July 31, 2020 4:12 pm

Grassroots Education Network- July 2020 Newsletter

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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 marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org

Notes from Marla

As communities continue to struggle with school reopening plans, organizations in the NPE Grassroots Education Network are taking the lead in making sure this can be done safely and with the best interest of students and teachers in mind.  As you read through this newsletter, you will see some of the amazing work that organizations are doing across the country to come up with safe, and equitable, plans to reopen school (in whatever form that looks like).  On another note, Carol, Darcie, Diane, and I have been hard at work this month tracking charter schools that took COVID stimulus PPP money that was meant for our struggling small business owners. Charter schools DID NOT  lose their funding stream and should NOT have taken money meant for small businesses to be able to pay their employees while closed.  Please share Carol’s article in the Washington Post Answer Sheet and our Act Now Action Alert to help expose this outrageous money grab.  Please help us amplify the message by sharing the Action Alert here. We are humbled by the outpouring of help that we have gotten from around the country to expose this.  Again, I hope everyone is safe and well.

National Organizing

The Network for Public Education continues to ask everyone to take action to stop DeVos from taking $180 million in federal corona-virus relief funds for voucher-like grants and private virtual, online education. To date there have been over 8,000 emails sent. Defending the Early Years held their virtual institute this month. We will have an archived video of the amazing panels in our August newsletter. In the Public Interest introduced their Pro-Public project-a project to make government work for all of us. ITPI is also tracking charter schools that took PPP money.  They should be releasing a report very soon. The Journey for Justice Alliance podcast On The Ground, hosted by Jitu Brown, airs every Monday at 6 PM CST. J4J held a powerful national day of action this month.  Go here for video. 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.  Head over to the open Facebook page for updates and their weekly newsletter.  Rethinking Schools published  teaching and learning in the time of the pandemic. It includes contributions from Linda Christensen, Stan Karp, Wayne Au, Moe Yonamine, Bill Bigelow, Rachel Cohen and so many others. The cover art is from Molly Crabapple. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy blog published Parents: Google Classroom is Not Your Friend last month.  Parents for Public Schools Combating Summer Slide in the Midst of a Pandemic is a must read! Parents Across America provides position papers and key documents on their website.  It is a great list to keep handy for advocacy work in your area. The Schott Foundation released their 2020 Loving Cities Index this month.

The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) celebrated their seventh birthday last month.  Happy 7th Birthday BATs! BATs Board of Directors and Quality of Work Life Team also published a position paper on COVID-19 and the 2020-2021 school year. 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 shared an article by District 29 member Eleanor MacNiven Hoecht highlighting the fact that when the government makes cuts to experiential and hands-on specialized learning programs, it’s not just the students who suffer. 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. Save our Schools March is now launching its next chapter in education activism as Uniting to Save Our Schools (USOS). To read about their new chapter platform, access their new Facebook link, and take action go hereFirst Focus Campaign for Children Vice President of Early Childhood and Public Health Policy Averi Pakulis was quoted in an Erie News story about the bipartisan push to increase funding for childcare.  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 celebrates some of the amazing work that early childhood centers are doing in Puerto Rico.  Scroll down their open Facebook page to see all the wonderful work being done. Join Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood held a Screen-Free Saturdays LookUp Challenge this month. They partnered with LookUp.live to host this opportunity to build in digital wellness throughout the week! To learn more go here. CCFC is also asking people to take and share their survey on the Impact of Remote Learning and Physical Distancing on K-12 Children and their Families. The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced much of daily life to screens, and brought with it new uncertainties, stressors, and challenges. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has created this survey because they want to learn how families with K-12 students have been impacted by two related challenges –– physical distancing and remote instruction. Equal Opportunity Schools is looking for a Director of Communications and a Director of Partnership DevelopmentWhen Public Schools Reopen hosted Dr. Michael Hynes, Superintendent of the Port Washington School District (L.I., NY) and author of a new book Staying Grounded: 12 Principles For Transforming School Leader Effectiveness this month. To see the discussion go here

State Organizing 

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) asked K-12 Public Education employees to take a  COVID-19 feedback survey.  Please share if you know any education employees in Alabama. 


Voices for Education founder Robin Hiller appeared on the SOS Arizona weekly Facebook live series.  You can see that discussion, which also included NPE Board Member Prof. Julian Vasquez Heilig, at the Save our Schools Arizona link below. Arizonans for Charter School Accountability update their website frequently about charter corruption across the nation and in Arizona.  Save our Schools Arizona released a statement about conducting school online-only through October 1 and to support equitable access to technology with Rainy Day Funding. The Save Our Schools Network is hosting a Speaking of Schools Series. See the link for upcoming events. The SOS Arizona Network is also on installment 5 of “Selling School Choice,”  their 8-part series exploring how and why Arizona’s public schools have been under attack for over 20 years. Arizona Educators United will be holding a Motor March this month.  We will report on that in our next newsletter. 


