Grassroots Education Network- April 2020 Newsletter
The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 140 grassroots organizations nationwide who 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 hope this newsletter finds you all safe and healthy. The focus of this newsletter will be what organizations in the network are doing to assist communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, we will not be holding our bi-monthly virtual meeting of the network until further notice. I know we don’t need an added burden on our plate. I want to wish you all good health and please stay safe.
The NPE Conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. We have rescheduled it to November 21 and 22nd. For more information regarding registration, hotels, or if you are a panelist please go here. If you registered earlier this year, there is no need to register for the conference again, but you must register again for your hotel.
The Network for Public Education is currently conducting virtual conversations with NPE President Diane Ravitch and her special guests every Wednesday evening. The first conversation was Diane taking questions about her latest book Slaying Goliath. On April 15th, Diane and Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, Director of Pastors for Texas Children, discussed school privatization to a packed virtual audience. April 22nd Diane had a virtual conversation with blogger, author and teacher Mercedes Schneider and on April 29th with Early Childhood Education advocates Dr. Denisha Jones and Susan Ochshorn. To listen to these conversations go here. Defending the Early Years and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood have teamed up for two webinars on the use of online platforms with Pre-K children. To view the archived webinars go here. DEY has extended registration for their Summer Institute in Washington, D.C. For more information, and to register, go here. In the Public Interest shared an article from Cashing in on Kids, about how the charter sector is going after money from the federal bailout. Read about that here. The Journey for Justice Alliance podcast On The Ground, hosted by Jitu Brown, airs every Monday at 6 PM CST. J4J has also postponed their annual conference. Go here for more information. Fairtest publishes a newsletter each week about the misuses and flaws of standardized testing. They are a valuable resource and clearinghouse for everything testing and test reform. Fairtest has published a list of test-optional universities and colleges. Rethinking Schools editor, and Zinn Education Project curriculum writer, Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, had an excellent article in the Washington Post Answer Sheet titled “Teaching Voting Rights in the Time of Coronavirus: What Our Students Should Know About the Struggle for the Ballot — but Won’t Learn from Their Textbooks.” Go here for the link to the article. Also, “Rethinking Ethnic Studies” has been recognized as a finalist in the 22nd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards! The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy have published some excellent resources for online learning and student privacy. Please go to their webpage for those resources. Parents for Public Schools National sent a message to their followers, and members, that they would be closed until April 20th but will continue to update resources on their website. Parents Across America Roanoke Valley leader, Laura Bowman, shared the following email with Virginia Delegates who were considering a bill on best practices for digital device use in public schools. As the use of digital devices is commonplace with the COVID pandemic, and the subsequent cancellation of school in brick and mortar buildings, it is vitally important that we be mindful of the healthy and safe use of these devices by children. The Schott Foundation is working with the Journey for Justice Alliance and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools in creating the Loving Communities Response Fund to support community-led grassroots organizations who serve youth and families directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) have asked educators to take a survey so that they can collect information to use in their continued advocacy efforts. BATs want to ensure the voices of all teachers are heard. Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education (USA) posts important information about education, and social issues happening in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. during the COVID pandemic. The Ontario (Canada) Secondary School Teachers Federation published Harvey Bischof, President of OSSTF, statement on school closures in Ontario. Wear Red for Ed has an active open Facebook page which tracks the Red for Ed movement nationwide. It is also tracking education issues that are surfacing due to the shutdown of our schools. Find out what Save our Schools March is up to by following their open Facebook page. First Focus Campaign for Children published a powerful statement on the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill and how it impacts children and families. To read that statement go here. Kinderchat continues to host their popular twitter chat every Monday night at 9 PM EST. The chats are informative and provide great resources for teaching kindergartners during school closures. Check them out on twitter at #Kinderchat. Instituto Nueva Escuela are publishing powerful videos of what children are doing at home in Puerto Rico during their school closure. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has published their first webinar on social distancing as a family. You can read the recap of the advice Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Dr. Mark Bertin gave to parents of children under 6 and watch the recording. Equal Opportunity Schools joined the network this month. We are so honored to have them. Give them a follow on Twitter and Facebook. Check out their work at their website.
Please use this clearinghouse to encourage people to join organizations in their state and support their work! Call on family, friends, and colleagues to join the fight to save public education. The state organizing section is also a place to get great ideas for organizing and actions.
SOS (Support our Students) shared some important information on their Facebook page about the state of education, during the pandemic and beyond, in Alabama.
