On Saturday June 8, my family went to the One Voice United Rally for public education in New York.
I was a student in the public schools of New York and so was TechyDad. I have spent some time teaching in the public schools of New York. These days, I am a mother of two boys in a public school in New York. The high stakes testing and curriculum manipulation that results in teaching to the tests has gone too far. The rally was a time for teachers and parents to come together to say enough is enough.
NYSUT was coordinating the rally where bus loads of people were coming into Albany from throughout New York. Seeing the streets lined with school and charter buses filled with people marching onto the Empire State Plaza by the State Capitol Building took my breath away. We were all there for the same reason – children.
Some may question why TechyDad and I took the boys to the rally. In my mind, it was an educational experience. NHL and JSL were going with us to the State Capitol and they saw history taking place. Of course, they also saw all of their teachers and their parents together. All of the boys’ main teachers were at the rally. The kids saw their teachers and colleagues, along with other families from our school together. Estimates also say the rally drew close to 20,000 supporters all there in the name of children and their right to learn, be creative, and not be taught simply for high stakes testing.
I am still digesting the experience because it truly was powerful. Listening to Albany High School teacher Jeremy Dudley perform “Stop this Madness” completely rocked the crowed to the core. My kids are still chanting the key words (sorry to their teachers).
17 year old Nikhil Goyal, a recent high school graduate from Syoset, New York talked to everyone at the rally. He is the author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School. He pointed to the need for students to join the fight for their education. Next year, he plans on rallying them to stand up for a world beyond No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. In his words we need to stop the “drill, kill, bubble fill” generation of students.
Then, Tom Chapin filled me with even more memories that will last. I watched as teachers laughed at his “Not on the Test” song. The biting words in the song that I shared the other day really do say a lot. Then, he introduced a new song that he wrote. “One Voice” brought tears to my eyes. I watched as two of my sons’ teachers linked arms to sway and sing together. I listened to my boys utter the words in unison with the giant crowd. I do hope this song will be shared for others to hear as well.
Thank you to everyone that worked on making this rally happen and to all those that showed up and stood on the Plaza in the name of the children of New York State. This is just the beginning of the public school movement, but it was a truly inspiring experience. More will be coming on this topic soon.