As U.S. Celebrates 240 Years of Freedom, Children Still Cannot Escape Tyranny of Teachers Unions

by Larry Sand
Union Watch
July 5, 2016

Despite the U.S. declaring its independence from Britain in 1776, Californians are still saddled with teacher union redcoats 240 years later.

Teacher tenure is an atrocity. Officially called “permanence,” this union-mandated work rule allows some teachers to stay in the classroom when they should be imprisoned or at least working somewhere else, preferably far away from children.

Just a few recent examples of permanence at work:

This awful perk is, in part, what California’s fabled Vergara lawsuit is about. Though the ultimate fate of the case is still unknown (next stop California Supreme Court), the state legislature has been trying to come up with some fixes to satisfy the reformers and the teachers unions alike. One such effort was a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. As originally written, Assembly Bill 934 would place poorly performing teachers in a program that offers professional support, though if they receive a second low performance review after a year in the program, they could be fired via an expedited process regardless of their experience level. Also, permanence would not always be granted after two years, and seniority would no longer be the single overriding factor in handing out pink slips. Teachers with two or more bad reviews would lose their jobs before newer teachers who have not received poor evaluations.

Ben Austin, policy and advocacy director for Students Matter (the outfit that filed the Vergara case), thought the bill was on the right track but could be even stronger. Reformer Michelle Rhee has noted that while there should be protections in place so that teachers can’t be fired for arbitrary reasons, she doesn’t think we need to reform tenure; she doesn’t see any need for it at all.

But ultimately Austin’s and Rhee’s opinions matter little. Nor do the left-leaning San Francisco Chronicle, the libertarian Orange County Register and other California dailies that supported the bill. Parents, too, are fed up with the inability get rid of rotten apples, but too few in positions of power care about parents. In a 2015 poll, 73 percent of California voters said that teachers should never be given tenure or receive it much too quickly, and believe that performance should matter more than seniority when teachers are laid off. But voters’ opinions are not worthy of consideration. According to another poll from last year, even most educators believe that a teacher should serve in the classroom at least five years before an administrator makes a decision about whether or not to grant tenure. But then, why should teachers’ thoughts be respected?

Actually the only entity that really matters when it comes to tenure, seniority and other teacher work rules is the California Teachers Association, the powerful special interest which regularly bullies its way through the halls of Sacramento to get its way. This case was all too typical. At first, CTA opposed Bonilla’s bill on the basis that it “would make education an incredibly insecure profession.” Then the union went into hysterical mode, using its trademark loopy rhetoric to proclaim, “Corporate millionaires and special interests have mounted an all-out assault on educators by attempting to do away with laws protecting teachers from arbitrary firings, providing transparency in layoff decisions and supporting due process rights.”

And then CTA spun into action. The union arm-twisted Bonilla and ultimately managed to eviscerate the fair-minded, commonsense, hardly-radical, pro-child bill and transformed it into legislative detritus that pretty much keeps the current tenure and seniority laws securely in place. For example, tenure would be achieved after three instead of two years, whereby if a teacher doesn’t regally screw up in roughly 30 months, they essentially have a job for life. And the quality-blind seniority regimen would be virtually untouched. (For a detailed comparison of the original bill and CTA version, Students Matter has put together an easy-to-read chart.)

Claiming that the disemboweled bill was better than the status quo, Bonilla and some in the media thought the union’s version was better than none at all, and that the legislation should move forward. But Austin and other reformers were outraged and felt strongly that the sham bill should be killed. Austin declared, “Watered down and gutted beyond recognition, the new AB 934 preserves the unconstitutional and unjustifiable disparities in students’ access to effective teachers caused by the current laws.”

Austin et al prevailed, and last Wednesday the bill was mercifully euthanized in the state’s Senate Education Committee. Hence, we have no changes to our odious tenure and seniority statutes and CTA’s imperious regime marches on. So as the nation has just celebrated its 240th birthday, the children of California sadly still cannot escape the tyranny of the teachers unions. Fans of King George III, rejoice!

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Newswire: July 5, 2016 — Burdensome compliance requirements for Ohio charter schools — North Carolina expands opportunity — Massachusetts charter high schoolers college-bound

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FREEDOM RINGS. Hoping your 4th was great, we continue to celebrate freedom this week, highlighting events and places where freedom and innovation are allowing for – or sadly prohibiting – greater opportunity for all. Join us in our fight to ensure all children have access to truly exceptional education opportunities, regardless of where they live.