Arkansans for World Class Education joined the network in late March. They are currently working on booting up a website and media. We will share that in our next newsletter.
Voices for Education pushed out a survey from the University of Arizona Education Policy Center asking teachers to weigh in on how remote teaching is going. If you are an Arizona teacher, or know an Arizona teacher, please share. In early March, Arizonans for Charter School Accountability exposed ASU Prep, the worst run charter in Arizona. Save our Schools Arizona launched their Save our Schools Act. To learn more, check out their promotional video. Arizona Educators United partnered with the Phoenix Elementary Classroom Teachers Association to create a list of the MANY food options for Arizona families and/or communities struggling during the COVID crisis.
California Educators United shared some important information about how teachers and parents are handling remote learning in California. They also launched a survey this month to collect information about union and educator responses to the COVID-19 school closures. They hope to better inform educators across locals, raise expectations of what is possible, and inform bargaining and advocacy in their union and community organizing. Public Core published their latest episode of Between Two Teachers this month. Check it out here. The Association of RAZA Educators shared a mass resources list for the Los Angeles community. Bay Area Collective Keeping Privatizers Away from Community Schools (BACKPACS) fought the renewal of Rocketship Los Suenos late last month. Sadly, the charter was renewed. To read more go here.
Pueblo Education Coalition partnered with the Garcia Foundation, Doctor’s Orders Stem Beach, and Colorado Cannabis Exchange to purchase $100 grocery store gift cards for PEC families and supporters. The coalition delivered over 50 gift cards to families who are doing the work to improve public education in Pueblo, Colorado.
Children Are More Than Test Scores posted videos of the Ana Grace Project Mystery Reader for their Facebook followers to share. Re:public Ed informs Connecticut residents about state, local and federal education policies that impact teaching and learning. New London Parent Advocates updates their open Facebook page weekly with all that is happening in the New London Public Schools.
Fund Education NOW founder Kathleen Oropeza was selected as Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida’s Top 100! Broward and Florida BATs are posting all the latest information about the impact of COVID-19 on education in Florida. Visit their Facebook pages here and here. Opt Out Florida Network is sharing information on their open Facebook page about testing and school graduation requirements in Florida. Pastors for Florida Children attended a conversation last month with PC(USA), FL AME, Unitarian, Baptist and Cooperative Baptist faith leaders regarding the importance of fully funding public education in the Sunshine State. Pastors for Florida Children is also reaching out to the Superintendents of the school districts in persistent poverty to see if they have any needs. They heard through the Florida Education Association that the rural counties were struggling the most with going virtual due to lack of funding and personnel, so they are sharing any needs they learn about with those in their network. Many churches had planned on mission trips and won’t be able to go, so they may be able to divert funds to help with the education of children. Finally, Pastors for Florida Children shared this prayer written by Rev. Dr. Jody Long, who serves as the Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. The prayers are for Superintendents as they guide our districts during this difficult time. Florida Council of Churches continue to do powerful work in the state. They shared an article on their Facebook page that discusses the impact of poverty and COVID-19 risk. Pinellas Parents Advocating for School Improvements organize in a closed Facebook group. Join the closed group to connect and organize. Protect Our Public Schools, Manasota believes that free, quality public education is a right for all children and is necessary for the optimal functioning of a democratic society. To keep up with their movements during the COVID-19 crisis go here.
Public Education Matters Georgia helped to spread the word to Atlanta Public School families about computer pick-up. Moms and Dads Now Enduring Surrealistic Stupidity (MADNESS) Georgia are sharing resources and information about education and the impact that COVID-19 closures have had on Georgia children. Opt Out Georgia organized the opt out movement in Georgia via a closed Facebook group of over 8,000 members. If you live in Georgia, or know someone who does, encourage them to connect with this group.
Parents for Public Schools Hawaii published an essay on their website which highlights how Hawaii schools and children are doing during the pandemic.
Congratulations to Illinois Raise Your Hand for winning the Ron Sable Award for Activism from Crossroads Fund. Illinois Raise Your Hand will be hosting weekly Zoom calls for Special Education parents and supporters on Tuesdays from 1-2:30 p.m. (CST). You can register to attend here. Illinois Raise Your Hand has been putting RYH Parent Mantras for Remote Learning on their website (in English and Spanish). You can read them here. RYH has also had Weekly Solidarity Zoom calls with Local School Council (LSC) members and are trying to stay on top of the evolving news and provide resources for parents as well as put all the CPS Meal Sites info in one place. Illinois Families for Public Schools provided a fact sheet for families on student privacy and the use of video-conferencing apps for remote learning.
