Monday, August 13, 2012

Today: Detroit Screening of "Inconvenient Truth Behind WFS" by Branch of National Education Freedom Ride Campaign

The meeting [with USDOE] started with stories from young people and parents of the impact of closings on their neighborhoods and children. Then we discussed the following [with reps from the USDOE]

    A moratorium on school closings around the country
    A Nullification of all decisions made to close schools during the past year
Note how people are zeroing in on school closings as the major instrument of ed deform. The actions of these groups led to a meeting with Arne's army. The same group is screening our movie tonight.
Hello and greetings from Detroit MI. We will be screening "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" next Monday, Aug 13 from 6-7 pm at the University of Michigan Detroit Center. Please let me know if you could briefly skype in following the screening to give us an update on NYC.

We would love for you to give us a brief 10-15 minute update on the state of affairs in NYC--what Bloomberg is up to for next year, what you have been doing on the ground with parents and students and teachers.

I am attaching the flyer for our event as well as the National Education Freedom Ride Campaign into Washington DC that we are launching this September with coalition cities to stop school closures and failed corporate reform policies in our cities (Chicago, NYC, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit, Newark, Washington DC, Atlanta, Wichita KS, Kansas City MO,...).
I don't have to tell Ed Notes readers how proud I am to have been part of GEM's Real Reform Studios team that produced "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" which some people have said is the best single response they've seen to ed deform. It has been shown all over the world (except the UFT) and Monday night's showing in Detroit is an exciting event. Some of us are gathering at the Real Reform Studio HQ in Williamsburg to work on our next film and also to attempt to skype right after the film showing is complete. Here is the flier.
Yes, the worm is turning against the ed deformers despite their tricks in producing films that manipulate the public. Waiting for Superman caused such a negative reaction that it made our film popular. The same will happen with the next iteration pushing the parent trigger. (See Substance story: (Won't back down...' is latest Hollywood addition to the 'Waiting for Superman' propaganda trail. Teacher bashing. Union busting. Privatization agenda again on display thanks to Hollywood moguls and brain-dead stars)

One of the exciting aspects of this event is the news in the attachment below of freedom rides recalling the civil rights struggle. Joel Klein used that expression time and again and it was working for awhile. Not people are waking up to the negative impact of ed deform on local communities and beginning to engage in a renewal of the civil rights struggle to battle ed deform. Imagine freedom rides into Washington and around the White House

Dear Supporter/Ally,

We thought you'd be interested in hearing what we've been up to for the last six weeks when many of us began talking to each other via conference call about the impact of school closings in our Cities.  The more we talked, the more we realized that what is devastating our cities individually is not isolated but the result of misguided federal policies supported by many claiming to be school "reformers".  As a result of our ongoing communication, young people, parent leaders, and organizers from seven cities met in Washington DC on July 9th and 10th.  We spent much of the day on the 9th hearing each other's stories, identifying common ground, grappling with federal and state policies, and preparing for a schedule meeting the next day with representatives of President Obama and the US DOE.

While more groups from more cities have been involved, in the room on this day were representatives from:
 [names of groups redacted] 
Leading up to this meeting was a press conference in Chicago on June 21st where we announced the filing of Title VI legal complaints from five cities.  The Title VI complaints allege that school closings are disparately impacting children of color and English Language Learners in our cities.  (see attached press from the event). The Office of Civil Rights of the US DOE is obligated to investigate the complaints in a timely manner.  

In response to our press conference, the US DOE reached out leading to the July 10th meeting with: 

    Russlyn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Civil Rights
    Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach
    and Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President on Education

The meeting started with stories from young people and parents of the impact of closings on their neighborhoods and children. Then we discussed the following

    A moratorium on school closings around the country
    A Nullification of all decisions made to close schools during the past year
    Their participation in a national listening tour organized by our groups
     National Hearings on the Impact of Federal Education Policies on our Communities
    Quick Investigation and resolution of our Title VI complaints (filed from Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Newark, NJ; New York City; and Washington, DC)
    Support for community schools model and sustainable school transformation
    A meeting with President Obama

While we don't expect that they will agree to all that we asked for, we are expecting more positive results. We are happy to report that already we have  won commitments to expedite the investigation of the Title VI complaints and to participate in grassroots impact tours that we will organize, culminating in federal hearings on the impact of school closings.

This is an extremely productive beginning but it is only a beginning.  We will continue the dialogue with the DOE and Domestic Policy Council staff while at the same time planning our next steps, including coordinated local actions in August and Freedom Rides to Washington, DC in September. 
Please know, we have done this work in these last weeks with little or no resources.  We are driven by our passion for our children, our schools, and our communities.  We need your help to lift up our message and ensure that this misguided policy that so negatively impacts our young people ends.  It must be replaced with sustainable models of school improvement that include our communities in their development.   

Please be in touch with any questions.  We'd welcome the chance to talk with you more about what we hope to achieve in the months ahead.

In struggle,

Ms. Maiyoua Vang
Ms. Helen Moore   



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