After a few drops of rain, inspiring student choirs and drum lines, Chancellor Joel Klein, NYC Public School & Education Equality Project Co-Founder kicked off a rally commemorating the 55th anniversary of Brown v Board. Like DC Mayor Fenty that followed him, Klein called for parent support for new and better schools.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called education the new currency. Like Fenty and Klein, he called for parents to demand quality education.
Symbolizing the odd-bed fellows behind educational equality, Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker and Rev. Al Sharpton announced a five city tour. On stage, Gingrich said, “We can’t wait for incremental improvement, we need radical change.”
Roy Romer, Former Governor of Colorado, and LA Board Member Marlene Cantor, called for a good teacher in every classroom. Romer echoed the President’s call for performance pay and training or removing ineffective teachers.
Kevin Chavous, Former DC City Councilman (EEP and DFER board), led a chant, “Put children First.” He gave a shout out to a large group of DC Scholarship supporters. Chavous railed against work rules that allow bad teachers to stay on the payroll and concluded with an impassioned plea to ensure that “Every child has access to a quality education by any means necessary.”
With “No justice, no peace!” Rev. Al Sharpton lit up the crowd. He encouraged everyone to“Put your agenda aside and work together to put children first. Step outside of the box. Hold everybody accountable—teachers, parents, administrations, community members—because we’re failing our children. “ “55 years (after Brosn v Board) education is still separate and unequal. We need to come together to deal with the problem. “ Sharpton echoed the President’s call for personal responsibility and high expectations for all young people. He concluded with a crowd rousing chant, “Close the gap.”