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PIONEER STATE OPPORTUNITY. Parents of more than 32,000 children anxiously await November for a ballot question to lift the cap on charter schools in the Bay State. According to new data from six Boston charter high schools  – which serve a student population that’s largely Black and Latino – 98 percent of graduates are accepted to college.

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IN OHIO. Charter schools in the Buckeye State have one month to document and provide evidence that they are complying with 319 state laws and rules. Among the hundreds outraged by the latest regulatory overreach by the State education department, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation representative Jennifer Robinson told Gongwer that charters are being held to completely different standards than traditional public schools. The focus should be on making sure schools are providing a quality education, “not whether they have a flag five feet in length,” Robinson said, referring to item number 209 on the compliance list. Next week CER Founder and CEO Jeanne Allen will bring the message of innovation and opportunity to the Ohio Council of Community Schools‘ (OCCS) gathering in Toleldo. OCCS is the strongest and most tenured authorizer in the Buckeye State. For more info call Lenny Shafer at (419) 720-5200.

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NC EXPANDS OPPORTUNITY. A budget awaiting Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature – and a bill to help turn around failing schools – is a boost for the Tarheel State and more quality seats for kids. The proposed budget boosts teacher pay, increases the amount for scholarship grants for children with disabilities (from $5.8 million to more than $10 million), and significantly expands the state’s three-year-old Opportunity Scholarship program (allowing nearly 36,000 students to receive a scholarship by 2027 compared to 3,600 today). More details here.

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CER – KEMP FORUM ON EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY. Join CER and the Jack Kemp Foundation for a special focus on opportunity with national, state and local leaders convened for the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council. We will be live streaming from Indianapolis July 27th – if you can’t join us that evening in person – with Senator Tim Scott, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Incoming ALEC Chair and Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir and others looking at how we might expand opportunity across all levels. For more information please contact michelle@edreform.com.

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IN THE NEWS…

ON MARYLAND STATE BOARD APPOINTMENTS.

ON A NEW OPPORTUNITY AGENDA.

ON THE HOPE AND FEAR OF EDREFORM IN NOLA

Gov. Larry Hogan reshapes schools, utility boards

The president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence is doing something she has never done before: organizing volunteers to monitor the state’s Handgun Review Permit Board.

The board, which hears appeals from people who have been denied gun permits, is one of at least three in the state that oversees hot-button issues and now has a majority of its members appointed by first-term Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican in a mostly Democratic state.

“We want to make sure the people who got on the board are voting with Maryland laws and not their personal philosophies,” said group President Jen Pauliukonis, explaining why the volunteers will take minutes of meetings and record each decision by the board. “We’re doing this because of the new appointees and because of our concern that Governor Hogan was trying to weaken our concealed-carry laws through the appointments.”

Hogan appointees also hold the majority on the state Board of Education and the Public Service Commission, which over the next several years are expected to make weighty decisions on everything from the role of standardized testing in schools to the expansion of charter schools, wind power and net metering, a system that allows customers to offset the cost of power drawn from solar panels that are connected to public-utility power grids.

Advocates from both sides of the political spectrum say they are watching closely to gauge the impact of those appointments.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), vice chairman of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said he thinks there is a “strong possibility” that the appointees could steer Maryland away from the progressive policies the state has become known for.

“I don’t want to write them off and say the plague has come to Maryland,” Pinsky said of the new members. “I just don’t think it has played out yet. It’s too early to tell what the effect will be.”

Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, said the advocates seem to be “worried about something that might not happen,” adding that the boards and commissions are independent bodies and the Hogan administration “does not have the authority to make any demands on their decisions.”

Jeanne Allen, the founder of the pro-charter-school Center for Education Reform, said she is waiting to see whether the new school board is willing to “push the envelope” on education reform.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Allen, who has advocated for bills making it easier to start charter schools in Maryland. At the same time, she said she worries that only some, not the majority of the new board, are willing to make the type of drastic changes she says she believes are needed to improve education in the state.

Political science professor Todd Eberly said the appointments are an important way for Hogan to advance his agenda in a state where Democrats control both chambers of the legislature by veto-proof majorities.

“Making conservative appointments doesn’t risk his popularity like a high-stakes legislative battle,” said Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “If you are trying to effect change in state government, you look to areas where you have . . . a freer hand.”

Clark said the governor, who served as an appointments secretary under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R), sought the “most qualified, best possible candidates” for each of his appointments. He noted that each appointee must be confirmed by the Senate Executive Nominations Committee when the legislature is in session, although it is common practice for people appointed between legislative sessions to occupy their seats on an interim basis until confirmation hearings can be held.

“These folks have been scrutinized and cleared the hurdle,” Clark said. “So any questions that may be out there about those individuals about positions on policies have been put out there.”

Earlier this year, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence fought against Hogan’s appointment to the handgun review board of Richard Jurgena, a gun rights advocate who had publicly questioned the constitutionality of the state’s handgun permit law.

Jurgena’s contention that Maryland’s law requiring a “good and substantial reason” to get a concealed-carry permit was unconstitutional was troubling to many members of the Senate, which rejected his nomination.

Pauliukonis said her group took note of a report in The Washington Post before the 2014 elections in which gun rights advocates said Hogan had promised them he would do what he could as governor to expand access to firearms. Hogan disputed those claims, however, and Clark said the governor has repeatedly made clear that he does not plan to roll back the state’s strict gun laws.

“The firearms community has been watching” the handgun review board under the Hogan administration — just as it did under previous administrations, said Dan Blasberg, president of Maryland Shall Issue.

Asked whether he was hopeful that decisions from the new board would favor the firearms community, Blasberg said: “All we want, all we’ve ever wanted, is for the board to make its decisions based on Maryland law and statute, not based on personal feelings.”

Meanwhile, environmentalists lashed out at Hogan in June when he appointed Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert), a lawmaker who has opposed major environmental initiatives, to the Public Service Commission. O’Donnell is expected to assume his post on an interim basis later this summer.

Tiffany Hartung, a spokesman for the Maryland Climate Coalition, said she was troubled by O’Donnell’s appointment and the governor’s appointment of Michael T. Richard, a former Hogan aide. She said she feared the appointees could undermine the expansion of renewable energy in Maryland.

O’Donnell, a longtime employee of Baltimore Gas & Electric, has been an outspoken critic of rate increases. During his 12 years in the House of Delegates, he has voted against bills that allowed offshore wind energy and that pushed for new standards in renewable energy usage to fight against climate change.

Richard, who served as a deputy chief of staff during the first part of Hogan’s term, left that post in January to become an interim member of the Public Service Commission. His confirmation hearing in March ran into trouble when the Senate committee became aware of emails Richard had sent to the governor’s office about commission business after taking his seat on the panel.

Richard gave information to his former colleagues about an offshore wind-power company’s application for renewable-energy credits and sought information from them as the commission was weighing a ruling on a solar-energy project.

He was eventually confirmed after a delay and following assurances from Richard that he was simply helping with the transition of his former job and keeping the governor’s staff updated on the status of various deliberations without divulging sensitive information.

Hogan also triggered complaints from teachers unions and proponents of traditional public schools earlier this year when he chose a leader in the charter school movement and other charter and private school advocates to join the state’s Board of Education.

The governor has appointed Chester Finn, a longtime advocate for charter schools and the co-founder of Edison Learning, a for-profit education group; Andy Smarick, who helped co-found the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Stephanie R. Iszard, the principal at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Prince George’s County; and Laura Weeldreyer, a consultant who works on charter school conversions.

“It appears the question is not how can we put students in a better position to be successful, but how can we help someone make a profit,” said Sean Johnson, the assistant executive director at the Maryland State Education Association.

Pinsky, who fought against the bill to expand charter schools, said he has met with many of the new board members and says he believes they share some common ground.

“I think we disagree on charter schools, and the legislature has put its imprint on where we think it should go,” he said. “We will have to take it issue by issue.”

Crazy Compliance Requirements for Ohio Charter Schools

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Charter school sponsors will be spending the better part of July submitting documents for a new evaluation process that some argue is cumbersome and makes it impossible to receive perfect marks.

The new evaluation framework – which was created by an advisory panel following a discovery last summer that the previous ratings were being calculated illegally – grades sponsors on academic performance, quality and compliance.

Charter school advocates initially took issue with the academic piece of the assessment because traditional schools were provided safe harbor from report card scores. They’re now turning their ire toward a list of compliance requirements that were released last week.

The list includes 319 state laws and rules pertaining to charter schools that sponsors must provide evidence they’re complying with. Previously, documentation was required for only 23 components in the compliance portion of the evaluation.

To top it off, the state’s 36 sponsors – some of which oversee dozens of schools – were given one month to submit compliance documentation to the Department of Education.

Peggy Young, president of the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers, said it will be impossible for some sponsors to gather potentially tens of thousands of documents and check compliance with every law in such a short time frame.

