January 31, 2020 1:26 pm

Grassroots Education Network- New Year (2020) Newsletter

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The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 135 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

The most exciting thing about the beginning of 2020 is that Slaying Goliath, the new book by NPE President Diane Ravitch, was released. The reviews speak to the eloquent way that Diane tells the story of everyday people who, without money or power, have successfully brought down the rich and entitled. Please support this amazing book that celebrates all the work we do everyday. Here is a link to order the book, or encourage everyone to visit their closest book store to buy a copy. Diane is also on tour!  She is a fantastic speaker. Here is a link to her tour dates and locations.

I hope to see you all at the NPE Action National Conference in Philadelphia where grassroots groups will be honored

At our March 28-29 conference, we will be celebrating the work of Grassroots Groups across the nation. Leaders of Grassroots Groups will be called to the stage to be honored and given an autographed copy of Diane’s new book.

Let’s start 2020 off by connecting and recharging.  Registration is still open but please remember that seats are limited this year to 500, so DO NOT delay your registration. Go here to register and book your hotel. There are few discounted hotel rooms left on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Finally, this newsletter will be the New Year Edition and will highlight a sample of what the network has going on in 2020. 

Public Schools Week will be held from February 24th-28th. Start planning NOW by doing the following:

  • Begin to ask your Governor, state and federal lawmakers, Mayor, City Council, or Board of Education to adopt a resolution in support of Public Education. Begin to do this now. You can adopt, edit, or modify this resolution from The School Superintendents Association. If you get a resolution please send it to Marla Kilfoyle at marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org and we will forward it along.
  • National organizations please cut a three-minute video that encourages your members to participate in Public Schools Week. Here are the instructions for the video. To see sample videos please go here.  
  • Please share and ask your members to take the pledge in support of Public Schools week. You can do that here.
  • Please consider hosting an event. Starting planning NOW and register your event here  
  • To learn more about Public Schools Week, messaging for 2020 and the #PublicSchoolProud campaign please go here and the toolkit has all kinds of amazing things you can do to support the week on social media.

On the National Front here is what the following groups will be doing in 2020: Defending the Early Years and FairTest are heading into 2020 with a revised fact sheet for families on testing and young children. Defending the Early Years is gearing up for their summer institute.  You can register hereIn the Public Interest will be working to help implement AB 1505 (new state law on how charter schools are authorized)  in California. They will also be doing some additional research on cyber charters. Finally they will be working in a few other states so stay tuned for what is coming on that front.  Here is a write up, A new direction in 2020 for In the Public Interest. Well, sort of, that discusses their plans. The Journey for Justice Alliance is preparing for their 2020 conference which will be held May 22-24th in Baltimore. To learn more, and register go here. Rethinking Schools will focus on the 2020 election and strengthening grassroots social movements to give our children the world they deserve. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy is the only national organization that represents parents in their fight to protect the data privacy of their children. Their advocacy has led to reports, including the State Student Privacy report card, the Educator Toolkit for Student and Teacher Privacy and the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy.  They will continue their work, into 2020, supporting parents in their fight to protect the data privacy of their children. Parents for Public Schools National shared a video of PPS Board Chair, Kathy Herring, talking about the importance of their work across the country to improve public education for all children. Parents Across America will continue their focus on what is best for children, not for corporate interests. They will continue to provide support for their chapters nationwide and will be working on new initiatives including safe schools and all that entails, and helping educate, inform, and organize parents around local, state, and national education policy making. Parents Across America will continue their collaborative efforts with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, the Network for Public Education, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, and other organizations and partners focused on the health, safety, education, and well-being of children. 

Schott Foundation will continue their work to achieve justice for all and work within the philanthropy world on voter education. The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) is calling on educators this year, more than ever, to #BeFierce. BATs feel too much is at stake to ignore what’s going on. Being Fierce can take many forms and all types are needed. Not all protests are made in the streets. For the first time the Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education (USA) will be holding their annual conference in Sacramento. The conference will be May 15-17. To learn more about this conference go here. Their theme this year is Educating for Transformation. The Ontario (Canada) Secondary School Teachers Federation will focus on a very difficult round of bargaining. Interested readers might want to check out their work here and here. On May 1, OSSTF will co-produce a researchED  conference in Toronto. Details can be found here. May 22nd and 23rd, they will be hosting a human rights conference in Toronto. Details will be forthcoming in a future newsletter. First Focus Campaign for Children will release the First Focus Campaign for Children’s “2019 Congressional Champions for Children Report” in January. They will also have a “Children’s Week” on Capitol Hill from June 14-20. Finally, they will release the “Children’s Budget 2020” in July. The Children’s Budget 2020 is their annual report on federal spending on children.

