Education International
Education International

USA: Educators renew their defence of public education

published 24 July 2013 updated 25 July 2013

The 2013 American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) TEACH Conference is focusing on what it will take to reclaim the promise of public education so that all children can succeed. The event is bringing together more than 2,000 educators, union leaders, administrators, activists, and civic and community leaders from 22-24 July in Washington, D.C.

All children must have the same learning opportunity

“We believe in public education because it is the means by which we help all children dream their dreams and achieve them,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten in her remarks at the conference on 22 July. “And that means all children—those who have abundant advantages, and those for whom every day is a struggle; those who worry about getting into a good college, and those who worry about their parents getting deported.

“Reclaiming the promise of public education is about fighting for neighbourhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning. Reclaiming the promise is about ensuring that teachers are well-prepared, are supported and have time to collaborate. Reclaiming the promise is about enabling them to teach an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and the sciences. Reclaiming the promise is about ensuring that kids have access to wraparound services to meet their emotional, social and health needs. This vision may look different in different communities, but it has a few common elements. Reclaiming the promise will bring back the joy of teaching and learning. It’s the way to make every public school a place where parents want to send their kids, teachers want to teach, and children are engaged.”

Weingarten also stressed that the AFT released a poll of parents about many of the issues in her speech today. The poll found that parents want strong neighbourhood public schools as opposed to more charter schools or voucher programmes. And parents overwhelmingly believe public schools should provide a well-rounded education, offer social services for students, and reduce the emphasis on testing, among other findings.

EI: Quality and equality in education crucial

“It is indeed crucial that we reclaim the promise of public education and help all children succeed,” agreed EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “This is why EI will launch on 4 October an initiative under the banner “Better Quality Education for a Better World,” aiming at mobilising for quality education. Quality and equality in access to education are intertwined and cannot be separated.”

You can join the AFT in Reclaiming the Promise by clicking here