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 Education Concerns and Solutions

A coalition of organizations, calling itself the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, is asking people to meet at house parties September 22 to discuss education concerns and possible solutions. Included: Information about the mobilization.

A coalition of national organizations, including the National Education Association (NEA), is calling on people across the U.S. to meet in their communities September 22 to talk about local, state, and national education issues.

Called the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, the effort is aimed at getting people to discuss important educational issues, and then bring their concerns and ideas to local and national policymakers. The group also will be asking people to sign petitions addressed to the U.S. Congress and president, asking for more education funding. Community members also can pledge to be an Education First voter, and to keep informed about education issues.

"We want to elevate the debate regarding education issues, and impact policy decisions," said NEA president Reg Weaver in a telephone press conference announcing the campaign. "This is an effort to ensure public education is more visible."

Other coalition members are the Campaign for America's Future, Moveon.org, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the NAACP National Voter Fund, and the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Educators, parents, and community members are being encouraged by the coalition to host house parties, which are being called non-partisan events, where people can watch a video about education issues and then discuss how to address the problems facing schools. The National Mobilization provides the DVDs or videos and literature. As of August 11, house parties had been scheduled in all 50 states.

While Weaver acknowledged that many of the coalition members have concerns about the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the mobilization is about more than revising NCLB, he said.

"We want to ensure that all children have access to quality education, which means adequate and equitable funding," Weaver said. "People who make the decisions may need to hear the voice of the people to make the right decisions."

Numerous other education issues and social issues related to education also need addressing, speakers said. An increasing number of children come to school undernourished and without proper healthcare, noted Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future.

Also, schools are facing one of the largest waves of teacher retirements in history and are having problems retaining young teachers, he said. In the area of higher education, the coalition wants to hear discussions and proposals about reducing tuition costs. "There has to be a significant mobilization to make education a higher priority," according to Borosage.

After the September 22 house meetings, coalition members plan to follow-up with members of Congress and other decision-makers to keep their concerns in the forefront of the national agenda.