Grassroots Education Network- August 2020 Newsletter
The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of 150 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 email@example.com
Notes from Marla
As schools reopen across the nation you will see that organizations in the NPE Grassroots Education Network are providing valuable information, webinars, and virtual Town Halls for their community. Again, the purpose of this newsletter has always been about harvesting great ideas from others, or connecting with others who are able to mobilize their communities for the greater good. I hope as you read the August newsletter you will get inspiring ideas on school re openings (whatever that model looks like) and ways to support families. The network lost an amazing organizer and true education warrior this month. NJ organizer, PULSE NJ (Newark) Co-founder, and member of the Journey for Justice family Johnnie Lattner passed away this month. We will never forget his service to the New Jersey community and the example he set in his fight for justice. Please read the powerful tribute to his life from Jitu Brown, National Director of Journey for Justice Alliance.
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) partnered with Fix Democracy First for a screening of Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote. To view the film trailer go here. Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education (USA) has a public Facebook group that features information from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. and how communities are navigating the worldwide COVID crisis.The Ontario (Canada) Secondary School Teachers Federation sent a letter to the Ministry of Labor and Stephen Lecce. OSSTF is asking the government to ensure a safe return to school for all. 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. Uniting to Save Our Schools (USOS) have drafted a Platform for Public Education. USOS also held a dialogue this month titled What it Means to Return to Schools Safely. We will have the archived video of this even in our next newsletter. First Focus Campaign for Children are asking the general public to join them to commit to kids. They also published an article Back to school, but not back to normal this month that is a must read. 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. Kinderchat also has a fantastic website full of resources. Instituto Nueva Escuela continues to hold amazing events on their Facebook page. They have done this for many communities throughout the COVID crisis. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood released a Statement on EdTech and Education Policy during the Pandemic. Hundreds of individuals and organizations have signed onto this statement. Go here to read and share. Equal Opportunity Schools launched their Give 828 campaign this month to support black businesses. When Public Schools Reopen are hosting “No Box” Zoom conversations as in “Don’t think outside the box… think like there is no box.” There is no set agenda. Participants are invited to share what’s on their mind. Recent topics have included school openings, suspensions and SROs, and anti-racist teaching. The schedule and Zoom link for the conversations are posted in their closed Facebook page (you will need to ask to join). There are usually three conversations each week.
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) signed on to a letter with multiple other organizations asking Alabama Power to continue giving grace to those who cannot pay their electric bills during the Pandemic. They are also working with People’s Budget Birmingham to secure a million dollar appropriation from Birmingham City to Birmingham City Schools as well as to save their public libraries from devastating budget cuts. More than 200 library employees will be furloughed and every public library in Birmingham will be closed. All due to budget cuts because of the pandemic.
Voices for Education encouraged Arizonians to attend a conversation with Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman about the challenges of reopening schools during a pandemic this month. Arizonans for Charter School Accountability update their website frequently about charter corruption across the nation and in Arizona. Save our Schools Arizona held an online event Safe for Kids, Safe for Teachers this month. The event had Arizona-based Physicians for Science, Equity and Advocacy explain the latest headlines about Arizona’s COVID positivity rates and the implications of returning to in-person learning based on recommended benchmarks. Parents and school officials learned ways to talk to district Governing Boards and neighbors about the importance of understanding what the benchmarks mean, don’t mean and how to advocate for keeping kids, teachers and families as safe as possible. Arizona Educators United will be held a Motor March last month for the #OnlyWhenItIsSafe national campaign. As promised in last month’s newsletter, here are some pictures from that event.
California Educators United are posting news about school reopening in California. Head to their open Facebook page for more information. The Public Core program, Between Two Teachers, is informative. To view all their archived programs go here. Association of RAZA Educators introduced their 2020-2021 Mesa Directiva (Board of Directors) this month. Bay Area Collective Keeping Privatizers Away from Community Schools (BACKPACS) shared an online event, The Youth Agenda: Student Success this month. If you are in the Bay Area make sure you check in with their open Facebook page for other events happening to support youth and public education.
