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Push Back

We are starting to see teachers and parents begin to react to what is happening in their school districts. They don’t like what they see and they are pushing back.

This page will provide information of some individuals, groups and cities that are fighting back.


This event is happening this summer around the country:

Welcome to the Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action!

July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, D.C. and around the country

We’re putting the Public back in public schools!

We, a collection of people from all walks of life and every corner of this nation, embody a mixture of ideas and opinions regarding how we can improve educational opportunities for all children. We stand united by one belief – it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools.

As concerned citizens, we demand an end to the destructive policies and rhetoric that have eroded confidence in our public schools, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation.

A well-educated society is essential to the future of the United States of America. Our students must have access to a fully funded, world-class public education system, and it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for providing the means to achieve it. Please join us!

July 30: DC Rally & March

The rally will officially begin at noon at the Ellipse, but arrive early to enjoy performances, art, and more!

At noon, Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, José Vilson, Pedro Noguera, Deborah Meier, Monty Neill, and other speakers, musicians, performance poets, and many more will encourage, educate, and support this movement and the Save Our Schools March demands.

At two p.m., we will march to the Department of Education, where the demands will be read, we’ll chant, and engage in a call for actions to reclaim schools as places of learning, joy, and democracy.

We’ll return to the Ellipse for a closing ceremony and call for continued action until these demands are met.

And, if you can’t make it to DC, follow the site to find out more about ways to participate in or plan actions in your local area!

Commentary by Glen Ford:

CORE teachers in Chicago.

“So-called school reform is not an education plan. It’s a business plan.”

The nation’s unionized public school teachers are in a race for survival, whether they know it or not. Their worst enemy – the one that can do them and the public the most harm – was not George Bush, the white Republican, who called teachers’ unions “terrorists.” It is Barack Obama, the Black Democrat, who has taken the corporate education agenda farther than Bush could ever dream of.

By all rights, the nation’s five million unionized teachers should be in the forefront of resistance to the corporate money bags that dominate the Republican and Democratic parties. Teachers are the best-equipped for the job, in raw numbers, in depth of union penetration and, especially on the moral front: most people like and admire teachers. George Bush’s Republicans were made to look like ogres when they tried to vilify teachers as a class. Yet that is precisely what Barack Obama is doing: making teachers the scapegoats and villains for all the ills that have been inflicted on the inner cities of America for the past five or six decades. Obama is having considerably more success than Bush in his offensive against teachers, mostly because teachers’ unions cannot seem to recognize their enemy when he is a Democrat, and Black.

That lesson has finally been learned in Chicago, hometown of Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chicago’s teachers, students and neighborhoods were the guinea pigs for Arne Duncan’s campaign to hand over public education to corporations, when Duncan was CEO of the city’s schools. Mass firings were the order of the day, decimating the ranks of Black teachers, especially. Whole communities were destabilized.

“Barack Obama, the Black Democrat, who has taken the corporate education agenda farther than Bush could ever dream of.”

Last week, reformers finally won control of the Chicago Teachers Union, in what will hopefully set an example for teachers, nationwide. Karen Lewis, co-chair of the victorious Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, or CORE, told the truth that so many teachers’ union hacks have been avoiding: “This so-called school reform is not an education plan,” she said. “It’s a business plan.” Lewis continued:

“Fifteen years ago, this city purposely began starving our lowest-income neighborhood schools of greatly needed resources and personnel. Class sizes rose, schools were closed. Then standardized tests, which in this town alone is a $60 million business, measured that slow death by starvation. These tests labeled our students, families and educators failures, because standardized tests reveal more about a student’s zip code than it does about academic growth,” said the union reformer.

And that is the heart of the matter. Public and private policies have devastated inner city America, with totally predictable results in terms of inner city student performance. And yet, what do both the Obama’s and the Bush’s propose? They demand more privatization, more so-called “public-private” initiatives that outsource Black and brown schools to corporations, for profit. Barack Obama and Arne Duncan learned the privatization game in Chicago. Hopefully, Chicago teachers can awaken five million union members and millions more inner city residents to the clear and present danger posed by Obama’s corporate school agenda. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

Arne Duncan’s Opposition: A Partial List

by Valerie Strauss

This interesting dynamic marked a meeting this week between Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. legislators representing 17 states:

Not a single lawmaker voiced to Duncan his or her very real objections to some of his key education policies.

According to Education Week, the lawmakers stayed mum about their concerns when Duncan asked them for help in supporting the Obama administration’s education goals. His deputies, however, got an earful about some of Duncan’s favored initiatives, including linking teacher’s pay with standardized test scores and the tough measures required to deal with low-performing schools.

It is a mystery why the legislators did not do their job and challenge the education secretary. Were they being polite? Were they intimidated?

Surely Duncan must know that there is hostility across the country to the policies that the Obama administration is pursuing under his leadership, even if he suggested to the New York Times that there wasn’t any.

The man can count, so he knows that not all 50 states jumped at the chance he offered to win millions of dollars in federal grant money in his $4 billion Race to the Top competition if they would only pursue initiatives that he favors. Fourteen states sat out of the second round, and support was hardly unanimous in the participating states.

