Jonathan Kozol was spot on. It is time for educators, parents, and young people to reclaim the “public” in public education and get off our knees. I’ve been enjoying reading his and teachers diaries about why they’ll march to Save Our Schools on July 30th in DC. I’ll be there too.
But I’m not going to DC for the march. I’m going for the messy work of organizing what comes after the march that will take place at the SOS Congress on July 31st at American University from 11am to 3pm EST.
We are right to make demands, to craft policy proposals, and to seek media attention. We need coherent narratives about the school to prison pipeline, the learning and teaching environments that grow curiosity, a connection to place, and meaningfully engage students in learning that matters.
But, I’m convinced nothing transformative will happen without building our collective capacity to collaborate and be strategic. When “we” don’t know who we are, what we stand for, and how we will move together, we just can’t get that far.
The Congress on Sunday offers a space to not just decry what is happening but to struggle for the possibility of what can. It is a place where egos, silos, and the influence of outsized foundations can take a seat and teachers, parents, and youth can set a direction. It won’t be perfect, because it will be real, alive, and participatory. It won’t have everyone represented who should be. It won’t solve everything. But perhaps it will get one leg out from kneeling, flexed, and ready to take on more weight. We can’t rise soon enough.