The Sleeping Giant is Awakening As Parents Across America Unite

The Sleeping Giant is Awakening As Parents Across America Unite

by Judy Rabin

Hailed as a “hero” by supporters who came to hear her give the keynote address, Diane Ravitch took the stage for almost an hour as she spoke to parents, teachers, and activists from across the country Monday night at PS/IS 89 in New York City. They came from Seattle, Florida, Rochester, New York City, New Jersey, New Orleans, Chicago, and elsewhere, for the kickoff of the nationwide organization Parents Across America (PAA) and a call to action to take back public education.

PAA is a grassroots effort and political campaign spearheaded by parent activists and local organizations joining forces nationally against corporate interests who have hijacked public education and against the politicians who have turned their backs on the voices of parents and professional educators. “Since the top-down forces that are imposing their will on our schools have become national in scope, we need to be as well,” according to the PAA website.

Ravitch told the audience at this auspicious gathering, there is a perfect storm brewing in which those who have delegitimized public education are taking advantage of a bad economy and deep budget cuts to implement their own ideological agenda. She criticized President Obama’s Race to the Top by saying “education is not a race – education is not a competition. Good schools depend on collaboration, not on teachers competing for dollars. ” She said the punishments and remedies instituted under No Child Left Behind have escalated under the current administration and closing of schools destroys the social capital which consists of the relationships in the community essential for good, strong schools and a quality education.

The passion, excitement, determination and anger in the room were palpable as speaker after speaker got up to discuss how the current education reform is damaging their own communities, their schools and any chance of real learning opportunities for their children. They spoke of communities being torn apart in New York City and other urban areas where parents and teachers are pitted against each other. Members of the national board of PAA urged the audience to contact their local legislators and work to educate parents in their local communities by providing them with the tools and research-based evidence that illustrates why merit pay, charter schools and testing are failed policies that have not improved education or closed the achievement gap. In fact, with 20 percent of children living in poverty, Ravitch says poverty is the elephant in the room and it is an issue.

Up until now, parents have had very little say as the corporate reformers “move children around like checkers on a checkerboard” in their mindless pursuit of test scores, explained Ravitch. That’s why PAA hopes to galvanize parents and empower them to channel their frustration by working together with teachers and lobbying state legislatures and Congress to enact real, genuine education reform that will improve public schools, not close them. Some of the alternatives and ideas advocated by PAA include common sense solutions such as: high quality early childhood programs; parent education programs; reasonable limits on class size: medical clinics in schools: more professionalism in teaching: and more support and better working conditions for teachers; and acknowledging what every teacher and educator already knows — test scores have been and still are closely correlated with the socioeconomic status of a school’s population. Ravitch ended on a note of optimism. “There is hope even though all the power and all the money is on one side, and on the other side there is no one standing up for teachers. Parents are the sleeping giants of this debate. If the sleeping giant awakens you can take back American education and the time to start is today.”

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5 Responses to The Sleeping Giant is Awakening As Parents Across America Unite

  1. Paul Bonner

    My question is, how? I am a principal of a successful elementary school that has shown signficant results over the past three years, yet it looks as if we are going to become a charter school taken over by a local university. Our district has a great deal of diversity that is in danger due to mass closings and a maniacal focus on a pay for performance scheme that is untenable. All of this under the guise of massive budget cuts. I would like to turn the tide, but have no idea how.

  2. pagrundy

    This pay for performance stuff is indeed untenable and is wrecking teacher morale across the country. It’s a classic example of top-down policies that I don’t think have much public support. People care about their kids’ teachers. We need to rally this opposition. Everyone, please do what you can to get folks signed up for PAA. Once we generate significant membership in a particular area, we can start to take action.

  3. Pingback: Parents United for Responsible Education » Blog Archive » PSAT for 2-15-10: Sign up for Parents Across America newsletter

  4. Greygower

    I’m so glad someone is finally noticing the “Sleeping Giant”. But even if the giant awakens, he won’t be of much use unless he’s in the right mood. We need to make sure the beast has a nice cup of joe and a high-quality, morning newspaper. That way, he can calmly ease into full consciousness and make rational decisions on how to best exert his considerable influence. The last thing we need is some grumpy, ill-informed Colossus raging across the country. A.K.A. The Tea Party Giant!
    With any luck we’ll have an eloquent Giant, capable of intimidating with reasoned logic instead of roaring “ME NO LIKE STANDARDIZED TESTING”.

  5. speakup2011
    PLEASE HELP us, we don’t have much time. Every year this Tyrant, expels half of the yearly class in order to make her charter school look good. She only lets the kids that she likes take the reagents exams, and they mysteriously pass all of their test. The other kids of the parents that ask questions about the school, get low or failing grades. The teachers don’t understand why the best students fail the regents or their classes.

    At this time of the year Dr. Elaine Ruiz Lopez. There is to much to explain in a short time. Please look at some of this.

    There is much more, and many parents that want to get to together, but DR. Lopez, keeps check of the internet. If any kid or parents puts up any negative info about The International Leadership Charter School in the Bronx.
    She, DR. Lopez calls the chilled into office and tells them that they better take off that info from the internet or they will be expelled from school.

    Dr. Lopez also tell the parents how she puts up restraining orders on teachers and parents that try to speak up against her. Some parents went to the board of trustees against the CEO DR. Elaine Ruiz Lopez, and their children were expelled from school with only a few months left to graduate.