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On the Twelfth Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

Wise People Knowing! 

(11th) Great Funders Funding
10th) Best of Teachers Teaching
(9th) Nine Data Dancing
(8th) Charter Schools Leading
(7th) Opportunity Scholars Expanding
(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
 (2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

The final in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

The Wise People of the education reform movement – or as we lovingly call them, the Pioneers – are the people no one ever really talks about anymore, but are the ones who made EdReform happen, and whose work led to the innovations that many rest on today. 

Before it was cool there was also very little social media, and email was something you did after you had a meeting or a conversation (not in place of). The result was that the EdReform movement was crafted in person or by phone, in long meetings, retreats, conference lobby bars, and the like. Calls were made to each other at night in the heat of battle as legislators were slugging it out on the floor (Rep. Sally Perz of Ohio can regale you on that one). The best way to craft a school choice policy that helped children most in need was negotiated artfully with disparate coalitions of Type A people (Susan Mitchell of Milwaukee still has the scars to prove it).

There was Linda Brown in Massachusetts, Ted Rebarber in DC, Ember Reichgott Junge in Minnesota, Yvonne Chan in California, and countless

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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas CER Gave To Me…

Great Funders Funding! 

(10th) Best of Teachers Teaching
(9th) Nine Data Dancing
(8th) Charter Schools Leading
(7th) Opportunity Scholars Expanding
(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
 (2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 11th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

We would be remiss if we didn’t dedicate a day to those who put their money where their mouth is and back the idea that innovation and opportunity can thrive to produce better outcomes in education.

Of course, the first person that comes to mind is the late John Walton – the driving force behind the Walton Family Foundation’s original education reform investments who believed in school choice because it was the right thing to do.

Another “giant of freedom” is the late Lovett “Pete” Peters, who ardently believed all children deserve superb teachers and an excellent education. At the age of 75, Peters dedicated himself to improving education in his home state of Massachusetts and across the nation. His legacy lives on in the organization he founded (the Pioneer Institute) and the Massachusetts charter schools (of which he played a key role in bringing to the Commonwealth) achieving great results for kids today.

And speaking of great results, when comedian John Oliver inaccurately portrayed charter schools last summer, Janine Yass – a charter school founder and philanthropist – was one of the first to spring to action to make sure these falsehoods didn’t stick. “Your show hurt poor children,” she personally wrote to

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On the Tenth Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

The Best of Teachers Teaching!

(9th) Nine Data Dancing
(8th) Charter Schools Leading
(7th) Opportunity Scholars Expanding
(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
 (2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 10th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

by Dave Saba

“Your teachers teach!”

What a great statement from Texas Serenity Academy about teachers they received from the Teachers of Tomorrow alternative certification program. There are over 3.5 million teachers in schools today and many are doing an incredible job teaching America’s students. They challenge their students to learn while at the same time meeting the growing bureaucratic needs of an ever-expanding central office.

But PISA scores show that we must do better. We are too good to be 15th in reading, 35th in math and 18th in science.

Teachers have the greatest impact on student learning and yet our teaching pipeline is dry. Over the past 10 years the number of students selecting education as their major has dropped from 9.9 percent to 4.2 percent. Right now there are 116,000 openings in schools and it is only getting worse.

Some argue that there isn’t a teacher shortage and we have produced the right number of teachers. They argue that the problem is that too many are just not teaching, or don’t teach the right subjects or don’t want to teach in the right geography and they would be correct. They say we need to keep more great teachers in the classroom and they are right.  But if you are the HR person tasked with putting

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On the 9th Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

9 Data Dancing!

(8th) Charter Schools Leading
(7th) Opportunity Scholars Expanding
(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
 (2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 9th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

 

“Anyone can make data dance,” it’s been said.

That’s a reference often heard in research debates about whether or not someone’s findings are accurate, and usually to suggest that one person’s research is just as valid (or invalid) as another’s.

