ACEI's President Attends Inspirational March
ACEI President Dr. Debora Wisneski attended the Save Our Schools march in Washington, D.C., this past July. This march was a call to action from the campaign Save Our Schools. Save Our Schools is a newly formed campaign that offers an opportunity for the voices of children and teachers to be heard in school reform efforts and policy making. Here are some comments from her attendance at this inspirational event. This event reminds us that we must step forward and stand together as advocates for teachers and children. We hope you will visit the Save Our Schools website and join in this worthwhile effort.
On July 30th 2011, I attended the Save Our Schools march held in Washington D.C. Earlier in July, ACEI's Executive Board chose to endorse the march in order to call awareness to the struggles of public education in the United States. The guiding principles of the Save Our Schools Campaign are stated as: equitable funding for all public school communities; an end to high-stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation; teacher, family, and community leadership in forming public education policies; and curriculum developed for and by local school communities. (http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/about/guiding-principles/)
ACEI has supported these very ideas in the past through our publications, position statements, and papers. For example, ACEI has called for a moratorium on high-stakes standardized testing in the primary grades and supported more authentic forms of evaluation that focus on children's strengths and learning in our "On Standardized Testing" position papers published in 1991 and 2007. Also, in 2006, on Human Rights Day, ACEI put forth a statement proclaiming that "ACEI works diligently to promote free and equal public education for all children worldwide."
The march reminded me of a description of one of ACEI's early leaders, Ella Victoria Dobbs, an educator and suffragist during the early 20th century: "She realized that regardless of how devoted a teacher might be to her calling, she was also an adult in a world of adults as well as of children; as such she must carry the responsibilities of citizenship; moreover, unless she did so, the best interests of children would not be served. Nothing could be ignored; everything that happened in the world affected children. The voice of the teacher must be heard." (Agnes Snyder, 1972, p. 283.)
The Save Our Schools march was a gathering of citizens, predominantly teachers, from all over the United States, who realized that the current policies and laws have not considered the voice of the teacher or the child; and thus, these policies and laws are having a negative effect on children's learning. The speeches, songs, and poetry shared by educators that day were heartfelt and deeply thought-provoking. Videos of many of the highlighted speakers—such as Texas school superintendent John Kuhn, teacher-poet Taylor Mali, Jonathan Kozol, Diane Ravitch, and Matt Damon—can be found on the Internet, allowing you to get a feel for the spirit and message of the event. What you may not get to view, though, are the thousands of teachers and parents greeting each other with smiles and shouts of support. You might not see the small groups of teachers meeting for the first time and telling stories of how their classroom experiences have been shaped by the current policies and laws. Furthermore, you may not have read in the media how teachers expressed a positive image of education for their students: images of positive relationships with families and communities, of creative classroom endeavors, of artistic forms of learning and being, and of engaged participation in the democratic processes of their communities.
The march was not a culmination of efforts to work for an equitable public schools; it actually was the beginning of an effort for educators to collaborate on ways to keep public education "in the hands of the public." On August 21, 2011, an interim steering committee for the Save Our Schools movement met to begin to develop and grow this grassroots movement.
It was an honor to represent ACEI during the march and as President of ACEI, I will continue to bear witness to the stories of teachers and children who deserve to be active participants in their own teaching and learning.
Following the inspiration of our former ACEI leaders, such as Ella Victoria Dobbs, I ask that every ACEI member reconsider how he or she engages in his or her responsibilities as a citizen within one's own nation and as a citizen of the world. I believe through our unity as educators with a global perspective, we can come together in many ways to work for the positive development of children in order to work for a better, more peaceful world.
Global Partnership on
Children With Disabilites
advancing the rights of
children with disabilities
Multicultural Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom