WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of teachers, parents and concerned citizens today participated in nearly 4,000 “house parties” nationwide in grassroots effort to elevate the issue of public education in the current policy debate.
Evidence of this unprecedented mobilization effort could be found in every state. From a chapel in Maui, Hawaii to a brewery in Cape Cod, Mass. to bilingual homes in Miami, Fla. and San Antonio, Texas, concerned citizens met to discuss the successes, challenges and opportunities facing public education and how they can work together to create great public schools for every child.
“Republican or Democrat, people in our community are concerned about our children’s education and our future,” said William Innes, a teacher in Vallejo, Calif. who hosted a group of Republicans at his house. “The folks who met at my house believe the White House and Congress haven’t done enough for public education and that a good public education is a priority that transcends party lines.”
The gatherings were part of the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, organized by the National Education Association, Campaign for America’s Future, ACORN, MoveOn.org, NAACP National Voter Fund and U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute and 50 other groups.
“We are failing to provide too many children with the basics,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “Most Americans want greater investment in education so we can provide those basics even though Iraq and the economy have dominated the news.”
Discussion at the gatherings centered on key issues relating to public education. Among these are the lack of access to health care and early childhood programs, overcrowded classrooms, teachers being laid off or forced out of the profession, skyrocketing college costs and a federal education law that labels many public schools as failing without providing the resources needed to succeed.
Participants pledged to recruit a specific number of friends, family and colleagues to sign a petition calling for increases in federal education funding, to call their members of Congress next week to ask them to fully fund education, and to register to vote.
“It is time to come together for our children’s future,” said National Education Association president Reg Weaver. “Parents, teachers, students and concerned citizens from Alaska to Florida — Maine to Hawaii are mobilizing to meet the challenges of ensuring that every child in America has access to a great public school. Tonight is only the beginning.”
ACORN National President Maude Hurd hosted a house party with a group of people in Boston, Mass. who then attended a local school board hearing.
“Parents in Boston and all over the country are fighting to improve education and make every school a quality school,” said Hurd. “Parents shouldn’t have to fight over scraps because education dollars are shrinking. We must continue to work together and hold politicians accountable to ensure that every child gets a quality education.”
“Our schools continue to be shortchanged — billions of dollars promised to our kids were cut while local districts continue to be burdened with new costs,” added Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org. “The only way great public schools will become a real priority in Washington is when teachers, parents, students and concerned citizens join together to demand that empty rhetoric be replaced with results. We’re excited to be part of a movement to change America’s schools.”
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**NOTE: For more information about schools in a particular state and for congressional voting records, please visit www.GreatPublicSchools.org/states. Media representatives who would like a beta, DVD or VHS copy of the video shown at the education gatherings should contact Andrea Miller at email@example.com. For more information about the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, please contact Toby Chaudhuri at (202)955-5665, ext. 133.**