Friday, March 8, 2013


The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education, and endorse and rate candidates for office based on our principles and goals. More specifically, we will support candidates who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of its core functions to for-profit corporations, and we will support candidates who work for evidence-based reforms that will improve our schools and the education of our nation’s children.

Our public schools are at risk. As public awareness grows about the unfair attacks on public education, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens are organizing to protect our public schools.

Public education is an essential institution in a democratic society. We believe that we must stand together to resist any efforts to privatize it.

We must also stand together to oppose unsound policies that undermine the quality of education, like high-stakes testing and school closings.

High-stakes testing takes the joy out of learning. It crushes creativity and critical thinking, the very qualities our society needs most for success in the 21st century. High-stakes testing does not tell us whether and how well students are learning or teachers are teaching; it does waste precious time and resources.

No school was ever improved by closing it. Every community should have good public schools, and we believe that public officials have a solemn responsibility to improve public schools, not close or privatize them. 

·      President:  Diane Ravitch, America's most important educational historian, and a former Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Education
·      Secretary:  Robin Hiller, Executive Director of Voice for Education, who founded that organization as a parent to include the voices of parents in the making of policy, and who has extensive work experience in politics
·      Treasurer:  Anthony Cody, who taught science for 18 years in Oakland CA, served as an academic coach for other teachers, and is a regular blogger on education for Education Week / Teacher
·      Director: Phyllis Bush, a retired English teacher and grandmother who has become very involved in trying to protect Indiana public schools, and who wrote for an organization that played a major role in the upset election of a former teacher as Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction
·      Director: Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters and co-founder of Parents Across America
·      Director:  Julian Vasquez Heilig, a professor of education policy and other subjects at University of Texas, Austin, whose primary work considers the student achievement and progress in relation to accountability policies
·      Director: Larry Lee, whose last position before retiring was Director of the Center for Rural Alabama where he coordinated an extensive study of high-performing, high-poverty rural schools
·      Director: Renee Moore, who teaches English at Mississippi Delta Community College, who was that state's teacher of the year in 2001, and who serves on the Board of Directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

A couple of other notes.  I have prior connections and personal and professional relationships with a number of these people.  Anthony Cody was one of the organizers of the 2011 Save our Schools March and National Call to Action, as was I  (Phyllis Bush and Leonie Haimson both attended that event).  Renee Moore is a member of the Teacher Leaders Network, as am I, and she also attended the Save Our Schools March.  I have worked with Diane Ravitch on a number of issues, going back to interviewing her for a project in 2001, and including writing a review of her blockbuster book of a few years back. She was a key speaker at the Save Our Schools March.

This effort is unlike other efforts.  It is explicitly political, because politics is how educational policy is controlled.  In that sense even though a number of us have connections with Save Our Schools (which is an ongoing organization) we do not see this as being at cross-purposes.

I did say "we."  I am a contributing member and intend to help this group in any way I can.

People may not realize how much momentum there now is in pushing back at what has been happening to America's public schools.  Politically consider just the following recent events:

In November, in Indiana, Glenda Ritz, a 33 year teacher, defeated incumbent "reformer" Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, drawing more votes than did the incoming Governor.

This past Tuesday, in school board elections in Los Angeles, incumbent board member an former teacher Steve Zimmer held on to his seat despite millions dumped into the race on behalf of his opponent from the likes of News Corp, Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, and others  (Bloomberg gave $1 million to support the candidates of a coalition supporting the positions of the current superintendent, that coalition including Zimmer's opponent).  

And in a race for the school board West Sacramento, National Board Certified Teacher Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez won a hard-found election to fill a vacancy, beating a man who works for Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst.

Let me conclude by offering the text of the press release announcing the group, but removing the contact information -  you can go to the website to be in touch with the group, or if you are interested in getting very involved, contact me through kos mail and I will pass your information on to the appropriate people.

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