April & May SJC Update

By Dylan Ross, Social Justice Committee Chair

The past month has been very busy, productive, and exciting for SOCM’s Social Justice Committee (SJC).

On April 30, as the result of work by the SJC and coalition partners, the Nashville Metropolitan Board of Education passed a resolution to adopt and implement the Annenberg Standards. The Standards, developed by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR), call for a common set of accountability and transparency practices for all of Nashville’s public schools, including all proposed charter schools going forward. The Standards are designed to ensure a more level playing field for all schools receiving public funding, and address a number of issues of concern regarding charter school expansion and operation.

Prior to this, on April 14, in cooperation with coalition partners including Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE), the SJC offered public testimony in support of the Annenberg Standards. This testimony captured the attention of the majority of the School Board, and persuaded them to cast votes in favor of the Standards. The SJC is proud to have contributed to this major victory for public accountability, and is equally excited about the strong alliances being formed with other organizations working to guarantee equal education opportunities for all of Tennessee’s children, empower parents, and secure fair conditions for workers in public schools. For more information about the Annenberg Standards contact SJC chair Dylan Ross.

Annie Tan talks about her experiences as a teacher in the Teach for America program.

On April 22, the SJC and United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) co-sponsored a forum, “The Future of Our Schools – Defending Public Education in Tennessee,” addressing current issues affecting public education in Tennessee and across the nation. Panel members included public school teachers, parent and community activists, and the SJC’s own Scott Martindale, all of whom shared their experiences and analysis of trends affecting public education at all levels. Discussion topics included strategies to confront education privatization, the conditions facing adjunct instructors at public universities, and the experiences of a young teacher in the Teach for America (TFA) program. The forum was a great success and began the process of bringing these communities together as one greater voice to speak for justice in public education. We filmed the forum and hope to have the video available for members to see in the near future.

The SJC is continuing the process of creating a strong coalition with other organizations and communities working toward educational justice by developing a coordinated strategy and working toward concrete, winnable goals. The SJC’s successes in past month have proved the power of such an alliance, even in its early stages.

SOCM’s Social Justice Committee holds monthly conference calls and quarterly face-to-face meetings. If you are interested in getting involved, contact SJC chair Dylan Ross at socialjustice@socm.org

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