California Educators United post events from around the state on their open Facebook page.  This month they shared information about communities eliminating armed police from their schools and communities standing up for education funding. The Public Core program, Between Two Teachers, is informative. To view all their archived programs go here. Association of RAZA Educators completed Day 1 of their 5th Annual Praxis Institute: Teaching Hope in Dangerous Times Second Session this month. Bay Area Collective Keeping Privatizers Away from Community Schools (BACKPACS) supported the Schools and Communities First revisions of Prop 13 so that corporations pay their fair share. It also  raises additional funds to support public schools and other community needs. 


Head over to the Pueblo Education Coalition open Facebook page to find out what is happening in education in Colorado and how regions are facing school reopening. 


Children Are More Than Test Scores founder, Jesse Turner, participated in a discussion about CDC levels of risk and the Connecticut state plan to go back in August. 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.


Co-founder of Fund Education NOW, Kathleen Oropeza, had an opinion piece published in the Orlando Sentinel 100. Florida BATs are encouraging their Facebook followers to sign a petition to keep Florida school buildings closed. Pastors for Florida Children shared another powerful article from the Baptist News Global by H. Stephen Shoemaker.  The article, Trump, Jepthah and the sacrifice of our children, is a must read. Florida Council of Churches released a message on civic engagement this month.  Broward BATs organize in a closed/private group on Facebook. If you are a teacher in Broward County, or know someone who is, send them this link to join and connect. Opt Out Florida Network shared the Executive Order by the Florida governor for all schools to reopen. 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 continues to inform the public on how schools will reopen in Georgia. 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. 


Parents for Public Schools Hawaii hosted a virtual event on the dangers of vaping.  We will have that video archive for you in our next newsletter. 


Illinois Raise Your Hand released a powerful report on July 16th.  Parent Perspectives on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Remote Learning and Back to School is a powerful testament to the importance of parent voice. Illinois Raise Your Hand Parent Organizer for Local School Councils (LSC) participated in a panel discussion on removing police from CPS. Illinois Families for Public Schools shared with their Facebook followers that  “PPP loans went to many deeply established private schools, including Lake Forest Academy, Fenwick High School, the Frances Xavier Warde School, Lycee Francais de Chicago, Marist High School and Loyola Academy, as well as several publicly-funded charter schools and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). ‘It was a relatively straightforward decision for us to apply for it,’ INCS President Andrew Broy of the PPP loan of $340,000 his organization got.


Indiana Coalition for Public Education shared a powerful video from the Indiana chapter of the National School Public Relations Association on how Learning Never Stops! Indiana Coalition for Public Schools – Monroe County asked their Facebook followers to tune into a webinar by Professor Preston Green called “Something to Lose: How School Voucher Programs Fail to Provide Civil Rights and Constitutional Protections.”  We will have the link in our next newsletter for the archived video. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education invited their community to express how they feel about schools opening with little to no state support. Northwest Indiana Coalition for Public Education warned their members about the lack of contact tracers when school reopens. To read their concerns go here


Iowans for Public Education posted the state guidelines for reopening. 


Game On for Kansas Schools requested that members of the Kansas community contact their State Board of Education regarding an announcement made by Governor Kelly.  Gov. Kelly announced that she will be issuing an order to delay the start of school until after Labor Day. During her press conference, she and Dr. Norman made clear that this delay will let them see how well the mask order is working to reduce community spread of COVID-19 and help them make informed decisions about how children and staff can return to school. This is a delay, not a closure, and may well allow more schools to open more fully in September. The State Board of Education has the final word on this order, so Game on for Kansas Schools is asking that if you support this order, please contact the members of the State Board of Education and tell them. Go here for more information on this Action Alert. 


Dear JCPS conducted a survey on a safe return to school.  More than 100 survey respondents have weighed in when this newsletter was going to print. Go here to see some of the early results. Kentucky SOS shared that metro schools would begin the year remotely. Pastors for Kentucky Children issued a call for Pastors, clergy, lay leaders, to pray for our teachers, administrators, parents and students.  To read their call to prayer go here


Step Up Louisiana hosted a few important webinars this month.  Make sure to visit their event calendar on Facebook for upcoming events. 


