Today, eighteen parent activists from across the nation sent a letter to Obama and the Congress, opposing his administration's wrong-headed, pro-privatization version of education reform, and calling for new priorities for our public schools, including more parent involvement and smaller classes.
As we wrote, "So far, the parent voice has been missing from the debate over education and is entirely absent from the top-down and often draconian proposals being put forward by the administration. We strongly believe that the Blueprint’s proposals would undermine rather than strengthen our public school system, particularly in the urban districts whose parents we represent. "
Read the full letter here, and the press release here. We also point out that Blueprint’s proposals represent large-scale experiments on our kids, and yet lack informed parental consent -- which would never be allowed in the field of medicine.
Incredibly, the only mention of the word "parents" in Duncan's entire "Blueprint" for the reauthorization of ESEA is that parents of American Indian children should have input as to the curriculum in their schools. No wonder that the US Department of Education's approval rating has dropped more sharply than any other government agency, according to the Pew Research Center.
The letter points out that "Education is a public trust and the very foundation of our democracy. We urge you to be wary of the influence of venture philanthropy on our public education system. We are well aware that powerful foundations -- such as those of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, and others – are shaping many of our federal and local education policies with dollars rather than evidence-based solutions."
We conclude our message to Congress this way: “You hold a great responsibility in your hands this year in reauthorizing the ESEA. ....We urge you to insist that the next version of the ESEA formally incorporates the views of public school parents as well. As highly knowledgeable primary stakeholders, we must be permitted to have a seat at the decision-making table."
For an article about our letter, check out Gotham Schools.