Newswire: October 11, 2016 — Special Anniversary Issue — Edreform turns 23 — Charter schools receive positive attention — Massachusetts charter school grad speaks up about opportunity
Special Anniversary Issue
23. The Center for Education Reform’s founding in 1993 marked a turning point for the then-nascent effort to bring about educational excellence for all kids. Back then, while the nation had regained its competitive edge, and its schools were still struggling, charter schools, school choice (yes vouchers!), state standards and teacher quality were the focus of bi-partisan groups of lawmakers. During this time, CER brought about many of the laws that still stand as the strongest today in each of those areas. Thanks to continued effort, advocacy and involvement by hundreds more groups today that were not around at that time, enormous progress has been made. On the advent of the beginning of our 24th year, we offer a toast to all engaged in the cause of educational excellence, freedom and advancement. More to come, on our birthday, this Thursday October 13.
24. Much has changed since our launching of a movement in 1993, with just about everything. What we know about how kids learn, how adults function, what traditional systems have done – good and bad – and how technology and innovation can transform the way we operate, calls on us to rethink how we work, what we do, and whether or not we are doing good enough. The short answer is no, a message we sent loud and clear when we released A Manifesto: A Movement at Risk, this June, and a New Opportunity Agenda for the future. Along with that policy document comes a refreshed organization, one that puts innovation and opportunity first, for children, students and families from birth through adult. Innovation is the pathway to Opportunity, and Opportunity is the key to helping all people achieve the American dream. That’s our unique mission, on which we will relentlessly focus until it is achieved.
250. That’s the number of qualified videos queued up for review by our celebrity panel of judges, in the “Back Off My Charter School, John Oliver!” Video Contest! Thousands more charter school representatives – teachers, students and parents – took to social media and engaged their communities and advocates in telling their stories and rebuffing an unfair and inaccurate picture of what these opportunities do for the vast majority they serve. While judges begin their review of who will win the $100,000 prize, we are grateful for those who participated. “Not to sound cliché, but they’re all winners,” said CER CEO Jeanne Allen. Stay tuned for winner announcement by month’s end.
75. The positive attention charter schools received as a result of the video contest increased dramatically across the country, as people looked up from their focused, hard work of serving students and realized they had to speak out to address why they made choices to attend or work at charter schools rather than settle for their assigned, zoned school or the traditional district that was once the only option for anyone who didn’t have money or resources to move. CER’s website traffic increased 75 percent during this period of time, while positive media about charter schools increased by 10 percent in the same period. Out of challenges come opportunities, a great supporter once told us. He was right. To our detractors we say, “bring ‘em on!”
2. Remember that number. That’s #YESon2MA which would allow residents of the most disadvantaged communities in Massachusetts to have access to more of the amazingly exceptional charter schools that exist in cities like Boston and Lawrence, to name just two. Yet instead of being willing to forgo the status quo to serve the needs of the more than 32,000 students and families demanding access to charter schools on waiting lists, “Opponents of Question 2 are attempting to pit the opportunities of thousands of kids like me – overwhelmingly students of color, like me – against a status quo that is broken and not serving anyone.” Those are the words charter school graduate Donovan Birch Jr. penned in the Boston Globe last week. He’s concerned voices from students like him are being left out of the conversation about expanding opportunity in MA. It’s up to all of us to make sure we keep educating everyone – both in and out of MA – about the many benefits charter schools provide to students in the Bay State and beyond.