Grassroots Education Network- 2022 Roundup
The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 190 grassroots organizations nationwide that have joined together to preserve, promote, improve, and strengthen our public schools. If you know of a group that would like to join this powerful network, please go here to sign on. If you have any questions about the NPE Grassroots Education Network, please contact Marla Kilfoyle, NPE Grassroots Education Network Liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes from Marla
I am so proud to write that this is the third installment of the NPE Grassroots Education Network Roundup. Each year I create a small summary of some of the powerful victories, and work, organizations in the network have produced. It is a small summary but it is a big testament to all the work grassroots groups across the country continue to do. The roundup is divided into regions of the country. To get a picture of the power of the NPE Grassroots Education Network please head over to the section of the NPE website that highlights the network and archives the monthly newsletters. I am sure 2023 will continue to bring us more victories for children, their families, and public education.
The Network for Public Education was able to hold their yearly conference in 2022. Advocates from all over the country met in Philadelphia to continue their work for children, families, and communities. The conference was a great success. To read about the conference and view pictures from the weekend go here. NPE was excited to announce in late 2022, that their 10th Anniversary Conference will be held in D.C. Registration and panel proposals are now open. Go to the website for more information. First Focus Campaign for Children held their Children’s Budget Summit 2022. Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, addressed attendees. Policymakers, experts, and advocates analyzed the newly released Children’s Budget 2022 and its implications for future policy. Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young also joined the summit in a recorded conversation with First Focus on Children’s Bruce Lesley. Parents for Public Schools National was victorious in their lawsuit regarding vouchers in 2022. PPS, represented by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)-Mississippi, Democracy Forward, and the Mississippi Center for Justice, filed a complaint in June petitioning the court to prevent the State from implementing $10 million in public funds from going to private schools in Mississippi for infrastructure grants. The attorneys representing PPS argued that Section 208 of the Mississippi Constitution prohibits the use of any public funds in support of private schools, and thus, the money allocated through this law is indeed unconstitutional. On October 14th the Judge ruled that the use of public funds for private schools is, in fact, unconstitutional. Read PPS’s statement here. Journey for Justice Alliance held their Quality of Life Festival in 2022. The event was held in D.C. at RFK Stadium. Go here to see videos and pictures.
From Fairplay’s Year in Review – In 2022, Fairplay built on the incredible momentum and success of years past and reached tremendous new heights. From drafting groundbreaking legislation to releasing essential new research on the impact of social media on young people. Read on to take stock of Fairplay’s impressive work in 2022. Saphron Initiative created its 7 point platform for education justice and pro-public education policy in late 2022. Soon, Saphron Initiative is set to begin an advocacy organizer exchange program with multiple confirmed elected officials for young public education advocates to gain hands-on experience in education advocacy working for their offices, from budgeting to curriculum to resolution-drafting and more. Saphron Initiative’s work with Schools for Climate Action will also continue into 2023 as Schools for Climate Action coalition members across the U.S., led by students from California, plan to introduce a new version of the earlier legislation on climate education, H.Res.29, into congress during the next session in early 2023. Defending the Early Years had a successful Summer Institute in 2022. The theme Early Childhood in These Times: Equity, Policy, and Practice set the tone for a very powerful conference. To see the archived videos from the three days go here. Uniting to Save Our Schools held several webinars in 2022. You can find them here on their website. They also began the year with two new webinars. The first webinar of 2023 was how to recognize teacher burnout vs. demoralization which was held on January 26th. You can view that here on their website. The other webinar Examining the Moral Injuries and Oppressive Impacts of High Stakes Tests: Dialogue on Alternatives and Actions will be held on February 8th. You can register for that webinar here.
