Educators rally in New York City

From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters

New York—More than 300 teachers—as well as education personnel, parents, students, and community leaders and supporters—from New York City and other parts of the tri-state area concerned about education inequalities rallied outside New York City’s City Hall.

In a “Take Back Our Schools” rally, we demanded that the new de Blasio administration put its money where its mouth was during the election by sharply curbing the use of charter schools, by turning back the corporatization of education that was begun by the Bloomberg administration, and by putting a halt to the use of standardized testing to evaluate school and teachers (see May-June 2014 N&L for details on recent protests against the standardized tests in New York).

The Pearson education testing machine was denounced by over 20 speakers, as was Governor Cuomo for his embrace of charter schools, the Common Core educational standards and teacher evaluations. A spokeswoman for noted educator Diane Ravitch read her statement that energized the crowd, where she denounced all that was wrong with the new corporate model of education and encouraged the crowd to fight for justice in education.

As Ravitch put it: “If you hate tests that make children cry, shout out loud, shout NO MORE! If you think that children spend too many hours getting tested, shout NO MORE! If you think that children should not be forced to spend six hours to take tests in reading and math, shout NO MORE! If you think that teachers should write their own tests, instead of Pearson getting $32 million to write lousy tests, shout NO MORE! If you hate the idea that the city has to pay rent for schools run by billionaires, shout NO MORE! If you think that charters should pay their own rent, shout NO MORE! If you think that co-locations are a terrible idea, shout NO MORE!”

Other speakers who were explicitly revolutionary attacked the very essence of the education system under capitalism and a representative of the New York Student Union also spoke. There was music and singing by the crowd and a lot of cheering. Following the rally, most of us marched to the New York City Department of Education.

—Retired Teacher, New York

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