Pueblo Education Coalition post events to help Pueblo parents and students navigate online learning.
Children Are More Than Test Scores hold readings for the Ana Grace Foundation on their public Facebook group. Here is a reading from Grace for President. 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 updates their open Facebook page daily about school reopening in Florida. Florida BATs and Broward BATs continue to fight for safe reopening of schools in Florida due to incidents like this where high numbers of children are contracting, and dying, from COVID. Pastors for Florida Children encouraged Floridians to sign up for the three upcoming Good Faith Forums on Public Education. The Sessions will cover: Restarting Schools During a Pandemic; Public Education: A Cornerstone of Democracy; & Funding Public Education & Exposing Privatization. Florida Council of Churches hosted an advanced faith advocacy and organizing training this month. Opt Out Florida Network exposed to their Facebook community that the College Board is selling information to Facebook. To read more on this issue go here. Pinellas Parents Advocating for School Improvements organizes in a private Facebook page. If you know of anyone in the Pinellas area, have them join to connect. 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 shared this valuable article with their Facebook followers. The idea of a WiFi Bus for areas that do not get internet and for students who need internet if their school is remote. Moms and Dads Now Enduring Surrealistic Stupidity (MADNESS) has a vibrant public Facebook group that discusses how education in Georgia is going during the COVID crisis. If you are interested, here is the link to that public group. 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. The Georgia Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) joined the network this month. To keep up with all their movements go here.
Parents for Public Schools Hawaii published How, When, Where Our Keiki Should Learn… chart of national preference changes this month. It is an article that discusses how parents views on the best and safest course for school is changing.
Illinois Raise Your Hand published the CPS Back to School discussion for parents who could not make the meeting. Illinois Families for Public Schools held a webinar this month for information on the vote for a graduated income tax. They asked their members to phone bank to pass a Fair Tax that would help public education get the funding it needs.
Indiana Coalition for Public Education asked the Governor and the Indiana General Assembly to fully fund Indiana public schools and not penalize districts that are opening virtually by giving them just 85% of their normal per-pupil funding. They explain their reasoning here. Indiana Coalition for Public Schools – Monroe County will be holding their monthly meeting on September 6th. If you know anyone from Monroe County please share this information so that they can connect with ICPS- Monroe County. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education has been keeping their readers informed about local school openings and options. Northwest Indiana Coalition for Public Education has a private planning group on Facebook. If you know anyone from Northwest Indiana please have them join and connect.
Iowans for Public Education shared the Iowans for a Safer Return to Learning panel of experts who gave real facts and the latest science on COVID-19. The panel covered everything from masks to social distancing. The video is about an hour long – but well worth the watch.
Game On for Kansas Schools has published some of the issues facing Kansas Public Schools on their website.
Dear JCPS are asking their community to please take their Justice for JCPS Students survey and provide examples. It will help them fine-tune and streamline their list of demands to present to district leaders between now and the Sept 29 board meeting. Kentucky SOS reported that the district has yet to fulfill some of the demands they are making on behalf of the most vulnerable students. Kentucky SOS supports fully funded schools, but are in the process of negotiating specific demands with the district and have a pledge they are asking stakeholders to sign before they are ready to fully support the tax increase publicly. Kentucky SOS also shared that in Kentucky, they have the revival of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda (originally was in 2002 led by Anne Braden and others) moving forward starting with the Education Committee submitting a list of demands to their public school system ahead of the property tax increase vote in November. Very exciting! Pastors for Kentucky Children shared a fantastic article that we can all share with our faith leaders. How is your congregation partnering with your local school? Read the article here.
Step Up Louisiana was featured on WBRZ news this month for their Save the 600 campaign to get unemployment to needy families.
The Baltimore Algebra Project has launched a YouTube channel. Check it out here.