The Baltimore Algebra Project launched a survey in June. They are still encouraging students to take the survey to find out what Baltimore students need during the COVID crisis. If you know any Baltimore students, or you are a Baltimore student, please fill out this survey


Citizens for Public Schools are requesting that people who live in Massachusetts contact their legislators and request they support an MCAS moratorium legislation. The New Bedford Coalition to Save our Schools publishes upcoming events on their Open Facebook page.  If you live in or near the New Bedford area check their events and connect. 


The Michigan Network for Equity in Education shared a request by the Michigan Department of Education for a federal waiver from assessments for the 2020-2021 school year. Save Michigan’s Public Schools noted that the state House and Senate Education committees met this month to discuss reopening plans for schools this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but an important perspective was left out of the conversation — teachers. Michigan Parents for Schools post important information for parents in Michigan on their public Facebook page. MI Ed Justice encouraged their Facebook followers to attend If Black Lives Matter, Fix Our School Systems. Give Trusted Voices ED a follow on twitter to keep up with their events and issues. 


Parents for St. Paul Schools exposed that Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) Charter School received $900,000 in PPP money. To read more about this go here. 


Parents for Public Schools – Moss Point continues to provide information for their community on free COVID testing. 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 cosponsored the Equity Starts with Education virtual rally with Nebraska State Education Association and a range of partners late last month. To view the rally go here. Nebraska Loves Public Schools created a powerful video about  book exchanges that encourage children to read. 


Educate Nevada NOW shared a great graphic on the possible scenarios to reopening schools. 

 New Hampshire

Barrington Educators Association is the local chapter of the New Hampshire-NEA.  You can view updated work here.  To contact them about issues happening in NH, go here

New Jersey

Read Save our Schools NJ’s opinion piece in the NJ Spotlight on how NJ should move forward on education. 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 asked their membership to consider some important issues in reopening versus remote learning. If you are a resident of Elizabeth, ask to join the Elizabeth Parents and Students Care closed Facebook group to connect. Make sure to visit the Montclair Cares About Schools open Facebook page to keep up with all that is happening in the Montclair School District. 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 celebrated the Paterson 2020 graduates.

New York

Class Size Matters published  the results from their parent and educator online survey about concerns on the reopening of schools. Visit the NYSAPE (New York State Allies for Public Education) website for all the latest about education in New York State. LI Opt Out founder Jeanette Deutermann was selected to participate in the Regents task force for re-opening.  Please give  Long Island Opt Out Information, a follow to keep up with her posts on this process. Class Size Matters and NYSAPE also issued an Action Alert this month regarding the safe reopening of schools.  To view the Action Alert go here. NYC Opt Out members, some of their children and a few other allies, participated in a Zoom conference call with NYC Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack and Director of Community Affairs Sadye Campoamor. During the call teachers, students and parents spoke movingly about why the DOE should eliminate competitive screening of students, including the use of test scores, for the next admissions cycle. Make sure to give ECE Policy Works a follow on twitter to find out what is happening in early childhood in New York and around the country. The Alliance for Quality Education released a “roadmap” for reopening NY’s public schools in September capturing key themes from a series of 10 virtual community conversations that happened in June. View the report here. Give Change the Stakes a follow on Facebook to keep up with what is happening in NYC education during the COVID crisis. NY BATs share important developments in NY education on their open Facebook page. They also held a Zoom conference on the safe reopening of school. To read the outcome of this conference go here.  Keep up with FUSE (New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees) by checking out their news and views. MORE-UFT released their Health Justice Agenda for NYC Schools this month.  Jackson Heights People for Public Schools held an open meeting for parents early this month.  Please check in with their events tab on their open Facebook page for more upcoming events. 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. 

North Carolina

Public Schools First NC and Wake County NCAE posted that Public Funds Public Schools hosted the third installment in a series of webinars on issues related to private school vouchers and PFPS’s goal of ensuring public funds are used to maintain, support, and strengthen public schools.  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 spoke with Dr. Gerald Durley this month in a Facebook live event . Dr. Durley is a retired pastor and climate change activist who has been a transforming force in the field of faith and social justice. Pastors for North Carolina Children along with the United Methodist Advocating for Public Schools (UMAPS), groups from the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Saint Francis United Methodist Church in Cary, NC will be hosting an Education Forum on Wednesday, September 16, at 7pm on Zoom. The forum will be about Public Education and Faith–why the church should support public schools. It’s going to be an introduction to why Churches need to know about the Leandro decision in NC and what can done about it.  To register for this event go here. Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County had an important meeting with Pitt County Schools regarding reopening.  They asked their membership to submit questions. To stay up-to-date on this issue in Pitt County go here.  