Kinderchat is happy to announce that Co-founders Amy Murray and Heidi Echternacht will be writing a book in 2020 called #Kinderchat Guide to the Classroom. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood agenda for 2020 will involve the following: organizing parents, advocates, and policymakers to stop an industry push to weaken the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The industry push comes after their successful campaign that forced major changes at YouTube, including limits on data collection from kids and a ban on personalized advertising on child-directed content.  CCFC will be releasing a by-parents-and-educators, for-parents-and-educators Screens in Schools Action Kit to help anyone and everyone advocate for less EdTech in schools. From May 4-10, thousands of schools and communities will celebrate our 10th Screen-Free Week. Finally, CCFC will be creating a new parents guides for YouTube, apps that claim to be educational, and voice assistants. The Network for Public Education is busy gearing up for their national conference in Philadelphia. We hope that everyone is registered and bringing a few friends.

Let’s see what the NPE Grassroots Education Network is doing in various Regions of the country:

In the Western part of the country here is what the network organizations have planned for 2020: In California, California Educators United is planning a Bay Area regional conference in February to strategize for the Schools and Communities initiative as part of building a grassroots statewide movement for public education. In addition they will be publishing some education materials about education funding, charter schools, and strategy to fight back, along with online study groups. In Colorado, Pueblo Education Coalition will be focusing on bringing the Community Schools model to Pueblo District 60. They got one pro Community Schools candidate elected in November and two other board members who are interested in exploring the model for the district. They are also working with the National Education Policy Center and the Schott Foundation to look at the Cost of Opportunity for their city. Sometime this month or early next month, they will have a report that details exactly how much it will cost to create the schools students deserve. They will be sharing this information with stakeholders from around the city to not only inform students, families, educators and community members but also provide them with opportunities to get more involved.  In Oregon, Oregon Save Our Schools and Oregon BATs plan to continue urging parents to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. At least two members of OR BATs will be presenting on opt out to parent and community groups. They will also continue to advocate for a work group on assessment in the Oregon legislature, working with other members of Oregon Public Education Network (OPEN). Two OR BATs provided written and in person testimony to the Oregon State Board of Education regarding Administrative Rules on the definition of “third grade reading proficiency” for the purposes of our Student Success Act. They spoke specifically on the value of using a computerized test of literacy for third graders AND exposed that the assessment, only offered in English, will not assist more students in achieving the Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas. Members of OSOS and OR BATs also participated in a meeting with one of Oregon’s Assistant Superintendents of Public Instruction and expressed concerns at this meeting about the use of SBAC as a measure of third grade reading proficiency for all students and most particularly for English learners and students in Dual Language Immersion programs. They also questioned the role that Stand for Children plays in setting Oregon education policy.

Here is what organizations in the Southwestern region of the country have planned for 2020:  In Texas, Pastors for Texas Children has some powerful New Year’s Resolutions. They will be holding “Celebration of Public Education” events throughout the year to generate a pro-public education culture in Texas. In March and April they will have big events in San Antonio with former Texas Speaker Joe Straus keynoting, and in Houston and Dallas with Diane Ravitch as their keynote speaker. In August they will speak at teacher convocations throughout the state. Also, their PTC senior consultant Louis Malfaro is leading them in their Hispanic Faith Leader Initiative, a specific organizational outreach to Latino pastors and congregational leaders to equip and involve them in their work. Dr. Charles Luke, co-director, is taking a lead role in their Charter Work Group, a consortium of many teachers, administrators, and professional organizations coordinating efforts to bring accountability and transparency to charter schools in Texas. Rev. Johnson is serving as co-chair of the Faith-Based Subcommittee of their Census Count effort in Texas. It’s essential to education, health care, and other services that they have an accurate count of who is living in Texas! In addition, Charles, Louis and Rev. Johnson are conducting their regular heavy schedule of speaking and presenting to ministers and advocates in meetings throughout the state at least weekly, and often two and three times a week. Texas Kids Can’t Wait emphasis will be on voter registration, sharing information about candidates’  positions on public education, including equitable funding, and then getting out the vote. They will also be helping people see the dangers of privatization and state takeovers. RootEd is starting their 3rd year! RootEd has a few goals heading into 2020. They will be reaching out to parents who are looking for a school for their child. They are asking parents to STEP IN THE DOOR of their neighborhood school. Whether it’s for a school tour, for a community event or to register, they would love to see parents checking out what’s going on at the school around the corner! Another goal is to engage in voter education within our communities. In Arizona, Save our Schools Arizona greatest achievements of 2019 were: defeated 5 voucher expansion bills, increased fiscal transparency for vouchers via legislation, they collaborated with other education groups to gain tens of millions more in public education funding in the state budget, presented their informative Education Roadshow to over 5000 Arizonans, and grew their network of volunteers by leaps and bounds. They will carry this momentum into 2020. 

