Education International
Education International

USA: Teachers, students and parents stage massive walk-ins for public schools

published 24 February 2016 updated 19 May 2016

Teachers across the US “reclaimed” their public schools in a mass coordinated mobilisation to throw the spotlight on the challenges facing public education and solutions needed to address them.

In 900 schools in 30 cities teachers were joined by students and parents in “walk-ins for the schools all our children deserve” to “reclaim our schools”.

On 17 February, US education unions coordinated walk-ins across the country, which were promoted by both national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) The two Education International (EI) affiliates organised the event through their coalition, the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.

This alliance also includes parents, youth, and community organisations who band together for educational justice and equity, particularly in schools serving low-income and working-class communities.

It aims at bringing national attention to challenges facing public education and, equally important, to the community generated, community backed solutions and supports needed to create quality schools.

NEA: No apology

“We are here today to say, we will not apologise for standing up for the needs of our students, our members, communities, and public schools,” NEA Vice President Becky Pringle told educators, parents, school administrators, and community leaders In Paterson. “We will not allow our schools to be underfunded, over-tested, and overlooked.”

She added that the NEA does not tolerate a system of public education “predicated on the false choice between delivering on the promise of a great education to the chosen few, or to none at all”.

AFT: Collective action

“All across the country, people are speaking up for racial and economic justice; and a high-quality public education is key to both of those goals,” saidAFT President Randi Weingarten while participating in the walk-in at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles.

The AFT demands that policymakers invest in public education, as well as rich curricula, programmes that support the whole student, multiple pathways to college and career, and a fair wage and voice on the job for educators and staff, she underlined.

AFT school walk-ins in Boston: