Defend Public Education

All Out to Washington DC April 10 2010

Join us in Washington on April 10—make this spring vacation one you will not forget. Get on the Bus!

Click here to reserve your seat or donate so students can attend. 
Cost is $90 per person. Pay $90 to reserve your seat or donate as much as you can for student tickets.

Before confirming your payment, click “Special instructions to seller”, and type RESERVATION to reserve a seat on the bus from Detroit to DC, or DONATION to sponsor students. .

www.BAMN.com;  letters@bamn.com;  313 438-3748 or 313-575-9329.  If you can’t come yourself, send a check to sponsor a student!!! (make out checks to: Defend Public Education, PO Box 24834, Detroit MI 48224)

MARCH AND RALLY TO DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION

 Demand that Arne Duncan Stop Toying with Our Students’ Lives!

 End the “Race to the Top” Scheme Now

 Release All Federal Education Funds to the States Based on Need 

SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2010, NOON 

U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW

 End the Attacks against Teachers, Black, Latina/o, and Poor,

Working-Class and Middle-Class Students of All Races

 No Privatization of Public Education

 No More Separate and Unequal

Restore Dr. King’s Vision for America

 

Our children are NOT for sale. For the last six months, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has cynically and dishonestly hidden behind the needs of poor, black and Latina/o students to receive equal, quality educational opportunities, to institute his controversial, unpopular and educationally indefensible plan to create a national network of 5,000 publicly-financed, privately-run, minimally-regulated charter schools. Precious resources have already been taken away from public schools and given to charter schools to assure that charter schools win the “competition” against resource-starved, inner-city urban public school systems. His scheme, if successful, would end public education as a right and would increase, not decrease, educational inequality based on race and class.

 Duncan has exploited the economic crisis to demand that union officials, local school districts, public officials and politicians unquestioningly and uncritically sign on to his unpopular, reactionary, anti-union, anti-democratic, pro-business policies in order to even stand a chance of receiving “Race To The Top” money. The most impoverished black and Latina/o communities with the proudest history of support for civil rights, union rights and public education are being asked to undertake a set of draconian reforms and to abandon every progressive principle they have stood on and believe in to get federal money to prevent the decimation of their schools.

  The mildest resistance by the unions, Latina/o, black, immigrant or poor communities, students, parents, or politicians to Duncan’s plan has led to whole states being denied access to funds. Duncan has fanatically demanded that unions abandon seniority protections, free-speech rights, set pay rates, academic freedom, etc. to qualify for federal money. Black and Latina/o parents, students and communities that have opposed taking away precious public resources from public schools and giving those same resources to charters, or who object to Latina/o and black students being asked to embrace separate and unequal, segregated, stripped-down, vocational/technical education instead of traditional broad-based education with art, music, science, sports and a full array of AP classes and extra-curricular activities—that succeeds in preparing wealthier suburban students for success in college—are being punished for even questioning Duncan’s advocacy of private paternalistic offerings, reminiscent of the old Booker T. Washington-Jim Crow era.

 Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston and other majority minority cities in Michigan, California and Texas that are experiencing unemployment rates three times the national average and record numbers of foreclosures, bankruptcies, plant closings and job losses, are ineligible for “Race To The Top,” because they resisted Duncan’s attempts to scapegoat teachers, blame the students for the conditions they did not create, and replace or marginalize democratically-elected, publicly-accountable school boards and superintendents with pro-charter mayoral school-take-over administrators or state appointed “education czars,” some of whom are paid in part by the charter companies themselves.

Arne Duncan Must Go

 The young people in states eliminated from consideration for “Race To The Top” and those living in states still in the running for “Race To The Top” are losing ground every day. School closings, teacher lay-offs and program cuts abound. The whole application process has weakened public education everywhere and distorted all reform efforts. The mad scramble to abandon all tried-and-true reforms to get desperately needed federal funding and the insane competition of school-against-school, state-against-state, etc. consistent with Duncan’s free-market maximum-competition ideology, has wreaked havoc and encouraged divisiveness everywhere. We cannot allow this to continue any longer. United we win, divided we fall. Now is the time to stand together and fight. If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing. We cannot allow him to destroy public education or give him a free pass because he’s a Democrat. For any real pro-student educational reforms to occur, Duncan must go now.

  We can win our fight to stop the privatization of public education by telling the truth and taking action. While Duncan’s current efforts are focused on majority-Latina/o and -black urban districts, his plan to convert 5,000 public schools into charters means that suburban districts—increasingly resource-starved themselves—will be targeted next. No one disagrees that public education needs to be vastly improved or that the achievement gap between black and Latina/o, and poor, working-class and middle-class students of all races and more privileged students must be closed.

 Proven Ways to Improve Student Achievement

It is as true now as it was in 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education was decided: the single most important factor in closing the achievement gap and improving every student’s educational outcomes is school integration. Creating diverse student bodies, offering a variety of traditional and non-traditional course offerings, giving young people the right to explore and experiment with art, music, athletics, different cultures, etc., produces the greatest success rates. Giving resource-starved urban and rural schools the funds for books, supplies and smaller class sizes, supporting efforts to desegregate education through the creation of magnet school programs, and uniting urban and suburban districts to share services, prevent duplication of efforts, provide an economy of scale that allows for more experimentation with educational alternatives, and allows for the creation of more diverse student populations, are all reforms that work.

 The Duncan reform plan is premised on the view that human creativity, scientific discovery and social progress are best furthered through purely individual competition for personal, individual gain. Nothing could be further from the truth. The greatest scientific breakthroughs, creative endeavors and social progress have always been produced as collective endeavors. When we have great minds focused on our shared and common interests and working together, human societies advance more rapidly. Educational reform is not that daunting when there is the will to act.

 Duncan’s educational policy begins from two false political premises: first, that we cannot tax the corporations, banks or the very rich to obtain the money needed to fund public education; and second, that we cannot reorder our social or political priorities so that education receives more funds. Both premises are wrong. Presented with the actual facts, there is no doubt that public education, which is the most popular and universally-treasured achievement of the great civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, would easily beat out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as funding priorities. Secondly, there is broadly felt and expressed frustration and anger over how little the very people who caused the economic crisis have had to pay to rectify the conditions they created. Taxing the corporations, banks and very rich might make them squeal, but it would hardly be an unpopular policy.

 Last fall, students in California, led by University of California at Berkeley and UCLA students, gave birth to a student movement. They stood up and successfully defended public education. The student movement had the backing of the unions and California’s powerful Latina/o, immigrant, black, poor, working-class and middle-class communities. The power of the movement is its independence and its understanding that it speaks for the majority. The student movement lifted all of us. The marches, sit-ins, occupations and rallies reminded us that when we stand and fight together, we can win and, maybe just as importantly, restore our own sense of collective purpose, joy, hope and optimism. To move this new movement forward and to move forward the civil rights, immigrant rights, and labor movements, we need to march on Washington. It is time for us to deliver our demands to Arne Duncan directly, massively and strongly.

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