“It’s going to take so much of our time that we can’t even focus on the things that we want to or should be focusing on,” she said.

Sponsors are supposed to be autonomous from the schools they oversee, but some of the compliance requirements would require them to get involved in daily operations and spend a significant amount of time in the buildings, she added.

There are also items on the list that sponsors are not qualified to certify, such as proof that there is no lead in the paint or that certain fire codes are met, said Jennifer Robison, associate director of Buckeye Community Hope Foundation.

As the sponsor of more than 40 schools, the foundation will likely have to beef up its staff and possibly contract with professionals in certain fields to ensure that all compliance measures are being met, she said.

Sponsors want to be compliant in all areas, Ms. Robison said, but the evaluation should be more like an audit that takes random samples instead of requiring sponsors to provide documentation to support every law on the books.

“I feel like we’re being held to a completely different standard as a public school than all the traditional public schools and this is not what we should be spending our time and focus on. It should be on improving the schools, helping the schools, making sure they’re providing a quality education to students – not whether they have a flag five feet in length,” she said, referring to item number 209 on the compliance list.

A number of sponsors have replied to ODE’s email that detailed the compliance requirements with similar concerns and claims that they won’t meet the July 25 deadline.

Read the full article here (registration required).

See the full list of compliance requirements here.

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Education Reformers Reflect at 25

A quarter-century on, challenges loom for the school reform movement.

by Rachel Cohen
American Prospect
June 29, 2016

It’s been a quarter-century since the nation’s first charter school opened in Minnesota, prompting many self-proclaimed reformers to step back and reflect on their movement’s progress. Charters educated 2.5 million students this past year, in 6,700 schools across 43 states. Programs enabling students to attend private schools with vouchers are expanding. And in February, Teach for America celebrated its 25-year anniversary with a summit in Washington, D.C.—noting that of their 50,000 teachers and alumni, 40,000 are still under 40.

But challenges loom for the movement—politically and philosophically. Some tensions can be chalked up to growing pains: a nationwide bipartisan coalition is bound to disagree at times, and certainly policy implementation can be far more contentious than passing legislation. Transforming the public education system, reformers have found, turns out to be hard, messy work.

But the problems run deeper than that. Internally, two main camps of reformers—market-driven advocates and accountability hawks—have been butting heads increasingly over goals and political priorities. For a long time, these two groups seemed to be one and the same—“choice and accountability” have always been buzzwords for the movement. But over time, the divisions between Team Choice and Team Accountability have grown more apparent. Today, some veteran choice advocates, those who have been pushing market-driven reforms for the last 25 years, have expressed feelings of being hemmed in, and in some cases crowded out, by others who are demanding formal checks and balances.

Jeanne Allen, the president of the Center for Education Reform, is one such frustrated choice advocate. “Reformers have become our own worst enemy,” she declared at an event at the National Press Club earlier this month. Her group organized the event to release its new manifesto, outlining challenges Allen sees within education reform, and steps allies must take to get their movement back on track. “If we’re to be honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that our efforts to drive change have hit a wall,” she said. In Allen’s view, reformers saw more progress during their first nine years, than over the last 16.

Her manifesto cites a declining interest in Teach for America, decreasing enthusiasm for the education technology sector, and slower overall charter school growth. She says that officials who authorize charters have grown too overbearing, stifling flexibility and innovation. And she calls on the reform movement to get back on offense—to focus on “opportunity and upward mobility”—so they can begin rebuilding momentum.

The full article here.

North Carolina Paves Path to Expand Choice

Details about North Carolina’s proposed budget that would vastly expand choices for children:

North Carolina legislature proposes budget strong
on K-12 education
Expands Opportunity Scholarship Program, Increases Teacher Pay, Increases Funding for Special Needs School Choice Program

from The American Federation for Children
June 28, 2016

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauds the North Carolina House and Senate for their proposed budget strengthening K-12 education and expanding educational opportunity in the state. The budget would significantly increase funding for the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program to give scholarships to nearly 36,000 low-income students over the next 10 years. It also would increase overall K-12 spending by $500 million, including for teacher salaries and the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant.

“North Carolina is committed to providing all children with a quality education, and we are pleased with their decision to increase funding for those students and families who are most in need of educational choice well into the future,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “We join our allies at Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) in thanking Senator Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and legislative leadership for giving low-income and special needs families greater access to school choice.”

