The four-day long Save Our Schools rally begins in Washington, D.C. today.
The Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, a joint effort of parents, teachers and community organizers, seeks to rally support for an end to controversial education reforms. The participants argue that the policies put in place under the Bush and Obama administrations leave too much control in the hands of government -- allowing those in Washington to decide what's best for those in the classroom.
The march's guiding principles and demands, according to the SOS March official website, include,
“equitable funding for all public school communities,” “an end to high stakes testing used for the purpse of student, teacher and school evaluation," "teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies,” and “curriculum developed for and by local school communities.”
According to the blog of one marcher, career teacher Mary Cathryn Riker of St. Paul, Minn.:
I will march for a statewide teacher support and evaluation framework that intentionally supports a teacher’s natural instinct to get stronger, not a system designed to play "gotcha."
I will march with determination to reject someone’s intent to end integration aid and turn it into a vibrant, committed statewide conversation about ending racism and improving equity instead.
I will march to prove collective bargaining is the most powerful tool we have to reach our common goal as a state to meet the needs of every child.
I will march to do whatever I can to include parents in our work and in the conversations we’re going to have.
Today and tomorrow, the action in D.C. will be limited to a conference at American University. Activities there include a screening of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman,” a teacher created rebuttal to the 2010 education documentary that attacked teachers' unions and supported the creation of charter schools.
"We're protesting the thrust of any kind of policymaking that is top down and punitive in nature," said Sabrina Stevens Shupe, a former Denver teacher and march organizer, The Huffington Post reported earlier this month. "There are elements of this in Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, but mostly we're fighting for fair funding of schools, for curricular development, things that support students."
The events will culminate in a rally Saturday, beginning at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. -- President's Park South and site of the National Christmas Tree -- before participants march to the Department of Education headquarters.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, told HuffPost this month thathe supports an open discussion.
"We all want to strengthen education in this country and we're all united in that goal," Duncan said. "We have to take education to a different level. I think we all have a sense of urgency. I look forward to doing everything to see America again lead the world in college graduates."
The Washington Post reports that the march's leaders have been invited today to meet with Secretary Duncan.