On Dec. 9, a coalition of education advocates, including the AFT, parents and community, faith and other groups will hold a National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education. The mobilization is part of a long-term push for reforms designed to reclaim the promise of public education as the nation's gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a conference call today the action is part of a “movement to rebuild educational and economic opportunity.” She said:
We want our kids to have great public schools. Public schools where kids are safe. Public schools where the joy of learning is embedded….We’re doing everything we can to let our kids have the future they deserve.
The Reclaim the Promise alliance has developed "The Principles that Unite Us" as a common vision for public education. It stands in sharp contrast to the corporate agenda for public schools, which disregards the voices of parents, teachers, students and communities in the attempt to impose a system of winners and losers. More than 100 community groups and unions already have endorsed the principles that include:
- Fighting for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning;
- Ensuring that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child;
- Making sure our children have an engaging curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not testing, and includes art, music and the sciences; and
- Ensuring that children and their families have access to wraparound services to meet their social, emotional and health needs.
The National Day of Action is the first step in coordinating and amplifying the groups’ demands and will be followed by multi-city and multi-state campaigns and larger actions in the spring.
Dec. 9 activities will include highlighting the negative impact of the corporate agenda on students, schools and communities and recruiting additional supporters to endorse "The Principles that Unite Us." Says Weingarten:
This is the launching of a movement with all of us joining together saying, ‘we’re taking back public education, putting the public back in public education...and giving students a highway to the American dream.’