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Rise of Student Reformers in California

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I asked Courtney, a high school student and founder of Students Transforming Education (STE), what caused him to become active and work toward reforming tenure in California.  I figured I would soon hear a story about a horrible teacher, the kind you hear about on the news – that “bad apple” who does not care about his or her students, is lazy, and doesn’t help students achieve academic heights.

I was surprised to hear the exact opposite.  Courtney explained that his life had been changed for the better thanks to outstanding teachers.

“I have been extremely lucky to have amazing teachers and I have seen firsthand the impact a great teacher can have,” he said.  Courtney had been pushed and inspired to take part in extracurricular activities like Youth & Government.

He recognized how is own life was changed  the necessity for every student in the nation to have access to outstanding teachers.

The summer before his junior year, Courtney got to work on his very own organization, STE, to “transform” the system that keeps poorly performing teachers in place.  “After researching about the situation in California and talking with teachers, administrators, school board members and education reform advocates, I decided it was time some gets students involved.”  He created an online presence using his knowledge in website design, and made it easy for students like him to inform themselves about the issues and get involved.

For Courtney, that is what was important: students getting involved, and students using their voices to fight for a change in the system that would directly affect their lives and academic experiences.  High school students get a bad rap, in his view, for not being involved and not caring about the issues.

“Students are not given the same

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DC Put Kids First Rally: The Hands-on Advocacy of School Choice Week

After my first day of interning at CER learning about the behind the scenes work and research that the organization does on a daily basis, I got to spend my second day experiencing the hands on advocacy that occurs in DC to push education policy to the forefront of the media and national attention. The DC Put Kids First Rally, held at Friendship Chamberlain Elementary School due to the bitterly cold weather, was a gathering of passionate individuals and organizations that are strong advocates for school choice and better education options for students around the country. Attending this event allowed me to interact with individuals from other education policy groups in the District, as well as see firsthand some of the students who are directly impacted by the changes that are made in education today.

The event was part of National School Choice Week, a political awareness effort taking place across the country during the week of January 26th, and featured numerous impressive speakers including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Leslie Williams, former WNBA player and school choice advocate. All of the speakers expressed their strong support for the improvement of school choice throughout the United States, and emphasized the main message of the event, which was the need to “put kids first.” In addition to the main speakers, there were student speakers and performers that made the event extremely enjoyable and demonstrated the many benefits that private and charter schools can have on a student’s education.

As a junior at American University studying International Relations with minors in Public Affairs and German, I never thought that my studies would lead me to an interest in education policy, but after researching CER I began to realize the importance of education reform in the U.S. My knowledge on education up

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SOTU Wish List – What’s old is new

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Last year, we made a list of things we hoped we would hear in President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  This year, not much has changed, and our wish list remains in tact:

State of the Union Wish List

Tonight, President Obama will give the first second State of the Union address of his second term in office, an opportunity for the president to raise issues critical to improving our nation’s schools, one of the most important domestic policy opportunities of our time. No other investment available can simultaneously enhance the workforce of the future, help rebuild the infrastructure of the present, and wipe out the civil rights injustices of the recent past. And while the president has a lot to cover during his speech, we hope he takes time to address education, because if we fail to fix our failing schools, if we fail to replace our public education system, We the People may soon find that we are fundamentally unequipped to govern ourselves let alone to provide governance to others we thought in greater need.

With that in mind, here’s what we hope to hear in tonight’s SOTU:

1) Work Across All Education Sectors: We hope that the president will announce plans by his administration to hear from a range of voices and ideas from cities and communities, including those who represent the grassroots in the school choice and charter school communities. In the first term, the Obama Administration talked a lot about others “collaborating” and “getting along” with unions. We urge President Obama to send a signal to all the people advocating critical school choices for children — be they digital, in private schools or public schools — that this second term will be more about good ideas, no matter where they come from, than about special

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