March 27, 2012
Contact Person: Sarah Johnson
Phone: (803) 920-4058, (843) 819-8933
Local Parent/Teacher Advocacy Group Welcomes US Secretary of Education to Town
Charleston, SC – Charleston Area Community Voice for Education, an affiliate of Parents Across America, extends a welcome to US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who will be participating in a local round-table discussion on educational reform and touring James Simons Elementary School on Friday. The advocacy group is excited that local leaders and educators will be participating in the event.
Sarah Shad Johnson, a parent of children in Charleston County Schools and co-founder of Community Voice, says, “The timing of Secretary Duncan’s visit comes at a critical time when our state legislators are discussing whether or not to support the adversarial Common Core State Standards, as well as bills regarding school choice, charter school expansion, and tax credits for private schools; our State Superintendent of Education seems to be embracing a controversial stand on the teaching profession; and the focus here in Charleston County appears to be only on experimental, questionable, and expensive initiatives, as opposed to goals of increased learning opportunities.”
Peter Smyth, a retired educator and administrator, and also a co-founder of Community Voice, says, “After a career in education and research into educational reform, I have come to these conclusions: while South Carolina Superintendent Zais has applied for a waiver to No Child Left Behind, his proposals reflect those of Secretary Duncan and the current and previous administrations, policies which have not achieved their goals and have made raising test scores and graduation rates, rather than meaningful learning, the default goals of American education. These are policies that are not found in any other high performing countries. To paraphrase another leader, the Duncan/Zais reforms are not the solution to the problems; they are the problem. I believe that teachers’ and parents’ seats at the table have been replaced by philanthropists, corporations, highly paid consultants, and politically-driven think tanks. Most importantly, I do not believe the current reforms bode well for my granddaughter, about to enter public school in Charleston.”
Secretary Duncan’s visit also coincides with an organized national demonstration at the US Department of Education in Washington, D.C., opposing Duncan’s educational reforms. Currently, there is significant national concern over the direction of Secretary Duncan’s leadership. With thousands of parents, educators, state legislators, school districts, and superintendents across the country protesting U.S. Department of Education policies, Community Voice is concerned about the pressure Duncan has placed on South Carolina, including a verbal lashing of state leaders who have considered dumping the Common Core State Standards.
Community Voice supports:
- effective reforms, such as reduced class size
- experienced teachers
- increased time for teacher professional development and planning
- relevant content supporting critical thinking
- sufficient and equitable funding
- diversity in schools
- appropriate use of technology
- meaningful parent involvement
Community Voice opposes:
- privatization of public schools
- punitive high-stakes standardized testing
- school closings
- ignoring the influence of poverty
Community Voice is committed to moving education forward rather than maintaining the status quo policies of the last ten years. For more information about Community Voice, contact (843) 819-8933 or CVedu20@gmail.com. For more information on Parents Across America, please visit www.parentsacrossamerica.org .