Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Nation March Saturday Focuses on Education, Jobs

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By Cynthia McCabe

Soccer practice can wait. The leaves will be there next weekend for raking. Everything can be put on hold for a day to march on Washington on behalf of the new civil rights movement — jobs and education for all.

Tens of thousands are expected to converge on the National Mall Saturday for the One Nation Working Together march.

The event is organized by a broad coalition of more than 170 civil rights, labor and education groups, including the National Education Association. Standing side-by-side, participants will conduct a major demonstration of grassroots support for equal opportunity and justice for all — tenets that include access to a secure job, a safe home and a quality education.

Who are these activists taking such a public stand? Must be all uber-liberals right? Not at all. From the One Nation website: “We are conservatives and moderates, progressives and liberals, non-believers and people of deep faith, united by escalating assaults on our reason, our environment, and our rights.”

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel will stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and address the crowd, talking about the basic human right of a great public education for all students. NEA’s work to close achievement gaps, ensure ethnic minority and low-income communities have access to a quality public education and to make college affordable for all, puts the Association at the crux of the march’s goal to bring about social justice.

“It’s time for this nation to get its priorities straight and invest in our most valuable resource—our people,” Van Roekel said. “NEA is proud to be standing with our brothers and sisters in the labor and social justice movement to remind the nation, especially our lawmakers, that economic opportunity and social justice are more than noble ideals—they’re basic rights of every American.” (Read the full statement on the One Nation march from Van Roekel.)

Demonstrating that their work goes beyond words, NEA member educators, support professionals and leaders from across the country will be in the crowd encouraging people to sign up to aid in the NEA Priority Schools Campaign, which seeks to turn around lower-performing schools. Working with stakeholders in the community, the Priority Schools Campaign aims to reform schools in a way that will improve the lives of tens of thousands of students by significantly raising academic achievement.

That means working side-by-side with communities and with policymakers in state capitals, in Congress and the Obama administration; to partner in pursuit of innovative programs to measure student success and teacher quality; and to fight to attract and keep the best educators and necessary resources for the schools of greatest need.

Which is why those NEA members are coming to the front yard of Congress and the White House Saturday, demonstrating that they are heavily invested in the coming midterm elections and will work tirelessly to elect pro-public education candidates who will help realize that vision.

After the rally has entered the history books and they’ve headed home, NEA activists will carry forth its message of activism using EducationVotes and supporting pro-public education candidates at NEAFund.org.

Check back Monday for neatoday.org’s on-scene coverage of the march.

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