Parents, teachers, and students took part in rallies and "walk-ins" across the country on Wednesday, seeking to "reclaim" U.S. public schools from the grips of corporate reformers and privatization schemes.
The coordinated actions are the second national event organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), a coalition that includes the American Federation of Teachers, the Journey for Justice Alliance, and the Center for Popular Democracy, among other organizations and unions.
"As public schools are increasingly threatened by a view of education that supports privatization, zero-tolerance discipline policies, less funding, and high-stakes standardized tests, AROS is fighting back with a broad vision of American public education that prioritizes racial justice, equity and well-resourced, world-class, public community schools," the group wrote in a call-to-action.
In February, the first national "walk-in" day attracted more than 40,000 people in 33 cities, who rallied and strategized outside school buildings before making a collective entrance.
At least 75 cities and counties were signed up to participate on Wednesday.
Students at more than 40 Boston Public Schools, for example, "walked in" on Wednesday morning—a tactic that AROS organizers describe (pdf) as "a positive action that says that these are our schools and our communities."
— AFT (@AFTunion) May 4, 2016
According to Boston.com:
The Boston Teachers Union helped to coordinate the local movement. Each school will carry out the walk-in differently, but the union’s president, Richard Stutman, said those who participate will highlight concerns over school budgets, the growth of charter schools, and an overall lack of resources in public schools.
“We’re very hopeful we will continue a national drive to focus attention on public schools,” Stutman said. “That might seem nebulous, but we’re at a pivotal moment right now with charter schools and budgetary concerns locally, and we don’t feel like we’re getting a lot of support from local leaders.”
Meanwhile, more than 100 students, teachers, parents and administrators gathered in front of Pottstown High School in Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning for a rally focused on budget cuts.
The Pottstown Mercury reported:
Elisabeth Yoder, president of the Federation of Pottstown Teachers, said public schools are a force for “racial and economic justice” and they are undermined by Pennsylvania’s school funding system, “which has the widest gap between adequately funded public schools and underfunded public schools in the United States.”
“And the only way it will change is if we make it happen together,” said Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, who led the crowd in chants of “We Are ... POTTSTOWN.”
And in Los Angeles—where charter school parents went so far as to pen an open letter in advance asking for the United Teachers Los Angeles union to stop the demonstrations—families and educators marched and rallied with signs calling for smaller classes and "teaching not testing."
— LAANE (@LAANE) May 4, 2016
— AFT (@AFTunion) February 17, 2016
— CA Teachers Assoc. (@WeAreCTA) May 4, 2016
Other actions took place in locales as far flung as Arkansas, Florida, Wisconsin, and Colorado. Follow #ReclaimOurSchools on Twitter: