Two Democratic moms who oppose the privatization of schools say that security personnel escorted from an event at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week after organizers learned they opposed charter schools and other education "reforms."
Mecklenburg ACTS co-chairs Pam Grundy and Carol Sawyer told Raw Story that both Former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's Students First group and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) did not want any dissenting voices at their events.
Grundy recalled that after initially being denied entry to a Students First screening of the movie Won't Back Down on Tuesday, a representative personally invited them to join because they were drawing negative attention by passing out flyers on the sidewalk outside. But before they could view the film, organizers again changed their minds and ordered a security guard to escort them from the building.
"Won't Back Down is the story of two moms who come together -- they have a school that's not working, the kids are not learning -- they try to use this new law where parents can vote to kick out the [teacher's] union and to transform the school into a charter," Grundy explained. "And so that's what they do, they work to try to convince parents and teachers to vote to turn their school into a charter, and then they succeed in this vote and at the very end the schools become a charter and everything seems to be wonderful."
"In our minds, that actually doesn't work. It's a really ineffective strategy. It's divisive, it's never actually worked in practice," she continued. "But what this movie does, it presents -- you know, it's a Hollywood movie -- it presents a Hollywood story where everything is happy and it all turns out well. And what they're doing, Students First is taking this movie -- which is quite inspiring -- showing it and then saying, 'And now we need to pass these parent-trigger laws in states all around the country."
And then on Wednesday DFER refused to honor Sawyer's confirmed registration to their town hall event after the two women began distributing flyers that questioned the group's education reform strategies.
"We find it somewhat amusing that these well-funded groups seem to regard us as such a threat," Sawyer said in a statement posted to the Parents Across America website. "But more important, we are troubled by the way that these forums on education – a subject which is so essential to our children’s and our nation’s future – seem to be so thoroughly orchestrated that they leave no room for real debate or discussion."
Grundy told Raw Story that she was still a supporter of President Barack Obama but was very disappointed in the appointment of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the push for charter schools.
"We are deeply, deeply disappointed in President Obama's education policy," she insisted. "I worked my tail off for President Obama four years ago. I mean, I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, I got to shake his hand the night before he got elected."
"But then when he appointed Arne Duncan and they started to do this whole corporate reform thing, I really started to feel like, you know, federal policy was one of the big obstacles I had to fight to try to make my son's high-poverty school better. ... It wasn't the grassroots, build-it-from-the-ground-up sort of approach that he had taken as a community organizer."
Photo credit: Peter Wong