Read Citizens for Public Schools new report, “MCAS is the Wrong Answer,” and then take action! The New Bedford Coalition to Save our Schools staged a protest this month in opposition to any kind of in person return to classrooms.
The Michigan Network for Equity in Education supported the M.U.S.C.L.E movement in late July. The movement was a car caravan of teachers and parents/community members who united for a “Safe Return to School or No School”. The caravan started in Dearborn and ended in Detroit. Save Michigan’s Public Schools have used Facebook to begin a thread about school reopening. They have reported that several school boards have voted to start all-virtual. They are using the Facebook thread to report ONLY school districts that are starting ALL students with remote learning at the beginning of the school year. Michigan Parents for Schools post important information for parents in Michigan on their public Facebook page. MI Ed Justice spearheaded an Online Saves Lives rally this month. We will have pictures in our next newsletter. Give Trusted Voices ED a follow on twitter to keep up with their events and issues.
Parents for St. Paul Schools are working hard to put a moratorium in place for charter schools in their area. To read more on that issue go here. The Minnesota Collective for Educational Equity joined the network this month. Please go here to learn more about them and all their amazing work.
Parents for Public Schools – Moss Point continues to support their community with information about education, meals, and much more. Parents For Public Schools of Greenwood and Leflore County strengthen public schools in their area by engaging, educating, and mobilizing parents during the COVID crisis. Make sure to check out their events calendar for upcoming events in the area. 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 shared their deep disappointment about the 2020 legislative session. They are disappointed the Legislature did so little to address the crises revealed by COVID-19 – refusing to consider an eviction moratorium, protections for meatpacking plant workers, PPE for children and teachers, or improving unemployment insurance. Nebraska Loves Public Schools have created posters to make it easy for educators and administrators to remind students of healthy habits.
Educate Nevada NOW was quoted in this article about a public-private arrangement that incentivized parents remove their children from public school. “We applaud the innovation that provides support for CCSD students who may struggle with or need help in navigating distance learning, but urge caution on any option that requires students unenroll from the district,” wrote an Educate Nevada Now spokesperson in an email. “Parents should be made aware that unenrolling could have consequences for their neighborhood schools, such as reduced staffing and resources, that could affect their child’s education post-COVID.”
Save our Schools NJ described the difference between Homeschooling,Virtual Learning, and Home Instruction to their readers on Facebook.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 is posting important information about schools reopening in New Jersey. 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 reported that their district will start remote and move to the hybrid model when it is safe.Give Our Children Our Schools a follow on twitter to keep up with any future 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 in coalition with other organizations in NJ, held a conversation this month about COVID and Beyond: Re-imagining our Future. We will have an archive of that conversation in our next newsletter.
Class Size Matters Executive Director Leonie Haimson hosts a podcast Talk Out of School on WBAI NYC radio. Most of the programs are on Wednesday morning 10 a.m. EST. Check out the WBAI website for upcoming shows. Visit the NYSAPE (New York State Allies for Public Education) website for all the latest about education in New York State. LI Opt Out has a vibrant public Facebook page. There are now important discussions going on about school reopening on Long Island, the center of the testing opt out movement. NYC Opt Out also has a public Facebook group that is currently having important conversations about the reopening of NYC schools. If you live in NYC go here to connect. The Alliance for Quality Education continues their fight to tax the rich and fund NY schools. They issued an action alert this month. AQE also issued an action alert for the Federal government to fund our schools. Give Change the Stakes a follow on Facebook to keep up with what is happening in NYC education during the COVID crisis. NY BATs are holding actions to make sure that there is a safe return to school for students and teachers. To connect with NY BATs, ask to join their closed Facebook group to organize. Keep up with FUSE (New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees) by checking out their news and views. Make sure you visit the MORE-UFT event calendar to keep up with their actions and events for a safe NYC school reopening. The Jackson Heights People for Public Schools issued a powerful statement on remote learning this month. Parents for Public Schools- Syracuse have been posting important information about special education events in their area. 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. Visit the Rochester Coalition for Public Education website for all that is happening with Rochester education.
