The Republican National Convention is underway, and I urge you to tune in and listen to the latest proposals for closing and privatizing public schools. It is hard to keep up, and the Convention does us the favor of putting all of the crazy new schemes in one place.
Meanwhile, the recent National Democratic Party platform deliberations showed public education advocates like us that our voices have been heard. For many years, key Democrats and appointees such as former Education Secretary Arne Duncan have backed a corporate education “reform” agenda to the detriment of the students at Oregon High School, where I teach, and at most other schools where WEAC Region 6 members work. The corporate agenda emphasizes standardized tests, charter schools, school privatization and so-called “merit pay.”
A few weeks ago, at the urging of you, me and public educators and advocates throughout the United States, the Democrats have revised the party platform to back the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, limit support for charter schools, and clearly oppose the use of standardized test scores for high-stakes purposes such as evaluating teachers and passing or failing students.
This is real progress, and it is important in and of itself. It is also important because it shows how effective we can be when we speak with one voice and don’t back down. Any regular reader of my columns and blog posts knows how strongly I feel about these issues—and how often I bring them up. I am not alone.
If you feel strongly about these issues, the best way to have your voice amplified is by working with your union and further connecting yourself to the advocacy efforts we have underway. One way you can do this immediately is to go to the Take Action section of the WEAC.org website, where there are great resources that make it easier for you to write to your elected officials and local newspapers.
I invite you to join the conversations we are participating in and trying to initiate at WEAC Region 6. Reach out to your local leaders or contact the Region 6 office today. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 1-800-397-2287. We can celebrate this victory by building on it.
President of WEAC Region 6