Indiana Coalition for Public Schools – Monroe County supported Monroe County Smart Start by putting a call out for people who could assist essential workers with childcare during this time of crisis. At the time, they had identified 230 children of essential workers in Monroe County that needed childcare. Indiana Coalition for Public Education posted a powerful message from Indiana teacher Michelle Smith about public education and supporting teachers. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education shared a powerful piece by Superintendent Robinson about the state of the education in Indiana during the COVID pandemic. Northwest Indiana Coalition for Public Education shared a teachers request for old laptops, or Chromebooks, for children who did not have devices.
Iowans for Public Education legislative analyst Randy Richardson wrote this piece, describing the State’s massive rainy day fund and urging the Governor to tap into it to make school budgets whole.
Game On for Kansas Schools extended their heartfelt condolences to the family, and friends, of Dennis Wilson. Dennis was a retired teacher, principal, superintendent and school board member who touched lives in multiple Kansas communities.
Dear JCPS has been sharing inspiring posts on their open Facebook page for Jefferson County residents. They have also been sharing up-to-date information about school and instruction. Kentucky SOS celebrated a good budget that did not fund charters or tax credits, and fully funded the Kentucky teacher pensions. Pastors for Kentucky Children coordinator Sharon Felton spoke to Ethics Daily about CBF advocacy for public education.
The Baltimore Algebra Project had to cancel their March On Annapolis due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in Maryland. Please check their website for updates on a new date.
Citizens for Public Schools had an amazing forum featuring Diane Ravitch, Barbara Madeloni, and Maurice Cunningham. For archived video of this forum go here. The New Bedford Coalition to Save our Schools mourn the loss of their co-leader Jose Soler, who passed away this month. To learn more about the incredible life of Jose Soler, and his powerful body of work, go here. NBCSOS co-chair Ricardo Rosa explains why NBCSOS members choose to walk out in protest of the New Bedford School Superintendent’s “Community Forum” held on Feb 27th at Keith Middle School. Also NBCSOS member, and New Bedford educator Lori Silveira, gave a compelling speech to the New Bedford School Committee about funding schools, NOT corporate ed reform. You can read her speech and listen here.
The Michigan Network for Equity in Education is posting all the latest on how Michigan public schools are handling the COVID closures and also listing some great resources for languages other than English. Save Michigan’s Public Schools shared with their Facebook followers information on school closure for the rest of the school year. Michigan Parents for Schools are preparing for school budgets in the time of the COVID crisis. MI Ed Justice circulated a sign-up for Detroit Area Youth Uniting for Michigan (DAYUM) who are conducting an activist training workshop for youth in Michigan.
Parents for St. Paul Schools published information about the St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) distance learning plan, food delivery, and childcare for health workers.
Parents for Public Schools – Moss Point supported their district by publishing when and where Chromebooks would be distributed for distance learning. Parents For Public Schools of Greenwood and Leflore County will host a Early Childhood Brain Development workshop this month. We will report on this in our next newsletter. Parents For Public Schools of Philadelphia advocate for children and schools in the Philadelphia Public School District. Make sure you give them a follow on Facebook. Parents For Public Schools of Starkville is a local organization working to strengthen public schools in Starkville. They promote the great work being done in the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District.
Missouri BATs have an active twitter feed. To keep up with education movements in the state, give them a follow. Columbia Parents for Public Schools promotes parent engagement to improve education and build public support for public schools in Columbia.
Stand for Schools asked community members to report back on the great, inspiring, or innovative things that are happening in their district. If you know anyone in Nebraska, please share this form with them. Nebraska Loves Public Schools released a short film Schools are the Heart. To view this short film go here.
Educate Nevada NOW wrote a powerful essay about how the COVID crisis highlights the significance of public schools for children and their community. “When this crisis ends and we have a chance to reflect and recover, we must ensure that we prioritize our schools so that they are able to at least maintain the current resources our students receive.”
Save our Schools NJ continues to keep their community and state updated on all the latest in school closures, testing waivers, and graduation requirements for New Jersey students during the COVID crisis. The Newark Students Union is a powerful youth led group. Please give them a follow on twitter to keep up with their news and events. Delran Education Association teachers created a video called We Miss You for their students. If you are a resident of Elizabeth, ask to join the Elizabeth Parents and Students Care closed Facebook group to connect. Montclair Cares About Schools continues to post information about how the COVID crisis has impacted their schools and children. Give Our Children Our Schools a follow on twitter to keep up with their movements and events. South Orange-Maplewood Cares About Schools organizes in its closed Facebook group. If you live in this area, or know anyone who does, please ask to join the group here. Paterson Education Fund released a statement that their advocacy would continue through online platforms during the COVID crisis. They stated they would assist the district with social media postings regarding food distribution and online learning.
