By David Sheridan
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More than 200 communities across the nation will be participating in the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools National Day of Action on January 19. Local educators are organizing to show support for their students in a political climate where communities are increasingly anxious about the impact of the President-elect’s proposed policies on students, especially immigrant students and students of color.
Educators are using their voice at this critical moment to focus on issues that improve school climate and safety in their own schools and communities and call out the new Administration’s proposed corporate takeover of public schools.
In Los Angeles, at hundreds of schools, educators and their allies will gather in the morning holding up shields to say they will protect their students against the racist policies proposed by the President-elect during his campaign.
In Milwaukee, educators and their allies will be wearing Black Lives Matter T-Shirts and holding up shields that say “We Protect Our Students from Deportations” (or “Privatization”).
In Oakland, California, educators and their allies will carry signs proclaiming “We Demand: The Safe Schools All Of Our Children Deserve!”
“Our school board passed a safe schools resolution last month, affirming that all our schools must be safe places for immigrant and Muslim students as well as students of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientation,” says Trish Gorham, President of the Oakland Education Association. “We feel empowered.”
While some localities have chosen to highlight the need for full-funding for their schools, others our showing their support for the community schools model, which places the neighborhood public school at the center for community services and engagement.
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, for example, there will be ribbon cutting at Lynn Middle School, the first in the city to adopt the community school model. “It’s the first but we hope not the last,” says Mary Parr-Sanchez, vice president of NEA New Mexico. The six pillars of a community school will be prominently displayed at the ceremony:
- A culturally-relevant, engaging curricula
- High-quality teaching, not high-stakes testing
- Needed services provided to the people of community
- Restorative justice for students, not the school-to-prison pipeline
- Authentic parent and community engagement in the school
- Inclusive leadership.
NEA is a partner in the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), which is coordinating the January 19 National Day of Action.