In 2022 Parents Supporting Schools in LA exposed how billionaires, who have nothing to do with LAUSD, dropped over $1 million in the LAUSD school board race. Our Denver Our Schools worked hard all year to show Colorado who is funding the effort to undermine public education in Colorado. Community & Parents for Public Schools of Portland (CPPS) recruited parents and community members in SW Portland to participate in a program called Parent Engagement, or PEP, this year. The focus of PEP was to create advocates for a high quality public education at Markham Elementary school. They also partnered with their Pitt County, NC chapter on revitalization. Go to their website to see how busy their year was.
Arizona Save Our Schools led a powerful campaign to try and stop vouchers in Arizona this year. Arizona Educators United held a campaign in 2022 to stop the school takeover bill (HB2808). Oklahoma PLAC and Oklahoma Pastors for Children worked hard in 2022 to stop a voucher bill in Oklahoma. Pastors for Texas Children sponsored the Texas Tribune TribFest’s panel in Fort Worth, Texas with their friends Mayor Mattie Parker, Congressman Marc Veasey, State Representative Nicole Collier and State Representative Craig Goldman this year. PTC also hit the road in 2022 with a message for communities to support community schools. To learn more about this campaign go here. Finally, PTC released a powerful video called The Table of God. To view that video go here.
Illinois Families for Public Schools were happy to report in 2022 that despite massive amounts of lobbying from pro-voucher groups, there wasn’t movement during the veto session on any legislation regarding the Invest in Kids Act. The Invest in Kids Act is a voucher program that was created in 2017 and was supposed to sunset after five years, but it’s already been extended for an extra year. Voucher supporters want to remove the sunset clause to make the program permanent and also expand it. IFPS worked very hard to make sure there was no movement on removing the clause. Indiana Coalition for Public Education ended 2022 on a strong note when board member, and NPE Action Board Member, Dountonia Batts appeared on CNN This Morning as a part of a panel. The panel discussed why neighborhood public schools are essential for strong communities and that private school vouchers siphon money away from them. Dountonia has experience as a charter school parent, private school parent, and a public school parent.
Support Forest Hill Public Schools (Michigan) conducted a community survey on important matters for local families in 2022. Surveys are such a great way to connect with your community on a grassroots level. Physical and emotional safety at school landed in the top 5 concerns from their survey. Learn more about FHPS’ available mental health resources here. Stand for Schools (Nebraska) welcomed Dunixi Guereca as their new Executive Director in 2022. They were also awarded The Phyllis Bush Grassroots Advocate Award at the NPE Conference this year. Public Education Partners worked very hard in 2022 to continue to expose the EdChoice Voucher program in Ohio. The voucher program is currently heading to litigation. PEP shares their New Year’s wishes for Ohio education. Wisconsin Public Education Partners remained one of the busiest organizations in the network for 2022. To get an idea of all the work they did this year please read their end-of-year report.
Grassroots Arkansas worked hard last year in Little Rock to stop the closure of several schools. Read their powerful testimony to the LRSB here. Grassroots Arkansas continued to do community work this year and ended the year with providing food for attendees of the Fall Festival put on by the Romane Early Childhood Center. Finally, Dr. Anika Whitfield was chosen as the award winner for The David Award at the NPE Conference. The David Award goes to an organizer who has brought down a giant. Dr. Whitfield, an organizer with Grassroots Arkansas, successfully fought back against the Walton Foundation in Little Rock. You can see her acceptance speech here. Hillsborough Public School Advocates (Florida) had a very successful fundraiser on the Yacht Starship last year. The fundraiser was postponed due to Hurricane Ian but thankfully was still a huge success when it did happen. The money will be used to provide grants to schools. Go here to see pictures from that event. HPSA also advocated for the state to acknowledge and fund the third round of ESSER funds. HPSA and PTA/PTSA advocated for the Florida state board of education to amend an administrative rule that would have increased concordant scores for the Florida standards assessment. The increased scores would have affected 25% of at risk seniors in the class of 2022. HPSA advocated for additional community schools to be added to Hillsborough County this year. They are awaiting final district approval of 6 additional community schools and FLDOE approval of HCPS’ application for millions in ESSER funds to be allocated