Public Education Partners (PEP) presented a long awaited education conference focused on what’s happening in public education in Ohio. It was appropriately called PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS, because to most Ohioans, it really does.
SO… what is happening in public education in Ohio?
Ohio’s governor and his legislature have been vigilant in implementing a privatization agenda, which includes drastic budget cuts, unfunded mandates, expansion of school vouchers and unaccountable charters, and high-stakes testing used to grade schools and their teachers. Children have become guinea pigs for poorly developed “educational reform” legislation that’s geared towards replacing traditional public school systems with charter schools.
A grassroots movement has developed throughout the state with people who’ve come together to raise awareness of what’s at stake. PEP’s statewide education summit featured Innovation Ohio’s Stephen Dyer and Miami County Educational Service Center’s Supt. Tom Dunn, as well as several breakout sessions focused on organizing the growing network of public education supporters around Ohio.
One hundred people came out on a beautiful Saturday to become engaged and inspired about public education activism.
Planning the conference became a team effort by PEP’s board members, who brainstormed ideas for breakout sessions and then contacted talented activists to present on those topics. They invited Steve Dyer and Tom Dunn to speak and asked a local school district for a venue. The group advertised through Facebook and Twitter, set up an Eventbrite registration, and received excellent exposure from Diane Ravitch on her blog and from David DeWitt, a gifted writer at Plunderbund.
Because of the tireless efforts of so many volunteers, PEP’s summit was a huge success!
Members of Public Education Partners have been contacted by other public education advocacy groups concerning the fine points of attracting a wide audience to a pro-public education summit. PEP advises people to remember the James Earl Jones quote from the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams,” and follow the notion that if you build it, they will come. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/284084-ray-people-will-come-ray-they-ll-come-to-iowa-for
People will come. They’ll come to a summit called PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn into Sells Middle School driveway in Dublin not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at Door #10 as innocent as children, longing for the past.
“Of course, we won’t mind if you join us,” you’ll say, “It’s only $15 per person.” They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk over to those round cafeteria stools to sit in wonder on a perfect day. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the cafeteria tables, like where they sat when they were children and ate their lunches.
And they’ll watch the speakers and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.
People will come. The one constant through all the years has been public education. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But public schools have marked the time.
This school, this public education: it’s slowly becoming a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.
Oh…people will come. People will most definitely come.
We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together we will save PUBLIC EDUCATION.