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Save Our Schools March: a teacher revolt against Obama education reform

The Save Our Schools March on Washington Saturday is part of a new nationwide push to organize educators against the Obama administration's regime of education reform.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits Dayton’s Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary School in Minneapolis. Mr. Duncan has reached out to teachers to acknowledge their concerns but administration policies continue to receive criticism.

Jim Mone/AP/File

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What if the education reformers are wrong?

That's the opinion of a growing number of educators who are convinced that the current direction of reform – despite powerful backers that include President Obama, Bill Gates, and many influential academics and nonprofit leaders – is harming public schools rather than improving them.

While teachers unions and a number of prominent education thinkers have been critical of the reform policies for some time, a more concerted effort is emerging to organize those critics. They plan to take to the streets in Washington on Saturday in hopes of galvanizing attention around their cause. The Save Our Schools March has attracted endorsements from well-known academics, educators, and authors.

Passionate and articulate, many of them classroom teachers, the critics tend to zero in on the increasingly high-stakes role played by standardized tests, which can make or break the reputation of a school or teacher – even if the tests aren't very good.

"What we call 'accountability' now is just totally unreliable numbers that are meaningless in terms of the lives of children and the careers of teachers," says Diane Ravitch, a historian and former advocate of standards-based reforms who is now one of its most frequent and ardent critics. "All they're doing is terrorizing teachers."

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