toward community schools. HPSA and HCTA had their 2nd Community Schools Event on March 10th of 2022. They formed a coalition with other Hillsborough County organizations for this event, who are also fighting for racial justice and community schools approach in Hillsborough County. Georgia Youth Justice Coalition went on tour late in 2022 to promote education justice, youth voting power, Black Student Unions, and much more. They co-hosted a legislative debrief with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Public Education Matters GA, and Fair Fight where they discussed the fight for education justice in Georgia. Finally, the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition launched the Gwinnett Education Justice Summit last year. The summit was a paid opportunity for Gwinnett students ages 14+ and was centered on racial justice, school board policy, voter education, and voter of color engagement. Step Up Louisiana has had a very busy 2022. Here is just a small slice of what they did this year: Step Up Louisiana had a successful Gala in October of 2022. Step Up Louisiana attended the Poor People’s Campaign in D.C. last year. Here you can see Step Up Louisiana member and Family Dollar worker Richard Joseph speaking at that rally. In most of 2022, Step Up Louisiana supported Family Dollar employees who are demanding better pay and safer stores, striking Maximus call center workers, and other worker rights issues in their state. Step Up Louisiana held parent union meetings in November and worked very hard to get Act 406 the Fair Chance in Hiring Act passed. Step Up Louisiana has consistently worked on environmental injustice in their communities. Listen to Step Up Louisiana member, Corhonda Corley, talk about the environmental injustice the community of Alsen has experienced from Ronaldson Landfill in East Baton Rouge Parish. At the end of the year Step Up Louisiana members were out in the Jefferson Parish community immediately after the December tornados. They surveyed the need and filled the gaps of their neighbors and friends who lost a lot and experienced trauma. They were able to help 41 families impacted by the tornado. Public Schools First NC spent 2022 continuing to monitor legislative movement and tracking bills. They successfully got community members to take action through email and petition campaigns. They publish a weekly news series, did audiocast, recently revived their Red4EdNC, and published fact sheets. Finally, Public Schools First NC worked over time last year to provide films and webinars to their community so that they are educated about the attack on public education and to also show the promise of public education.
Parents for Public Schools Pitt County (North Carolina) elected a new slate of officers in 2022. They attended the Education Network Reception and conducted school tours last fall. They also co-presented at the NC/SC School Public Relations Association Conference about three programs: PEP, Community Conversations, and School Tours. Love Our Children NC is proud that their 13 months of advocacy in 2022 ended out-of-school suspensions for 4, 5, 6, and 7-year-olds in New Hanover County. They are the first county in North Carolina to end suspensions for young learners. They also became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization last year. They hope to use future donations to end the practice of seclusion in NC schools. They also launched a new website in 2022. Pastors for North Carolina Children shared their Top 10 things that happened in 2022. PNCC moved from the infancy state of a nonprofit to a teenage nonprofit who is growing and developing its own identity. Quality Education Project (South Carolina) administrator Dr. Kendall Deas wrote a powerful Public Voices for Public Schools which highlighted national efforts on the part of the Quality Education Project and other advocates to challenge the privatization movement in South Carolina. To end 2022, Quality Education Project administrator Carol Tempel won her school board trustee race for District 9. Pastors for Tennessee Children Executive Director Amy Frogge had a fantastic viral tweet about the ten things wrong with TN charters last year. To view that viral tweet go here. Amy also presented at the NPE Conference with Reverend Dr. William Terry Ladd III and State Rep. Antonio Parkinson. All three did a fantastic job laying out the landscape for what is happening in Tennessee and the fight against vouchers. Richmond for All (Virginia) joined the Richmond Crusade for Voters, Inc., Richmond Virginia Branch NAACP, BLM804, and Center for Common Ground’s Democracy Center in calling for corrective action on behalf of RPS students in 2022. Educators have been sounding the alarm on failed curriculum for years, and while administration delays action RPS students pay the price. Richmond for All parent, and attorney, Jeannie Bowker unpacked the Dobbs decision and its implications for public education in this powerful article in Medium.
