Teachers March on Washington,
Demanding 'Save Our Schools!'
By Michael Alison Chandler and Sarah Khan
Progressive America Rising via WashPost
July 30, 2011 - There are many reasons thousands of teachers traveled across the country to protest in front of the White House on Saturday — including to oppose charter schools, to fight for equal funding for poor schools, and to have more say in public education policies.
But at a noisy rally starting at noon under soaring temperatures, their message boiled down to one point, which was summed up by the sound check before the first speaker took the stage:
Tap. Tap. “No testing, no testing, 1-2-3.”
The assembled teachers, education advocates and parents vented a frustration they said has been building since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, which made standardized testing the centerpiece of a school reform agenda championed by George W. Bush.
With the election of Barack Obama in 2008, many thought their long-standing complaints, about how the policy has imposed unfair penalties on the poorest schools and how it has narrowed curriculum to make time for test preparation, would finally be heard.
But three years later, the law is still intact, more schools are being labeled as failing, and standardized tests are starting to be used to make teacher tenure and termination decisions.
“We had reason to believe from his campaign promises that Obama was going to reverse the damage that this law has caused,” said Jonathan Kozol, a public education activist and author. “He has betrayed us. . . . That’s why we are here today.”
And so about 5,000 people, according to the organizers’ estimates, stood on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument and waved posters that read “Boycott NCLB” and “Teach Me, Don’t Just Test Me.”