CPS in Action

Citizens for Public Schools members keep our ears to the ground, always looking for opportunities to connect with new audiences and speak out about policies that threaten our schools. In recent months, we have been active around Massachusetts, leading a teach-in on school privatization at Occupy Boston, joining in a demonstration against Michelle Rhee’s policies, and attending several public forums held by Stand for Children to promote their “pig in a poke” ballot question.  

CPS at Occupy Boston

CPS's Ann O'Halloran at the Occupy Boston teach-in. (Photos by Larry Aaronson)


Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has described how the oligarchy uses education “reform” to deflect attention from the real causes of income inequality. In a New York Times op-ed, he wrote, “Pundits try to put a more benign face on [inequality], claiming that it’s not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it’s the educated versus the less educated.”

CPS members see the way “reform” often translates into privatization schemes that benefit the wealthy while doing little to improve public education or address inequality. So when the indefatigable CPS Vice President and Organizer Ann O’Halloran heard that Occupy Boston had regular teach-ins on a range of issues, she realized it was a good opportunity to make the links between Occupy’s issues and the threat posed by privatization to public education.

On a balmy Monday in November, CPS joined the Occupiers at Dewey Square. Executive Director Marilyn Segal introduced the teach-in and Ann spoke about Boston’s special role in the history of public schooling, the way the corporate agenda is eroding the quality of our schools and the efforts of Billionaire Boys Clubbers like Bill Gates, Bill Walton and the Koch Brothers to impose their corporate solutions on public schools and teachers. Click here to read her Occupy Boston comments.


A message to Michelle Rhee from students at the Symphony Hall protest.

Protesting Michelle Rhee at Symphony Hall

CPS reacted with shock and outrage when we learned that the WGBH Speakers Series included former Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee on its program. WGBH described Rhee as “an outspoken advocate of school reform,” but we know her as a leader who disrespected teachers and parents and became a national spokeswoman for the free-market approach to dismantling public education. Given that Rhee represents one extreme and controversial position in the national education debate, CPS strongly urged WGBH to include another point of view in its series, to provide the balance that its listeners have come to expect.

CPS members weren’t alone in our outrage. On Nov. 9, we joined members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Boston Teachers Union, the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice and others, in picketing the entrance to Symphony Hall, where Rhee was about to speak. To read the letter CPS wrote to WGBH and the sponsors of the series, click here.


Is Stand for Children's initiative petition a pig in a poke?

Leafletting Stand for Children “Town Hall Meetings”

Stand for Children has reached into its corporate-funded deep pockets to pay signature collectors and buy support for its ill-advised and unneeded teacher evaluation ballot question. In mid-November, when Stand held a series of “town hall meetings” in Arlington and Framingham, CPS was there with a flyer entitled, “Why is Stand Selling Voters a Pig in a Poke?” (To read the flyer, click here.) The big surprise was not Stand’s misleading and disingenuous presentation of their ballot question, which included a few items attacking teachers’ due process rights, buried in a long list of innocuous provisions.

The surprise was how very few regular folk or rank-and-file Stand members turned out. As was the case with a recent Stand event in Worcester, there appeared to be just a handful of Stand members and local citizens. In Arlington and Framingham, most of those in attendance were either CPS members, members of local teachers unions or paid staff of Stand. Stand shows every sign of having morphed from a grass roots organization into a heavily subsidized front for the corporate school reform agenda.

Listen to Education Radio’s powerful program on Stand for Children here. To read more about Stand’s national political interventions, listen to CEO Jonah Edelman’s statements here.  To read about their current funding sources, click here.

Participating in the 2011 National Opportunity to Learn Education Summit

Five Board Members, including Barbara Fields, Becky Richardson, Ruth Rodriguez-Fay, Sandra McIntosh and Ann O’Halloran, participated in the three-day Washington, D.C. event, networking with over 300 other activists from around the country. CNN analyst and syndicated columnist, Roland Martin, kicked off the event as moderator of the first session: “Is the Opportunity to Learn a Moral Imperative in the United States?” Nationally-known speakers such as John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Jesse Jackson, political and civil rights leader, education critics and experts Diane Ravitch and Pedro Noguera, civil rights leader Bernard Lafayette, and youth leaders from several cities, inspired the audience.  A local group, the Boston-Area Youth Organizing Project, was honored as Grantee of the Year. To read more, click here.