Public Schools First NC and Wake County NCAE held a live stream event this month called Leandro Upheld:What’s Next? We will have that video in our next newsletter. North Carolina Families for School Testing Reform organize in a closed Facebook group. If you know anyone who lives in NC who wants to make sure that education is not driven by tests, please share this link to have them connect with NC Families for School Testing Reform.Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods held an Organizers’ Circle this month with Mr. Alvin Atkinson, Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). The circle discussed the work of CSEM in the community as well as the partnership between CSEM and NBN. Pastors for North Carolina Children will be holding a Public Education Advocacy and Faith Forum on September 16, 2020 at 7pm online. If you know someone who lives in NC, please share this event with them. Go here to register. Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County posted over 100 back to school pictures sent in by parents!
Ohio BATs were involved in a protest to reopen schools in Ohio. To read more about this event go here. It Takes A Village To Tackle HB70 and It Takes A Village continues to support their community by offering free masks for little ones and participating in the district’s work groups to improve communication. They are strongly advocating for opening schools and returning to sports when it is safe. It Takes a Village To Tackle HB70 continues to apply pressure for the return of local control for Lorain, East Cleveland, and Youngstown school districts. Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education partnered with Sylvania Schools for a Town Hall to discuss the reopening of schools. The town hall was streamed live via Facebook. Public Education Partners (PEP) posted a powerful statement about school reopening by Ohio Teacher (and NPE Board member) Dan Greenberg. “I want to share some realities with you about school this Fall, because we are trying the best we can in a situation where we cannot win, where we don’t have a good solution. Our circumstances are changing rapidly. Our resources are limited. Whatever your school district is doing please give them some grace. Please stop tearing them down. Please stop bashing them on social media. Know that, if they do a rapid “about face,” they are doing so because they are trying to adapt and do the best they can for children.” Parents For Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati post upcoming events on their open Facebook page.
A huge congratulations to Pastors for Oklahoma Kids Executive Director Clark Frailey. He was chosen as the Oklahoma Education Association 2020 Friend of Public Education. The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee is asking parent advocates for public education to stick with their neighborhood, authentic public schools and the choices that are offered. Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education & Oklahomans for Public Education organize in a private group on Facebook. If you live in Oklahoma, or know someone who does, join up to connect. 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) was created by a coalition of community members, parents, teachers from Bethel, Eugene, and Springfield, and professors from Pacific University and the University of Oregon. Their goals are to raise awareness and build community around public education issues, as well as support an informed citizenry in having input into public education policies and practices. To keep up with their events go here. Oregon Save Our Schools reported that the Oregon Public Education Network has finalized selection of participants for a legislative work group to study Oregon’s K-12 assessment system which will be convened by Senator Lew Frederick. The 20 member group will be composed entirely of practicing public educators. 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 issues a PA Ed Policy Roundup each week. An important entry was the Check Before You Choose: Before You Choose a Cyber Charter School, Here Are Some Questions You Should Ask. Pennsylvania School Board Association aired an important Keystone Education Radio podcast on how to keep children safe while utilizing technology. To listen to that episode go here. Pittsburgh Task Force on the Right to Education continue to share important resources for Pittsburgh families on their open Facebook page. Education Voters PA warned that cyber charters are not the way to go back to school. To read more about that go here. Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools reported on the Action Items to be voted upon by the Philadelphia Board of Education this month.
The Providence Student Union took part in a Youth Empowerment Summit this month. We will have pictures, information, and video on that in our next newsletter. To keep up with what is happening in Rhode Island give Parents Across Rhode Island Facebook page a follow.
The Quality Education Project joined NC Teachers United and many other allies for a demonstration of pro-education and pro-safety solidarity.
