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Richard Iannuzzi: One Voice, United, For Justice

In the 1960s, Bob Dylan, one of our lifetime’s great poets and American song writers, wrote the following lines in reference to the Civil Rights struggles:

If all of us folks that thinks alike/If we gave all we could give/We could make this great land of ours/         a greater place to live.”

For more than four decades, Dylan has written songs that call for justice and speak to the power in all of us to unite and demand change. He is one of my personal heroes, and his poetic lyrics ? and, more importantly, the meaning behind them ? are on my mind these days.  After all, “Giving all we can give to make this great land of ours a greater place to live” also applies to our collective responsibility to unite in order to address today’s injustices.

On Saturday, June 8th, the chance ? and the responsibility—will be available to you, your family and your neighbors when an amazing coalition of organizations… and thousands of people… will gather at the Empire State Plaza in Albany to fight for the future of public education.

On that spring day, parents, students, teachers and community advocates will send a loud, clear message that our public schools have had many successes, they’re not all failing like critics of public education and some in government would lead you to believe, and those voices will be celebrating ? not demonizing ? those who educate New York’s children.

Thousands will speak with passion and sincerity against the state’s obsession with standardized testing and its harm to students.  Your voice should be heard as well. The rally will take place only a few short weeks after the State Education Department, in a masterstroke of absurdity, required students to take hours of tests on material they hadn’t yet been taught. Voices will be lifted in support of informative assessments… not the tyranny of test-prep and fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests.

United in one voice, our elected leaders and state education department officials will hear that public education is about children, schools and learning, not bureaucrats, corporations and billionaires.

It’s about fairness and equity, not tax caps and shell games that move money from one place to another, leaving schools without the resources they need to provide an adequate quality education for every child.

It’s about investing in the future of our students, not cuts layered on top of cuts that rob students of the opportunity to experience a rich arts or sports program or the latest technology.  

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