Class Size Matters published a letter from the Education Council Consortium chairs that school leadership team meetings should continue in NYC. NYSAPE & LI Opt Out published an email campaign early last month calling on the Governor to close schools. To view this campaign go here. NYC Opt Out will continue to update NYC on education issues impacted by the COVID crisis on their public Facebook group. Maria Bautista, Campaign Director at The Alliance for Quality Education, let NY Gov. Cuomo know that fully funding NY schools the $3.8 billion they’re owed is a Civil Rights issue. In this video Maria calls on the Governor to prove his morality in the 2020-21 budget! Make sure to give Change the Stakes a follow on Facebook to keep up with what is happening in NYC education during the COVID crisis. Give the NY BATs a follow on their open Facebook page to track their movements. Keep up with FUSE (New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees) by checking out their news and views. MORE-UFT, AQE, CEJ, CEC 14, IntegrateNYC, and Teens Take Charge wrote a letter to NYC Chancellor Carranza, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, and NYSED Acting Commissioner Shannon Tahoe detailing the collective trauma that will change us forever, as well as students and families. Jackson Heights People for Public Schools has a public Facebook group that is posting all the latest information for people in the Jackson Heights community during the COVID crisis. Parents for Public Schools- Syracuse has published a list of resources for the Syracuse community. Croton Advocates for Public Education (CAPE) advocates for fair assessments, enrichment opportunities, and funding for their schools. The Port Washington Advocates for Public Education closed Facebook group is a place to connect and organize if you live in Port Washington, NY. North Country Alliance For Public Education works to end the reliance on high stakes testing and to stop the privatization that is taking over their schools. If you live in the North Country of New York consider joining their closed Facebook group to connect. Rochester Coalition for Public Education has a website that they update with all the latest in education in Rochester.
Public Schools First NC and Wake County NCAE sent their Education Position Questionnaire to candidates running for office. Check their website to view responses to some of the most pressing public education issues. North Carolina Families for School Testing Reform continue to stay on top of the Department of Education who are considering an extension of the contract for Istation. Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods has been going live on Facebook during the COVID crisis to continue to inform their community on the latest in education impact. Pastors for North Carolina Children have continued their Lenten Prayers for Public Schools during the COVID crisis. To see their guide go here. Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County have been updating information about meal delivery for their county on their open Facebook page.
Ohio BATs joined their national organization in publicizing the importance of the census. Public Education Partners (PEP) must continue to fight off vouchers in their state during the COVID crisis. It Takes A Village To Tackle HB70 reported that the search for a new CEO for Lorain Schools has been put on hold. Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education are posting plenty of up-to-date content about what is happening in the state of Ohio and the impact that COVID is having on the education of Ohio children. Make sure to check in with Parents For Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati which post upcoming events on their open Facebook page.
Pastors for Oklahoma Kids are now using Remind to help their community advocate for Oklahoma education. If you know anyone who lives in Oklahoma and would like to join them they can text @pastors4ok to 81010 or click here. Lisa Kramer, chairwoman of Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee, wrote a powerful article for the Tulsa World outlining how the citizens of Oklahoma have chosen public schools. Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education & Oklahomans for Public Education created a post on their public Facebook page for parents to access free grab and go meals. Oklahoma Teachers – The Time Is Now organizes in a private Facebook group of over 64,000 members. The purpose of the group is to unite all educators in the state of Oklahoma, so they can come together and educate, collaborate, and discuss what options they have moving forward to improve Public Education. If you know any Oklahoma educators send them to this group to connect.
The Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE) thanked the 23 people who wrote to the 4j Board to express their opposition to the “Fast-track, 100% confidential” interim superintendent hiring. Oregon Save Our Schools shared school-based health centers (SBHCs) that are currently open in the Portland metro area and surrounding areas for physical and mental health services. They remind community members to please make sure to call the SBHC before you go. Oregon BATs organizes in a closed Facebook group. If you are an Oregon teacher, or community member, ask to join and connect.