And yes, anyone can manipulate data, but not everyone uses the gold standard method of evaluations to help guide policy and decision-making. The gold standard is the term of art, for the best science to gauge whether something is working or not.  It uses real subjects, with similar characteristics, and tracks their progress to determine if the one major variable that distinguishes them might be responsible for their relative success or failure.

In the #edreform world that variable is most often a choice of schools. With literally thousands of comments, tweets, articles & the like constantly disparaging school choice results, CER brought together a distinguished panel of academicians and thought leaders this past November to create the first ever repository of “gold standard” guidelines for the education policy community. The forum was EdReform: Revived, and the findings from an ideologically diverse group conclusively demonstrate that not only does choice work for parents, its success from chartering to vouchers is clear and impactful from the student’s time in a choice school through college.

Giving new meaning to data dancing, these nine arbiters of data

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On the 8th Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

Charter Schools Leading!

(7th) Opportunity Scholars Expanding
(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
(2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 8th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

Charter schools are no longer a marginal experiment in US education.

Charter schools were started as a bipartisan effort to give schools more freedom and flexibility to meet results currently not being attained by district schools. As Ember Reichgott Junge, former Minnesota state senator and author of the first charter school bill in the nation, explains, “Chartering trades regulation for results, bureaucracy for accountability.”

Today, there are more than 6,700 charters enrolling nearly three million children in 43 states and Washington DC, leading the way in outcomes for children. There are arts-based charter schools, online charter schools, charter schools focused on STEAM and STEM curriculums, charter schools focused on the classics, and much more. 

The beauty of charter schools is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” model, and parents and children are free to determine if a school is a good fit – a sharp contrast to the district model.

As a student from Natomas Charter School – the winner in our Back Off My Charter video contest – told HBO comedian John Oliver, “The world realizes that education is an archaic model that needs updating – that’s why we have charter schools. We experiment, challenge and create – we pioneer change in hopes that other traditional schools will follow suit.”

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On the 7th Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

Opportunity Scholars Expanding!

(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
(2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 7th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

by Princess V. Lyles on behalf of Opportunity DC, a project of CER and Democracy Builders

The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) launched in 2004. This vital choice program provides low-income families with federally funded scholarships to attend independent schools throughout the District of Columbia. Since its inception, over 6,500 families have seen their opportunities expand.

Our holiday wish is to see the program expanded as soon as possible!

Throughout 2016 our team of grassroots organizers worked side by side with families who receive this scholarship. We listened to their stories, heard from their children, and supported their efforts as they plead with Members of Congress to sustain and grow this vital program. We stand behind these amazing families because we know that the OSP works! Graduation rates for OSP recipients surpass ninety percent, compared to 69% in DCPS.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to education. As Americans we have choice in almost every aspect of our daily lives…and yet for many low-income families, their zip code alone is the determining factor in the quality or their school. The OSP provides an additional option for DC families who aren’t selected in the lottery for their choice of traditional or public charter schools. The program is a rising tide in DC that has lifted all boats, as all three sectors have seen tremendous academic gains in

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On the Sixth Day of Christmas CER gave to me…

Parent Power Growing!

(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
(2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 6th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

Parent Power is growing and evolving – not just in practice,
but in the way we think about and talk about what this term means. The lingo may have changed slightly, but the goal is still the same.

Let us explain.

The Center has more than two decades under its belt working to empower parents. And since 1999, CER has been providing Parent Power!, a program aimed at helping parents make sense of schooling. Parent Power! started out as a quarterly magazine, but as the World Wide Web grew, so did Parent Power!  CER has helped develop and network over 10,000 grassroots groups all across the country.

The Parent Power Index is CER’s vision for the next generation of Parent Power!

Why the switch from the alliterative title? Throughout 2016, The Center for Education Reform reenvisioned its focus and mission and began the important work of reframing the debate about education in America. No longer content just to reform education, CER is now dedicated to expanding educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans.

