Last weekend, I attended the Save Our Schools march/rally in Washington, D.C. The current educational policy arena pits the so-called “reformers” against the so-called “defenders of the status quo.” So, this event was a gathering of the “defenders of the status quo” rallying vehemently against…well…the status quo. (Yes, these are strange days in the world of educational politics).
The SOS March was based on a set of guiding principles, the major points of which are:
- 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
Diane Ravitch is essentially the face and voice of the SOS movement. Those of you who know her history can appreciate the irony of Dr. Ravitch leading what is essentially a progressive education movement. Nonetheless, on matters of macro-level education policy, Diane Ravitch has “rallied the troops” in opposition of the hegemonic policy paradigm of the day. If you follow Ravitch on Twitter and read her blog posts and other articles these days, her message gets a little redundant. But, she is amazingly consistent and the progressive education community needs a leader with a consistent message. So…
The final speaker of the day (before we marched to the White House) was Matt Damon (yes, Good Will Hunting himself). His mother is a lifelong educator and currently a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University in Boston. Damon took a red-eye flight from Vancouver where he is filming a new movie to get to D.C. to deliver his message of support for educators.
Damon’s speech was well-received, but I”m in complete agreement with Gary Stager who writes, “Matt Damon can’t save you. You need to be the action hero for America’s children!”
Often, during the actual march to the White House, protestors chanted the familiar sing-song, “Tell me what democracy looks like…THIS is what democracy looks like.” It was really inspiring to see thousands of educators embracing democracy and civic engagement.