Citizens for Public Schools worked diligently in 2022 to stop the raising of MCAS passing scores. Citizens for Public Schools continues to educate parents about the Opt Out movement in Massachusetts. Head over to their website for more resources. CPS ended 2022 working on the Fair Share Amendment (Question 1) which would make the very rich pay their fair share of taxes. Save Our Schools NJ Executive Director Julie Borst was featured on a panel called “Time’s Up: The Urgent Need to Appoint Members to Expired Seats on the New Jersey State Board of Education.” SOSNJ continued to provide parents with information on how to refuse the STARR exam. Finally, SOS NJ celebrated 2022 when Gov. Murphy signed A3196/S2349 into law. The law made the NJGPA, the high school exit exam, a field test. New Jersey’s Our Children/Our Schools had a big year last year. OC/OS launched a campaign to pressure Governor Phil Murphy to appoint new members to the State Board of Education. All 13 members will be sitting in expired seats as of June 2023, and the President and Vice President are currently in expired seats. Governor Murphy hadn’t nominated any new members during his first term, and then finally nominated three people nine months into his second term. They still have not been confirmed and seated. OC/OS is urging the Governor to push for confirmation, and held a public forum on the importance of the State Board of Education. Paterson Education Fund celebrated a successful Enrichment Camp summer of 2022. Check out their amazing video recapping camp. PEF was honored to lead training to help students who are enduring adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). PEF supported this training in three Paterson Public Schools. Class Size Matters had a huge victory in 2022 when Gov. Hochul signed a class size bill. To read more about this victory that was years in the making go here.
AQE NY focused last year on school funding, foundation aid, early care and learning, and solutions not suspensions. It was a very busy year for AQE NY. To view the outcome of their campaigns go here. The AQE staff retreat at the end of last year was a 10-day wellness-centered, restorative trip for the AQE team, anchored in the history, heritage, and culture of Ghana. The trip was a Black-led, BIPOC-majority, all-female team who needed time to pause and breathe. This trip was made possible by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Schott Foundation, Communities for Just Schools Fund and de Rothschild Foundation. AQE also thanks the following individuals for their support: B. Barnes, A. Weaver, M. Harisiadis, J. Luck, A. Stevens, S. Boyd, and M. Gilligan. Education Voters PA took a minute to celebrate all of their wins for 2022! Education Voters PA celebrated the PA budget which passed with a historic investment of $1 billion in public education funding, including $225 million allocated through the Level Up initiative. They also celebrated the landmark education funding lawsuit which wrapped up after months of testimony and argument. Through wide-reaching grassroots campaigns, Ed Voters was able to spread awareness of this lawsuit through numerous communities, supercharging citizen engagement and cultivating new advocates for public education statewide. To read about many more of their wins go here. Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools came out swinging in 2022 by attending and reporting on Philadelphia Board of Education meetings. They went into 2023 by making sure the Board did not approve any new charter schools. To read their reports that summed up a very busy 2022 and what looks to be an even busier 2023, go here. Providence Student Union formed in 2010 and continues to be one of the premier youth led organizations in the country. In 2022, PSU worked hard on the Student Bill of Rights – Article 2. In November 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of Rhode Island students to make public education a right under the U.S. Constitution. In June 2022 RIDE agreed to establish a Civic Readiness Task Force by September 2022 to advise the state on how to prepare students to be involved, capable citizens in a democratic society. PSU youth aim to join this task force and help shape the civics curricula in Rhode Island. To learn more go here. To begin 2023, PSU youth facilitators hosted a Know Your Rights conference. 25 students attended to learn about rights and laws that affect youth organizers, students, and members of the community. From the people in power puppet show with Kevin York Richards to reimagining dress code, and class rank policy, everyone had so much fun.