Sunday, July 31, 2011

SOS March: Finally a voice

I did not cry during Matt Damon's impassioned speech to the teachers just before we stepped off for the march around the White House, although it was touching to see a son speak on behalf of his mother and the teachers who shaped him.

But it was overwhelming to hear, after a year of relentless teacher bashing in the media, that "millions of people have your back" and "We love you.  We support you."

I will say I almost cried.

The emotion rose not from grief but from relief.  It was kind of like hearing a doctor say "You're not crazy.  The symptoms you are describing have a real cause."

If you need this boost now, click over and watch Matt's speech for yourself.  It will recharge you for the hard work to come in behalf of children in the ensuing year.  Damon has frequently credited his public school teachers for his successes.

Yesterday's rally on the ellipse was hot, not only from the temperature but from the speakers.
Probably the biggest rouser of emotion came from John Kuhn, the superintendent of Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District.  He told the crowd to wear their badge of "failure" with dignity and pride because it meant that we were teaching the children nobody else wanted.

Jonothan Kozol also spoke with passion as he lamented the destruction of Martin Luther King's dream to provide opportunity, not test scores, to all our children--and to see them learning, working, and living in the world side-by-side. The past decade of NCLB has done more to segregate schools and kids than Plessy vs. Ferguson.

Those who feel the march is just a call to maintain the status-quo needed to be there to hear the real frustrations in living through a reform which has shifted education farther and farther from good teaching and a rich curriculum for student learning.

We do not want the status-quo.

We want reform that happens in classrooms with real children every day.

Gaining a voice in the process is the first step.  A first step that was taken yesterday.

During the actual march it was empowering to walk with teachers who were speaking with one voice.
Here are chants repeated on the march around the White House.  I was embedded in a delegation of Wisconsin teachers who have learned peaceful protest the hard way this winter.  They modeled for the rest of us:
Show me what democracy looks like.  This is what democracy looks like.
Bankers got bailed out.  Schools got sold out.
Hey, hey.  Ho, ho. Arne Duncan has got to go.
Save our Schools.
Whose schools?  Our Schools.
Whose house? Our house!  (when we were in front of Lafayette Park and the White House)

At least we knew we were heard for one day in the nation's capitol.

The march is just a start.  Please find your voice.

As Diane Ravitch has repeated over and over as she has moved across the nation to engage teachers to rise up against the corporate "billionaire boys' club:"  

"We are many.  They are few."

Begin to follow #sosmovement on your twitter.  Get active.  Speak out.  

The tide is turning.