The Schools All Our Children Deserve: The Principles That Unite Us

Join more than 100 community and labor organizations in endorsing our guiding platform — “The Schools All Children Deserve: The Principles that Unite Us” — to move our economic and social justice work forward.

The Principles:

We are parents and caregivers, students and community members. We are educators and school staff.

We have come together around a common commitment to public education. We believe that the only way to give every child the opportunity to pursue a rich and productive life, both individually and as a member of society, is through a system of publicly funded, equitable and democratically controlled public schools. The principles below reflect our joint efforts to define our vision for public education and to distinguish our vision from that of the current corporate agenda. Now, more than ever, access to good public schools is a critical civil and human right. We are committed to working together to reclaim the promise of public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.

Public schools are public institutions.

Our school districts should be guided by a commitment to provide all children with the opportunity to attend a quality public school in their community. The corporate model of school reform seeks to turn public schools over to private managers and encourages competition—as opposed to collaboration—between schools and teachers. These strategies take away the public’s right to have a voice in their local schools, and inherently create winners and losers among both schools and students. Our most vulnerable children become collateral damage in these reforms. We will not accept that.

Our voices matter.

Those closest to the education process—teachers, administrators, school staff, students and their parents and community members—must have a voice in education policy and practice. Our schools and districts should be guided by them, not by corporate executives, entrepreneurs or philanthropists. Top-down reform doesn’t address the real needs of schools or students.

Strong public schools create strong communities.

Schools are community institutions as well as centers of learning. While education alone cannot eradicate poverty, schools can help to coordinate the supports and services their students and families need to thrive. Corporate reform strategies ignore the challenges that students bring with them to school each day, and view schools as separate and autonomous from the communities in which they sit.

Assessments should be used to improve instruction.

Assessments are critical tools to guide teachers in improving their lesson plans and framing their instruction to meet the needs of individual students. We support accountability. But standardized assessments are misused when teachers are fired, schools are closed and students are penalized based on a single set of scores. Excessive high-stakes testing takes away valuable instructional time and narrows the curriculum—with the greatest impact on our most vulnerable students.

Quality teaching must be delivered by committed, respected and supported educators.

Today’s corporate reformers have launched a war on teachers. We believe that teachers should be honored. Teaching is a career, not a temporary stop on the way to one. Our teachers should be well-trained and well-supported. They should be given the opportunity to assume leadership roles in their schools. Highly qualified teachers and school staff are our schools’ greatest assets. Let’s treat them that way.

Schools must be welcoming and respectful places for all.

Schools should be welcoming and inclusive. Students, parents, educators and community residents should feel that their cultures and contributions are respected and valued. Schools that push out the most vulnerable students and treat parents as intruders cannot succeed in creating a strong learning environment. Respectful schools are better places to both work and learn.

Our schools must be fully funded for success and equity.

More than 50 years ago, in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that African-American students were being denied their constitutional right to an integrated and equitable public education. We have not come far enough. Today our schools remain segregated and unequal. When we shortchange some students, we shortchange our nation as a whole. It is time to fund public schools for success and equity, for we are destined to hand off the future of our nation to all our young people.

A Call to Action

Our schools belong to all of us: the students who learn in them, the parents who support them, the educators and staff who work in them and the communities that they anchor. No longer will we allow ourselves to be divided. We have developed these principles and are committed to working together to achieve the policies and practices that they represent. Corporate-style reforms that disregard our voices, and attempt to impose a system of winners and losers, must end. None of our children deserve to be collateral damage. We call on our communities, and commit the power of the organizations that we represent, to pursue these principles in our schools, districts and states. Together, we will work nationally to make this vision of public education a reality.