Ohio BATs have a closed Facebook group of over 2000 members where they organize and share information.  If you know anyone in Ohio who is fighting for public education, teachers, students, or their community public school, send them here to connect. It Takes A Village To Tackle HB70 shared a five year forecast for the Lorain City Schools. Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education founder Dan Greenberg published a powerful essay The Reality of Returning to School During the Pandemic.  This was published on Public Education Partners (PEP) website. Teamwork at its finest! Parents For Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati post upcoming events on their open Facebook page.  It Takes A Village encourages their members to answer their phones because teachers are trying to get in touch with families.  To see this announcement go here.


Pastors for Oklahoma Kids joined the Oklahoma Education Association’s press conference this month on returning to school safely. Pastors for Oklahoma Kids Executive Director Rev. Clark Frailey spoke about the need for masks, PPE for educators, and flexibility in instruction. Go here for more details. The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee continues to share, and expose, issues around the Epic Virtual Charter Schools.  Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education & Oklahoman’s for Public Education shared guidance for reopening from the state education department. 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 took a poll on their Facebook page about reopening in the Fall.  See what parents, teachers, and community members are saying about this issue here. 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 exposed that vouchers are back on track during the COVID crisis. Pennsylvania School Board Association is conducting a webinar series where expert panelists will discuss student health, transportation, collective bargaining, special education needs and coronavirus-related liability based on the PDE and Back to School Task Force guidance. To learn more 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 are asking their membership to contact members of Congress so that Pennsylvania’s poorest students will not lose approximately $50 million in federal COVID-19 aid. Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools reported on the recent virtual Town Halls conducted by the Philadelphia School District

Rhode Island

The Providence Student Union is excited to join forces with ARISE, CYCLE at RWU, PrYSM, Youth In Action, Inc., Rhode Island Urban Debate League, Rhode Island Center for Justice to form #ourschoolspvd. As a unified force, they will ensure that state control of the Providence Public Schools system results in a racially just and equitable public education for Providence Youth and their families. To learn more and to read their official statement go here. If you know of any grassroots groups in Rhode Island here is the form to  join #ourschoolspvd. To keep up with what is happening in Rhode Island give Parents Across Rhode Island Facebook page a follow. 

South Carolina

The Quality Education Project leadership team member Carol Tempel published a  critical letter to Governor McMaster concerning the plan to reopen schools amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. 


The Momma Bears have a great blog full of information about the fight for public education in Tennessee. Check it out here. Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) asked their followers on Facebook to fight for what Tennessee public school children need. They invited others to tell their story so that lawmakers in D.C. could hear them. Pastors for Tennessee Children issued a statement early this  month regarding the Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.  To read that statement go here. 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 issued a statement on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.  PTC was featured on CBS 19 for pushing back on Trump’s pressuring of the CDC to change school reopening guidelines.  CFISD Community Leadership Committee thanked Rep. Tom Oliverson for listening to their concerns about using the STARR test for accountability in the 2020-2021 school year. 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. RootEd published their monthly newsletter, The Branch, that highlights all of their events and actions. To see what they were up to this month read 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 shared some new Texas Education Agency guidance regarding virtual instruction.  Virtual instruction will happen for up to 8 weeks and students without access may learn at school. $200 million in CARES Act funding will be allocated to TEA from the state for the purchase of e-learning devices and WiFi.  Our Schools San Antonio joined a Bexar County-wide coalition on a safe school reopening letter campaign. The coalition wrote to leaders and decision-makers at every level of local and state government to call for a pause to all in-person school reopening plans for at least the first 9 weeks of the new school year. Texas AFT stood in solidarity with those who Rally for Safe School Opening this month. They stand in solidarity with those who demand safety for teachers and with those who recognize teachers are worth more than the state’s reckless plans.


Virginia Educators United shared a power point from their Only When It’s Safe Town Hall. To see that power point go here.  Virginia BATs asked their Facebook followers to sign a petition to return back to school only when it is safe. Support Our Schools-Shenandoah County organizes to fight for public education in that region. You can connect here.

Washington State

WA BATs has an active twitter feed full of powerful graphics. Check it out here. Washington Paramount Duty will be issuing a call to action very soon. WPD feels if schools are having to go to a distance model again, it has to be done better than before. And that requires a lot more resources to be successful.


Wisconsin Public Education Network held their Summer Institute on July 24th. The 2020 Summer Summit was entirely virtual using the Run the World online conferencing platform. We hope to have archived video of the sessions in our next newsletter. Schools and Communities United shared the Milwaukee Schools reopening plan. Parents for Public Schools Milwaukee parents, guardians, educators and public education supporters from across the state met this month for the Wisconsin Public Education Network 6th annual summer summit.  The event was held virtually.

 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.