SOS MTM Update: Bring shoelaces to New Orleans

Going to the NEA RA? Bring shoelaces for the SOS Million Teacher March Shoelace Campaign.

Crystal Conley, President of the Homewood Flossmoor Education Association, and  delegates from Region 56 are coordinating an all out effort to collect shoelaces for the campaign. Watch for her, and if you have time, help her collect shoelaces from delegates from around the country.

Join the SOS Million Teachers March

Background and First Step

Chris Janotta went to Rally Day and was inspired to do more – much more. Chris went to Springfield as a member of the Homewood-Flossmoor Education Association. He returned with a vision of bringing one million educators and supporters to Washington DC in support of public education.

Chris has worked on this mission every day since. He started with a web site ( Educators from around the country quickly joined in, so much so that he also created the SOS Million Teacher March Facebook page. In today’s IEA Insider, members were urged to check out these pages and learn more about Chris’s vision and plans.

Chris and his supporters have created a significant mission for the March: Copied from the web site, it reads:

“The mission of the SOS Million Teacher March is to unite teachers, students and concerned citizens across the nation to create respect and support for teachers in order to do what is best for students. Our key issues fall under one giant umbrella: LACK OF RESPECT FOR TEACHERS This one problem has created many other related issues and programs that are not good for education. We would like to speak up for all of America to say that our education system is heading in the wrong direction and needs to be fixed immediately before it creates an even larger national crisis. Our goal is to work with America’s leaders to make them understand that teachers do not need punitive programs to “force” them to educate their students; teachers educate their students not only because it is their job, but because it is their passion.
We are also calling for adequate funding for ALL public schools. Budget cuts SHOULD NOT affect the quality of ANY student’s education.”

Chris continues, talking about “What We Are Marching For.” The web site fully describes the goals. But in short, they include Respect for Teachers, Fix ESEA, and Fair Funding for All. It is clear to this writer that when Chris talks about teachers, he really means all educational employees who provide direct support to student learning.

Chris ultimately hopes to hold the SOS Million Teacher March in Washington D.C. next July (2011). Chris realizes that organizing 1 million participants starts with smaller steps. The first is a Shoelace Campaign.

“The idea of a Shoelace Campaign came from an unexpected source – an anonymous student”, Chris explains. “The student had heard that one million teachers would be marching in Washington D.C. on July 30th of this year.  When it was explained to him that it would now be a ‘virtual’ march instead of an actual physical march, the student became confused at first, but then said, ‘Oh- it’s like you are collecting shoe laces from everyone who would be marching but isn’t, tying them together, then showing how long of a string you can make.’”

IEA is helping with the Shoelace Campaign by setting up a number of collection opportunities. Collect and contribute one or more shoelaces and bring or mail them to our region offices by June 18th. Or bring your laces to the Summer Leadership Academy in Bloomington. You can also mail the laces directly to the SOS Million Teacher March at PO Box 555, Oak Forrest, IL, 60452.

The SOS Million Teacher March web site also suggests honoring education employees who have inspired you, or one’s who have been RIF’d by writing on or attaching their name to the shoelace before sending them in.

We are also asking our representatives to the NEA RA to collect shoelaces from RA delegates at the RA in New Orleans. If you are a delegate, please collect and bring laces with you and help us collect from others from around the country. This will help focus attention on the campaign and greatly increase involvement.

A number of IEA folks have been working with Chris on this campaign since its beginning. They include Crystal Conley, the president of the Homewood-Flossmoor Education Association, India Jones, who is the Region 56 Minority Representative, and UniServ Director Valerie Gardner.

Next up will be a virtual march this July 30th. Check the SOS Million Teachers’ March web site and this space for more information about this next step on the journey.


  1. Shirley says:

    Keep up the good work Chris. It is wonderful that so many educators, parents, and students have come together to stand up for education! The Shoelace Campaign is such a great idea. It makes it very easy for everyone to participate from where ever they are in our nation! Good luck!

  2. Nadine Kirby says:

    This is why we a planning a March in florida on July 30th!! Great Job Chris!! This thing is gonna take off and increase awareness of this national educational Crisis!! We March for our teachers, students and funding for education!! It all starts with one person and grows to milllions all across the U.S.