The Keystone State Education Coalition provides the latest in the path forward for Pennsylvania education amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pennsylvania School Board Association shared an interesting story about how one PA school plans to hold graduation at a drive-in movie theatre. Pittsburgh Task Force on the Right to Education encouraged parents who have children with disabilities to join Pittsburgh Public Schools Program for Students Executive Director Ann Herrmann for a webinar on how to navigate remote learning. Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters PA, was quoted in this article on how cyber charters are spending millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising. Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools co-founder Lisa Haver gave testimony on the Board’s granting emergency powers to Dr. Hite. In the testimony, Lisa makes it clear that despite a crisis, democratic process should not be thwarted.
Providence Student Union members received the New England First Amendment Coalition’s Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award in February. Also, PSU moved their location in February. To see their new location and the news about the move go here. Parents Across Rhode Island shared the Rhode Island Community Food Bank request that community members pause from shopping on the 1st and 2nd of the month to make room at supermarkets for households who receive SNAP benefits to shop and stock their shelves.
The Quality Education Project urged their community to make food donations to the North Charleston Community Center. For more information go here.
The Momma Bears issued a plea to their Governor and Legislators to shut it down schools on 3/15. Pastors for Tennessee Children shared a powerful reason why pastors and faith leaders need to get involved with public education. Tennessee Strong also has a public Facebook group where they are currently sharing information about the state and how COVID has had an impact on children and communities. If you know someone who lives in Tennessee, share the link so they can connect. Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) encouraged Tennesseans to engage the Tennessee State Board of Education in conference calls regarding emergency actions on education policy.
Pastors for Texas Children Director Rev. Charles Foster Johnson published a powerful article in Ethics Daily. Your Church Doors May Be Closed; You Can Still Open Your Hearts so eloquently points out that our public schools are the lifeline of communities. Pastors for Texas Children has started robust messaging around charter schools. Pastors for Texas Children feels that bringing charter schools under local district control, would save billions annually. Texas simply cannot afford dual and duplicate systems of public education. CFISD Community Leadership Committee thanked Cy-Fair Nutrition services for providing meals to CFSID students. The Coalition for Public Schools Texas shared on their website a fantastic definition of a voucher. It is important to understand that although we are currently battling the most severe health crisis in our nation’s history, many lawmakers will try to push through vouchers and other privatization schemes. Texas Kids Can’t Wait posted an important piece of research from Raise Your Hand Texas that virtual learning is not effective learning. RootEd gave a big shout out to North East ISD for feeding all children. 32 North East ISD elementary schools are feeding their students, charter students, home schooled students, and anyone who is in need of a meal under the age of 19. On top of the curb-side service, North East ISD is busing lunches, dinners and the next day breakfast to those who do not live near a curb-side location. The cafeteria workers are going into schools at early hours in the morning to make hot lunches to-go. They set up shop on the curbs of their schools to hand out hundreds of meals through car windows. If you know of anyone in the Houston community please have them connect with Parents For Public Schools of Houston. They post important activities for the Houston community on their open Facebook page. Community Voices For Public Education posted some powerful information about the digital divide on their public Facebook page. 35% of Houston households (digitalinclusion.org) lack connectivity at home. How much deeper is the equity divide in some Houston neighborhoods? Here is what CVPE is hearing: A Third Ward 1st grade teacher has spoken with 23 of 25 parents, only 3 have WiFi in their homes and a computer for learning. A Near Northside 3rd grade teacher has spoken with 40 of 50 parents and 4 have WiFi in their homes and a computer. Our Schools San Antonio published a list of schools in SAISD that would be providing meals during the extended break. Texas AFT urged the Governor to end on-site instruction so that schools could prepare for the fall.
Virginia Educators United stood in strong solidarity with healthcare workers on April 15th. To read more about that action go here. Virginia BATs are sharing statewide information on their open Facebook page here. Support Our Schools-Shenandoah County organizes to fight for public education in that region. You can connect here.
Wisconsin Public Education Network will be holding their Summer Summit on July 23rd. For information and registration go here. Schools and Communities United and Parents for Public Schools Milwaukee are posting important information on their open Facebook pages about Milwaukee Public school closures, online learning, meal and device distribution, graduation, and student belongings.
NPE Grassroots Education Network – Resources and Graphics
The NPE Grassroots Education Network has compiled a list of resources to help communities navigate the COVID pandemic. We created a list of c3 organizations you can donate to help others in need. We have created a space for resources to help educators and parents trying to navigate remote learning. Finally, we are collecting stories highlighting how Public Schools are helping their communities.
Here is a link to our resources page. It will help you navigate resources covering a variety of topics. This is a live document and will be updated so check back for new resources.
Here is a link to our graphics page. It will provide powerful visuals for you to share on social media. This is a live document and will be updated so check back for new graphics.