"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Education Reform Movement?

Below is another attempt to get some kind of traction against high stakes testing.  There is certainly value in using such a resolution to find out where the consensus is regarding high stakes testing.  But as long as we are reacting to another's agenda (in this case, the Business Roundtable's), we can work on gaining consensus on ours. What is our vision of what education should look like?  Certainly not what it was pre 1990.  Public schools continue to sort and socialize, as they have been designed to do from the beginning.  Education, when it happens, does so in spite of the structure and pedagogy of the public (and private) schools.

Help Build the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing campaign!
The Resolution campaign continued to gain strength over the summer. We now have more than 430 organizations and 13,000 individuals!  Our work has earned national attention, including from the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
In Florida, school boards in several of the state's largest districts and the state PTA endorsed it, and the Florida State School Board Association passed a parallel resolution. More than 830 Texas school boards representing 88 percent of the state’s children have signed a similar resolution. School boards in Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia have also endorsed it. PTA’s and PTO’s and many other kinds of groups have also signed on. 

With outreach in additional states, we'll have an even stronger impact! Getting more organizations to endorse is an essential part of this campaign. Now that school is back in session, it is a good time get more signers and increase attention to this issue.
Your organization’s help is needed to build testing reform clout. You can expand the campaign with any or all of these actions:
  • Put a link to the Resolution signature page on your website and/or in your newsletter: (
  • Inform local media of your endorsement, perhaps in a letter to the editor, such as the samples at
  • Write/adapt an op-ed for your local paper (see sample at the above link).
  • Reach out to allied organizations in your community, region or state, and encourage them to sign on.
  • Organize a public meeting in your community to discuss testing and the Resolution campaign, with an eye on what to do to overhaul assessment policies.
Thanks again for your help! If you have questions or suggestions for additional actions to advance the Resolution, please contact Monty Neill at (617) 477-9792 or
The Sponsoring Committee for the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sudan v Southern Freedom Movement

From the Sudan Tribune

September 26, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Is there a Revolution on the horizon in Sudan? On the evening of June 16th 2012, the voices of a small group of female students from Khartoum University’s Barracks dorms broke out in unison, chanting against the ruling National Congress Party (NCP); setting off a chain of events .....

A significant number of new actors have joined the political movement further broadening the base from being exclusively just activists and traditional groups.

The recent protests attracted the attention of the world’s media and the sympathy of international civil society – and this has helped in highlighting the democratic movements in Sudan and prompted analysts to rethink their approach regarding the political situation in the country.

A new generation of leaders has emerged as a result of the protest movement at both the national and regional levels. This can be viewed as nothing less than a positive step for the future of Sudan’s political scene.

Awareness and the need to ’rebuild’ unions was another positive step; as a result, activists went on to form new, more active professional unions and syndicates covering doctors, lawyers, teachers and journalists....

The protests only served to further emphasize and bring about divisions and rifts within the ruling regime and the system it has put in place. Voices within the government and party began to question whether it’s possible to retain complete power in the near future and already exit plans and steps are being made.

Why is Sudan Not There Yet?

Lack of Leadership: In all its years of rule, the NCP has systematically and efficiently worked on demolishing the political and trade unions which in the past were the heart and base of Sudanese political activism; and had a leading and well respected position in the streets of Sudan in regards to it answering the people’s demands and interests. As such there is a vacuum of leadership and an inability to bridge this gap.

1. At the political level, with a lot of the opposition parties being based abroad has led to a ’break down’ between their leadership and the parties’ support base.....

2. The politicization of the mandatory civil service has also played a big part in dismantling state institutions that brought together professionals from various sectors resulting in the breaking of links of association between them.

3. The new demographic in the country is a factor as the doubling of the urban population in relation to the rural rising from 20% in 1989 to more than 40% in 2011. This drastic change has caused the rural areas to be void of traditional leaders and cities populated with people who have no social or cultural links, therefore a limited sense of camaraderie and kinship ties....
 A Successful Social Movement = The coordination of a variety of membership organizations that effect a fundamental paradigm shift.....

To be strategic, an action needs to be designed to answer, at least, the following questions:
1. Will it dramatize the injustice you want to change?
2. Is it designed to gain the sympathy of a wider audience (and do you have a variety of tasks ready to assign for the expected number of recruits who will want to join when they see or hear about your action?)
3. Is your action part of a larger, long-range plan?

While the four major organizations - NAACP, CORE, SCLC, and SNCC - formed the basic infrastructure of the movement, they were supported by a variety of other important membership organizations both national and local in scope -- religious, labor, lawyers, doctors, civil rights and so forth...too many to name here.

Kennedy’s election in 1960 and his public commitment to spreading “Freedom” throughout the world made the Federal government extremely vulnerable to direct action like Sit Ins and Freedom Rides that exposed the government’s hypocrisy to the world.

.Examples of a few of the thousands of local leaders that were the backbone of the movement:
  • Birmingham: Fred Shuttlesworth (Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights) . . .
  • Montgomery, AL: Jo Ann Robinson (Women’s Political Council); E.D. Nixon; Rosa Parks; Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr.. . . .
  • Johns Island, SC: Bernice Robinson; Esau Jenkins
  • various Mississippi counties: Fannie Lou Hamer; Endesha Ida Mai Holland; Sam Block; Wazir Peacock. . . .
  • Nashville, TN: Diane Nash; James Bevel; John Lewis; Bernard Lafayette. . . . 

 The NAACP had local offices mostly in the North until the 1930s when James Weldon Johnson created his Southern Empire -- local NAACP chapters in the South.