Here’s a quick thing you can do today that could have a big impact. We’ve had a state level call-to-action this week with the charter reform bill, which is being voted on by the PA House today. (See “Where are the Real Republicans?”) We’ve had a local call-to-action for the PIIN public meeting tomorrow. (See “Please Come Thursday”) Now here’s a federal level call-to-action to help put the battle for public education in full context:
Eminent education historian Diane Ravitch has launched a letter writing campaign urging us to write to President Obama today. Ravitch explains, “Our campaign is meant to include everyone who cares about public education: students, parents, teachers, principals, school board members, and concerned citizens. We want everyone to write the President and tell him what needs to change in his education policies.” She is hoping for thousands of letters from across the country to really make a statement to the White House today.
Ravitch has written a model letter for teachers to send. I have revised this slightly for parents and others in our grassroots movement here in Southwest Pennsylvania and pasted below. Please feel free to use this letter or change how you wish. Here are the instructions:
- Email your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can submit your letter as a comment to Ravitch’s blog post about this campaign. All letters collected through these two channels will be compiled into a single document, which will be sent to the White House.
- If you want, you can also mail copies of your letters through US mail to The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 20500
- You can also send them by email to the White House. If you choose to write or email the White House, please send a copy to Cody or Ravitch so they can keep track of how many letters were sent to the President.
Ravitch says, “Let’s raise our voices NOW against privatization, against high-stakes testing, against teacher bashing, against profiteering. Let’s advocate for policies that are good for students, that truly improve education, that respect the education profession, and that strengthen our democratic system of public education. Let’s act. Start here. Start now. Join our campaign. Speak out. Enough is enough.” I couldn’t agree more.
Dear President Obama:
I am part of Yinzercation, a grassroots movement battling to save public education in Pennsylvania. You have invited our representatives to the White House twice this year to meet with your senior policy advisor, Roberto Rodriguez. But when you continue to tout Race to the Top, as you did in last night’s debate, we don’t think you are listening to us parents, teachers, students, and concerned community members who are fighting on the front lines for our schools. Our governor has used your policies – which label our public schools as “failures” – as convenient cover to slash $1 billion from public education.
Given the choice between you and Mitt Romney, who seems to view public education with contempt, we want to help you win back the hearts and minds of the grassroots in this country. Here are ways to do that.
Please, Mr. President, stop encouraging the privatization of public education. Many studies demonstrate that charters don’t get better results than public schools unless they exclude low-performing children. Public schools educate all children. The proliferation of charter and cyber charter schools will lead to a dual system in many of our big-city districts and tear our communities apart. Please support public education.
Please speak out against the spread of for-profit schools. These for-profit schools steal precious tax dollars to pay off investors. Those resources belong in the classroom. The for-profit virtual schools get uniformly bad reviews from everyone but Wall Street.
Please stop talking about rewarding and punishing teachers. Teachers are professionals, not toddlers. Teachers don’t work harder for bonuses. The teachers I know want to teach, they’re not expecting to win a prize for producing higher scores.
Please withdraw your support from the failed effort to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students. The American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education issued a joint paper saying that such methods are inaccurate and unstable. Teachers get high ratings if they teach the easiest students, and low ratings if they teach the most challenging students.
Please stop closing schools and firing staffs because of low scores. Low scores are a reflection of high poverty, not an indicator of bad schools or bad teachers. Insist that schools enrolling large numbers of poor and minority students get the resources they need to succeed.
Please, President Obama, recognize that your policies are demoralizing teachers and undermining the public’s confidence in our schools. President Obama, we want to support you on November 6. Please give us reason to believe in you again.
I am a public school parent.