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Across America, thousands stand up for public schools

Paterson, New Jersey
Matthew Stagliano, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA.)

 Commentary:  Today, community leaders, parents, students, and educators “walked in” to more than 900 schools in more than 30 cities as part of the nationwide walk-in movement organized by the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools (AROS), of which the National Education Association is a partner. Parents, educators, and students gathered in front of their schools before the beginning of the school day for rallies in support of the public schools all our children deserve. Following the rallies, participants symbolically walked into school buildings to claim the campuses as an integral part of their communities.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle spoke to over 100 hundred supporters attending a walk-in at John F. Kennedy Educational Complex in Paterson, New Jersey. “We know what can happen when students have the opportunity to learn in environments that are safe, adequately funded, inspiring, and positioned to help them reach their full potential,” Pringle said. “We are here today to say, we will not apologize for standing up for the needs of our students, our members, communities, and public schools. We will not allow our schools to be underfunded, over tested, and overlooked. We will not tolerate a system of public education predicated on the false choice between delivering on the promise of a great education to the chosen few, or to none at all.”

Walk-ins in dozens of cities delivered the message that public schools are the best places to inspire students’ natural curiosity, imagination, and desire to learn, and to provide the tools, time, and support that all students deserve. However, schools can only provide these resources when there is parent involvement in planning and decision-making, and with the funding and resources to deliver relevant and challenging curricula; emphasize high-quality learning rather than constant high-stakes testing; provide more one-on-one instruction;, and offer critical support services such as health care.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the 3 million member educators of America’s largest labor union,” said AROS Director Keron Blair. “At a time when it is a radical act to merely declare that all students, regardless of ZIP code, deserve a strong public school in their neighborhood, we’re proud to have the professionals who know the names of those students walking in with us in our communities.”

AROS is a national alliance of parent, youth and community organizations, and labor groups, including NEA, fighting for educational justice and equity in access to school resources and opportunities. NEA affiliates in 21 cities participated in the walk-in action, including hundreds of schools in Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Newark, Seattle, Milwaukee, and San Diego.

Leaders from NEA, AROS, and local actions are available for further comment and interviews. For more information, contact Richard Allen Smith, NEA Communications, or visitreclaimourschools.org.