By Jeff Bryant
“It’s always hard to tell for sure exactly when a revolution starts,” wrote John Tierny in The Atlantic recently. “I’m not an expert on revolutions,” he continued, “but even I can see that a new one is taking shape in American K-12 public education.”
In the piece titled, “The Coming Revolution in Public Education,” Tierney pointed to a number of signs:
*Teachers refusing to give standardized tests, parents opting their kids out of tests, and students boycotting tests.
*Legislators reconsidering testing and expressing concerns about corruption in the testing industry.
*Voucher and other “choice” proposals being strongly contested and voted down in states that had been friendly to them.
Resistance is particularly vehement in low-income communities of color in large urban school districts where reform measures have lead to widespread teacher firings and school closings. In Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, Cleveland, and Detroit, vocal protestors have been organizing in their own communities but also uniting in national campaigns, such as this year’s Journey for Justice effort that brought hundreds of activists in allied grassroots organizations to the White House to protest school closings.
Unlike school reform proponents who benefit from massive donations from rich foundations and politically connected funders, grassroots groups leading the resistance – like the Alliance for Educational Justice and Alliance for Quality Education – have far humbler means and few connections to the political class and deep pocketed philanthropists like Bill Gates.