The Momma Bears have a great blog full of information about the fight for public education in Tennessee. Check it out here. Make sure to give Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) a follow on twitter to keep up with all that is going on in Tennessee education. Pastors for Tennessee Children held an email campaign late last month to ensure that CARES Act funds will NOT be used for vouchers. 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 learn.
Pastors for Texas Children have been very busy this month. First they shared a strong statement by Austin Pastor and PTC leader Rev. Dr. Mary Street Wilson on how to make our classrooms safe. PTC has also been taking to the airwaves. Listen to this powerful podcast on Good Faith Media with guests Rev. Charles Foster Johnson and Cameron Vickrey of PTC. Finally the Pastors Network has been hosting, on Good Faith Media, a series of webinars about public education. To see upcoming or archived webinars go here. Finally, PTC has been published extensively this month regarding school openings, vouchers, religious schools exempt from mandates, and voices of justice. CFISD Community Leadership Committee joined several other organizations in Texas to appeal to the Governor and the Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, to commit to funding Texas public schools at a hold-harmless level based on last year’s attendance levels for this entire school year, not just the first twelve weeks.The Coalition for Public Schools Texas is composed of religious, child advocacy, and education organizations representing more than 3,000,000 Texans statewide. If you are in Texas share their list of organizations so that people can connect. Texas Kids Can’t Wait are advocates for equitable and adequate funding for Texas public schools and for a sane assessment system. They strongly oppose the corporate takeover of public schools. To follow their movements go to their open Facebook page. Catch up with RootEd in their monthly newsletter The Branch. 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 stood in solidarity with Cy-Fair AFT in preventing in-person professional development. Our Schools San Antonio encouraged the San Antonio community to attend a COVID 19 and Schools Town Hall this month. This was an opportunity to learn about the indicators and metrics that San Antonio Metro Health is developing to guide local school reopening decisions and to share questions and concerns about safe school reopening. The Coalition for Equity in Public Education joined the network this month. To learn more about their work, and to connect, go here.
Virginia Educators United held a rally this month for education funding. We will have pictures and videos of this even in our next newsletter. Give Virginia BATs a follow on their open Facebook page to find out what is happening in Virginia for school reopening. Support Our Schools-Shenandoah County organizes to fight for public education in that region. You can connect here.
WA BATs has an active twitter feed full of powerful graphics. Check it out here. Washington Paramount Duty launched an email campaign late last month to mobilize the Washington Congressional delegation to make sure that the stimulus includes at least $200 billion to help deliver equitable instruction and support families during this crisis.
Wisconsin Public Education Network has been busy navigating the return to school and advocating for the resources needed to do it safely and equitably. The sixth annual Wisconsin Public Education Network Summer Summit took place virtually on Friday, July 24, 2020 with more than 450 participants. Hosted by the Sun Prairie Area School District and the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC), the summit’s theme was “Public Education and Democracy” – follow the link for the full archive of sessions and resources! Wisconsin Public Education Network Executive Director Heather DuBois Bourenane published this piece in the Progressive magazine: “Make the Best of Public Education” calling on lawmakers to DO THEIR JOBS! WPEN also shared that notable Wisconsin author and photographer Barabra Miner recently published this interrogation in the Wisconsin Examiner looking at the openly discriminatory practices of parochial/voucher schools in the city of Milwaukee, ones who openly decry the Black Lives Matter movement. Wisconsin Public Education Network Executive Director Heather DuBois Bourenane, and board president Dr. Julie Underwood, on behalf of the board of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools released a statement regarding the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Schools and Communities United posted a notice for their readers that the City of Milwaukee has contributed $15 million towards Rent Support and Assistance for families that have lost their jobs as a direct result of the pandemic. Eligible Milwaukee residents can obtain up to $3,000 for rent payment or rental deposit. If you know anyone in Milwaukee who may need this information send them here. Parents for Public Schools Milwaukee are sharing valuable resources and workshops for public school parents on their open Facebook page.
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.