Quarter Million Outraged Parents, Teachers, Tell Bush To Fire Education Secretary

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of thousands of outraged parents, students and teachers across the country today called on President Bush to fire his Education Secretary, Roderick Paige, in a petition delivered to the White House. More than 250,000 people signed the petition organized by the Campaign for America’s Future to announce their outrage that the Bush Administration is attacking teachers instead of listening to them to ensure a high-quality public education. Paige’s comments that teachers are part of a “terrorist” group made petition signers so mad that they raised tens of thousands of dollars overnight to place ads at bus stops and subway platforms surrounding Paige’s office.

More than one-third of the petition signers identified themselves as parents. About one-quarter said they are teachers. In one night, these petitioners provided resources to pay to advertise their call for Paige’s dismissal. The first wave of ads are up all around the Department of Education’s Washington headquarters on New Jersey Ave., 12th Street and F Streets, 17th and H Streets and at the Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza and Union Station subway stations.

Institute for America’s Future President Robert Borosage noted that the Bush Administration is attacking teachers, even as the president breaks his own promise to fund the reforms, and presents a budget calling for cuts in future investments in education.

“People across the country are upset President Bush has broken his education promises. It is time to turn the Paige,” said Borosage. “At a time when our schools are dealing with the largest number of students ever, the Bush Administration is calling for education funding cuts across the board over the next five years. President Bush simply fails to deal with many of the large challenges this nation faces in educating the next generation.”

Petition organizers, overwhelmed by the public response to the petition drive, pledged to continue fighting to protect our nation’s children from the Bush Administration’s broken promises.

Sheri Ahl of Minneapolis, Minn. and Adam Howard of Lansing, Mich. both signed the petition noting that the Bush Administration inappropriately uses the war on terror for politics.

“The term ‘terrorists’ is not to be taken lightly in these times,” said Ahl. “I am greatly saddened that the Secretary of Education would resort to such labeling of those who have devoted their professional careers to helping leave no child behind.”

“This is so typical of the Bush administration,” said Howard. “Instead of addressing the concerns of the people affected by their education policy, it calls their patriotism into question.”

Michelle Beckwith of Columbus, Ohio is a teacher and also signed the petition. Beckwith felt personally attacked.

“I am a teacher. I am not a terrorist,” said Beckwith. “As educators, we try to do our best for our students. We need the support of our government and this shows that they are not behind us.”

Twelve state legislatures have passed legislation urging changes to the No Child Left Behind law after experiencing the law’s harmful impact. Nine other legislatures are considering similar legislation. Conservative Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature last March passed a resolution to repeal President Bush’s education reforms. Twenty-four states had bills in the past year before legislators urging changes to President Bush’s version of No Child Left Behind over the past year. The Bush Administration has not labeled these legislative bodies as “terrorist” groups.

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**NOTE: Media representatives interested in the bus stop and subways station education ads can see a copy online by clicking here **

PETITION SIGNERS
(state, signatures)

– Alabama: 822
– Kentucky: 2247
– North Dakota: 249

– Alaska: 754
– Louisiana: 1101
– Ohio: 8984

– Arizona: 4688
– Maine: 2365
– Oklahoma: 1313

– Arkansas: 887
– Maryland: 4463
– Oregon: 8253

– California: 53021
– Massachusetts: 11500
– Pennsylvania: 9081

– Colorado: 8349
– Michigan: 8070
– Rhode Island: 1101

– Connecticut: 4558
– Minnesota: 7153
– South Carolina: 1174

– Delaware: 592
– Mississippi: 360
– South Dakota: 331

– District of Columbia: 1413
– Missouri: 3815
– Tennessee: 2546

– Florida: 11022
– Montana: 999
– Texas: 11112

– Georgia: 3384
– Nebraska: 779
– Utah: 1278

– Hawaii: 1106
– Nevada: 1411
– Vermont: 2106

– Idaho: 1159
– New Hampshire: 1846
– Virginia: 4719

– Illinois: 11176
– New Jersey: 5918
– Washington: 11897

– Indiana: 3254
– New Mexico: 2968
– West Virginia: 800

– Iowa: 2176
– New York: 21862
– Wisconsin: 5583

– Kansas: 1848
– North Carolina: 4947
– Wyoming: 340

- View the complete list of petition signers here -

BUSH FLUNKS EDUCATION
AD SCRIPT

[IMAGE: Girl carefully writing "F" on a classroom chalk board.]

HEADLINE:
250,000 Tell Bush Team: You Flunk

TEXT:
Education Secretary Rod Paige said teachers who criticized the Administration are members of a “terrorist organization.”

These teachers asked President Bush to keep his promise and invest the $9 billion needed to leave no child behind.

The Secretary turned a deaf ear to their request and resorted to name-calling. Nearly a quarter of a million Americans responded and signed a petition demanding Paige be fired.

It’s time to turn the Paige.

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