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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Diane Ravitch's speech in absentia at the May 17 Take Back our Schools Rally

Diane wearing her BAT tee-shirt in rehab
There was a great rally at City Hall Park on May 17, organized by SOS Our Schools, with numerous wonderful speakers from the Tri-state area.  But the biggest thrill for me was getting to read Diane Ravitch's speech, who could not attend because she is in rehab after knee surgery.  Here is her speech.  Thank you Diane, our Superwoman, our inspiration, and our patron saint, for allowing me to speak your words.

Thank you, Leonie, for agreeing to deliver this message on my behalf.
There is only one thing that could keep me from being with you today, and that one thing is surgery. And that one thing happened. I had major knee replacement on May 9, and I am rehab right now. Actually, I am not so far away---maybe a mile away—so if you make enough noise, I will hear you.

Try it: if you hate tests that make children cry, shout out loud, shout NO MORE!
If you think that children spend too many hours getting tested, shout NO MORE!
If you think that children should not be forced to spend taking six hours to take tests in reading and math, shout NO MORE!

If you think that teachers should write their own tests, instead of Pearson getting $32 million to write lousy tests, shout NO MORE!
If you hate the idea that the city has to pay rent for schools run by billionaires, shout NO MORE!
If you think that charters should pay their own rent, shout NO MORE!
If you think that co-locations are a terrible idea, shout NO MORE!
Me trying to do justice to Diane's words
If you hate the idea that teachers are judged by the test scores of their students, shout NO MORE!
If you think that Pearson and Google and other corporations should stop data mining our children and invading their privacy, shout NO MORE!
If you think that your child is a child, not a data point, shout NO MORE!
If you care more about your child’s health and happiness than their test scores, shout NO MORE!
Thank you, I heard you, I was listening and I heard you.

We know what the billionaires, the hedge fund managers, Bill Gates,  DFER and Governor Cuomo want for our children. They want them in boot camps where they are tested nonstop. They want our teachers harassed until they quit and are replaced by TFA. They want us to give up on public education and allow them to monetize our schools and our children.
Do you want this to happen? NO MORE! NO MORE!

Let’s talk about what we want for our children and our grandchildren.
We want them to have the same things that Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg and the hedge fund managers want for their children.
We want small classes.
We want experienced and respected teachers.
We want medical services available for all children whenever they need it.
We want libraries with librarians.
We want counselors and social workers and psychologists.
We want classes in the arts. We want a school band with instruments and beautiful uniforms. We want a chorus with a musical director. We want teachers of music and art and video production and graphics.
We want our kids to have foreign languages and history and civics and the sciences.
We want well-equipped laboratories with the latest technology.
We want physical education for our kids, not once or twice a week but every day.

We want our kids to grow up healthy and happy.
We want an end to homelessness and hunger.
We want an end to poverty.
We want a fair tax code that reduces the shameful inequality that now blights our nation.
We want to be #1 in the world in child health and well-being, not #1 among the advanced nations of the world in child poverty.
We want to be a nation where no child grows up without a home, without a safe neighborhood, and without economic security.

We want schools where children are loved, regardless of who they are or what their condition.
We want schools where every child has the chance to develop their talents and hopes and dreams without being labeled by a test score.
We want to enrich our children, not the test-makers.
We want teachers who are well-prepared and who choose teaching as their career, not a resume builder.
We want the American Dream to come true for every child.
We want good schools for all children.

We will not rest, we will not tarry, we will not be satisfied, until we stop the corporate attack on our public schools. We will not let hedge fund managers turn our public schools into their profit centers. We will not forgive Governor Cuomo for handing out special privileges to the charter school billionaires who fund his campaign.
We will not rest until we provide equality of educational opportunity for all our children.

Is this what you want? Shout YES!
Shout it loud one more time and I will hear you: YES.
Thank you for helping me recover.
Thank you for fighting not just for your child, but for all our children.
Parents and educators together. We are many. We will not be defeated. We will prevail.
Thank you and God bless you all.

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