Today, August 3, is the National Day of Resistance by the Demand Safe Schools Coalition. This coalition, a nationwide partnership between community advocacy groups and educator unions, has "come together to unite students, educators, parents and community to advance a racial justice agenda in public education, in particular by organizing for police-free schools. We’re working to galvanize a strong and growing student/educator/parent/community voice; a voice that says the government must go much further to provide the resources to ensure a safe and equitable school reopening and must provide for our communities and working families through transformational Common Good demands."
At Schott we've long held up the importance of cross-sector organizing and collaboration as the key to winning large-scale systemic change to improve public schools. In April 2018, in what would become the opening phases of more than a year of teacher strikes, Schott released Keeping Students First: Building Community Labor Partnerships for Strong Schools. In partnership with Building Movement Project we looked at three cities — Chicago, St. Paul, and Austin — to examine lessons learned from the successful community-labor coordination. The report also provides concrete ways advocates can start building these partnerships in their own cities.
Coalition members released 8 demands for today's Day of Resistance, the result of extensive discussion and deliberation among stakeholders:
- No reopening until the scientific data supports it
- Police-free schools
- All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses and community/parent outreach workers
- Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols Equitable access to online learning
- Support for our communities and families, including canceling rents and mortgages, a moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs
- Moratorium on new charter or voucher programs and standardized testing
- Massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing billionaires and Wall Street
- Equitable access to online learning
This is a pivotal moment for communities and the public schools that serve them. Only by working together can we both tackle the present COVID-19 crisis and the long-standing problems of overpolicing, inequity and racism affecting our public education system.
Actions today are taking place at three dozen locations across the country: find one near you and join up!