Our vision is a country and states that provide increased, quality educational opportunities that secure our nation’s freedom and future prosperity. At the heart of that prosperity is freedom, and the ability to apply the entrepreneurial spirit of this country to all education, where it is most urgently needed. And at the heart of that freedom is giving parents the fundamental power to choose the kind of education and

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas CER gave to me…

State Policy Changing

(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching
(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
(2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The fifth in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

Election 2016 brought about promising opportunities for changes in state policy. Voters cast their votes so that 2017 will see 72 percent of Governors (including the mayor of Washington DC) with passing grades on parent power and innovation. And while we hope that governors can enact real change in their states, we still have a lot of work to do!

So as we look forward to the potential for change in 2017, here’s a brief look back at states we’ve worked in to start moving the needle on expanding opportunity and innovation:

Kentucky: Laying the Groundwork for a New Opportunity Agenda
In 2007, the Center was the first national organization to answer the call from Kentucky lawmakers to help them forge a path for charter schools and greater opportunity for students across the commonwealth. We have again joined forces – with a new governor, his cabinet and legislative leaders – to map out a strategy for broad success that would ensure opportunities for students young and old, in all of Kentucky’s communities. Our comprehensive approach combined with visits to D.C. charter schools laid a foundation for success. (On election day the Kentucky House became choice-friendly. We continue to provide guidance and assistance in helping them use that momentum to create a new day for students and families.) 

A Disappointing Loss in Massachusetts
Although the ballot initiative to increase the number of charter school in Massachusetts failed, it wasn’t for a lack of effort. CER drove media

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On the Fourth Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

Reformie Ladies Lunching
A GLOBAL HUB FOR TECHNOLOGY
MODEL LEGISLATION
AND A NOMINEE FOR OPPORTUNITY!

 

The fourth in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

“Innovation is the key lever for change.”

That’s what Deborah Quazzo told a room full of female movers and shakers in education gathered by CER and CityBridge in early November to discuss how to increase opportunity for our nation’s children.

Deborah is Founder and Managing Partner of GSV Acceleration Fund, a venture capital fund investing in the most dynamic entrepreneurs and companies leveraging technology in the global $4.9 trillion education and talent technology sectors. Her experience and accomplishments in and outside of education are numerous. She’s exactly the kind of woman whose presence and involvement is critically important to the future of our students and schools.

While it’s no secret that teaching is still a predominantly female career, it may be less obvious that there are powerful women behind the drive to change the way we think about teaching and learning in America. That was the drive behind this meeting of business executives, philanthropists, and community activists in the EdReform space – a celebration of powerful females moving the needle for students paired with critical conversations on how we can work together to break barriers.

We’ve all heard the expression that there’s nothing more powerful than a woman’s intuition, and that’s something America could certainly use more of to help push the envelope on change in education!

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On the Third Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

A Global Hub for Technology
Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The third in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

by Jonathan Harber — Founder, StartED Accelerator

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-9-53-18-amMove over, Menlo Park — there’s another tech boom coming, and not necessarily where you’d expect it. This boom is being driven by the edtech sector, and it has found its new home in New York City!

Consider that New York is home to over two million active students and has the largest hub of education institutions, publishing giants, corporate training departments, cutting edge researchers and investors in the industry. We also have the largest school district, community college network, expansive and hugely successful charter schools, and corporate training budgets. The potential is enormous.

New York City has both the biggest potential edtech consumer base and the most places to pilot innovative ideas. No other city in the country has as many university students – not even Boston.

NYC Is a Tech, Deal Hub

It is true that the largest share of the world’s technology innovation is still happening in California, in and around San Francisco and Silicon Valley, but Gotham is number two.

And where there is tech innovation, there’s usually investment. In a 2014 ranking of cities with the most tech start-up funding, California, unsurprisingly, led the way. New York was third, and only because San Francisco and Silicon Valley were listed separately.

It’s undeniable that education systems continue to face pressure to change. With more investment and rapid innovation, we’re nearing a tipping point where the digital transformation in education will develop its own inertia. The community that can cultivate and

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