The North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program currently serves over 3,600 children from low-income families. The proposed expansion of program funding would help to meet the widespread demand for scholarships. Funding would increase from $44 million for the 2017-18 school year to almost $145 million for the 2027-28 school year – allowing over 36,000 students to receive a scholarship through the program.

“Today, with more than 22,300 applications submitted for the Opportunity Scholarship Program since its inception in 2013, this proposed budget is an acknowledgement to the thousands of working class families who never gave up on this program in hopes of it being a real game-changer for their children…With hopeful passage of this budget and signature by our governor, North Carolina will palpably demonstrate that this state will no longer allow income and geography to remain barriers to ensuring that all children – especially those who happen to be low-income or disabled – have the opportunity to the best education our state has to offer,” said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC).

The proposed budget will now go to the House and Senate floor for votes and then to the Governor’s desk.

Historic Expansion of Teacher Pay and Opportunity Scholarships for Low-Income Families in Proposed State Budget Plan

from Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina
June 28, 2016

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) applauds the North Carolina House and Senate for their proposed budget which has a strong, comprehensive focus on K-12 public education. This budget increased K-12 spending by over $500 million and dramatically boosted teacher salaries. The budget also includes a massive funding expansion of the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides private school scholarships worth up to $4,200 to low-income and working class families.

“I, along with thousands of North Carolina families, thank Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore and leadership in both bodies for rightly compensating our valued teachers of North Carolina and for the generous budget designed for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The compromise budget, in an effort to meet future parental demand for the Program, increases funding from $44,840,000 in 2017-18 (over 10,000 students) to nearly $145 million in 2027-28, or nearly 36,000 students,” said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

“It’s hard to believe that this program was figuratively on life-support just three short years ago plagued with multiple court challenges and legal stoppages and injunctions. Today, with more than 22,300 applications submitted for the Opportunity Scholarship Program since its inception in 2013, this proposed budget is an acknowledgement to the thousands of working class families who never gave up on this program in hopes of it being a real game-changer for their children. Likewise, I salute our state leaders for answering the call. With hopeful passage of this budget and signature by our governor, North Carolina will palpably demonstrate that this state will no longer allow income and geography to remain barriers to ensuring that all children – especially those who happen to be low-income or disabled – have the opportunity to the best education our state has to offer,” said Allison.

The budget now heads to both the House and Senate for floor votes and onto the governor’s desk for approval.

Additional education initiatives PEFNC would like to thank the legislature for including in its budget are:

  • Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant: The budget increases the amount by $5.8 million to over $10 million to provide additional scholarships for children with disabilities for the several hundred families who were currently on the waiting list. This will help families offset the costs of approved educational expenses for their special needs child, which could include private school tuition, tutoring, and other therapeutic services.
  • Teacher Pay Increase: Average teacher salaries will rise about 4.7 percent raising the average teacher salary in North Carolina to more than $50,000 this year and above $54,000 over the next three years.
  • Teacher 3rd Grade Reading Bonus: Program for third-grade teachers whose students surpass on state-required reading tests. A third-grade teacher can earn up to a $6,500 bonus under this budget proposal whose students excelling at state and district level.

 

Hillary Is Right on Innovation!, Say Education Reformers

The best way to improve the U.S. education system is through innovation and opportunity.

WASHINGTON, DC (June 29, 2016) — The Center for Education Reform (CER) today released the following statement from Jeanne Allen, founder and chief executive, applauding Hillary Clinton’s “innovation agenda” for higher education:

“Hillary’s innovation-focused agenda is exactly what higher education needs. Her emphasis on how different forms of learning can empower young people and provide greater opportunity embraces a notion that reformers have long advocated: that one model doesn’t fit all students.

“Indeed, once upon a time, Hillary supported substantive changes to the status quo. In 1996, she wrote in her book, It Takes a Village, that she found the charter school ‘argument persuasive.’ Presumably, the First Lady would have favored the pro-charter policies her husband put forward, including legislation that he said would put America ‘well on [its] way to creating 3,000 charter schools by the year 2000.’

“And yet, in 2015, Secretary Clinton seemed to take an opposite point of view, repeating an oft-used but inaccurate portrayal of charters: ‘Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them,’ she said.

“The innovations in higher education Hillary is calling for today actually originated in charter schools and have taken hold at all levels of schooling. We call on her to embrace once again the needed, widespread changes to the status quo and to be a leader in ensuring that the principles of innovation and opportunity are embedded throughout all levels of education.”

For more information about how innovation can transform education, see CER’s recently released manifesto, Here Is Everything That’s Wrong With the U.S. Education System — And How to Fix It.

