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Group in need of marchers July 23 for Save Our Schools

Susan Notes:

Ten years ago, Don Perl was one of the first teachers in the country to Stand Tall. He refused to administer the CSAP, the Colorado tests. Gloria Pipkin and I interviewed him for Substance. As an indication of the reaction Don's courageous and principled stand provoked, the Greeley Tribune called for his firing. Here he and Yvonne Siu-Runyan have a conversation which includes that decision.

On July 30, Juanita Doyon, the button Queen, and I will be marching at Save Our Schools as twins, wearing Arne Duncan: In Need of Improvement. On the back of the shirts is www.the cbe.org . We are proud to wear the url of this grassroots organizations.

By Sherrie Peif

Itâs been 10 years since Don Perl first stood up against the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, but a decade of separation from the program hasnât changed his opinion about standardized testing.

âCSAPs take two weeks to administer,â Perl said. âThe bar exam doesnât even take that long.â

On July 23, Perl will stand up again in the Save Our Schools march and rally â Greeley version. Itâs an effort he hopes will bring awareness to what he says is corporate Americaâs takeover of public schools.

âWe have so many issues here locally,â Perl said. âI thought it would be good to have our own complement to the rally in Washington.â

Perl was referring to a national march and rally scheduled for July 28-30 in Washington, D.C. It will commemorate Jesse Turnerâs walk last year from his home in Connecticut to Washington, D.C., for the same reason. Turner is a professor at Central Connecticut State University who has written several articles about literacy for different scholarly journals.

âCorporate America is taking over the values that are so important for an intelligent community and the democratic process,â Perl said. âThey are trying to robotize our children and decimate our educational system.â

Perlâs outcry against the CSAPs and the financing of public education began in 2001 when he was a teacher at John Evans Junior High School. Perl never had to administer a CSAP test, but after Greeley-Evans School District 6 converted the school to a middle school, that changed. During training on how to administer the tests, Perl said he found a discrepancy he brought to the attention of the facilitators, but nothing was done. Perl decided he could not ethically administer the test to his students, so he boycotted the test. The district suspended him for the two weeks of the testing. When he returned to the classroom, he said the atmosphere in the school was âheavy.â He decided to retire at the end of that year after 20 years in the district.

âI decided I couldnât do it anymore for my mental health,â he said.

He has been advocating for public education reform ever since. He is now a lecturer in the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of Northern Colorado.

The rally in Greeley is a smaller version of the Washington event. It will feature speakers, an open mic, music and food. There will also be a mini-march from Lincoln Park in downtown Greeley to the districtâs administration offices three blocks away, in which participants will carry signs that say everything from âMarket forces destroy educationâ and âIf not now, when?â and âIf not us, who?â to âRace to top is a race to nowhereâ and âHigh-stake tests â who really benefits?â

The rally is free and open to anyone who wants to support Perlâs efforts, he said.

âWe want to raise the level of awareness that our schools are being taken over by a Corporate America that doesnât care a wit about our schools,â he said. âWe need to develop strong, self-governing, self-renewing communities where everyone cares and children count.â

Perl, who got a permit from the Greeley Police Department for the march, expects a good turnout, with some even coming from as far away as Denver and Colorado Springs, he said, thanks to billboards his group has put up all over Colorado encouraging parents to exercise their rights to opt their children out of the CSAP.

âThe concept is that we need to develop a community,â he said. âWe need to enhance the community.â
Want to attend?
The Save our Schools march and rally will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 23 at the Lincoln Park gazebo. It will feature speakers, an open mic, music, food and a march to the Greeley-Evans School District 6 administration offices at 1025 9th Ave. It is free and open to the public.

— Sherrie Peif
Greeley Tribune



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