|Conferees discuss post-march strategies at our Think/Do Tank Workshop|
Calling out Education Secretary Arne Duncan by name, Kozol lambasted current administration policies, especially the test-crazy No Child Left Behind and Duncan's Race To The Top. NCLB can't be "fixed" said Kozol, but should be abolished. Kozol said that racial segregation in the schools was worse now than at any time since the assassination of Dr. King in 1968.
"The politicians you've got to struggle with the most are the ones who act like your friends," said Kozol. They will pull you aside and tell you quietly that they support you and that they're working inside the administration to change things, but that they can't say so openly.
Kozol's warning was timely. The day before, when a small group of teachers went over to the Department of Ed to protest cuts in arts programs, staffers invited them in for a chat. They had a brief audience with Duncan, after which the DOE's Justin Hamilton issued a statement to the media saying they had a "useful" discussion with SOS marchers. Many people at the conference told me that they felt used and manipulated by the DOE statement. And when a similar invitation was issued yesterday by the White House, SOS leaders politely declined,, offering to meet only after thousands of teachers voiced their demands and their anger with the administration at Saturday's march.
"We didn't come all the way to Washington to have tea and cookies at the White House," a teacher from the west coast told me.
Martha Infante, a National Board Certified teacher from Southern California, tweeted from the conference:
The White House wants to meet w us? Thats great. Weve been pleading 4 a meeting for 2 years. Now, its time to march. Meet us at the ellipse.The SOS March Executive Committee issued this statement Thursday evening::
We sincerely appreciate the interest of the White House in the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. We'd be pleased to host any White House or Department of Education personnel on the Ellipse on Saturday so they can hear firsthand what teachers, students, parents and community members from around the country have to say about public education. Thousands of concerned citizens will be sharing their experiences and their thoughts on the future of our schools. July 30th is your opportunity to listen to us. After the March, we will be open to meeting with White House or Department of Education leaders to further discuss our specific proposals.Diane Ravitch will keynote this morning's session with what should be another barn-burner.