Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Parents for Public Schools (PPS) repeated

I put this up last week and am repeating it because some new visitors might not look at previous blogs. New PPS members are joining our newly formed LinkedIn/Google group and I want them to see this blog up front.

Years ago I met members of a school advocacy group and respected them as good, progressive advocates for public schools but I didn't really know their history. What I eventually learned deeply moved me. This organization is rooted in the courageous civil rights and social justice movement. In the sixties there was white flight to private schools to avoid the mixing of white with black students in the public schools. As schools were forced to integrate, a group of white families in Jackson, Mississippi decided to keep their children in the public schools and to support integrated public schools. And that's how Parents for Public Schools (PPS) was born.

I need to create some space after that last sentence. I need to reread it. Sometimes activist people of color, as I have been most of my adult life, tend to forget that there are strong and persistent allies, and we need to acknowledge, celebrate and support them. Our public schools were then, and continue to be, the one institution where democracy has a chance to be nurtured and developed. If we cull and separate the beautiful mix of students coming to our schools, we fertilize the seeds of elitism, classism and racism. Challenged as many of our public schools are, and tempting as other choices might be for some, we must create and support the public will to put the resources into our public school system to have world class classes and schools. We must have schools of excellence in every neighborhood, inner city and rural town rather than dangle a few choice exceptions to the many puzzled and beleaguered poor families...
My soap box is always close by.
Anyway, back to PPS: Parents for Public Schools continues to be a strong advocate for excellent public schools for all children. They just came out with a new website. Full disclosure: I'm on the national board and am one of the oldies in the banner picture. School children would look much better, certainly than this balding oldster, but I bow to the wisdom of the designers.
The PPS new web page says "You are plugging into an important resource for those who value public education and acknowledge its impact on the lives of children and our democracy."

I truly believe that organizations and networks such as these are extremely important and vital to the revitalization and salvation of our public schools. Families organizing, informing themselves and others, testifying, demanding and creating a public will for vibrant and excellent schools are the ones to keep the doors open. We educators are accused of having narrow, selfish goals and rarely show our numbers in the ballot box, and sometimes even vote against our own self interest!

If your community doesn't have a strong advocacy group for public schools, consider starting a Parents for Public Schools chapter.

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