A&R Employees Union
Action NC, North Carolina
Action Now Illinois
Action United, Philadelphia
African American Ministers in Action
African American Ministers Leadership Council
AFT Faculty-Staff Alliance at Alabama State University
AFT Michigan
AFT Pennsylvania
AFT Seattle Community Colleges
AFT Washington
Alaska Public Employees Association
Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago
Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ)
Alliance for Quality Education, NYS
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Alliance San Diego
American Association of University Women
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Maryland
Anchorage Council Education
Annenberg Institute for School Reform
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
Arkansas Opportunity to Learn
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
Austin Voices for Education and Youth/Save Texas Schools
Ballou Fine Arts Team, Washington, DC
Baltimore Algebra Project
Baltimore Teachers Union
Birmingham AFT
Black Women’s Roundtable
Boston Teachers Union
Boston Youth Organizing Project (BYOP)
Brevard Federation of Teachers
Bridge Project
California Federation of Teachers
Californians for Justice
Campaign for High School Equity
Center for Popular Democracy
Central Oklahoma Community Forum
Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools
Chicago Teachers Union
Cincinnati Federation of Teachers
Citizen Action of NY
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union
Cleveland Heights University Heights Board of Education
Cleveland Teachers Union
Clevelanders United Against Poverty
Close the Gap Coalition, San Francisco
Coalition for Community Schools, New Orleans
Coalition for Educational Justice
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)
Colorado Education Association
Common Good Ohio
Community Coalition, LA
Community Voices for Public Education, Houston
Corpus Christi AFT
Dearborn Federation of Teachers, Local 681
Dialogue on Diversity
Dignity in Schools Coalition
Disciples Justice Action Network Education Law Center
Education Austin
Education Law Center
Empathy Educates
Empower DC
Fair Test (National Center for Fair and Open Testing)
Feminist Majority
First Focus
Florida State Conference of the NAACP
Gamaliel Network
Great Public Schools Pittsburgh (GPS)
Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals
Health Professionals and Allied Employees, Local 8071
Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
Houston Federation of Teachers, Local 2415
Inner City Alumni for Responsible Education (ICARE), Miami
Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA)
Institute for Wisconsin’s Future
Jobs with Justice, National
Jobs with Justice, Kansas City
Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts
Jobs with Justice, Philadelphia
Jobs with Justice, San Francisco
Journey for Justice Alliance
Junea Education Support Staff
Kansas City Federation of Teachers & School Related Personnel, Local 691
Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), Chicago
La Joya Federation of Teachers
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)
Leadership Center for the Common Good
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Make the Road New York
Maryland Communities United
Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2), Kansas City, MO
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers
Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment
National Association for Bilingual Education
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
National Education Association (NEA)
National Immigration Law Center
National Opportunity to Learn Campaign
National Organization for Women
Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minnesota
New Jersey Communities United
New York Communities for Change
New York State Public Employees Federation
New York State United Teachers (NYSUT)
Newark Student Union
Newark Teachers Union
Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, NYC
Norwood Resource Center
NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ)
Opportunity Action
Opportunity to Learn – Wisconsin
Out Front Minnesota
Parents for Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati
Parents Unified for Local School Education, New Jersey
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS)
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Philadelphia Student Union
Pilsen Alliance, Chicago
Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Pride at Work
Pride of the Eastside, Austin
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Public Advocates, Inc.
Public Policy and Education Fund of NY
Racine Education Association
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Santa Cruz Council of Classified Employees, Local 6084
Save Our Schools
Schott Foundation for Public Education
Seattle Education Association
Sistas and Brothas United, NYC
Socorro AFT
St. Croix Federation of Teachers
St. Paul Federation of Teachers
St. Thomas – St. John Federation of Teachers
Students at the Center, New Orleans
Texas AFT
Texas Organizing Project
The Boston Student Advisory Council
The Metropolitan Organization, Houston
The YOUNG (Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation) Coalition
Toledo Federation of Teachers
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Educators of San Francisco
United Federation of Teachers, NYC
United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI)
United Teachers of Dade
United Teachers of New Orleans, AFT Local 527
United We Dream Network
Urban Youth Collaborative, NYC
Yinzercation, Pittsburgh
Young People’s Project, National
Young People’s Project, Mississippi
Youth on Board, Boston
Youth United for Change, Philadelphia
Washington Teachers Union
WDC Ward 7 Educational Council
West Haven Federation of Teachers
Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools