Washington—AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement of support for actions in Chicago and across the country by parents, teachers, students and community partners to save and strengthen public education. The actions are occurring between May 17 and May 22 in Boston; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Hillsborough County, Fla.; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Newark, N.J.; New Britain, Conn.; New Orleans; New York City; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and St. Paul, Minn. These actions will range from bus tours and media events highlighting the devastating impact of school closings on communities, to rallies and marches to stop crippling budget cuts, to community meetings around what communities want for their schools.
"The AFT stands with the growing number of parents, teachers and students in Chicago and across the nation uniting to save public education and ensure every child is able to reach his or her dreams. The reckless policy of mass closings, mass firings, mass testing, mass privatization and mass budget cuts is destroying our public schools and hurting our children. These policies have failed to improve teaching and learning, and disregard what teachers, students and parents want for their schools. And these top-down dictates ignore the startling fact that half of our public schoolchildren are now poor.
"As thousands of Chicagoans march across their city this weekend to save public education and stop the powers that be from mass closing 54 schools, students, teachers, parents, clergy and community leaders in more than a dozen cities will stage rallies, actions, marches and community meetings to protect and strengthen their public schools and their communities.
"We know that real reform comes not from the top down but from the bottom up, with teachers, parents, students and those closest to the classroom having a voice in strengthening our schools. Real reform means ensuring all kids have qualified teachers and principals, and an engaged and enriching curriculum including science, the social sciences, art and music. It means expanding wraparound services to ensure we level the playing field and address social, health and emotional issues and poverty, and creating safe, collaborative environments for students and teachers. That is what children, teachers and parents need and deserve, and that's how we can make every school a place where parents want to send their kids, where teachers want to teach and where students thrive."