purpose would be to celebrate our public schools AND share the cold, hard facts of privatization and raise public awareness that For-Profit does not mean education reform.

• Obviously a lot to plan and organize but look at all the stories we have here on Diane’s blog!

• State Superintendents (Texas), District Superintendents (nationwide), Parents, School Board Members, Teachers, Principals, Students, State Supreme Court rulings (LA) concerned citizens for the future of our children and our Democracy…

We are all protectors and defenders of our public schools as the foundation of our democracy… we could do this together.

AND… I am serious about joining me in NYC, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Jan. 26 or Jan. 27th to get going on “Public Schools Across America.”

• Anyone have a place in mind we could gather?

Melissa Westbrook said...

From Washington State (and our blog, Seattle Schools Community Forum), thank you as well Mark.

It is a long and difficult journey to be an education activist. I sometimes call myself "the cheese who stands alone" but there are more of us all the time. We nearly defeated a fourth charter school measure (it had failed the last three times) and lost by only 41,000 votes. (It is likely to go to court).

But someone has to speak up or those with power and money will determine the course of public education in this country and that's not right.