Education advocates to organize for public schools on the National Day of Action


by Colleen Flaherty

Across the country, from San Diego, Calif., to Providence, R.I., educators, parents, community organizations and students are planning to organize in their states as part of a National Day of Action. The events are focusing on improving public education—whether it’s through school funding or smaller class sizes—and community-led, student-centered solutions over top-down strategies that don’t benefit all students.

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In Boise, Idaho, advocates for great public schools will gather around the State Capitol in support of school funding. Karen Schow, a special education teacher in the Boise school district, will be there December 9th to represent her students.

“I’ve been teaching for 15 years, always special education, and I love it as much today as I did when I started,” said Schow. “Politicians are short-changing not just my special education students, but those across the state, and this is why I’m participating in the Day of Action.”

Thanks to sequestration and budget cuts, school budgets across the country are hurting. For Schow, those cuts are especially taxing as Idaho consistently ranks in the bottom five states when it comes to per pupil spending on K-12 education.

“While funding is not the only element necessary to create an effective learning environment, it has proved to be a critical determining factor,” said Schow.

In the elementary school where Schow teaches, she is the only special education teacher. Students rotate in and out of her classroom for small group instruction, and for some students, she needs to be available at any given moment should behavior issues arise.

“I only have one teaching assistant to help me support all those academic needs. I used to have two, but due to funding cuts, I was asked to scale back,” said Schow.

“Those cuts are actually harming my students. Students with special needs require small group instruction to help access the general education curriculum and be successful. Without the support of teaching assistants, my small groups become larger as the number of my caseload increases monthly.”

If you’re interested, join Karen and thousands of other activists as they organize for quality public schools:

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