Today marks the public launch of a new network devoted to the defense and improvement of public education in the US. Led by renowned education historian, Diane Ravitch, the Network for Public Education will bring together grassroots activists and organizations from around the country, and endorse candidates for office, with the common goal of protecting and strengthening our public schools.
Diane Ravitch said, “The Network for Public Education will give voice to the millions of parents, educators, and other citizens who are fed up with corporate-style reform. We believe in community-based reform, strengthening our schools instead of closing them, respecting our teachers and principals instead of berating them, educating our children instead of constantly testing them. Our public schools are an essential democratic institution. We look forward to working with friends and allies in every state and school district who want to preserve and improve public education for future generations.”
Our nation’s schools are at a crossroads. Wealthy individuals are pouring unprecedented amounts of money into state and local school board races, often into places where they do not reside, to elect candidates intent on undermining and privatizing our public schools. The Network for Public Education will collaborate with other groups and organizations to strengthen our public schools in states and districts throughout the nation, share information and research about what works and what doesn’t work, and endorse and grade candidates based on our shared commitment to the well-being of our children, our society, and our public schools. We will help candidates who work for evidence-based reforms and who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of core academic functions to for-profit corporations.
Renee Moore, former Mississippi Teacher of the Year, said, “One of the greatest gifts the U.S. has given to the world is the promise of quality public education. It is also an unfulfilled promise. Public education is a critical part of America’s legacy, and the key to our future. We must defend and constantly improve it.”
According to Anthony Cody, retired California teacher and columnist for Education Week: “As a teacher in Oakland I saw the effects of our obsession with tests first hand. Our students are learning less, and losing the chance to think for themselves as we put more and more pressure on them to perform well on tests. It is time for the millions of us who know better to challenge those who have put our schools on this path. This Network will allow us to learn from and support one another as we push for real school change.”
Leonie Haimson, NYC parent advocate and head of Class Size Matters, said: “With all the billionaire cash trying to buy elections, we need to amass people power to ensure that individuals who care about preserving and strengthening our public schools are elected to positions of power. As the recent Los Angeles school board election shows, when we are organized we can overcome the forces of the privateers and the profiteers, intent on pillaging and dismantling our public schools.”
According to Arizona parent activist and director of Voices for Education, Robin Hiller: “No school was ever improved by closing it. Every community should have good public schools, and we believe that public officials have a solemn responsibility to improve public schools, not close or privatize them.”
Phyllis Bush, a retired teacher from Indiana, said “Public schools are under assault in this country. Now more than ever it is imperative that concerned citizens unite to save the public school system. Our group, Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, and other grassroots groups helped to elect Glenda Ritz to become our Superintendent of Public Instruction, a huge victory against rampant and destructive education policies. With the creation of the Network for Public Education, we will reach out to others across the nation to fulfill the promise of public education.”
Added board member and Alabama education activist Larry Lee, “From my view, a lot more “ed reform” is because of the love of money, not the love of children. The result is that kids have become a very poor rope in a political tug of war. The only way to turn this tide is with the collective voices of the American public saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”
In addition to the individuals quoted above, the board includes Julian Vasquez Heilig , Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning the University of Texas at Austin. The Network will be inviting individuals to join as members and other organizations to become allies, to fight with us to preserve and strengthen our public schools.
Read NYTimes Article, Advocacy Group to Monitor Reform Efforts in Public Schools by Motoko Rich