 

The Center for Education Reform does not endorse candidates, but we will always recognize when someone’s on the right side of education opportunity and excellence for kids. 

A Terrible Day for Teachers’ Rights

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Statement from CER Founder & CEO on Supreme Court Denial of Petition to Rehear Friedrichs Case

WASHINGTON, DC (June 29, 2016) — The following statement was issued today by Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, on the Supreme Court’s denial of a petition to rehear the Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association et al. case:

“It’s disappointing that freedom for teachers and their rights will have to wait another day. As we celebrate twenty-five years of charter schools and the innovation they brought to education — which were largely initiated by teachers seeking more autonomy to provide diverse learning opportunities for children — it’s unfathomable that we can still deny teachers the right to make their own decisions about how and under what conditions they should work.

We cannot succeed as a nation in educating our children if we cannot ensure teachers are involved in decisions about where and how they teach. We are thankful to Rebecca Friedrichs and her colleagues for bravely raising this issue, and all who worked to fight for teacher freedom. The fight for teachers’ rights must continue.”

Hillary Embraces Innovation-Focused Agenda For Higher Education

The best way to improve the U.S. education system is through innovation and opportunity.

Press Release
June 29, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — The Center for Education Reform (CER) today released the following statement from Jeanne Allen, founder and chief executive, applauding Hillary Clinton’s “innovation agenda” for higher education:

“Hillary’s innovation-focused agenda is exactly what higher education needs. Her emphasis on how different forms of learning can empower young people and provide greater opportunity embraces a notion that reformers have long advocated: that one model doesn’t fit all students.

“Indeed, once upon a time, Hillary supported substantive changes to the status quo. In 1996, she wrote in her book, It Takes a Village, that she found the charter school ‘argument persuasive.’ Presumably, the First Lady would have favored the pro-charter policies her husband put forward, including legislation that he said would put America ‘well on [its] way to creating 3,000 charter schools by the year 2000.’

“And yet, in 2015, Secretary Clinton seemed to take an opposite point of view, repeating an oft-used but inaccurate portrayal of charters: ‘Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them,’ she said.

“The innovations in higher education Hillary is calling for today actually originated in charter schools and have taken hold at all levels of schooling. We call on her to embrace once again the needed, widespread changes to the status quo and to be a leader in ensuring that the principles of innovation and opportunity are embedded throughout all levels of education.”

For more information about how innovation can transform education, see CER’s recently released manifesto, Here Is Everything That’s Wrong With the U.S. Education System — And How to Fix It.

 

The Center for Education Reform does not endorse candidates, but we will always recognize when someone’s on the right side of education opportunity and excellence for kids. 

NEWSWIRE: June 28, 2016 — What’s next for Charter Schools?

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We’re on the ground in Nashville, TN this week at the National Charter Schools Conference, and from panel discussions to side conversations the message for a New Opportunity Agenda is clear:  Charter schools must get back to their roots of being innovative learning opportunities for children.

QUOTABLE. A few of the best remarks overheard so far at #NCSC16:

If we have the courage to bring down Jim Crow laws then we should have the same courage to change education. The problem I have with the edreform movement is that we’re too soft. We will fight until hell freezes over, and then we will fight on the ice.Roland Martin

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We must not only remember where we have been, but UNDERSTAND where we’ve been. We have to understand and remember the bigger idea of why charter schools exist and were created in the first place.  — Howard Fuller

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Charter schools are kind of like Snoop Dogg. Nobody ever thought he’d be mainstream.  Now charter schools are mainstream. But we have to go back to selling mix tapes out of the back of a car.  — Howard Fuller

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THE FIRST LAW. As we celebrate the nation’s first charter school law created in Minnesota 25 years ago, Joe Nathan with the Center for School Change reminds us of the simple yet compelling five-page law that allowed for opportunities for charter schools to flourish.

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CHARTERS AS INNOVATION. Ted Kolderie, author of “The Split Screen Strategy: Improvement + Innovation” and one of the founding fathers of edreform, reminded us that charter schools were founded with the intention of being something totally different from traditional district schools. Charters were to have freedom in exchange for accountability, in order to get to the end goal of radically improving children’s lives. But now, charter schools are dangerously close to becoming the very thing they sought to change. “Regulation is at odds with radical change,” reflected Kolderie. And that’s precisely why many gathered yesterday to discuss how to get back on track an edreform movement that’s lost steam, so that all of our nation’s children can access excellent education opportunities.

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