(Note: this isn’t my second travel blog…it’ll come soon!)
What does SOS stand for? Save our souls? Secretary of State? A song by ABBA? The Morse code distress signal?
Or maybe “Save Our Schools?”
Last weekend, I got to attend the Save Our Schools Rally and March in Washington DC, in support of public schools, teachers, and fair education funding. It was one of the best political experiences I’ve ever had – so many passionate people all brought together for one cause that EVERYONE should care about, and many great speeches, including JONATHAN KOZOL!
The rally and march were actually part of a 4 day event to draw attention to the inequalities and problems in American public schools and the need for more support and more equitable/fair funding for them. The conference began Thursday, and the rally/march (both of which were designed to pull in several thousand people) was held on Saturday. The rally was supposed to start at noon, but it was already in full force by the time I got there around 11.
The main reason I wanted to come was because of the speakers. In Education Politics this semester, we read The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, by Jonathan Kozol, which is an eye opening description of the state of American public schools. I loved Kozol’s writing and was outraged by what I had learned in it (not to mention the research I’ve done on American public school resegregation for Education Politics and Constitutional Law this past semester). This summer, I read more of Kozol’s work and have spent each trip to The Book Thing scouring the shelves for more of his books.
And then a week ago I was outside the Mattin Center on campus, and saw a flyer advertising some event with a bunch of speakers, including Jonathan Kozol. I looked up the event, saw it was about supporting public schools (something I’d already cared about, but even more so after this past semester).
Then it was last Saturday, in front of the Ellipse, in between the White House and the Washington Monument in Washington DC. Speaker after speaker, inspiration after inspiration, and so much admiration for what all these people had done. Another fun fact: when you have a rally full of teachers and people who care about education, you don’t have signs with grammar and spelling errors!
Jonathan Kozol, spoke of course, as did Diane Ravitch, the author of The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America; Pedro Noguera, who teaches at NYU and who I actually heard speak during spring break at UVA; Jose Vilson, Jon Stewart (via a pre-recorded jumbotron message), and Matt Damon, who was introduced by his mother, Nancy Carlsson-Paige.
All in all, it was an amazing experience, and something that’s just confirming my decision to focus on education!