I always enjoyed July 4 as a day to celebrate our nation and to honor its heroes.
With an ignorant bully in the White House, it is hard to feel good about what is happening today. Trump seems eager to demolish the First Amendment and that’s bad for our nation and our future. He wants to remove environmental protection and allow the pillaging of our air, water, and lands. He wants to defund every social program that protects those who are in need while giving the military more money than it asked for.
But enough complaining! It is what it is!
Today I want to celebrate the everyday heroes across the nation who are fighting to protect public education against privatization.
I won’t remember all of them and I don’t know all of them, so I invite you to add the names of people you know in your district or state who are fighting to keep public schools public.
Today I honor the following:
The BadAss Teachers Association, which has given courageous teachers a voice to fight against phony “reforms”;
Jitu Brown of Journey for Justice.
Speaker of the Texas House Joe Strauss, who has deftly fended off private school vouchers again and again;
The Honorable Dan Huberty, chair of the Public Education Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, who has knocked down vouchers again and again;
Pastors for Texas Children, which has not only fought vouchers in Texas, but has helped to organize pastors in other states to defend separation of church and state and religious liberty;
The parent groups in Florida who continue to fight for public schools despite the Republican legislators who live under the thumb of former Governor Jeb Bush;
The Washington State Supreme Court that declared that charter schools are not eligible for public funding because they are not public schools, not having an elected board;
Larry Lee of Alabama, who fights for public education every day;
The members of the board of the Network for Public Education, who serve without compensation and tirelessly give of their time to support public education and make it better for all children;
Carol Burris, who not only leads the Network for Public Education, but finds time to write brilliant exposes of charter corruption;
The Chicago Teachers Union, which has relentlessly fought Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attacks on public schools;
The Massachusetts Teachers Association, which led the successful fight to defeat a referendum to increase charter schools in the stater;
Defending the Early Years, which supports the right of children to a childhood;
Activists Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Susan Ohanian, who advocate for early childhood education free of standardized testing;
Helen Gym of Philadelphia, who ran for City Council and won, so she could fight for kids and public schools;
Jeannie Kaplan of Denver, who has waged a lonely battle against corporate reform and is not giving up;
Angie Sullivan of Clark County, Nevada, who teaches in a Title I school and sends blast emails to legislators and journalists to fight for her students;
Sara Stevenson, middle school librarian in Austin, who writes a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal every time it attacks public schools and has become a friend of the editor of the letters section;
Bloggers Peter Greene, Jersey Jazzman, Gary Rubinstein, Jennifer Berkshire, Steven Singer, Mercedes Schneider, Jonathan Pelto, and many others who have fearlessly punched holes in the “reform” narrative;
Scholar Bruce Baker of Rutgers, who has studied the actual performance of charter schools and found it wanting;
Scholars Gary Orfield and Myron Orfield, who have documented the continuing resegregation of the schools and called for needed changes;
FAIRTEST, which has stood strong against the misuse of and overuse of standardized testing since the 1970s;
Scholars Pasi Sahlberg, Andrew Hargreaves, and Yong Zhao, who have pointed the way to better schools through their scholarship;
State Commissioner of Education Rebecca Holcomb in Vermont, who has been an inspiring leader in articulating a vision of better education;
The National Education Policy Center, which regularly reviews research and think tank reports, for accuracy and soundness;
Class Size Matters, an organization founded by Leonie Haimson, that advocates for reduced class sizes and student privacy (I am a member of its small board);
The independent film makers who have created videos to celebrate our public schools and to expose those who attack them–including Michael Elliott, whose work supports the Opt Out movement; Mark Hall, who created “Killing Ed”; Brian and Cindy Malone, who made “Education Inc.”; Nebraska Loves Public schools, which makes films celebrating the work of good public schools in the state.
The Tennessee Mama Bears, who have fought to preserve their public schools, against a rapacious charter school industry;
New York superintendents Michael Hynes of Patchogue-Medford and David Gamberg of Southold-Greenport, who have turned their vision of child-centered education into reality;
The Opt Out Movement in New York, which year after year has persuaded 20% of the state’s eligible children not to take the state tests and has had a statewide and national influence;
The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, led by Rachel Stickland and Leonie Haimson;
The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, which fights for public schools in a state whose politicians were bought by reformers.
Now, I am certain I have only begun to scratch the surface of the nation’s heroes of public education.
I celebrate them today for their courage, their dedication, their devotion to democracy and to children.
If you have names of individuals or groups to add, please send them in.
Who are your heroes in education? Who has inspired you?
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