Department officials say that they meet with thousands of people a week to discuss policy, and it is unlikely they have the organizational ability to meet exclusively with supporters. So they hear some griping.

The question is whether they listen, and the available evidence suggests that nobody at the highest levels in the government grasps the depth of the disillusionment and the breadth of disapproval to the Obama/Duncan vision for public education.

As a presidential candidate, Obama bashed No Child Left Behind, former president George W. Bush’s main education initiative, saying that obsession with high-stakes standardized tests was no way to run an education system.

But Obama, taking Duncan’s lead, now supports some of the key NCLB concepts that doomed it to fail: high-stakes standardized testing, punishment for lowest-achieving schools, and arbitrary deadlines for success. And they are adding some of their own bad ideas to make things worse: linking teacher evaluation and pay to how well kids do on
standardized tests.

These policies are right in sync with those of former President George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind law, with its obsession on high-stakes testing. And now they are being praised by Bush’s brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida, who has anointed himself a national education leader and is pushing for the national adoption of policies that have made a mess of Florida’s public education system.

That should be enough to give pause to anybody in the Obama administration.

But it isn’t. They seem to think it is a good thing that they are on the same page as people who damaged the public education system. After all, bipartisanship is a good thing, right?

And, just as the Bush crew did, the Obama team likes to paint its policy opponents as people who prefer the status quo, a passive-aggressive way of saying that these folks don’t care as much about kids as the education secretary does.

This is not going to end well, not for the people who matter most in this dynamic: the kids.

There is no evidence whatsoever to show that these policies will do anything to help kids learn or help more minority students improve, and some evidence that harm will be done.

Just in case the folks at the Education Department need help in tracking down opponents, here is a very short list of a small fraction of the teachers and parents groups, on Facebook alone, that are opposed to Obama’s education agenda. They have a combined membership of hundreds of thousands of members:

Testing is Not Teaching

Teachers Should Make the Decisions about Education

Parents Across America Say: Put the Parent Voice Back in Public Education!

Teacher Letters to Obama

Florida Teachers Against Pay-for-Performance Salary/Pay Scales

NJ Teachers United Against Pay Freeze

Stop Race to the Top/Sen Bill 6

FCAT-FL Children Are Tortured

Speak Up for Education and Kids

Stop Sen John Thrasher (RTTT now)

Make Schools Our Priority

Children Are More Than Test Scores

Save FL Public Schools

Fund Education Now

SOS Million Teacher March

Public Education Matters

Moms & Dads Against Race to Top

Stop JEB Now

Professors Against Race to the Top

Future Florida Teachers Against SB6


Join the Equal Opportunity Now/BAMN Campaigns for
National Leadership of the Teacher Unions!
Build a United Student-Teacher Civil Rights Movement
Fighting to Defend Public Education!
Education Must Be a Right –
Our Children Are Not for Sale
Save Dr. King’s Vision for America

  • Organize Independent Mass Actions and Build the New Student-Led Civil Rights Movement to Defend Public Education from Pre-K Through College
  • Stop Relying on the Democrats to Save Us
  • End “Race to the Top” Now – Release All Federal Funds to the States Based on Need
  • No More Charters, No Vouchers
  • Save Public Education: Stop Union Busting, Get Rid of Arne Duncan Now
  • Build Independent, Integrated, United Teacher/Student/Community Action to End Legislative Attacks Against Teachers and Black, Latina/o, and Poor, Working-Class and Middle-Class Students of All Races
  • All Our Students Can Learn and Excel – Reject High-Stakes Testing and Market-Economy-Based School Reform Plans
  • Stop Teacher Bashing. Defend Our Union’s/ Teachers’ Dignity, Ability, and Character

Does Duncan Really Believe Teachers Support Race to the Top?

One of the reasons we were anxious to have our conversation last month with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was to correct any impression that he might have that teachers support Race to the Top. According to the New York Times, he shared with them that he had encountered “zero opposition” to the initiative.

We did our best to disabuse him of this illusion. However, recent reports from Diane Ravitch indicate that he has been telling members of Congress that Race to the Top, merit pay, and the Blueprint for reauthorization of ESEA have full support of the nation’s teachers. Supposedly they recently met with 40 teachers who love all their initiatives.

Funny thing. A couple of weeks ago, teacher Magazine posed the question “Does the Department of Education have teachers’ best interests in mind?” Of the 48 readers who answered, only TWO replied “yes.”

The Department of Education and Arne Duncan have a huge credibility problem with the teachers of America, and pretending we are in agreement is only going to make this worse.

Earlier this week I made some suggestions about how to write to your local newspapers and Congressperson. Here is a great topic for you. Do you agree with Secretary Duncan that teachers support his policies? If you do not, explain why. Or perhaps you might like to share your thoughts with Secretary Duncan directly? His email address is

Or you can reach out to his press secretary, Peter Cunningham at

Please send US Mail as well to:


You might also wish to join us over at Teachers’ Letters to Obama, where we are continuing to work to get teachers’ voices heard. (On June 28, we will be hosting a special Teachers’ Roundtable focused on the issue of the over-use of testing).

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