July 08, 2016

Save Our Schools: Public education march kicks off in DC today

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
save our schools

The explosion of sound and color seen on the Fourth of July will be followed by more big noise today, July 8. The People's March for Public Education and Social Justice is taking place at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in a lively rally involving unionists, activists, families and grassroots community members from across the country. They all want the same thing: They want change.

Save Our Schools is sponsoring the event, which features speakers who have become familiar names in the cause to support public education: Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Rev. William Barber II, Lisa Rudley and others.

Twitter: @SOSDC2016 | Hashtag: #PeoplesMarch16 | Facebook

The first SOS march was held in 2011, and the movement has been building ever since. This year, the march will take on some tough issues that members of NYSUT, which supports the march, are all-too familiar with: ending public school closures and private/corporate takeovers; fully funded school and public libraries; a curriculum that includes art, music, physical education and technology; full funding for support staff; services for students with special needs; healthy buildings; full, equitable funding for all public schools, PreK-16; and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

The United Federation of Teachers is sending a busload of members to attend the rally, leaving from Brooklyn under the leadership of Debra Poulos, UFT Brooklyn borough representative. At the rally, performers on this national stage will include Jeremy Dudley, a member of the Albany Public School Teachers Association, teacher and rap singer. He has been written about in NYSUT publications and performed at the NYSUT One Voice United rally.

Marla Kilfoyle, Oceanside Federation of Teachers and a leader for Badass Teachers (BATs). will also be taking part in the rally.

Earlier this week, at the annual convention of the National Education Association, attended by NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale, delegates voted to support today's rally with a $10,000 donation.

"Full funding of public schools was and continues to be the promise of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965," Pecorale said. "This was the reason for the creation of the law and it continues to be an issue 50-plus years later. This is what the premise of Every Student Succeeds Act is all about. We must have equitable funding for our schools so they have the resources necessary for the times. This is social justice 101 for our union."

The rally will be followed tomorrow with a conference at Howard University. The conference will explore special education advocacy, promoting social justice and unionism, moving the opt-out/test refusal movement forward, defending public education, activist school board members, unionists working together for social justice in schools, and more. Activities for children are part of the conference.

The coalition can be followed on Twitter at SOSDC2016. The hashtag to be part of the action is #PeoplesMarch16. You can also like Save Our Schools on Facebook.