Here is what organizations in the Midwest have planned for 2020: In Illinois, Illinois Raise Your Hand is kicking off the year with lots of work leading up to Local School Council elections, which are in April. LSCs are the most hyperlocal democratic lever in Chicago and are the elected position that most reflects the demographics of Chicago. Illinois Raise Your Hand, along with the LSCs.4.ALL coalition, strongly believe in democratic voice and community control. The LSCs.4.All coalition is hosting LSC Summit: Elections 2020 on January 25.  At RYH, they are working with parents in a few communities and plan to attend similar LSC Elections events in a few Chicago neighborhoods. They hope to help recruit people to run! RYH LSC work will continue all year, especially with monthly LSC Meet Ups which the LSCs.4.All coalition hosts. These meetings consist of trainings for LSC members, supporting LSC members with issues they may be facing at their individual schools, and connecting LSC members from across the city of Chicago. RHY special education work is always happening as is holding the unelected CPS Board of Education and their various elected officials accountable to Chicago and Illinois families. Illinois Families for Public Schools is starting a new campaign to bring play back to Illinois elementary schools. They are working on introducing and passing legislation to require an hour of play in public school, every day in grades K-8. To win something like this will require a lot of organizing, but they think it’s a fight worth having and worth winning! If you know anyone in Illinois who would like to get involved, they can sign up here, and please share the link with other play advocates. They are also working on connecting with other organizations to form a coalition of proponent groups; if you are a member or leader of an organization that may be interested, please let them know! In Indiana, Indiana Coalition for Public Schools – Monroe County is planning on hosting a viewing of the school desegregation episode of the Civil Rights documentary Eyes on the Prize (episode 2, “Fighting Back”); Meeting for monthly letter-writing; Sending out a survey about technology use in their local school district and convening parents and teachers to discuss what is working and what is not; Attending the board meetings of their local district and a local charter school; Publicizing the legislative report card that their state group produces; Hosting a school board candidate forum in the fall; Staffing a table at the local farmers market, spring through fall. Indiana Coalition for Public Education general goals/plans for 2020 are as follows: Continuing outreach to public education groups around the state as we they build their networking coalition; Continuing their presentations statewide to community and civic groups about issues surrounding public education in Indiana (two already lined up in Indianapolis and Muncie); Calls to action during their short legislative session for letters, phone calls, and statehouse testimony to support public school; Putting out their Legislative Report Card to raise awareness about how local legislators are doing with regard to their support for Indiana’s public schools; Hosting an event to support public education on President’s Day at the statehouse (February 17th 2pm); Continuing to expand their new website’s reach and blog posts. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education asked that this be shared with the network. “We began in 2011 as a group of friends who came together to support public schools. This past year tested our strength as we dealt with the passing of one of our founding members, our group’s leader, and our friend, Phyllis Bush. Throughout the year we reminded ourselves of one of her favorite quotes: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead) As we talk of our group’s future “post Phyllis,” we agree that, despite our loss and to advance her legacy of public education advocacy, we will continue to support public education and firmly believe that over time, even many small activities can have a substantial and consequential impact.” In Kansas, Game On for Kansas Schools is coming off a successful end to a long school funding case, and their legislature has agreed to a plan to phase in significant new funding over the next several years. Game on for Kansas Schools is prepared for to fight the expansion of vouchers or a tax credit scholarship program or to loosen charter restrictions in the state. Their methods of pushing back include testifying, communicating accurate information via social media and speaking engagements, and writing op eds. Game on for Kansas Schools will continue to build and strengthen their network with other advocacy groups and advocates in the state and share information so that they can maintain consistent messaging. They will also continue to educate the public and dispel misinformation on funding, districts’ use of funds and academic achievement. In Ohio, Ohio BATs will continue to fight state takeovers, charters, e-schools, and vouchers. They will advocate to overhaul the state report card, reduce state testing to federal minimums, and fix their graduation requirements. Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education biggest area of focus is advocacy around EdChoice, Ohio’s voucher programs. Based on the flawed Ohio State Report Card metrics, individual school buildings get designated as failing, then students attending those schools, or students set to attend those schools, the following year get vouchers. About 400 of Ohio’s 600+ districts are facing revenue loss due to EdChoice vouchers. The Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education is partnering with other groups to hold a public forum at the end of January, and the East Central Ohio Friends of Public Ed is looking to do the same thing.  They are also encouraging local school districts to pass resolutions against the EdChoice vouchers. At the heart of the EdChoice voucher debacle is the Ohio State Report Cards. The test score-based metrics are causing problems in other areas as well.  They will be advocating for changes to the state report card throughout the year as well. In Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Education Network has been busy working on their 2020 Action Plan and also put together their 2019 annual report. Their report was developed with input from a group of talented and dedicated local team leaders, their annual action plan provides a template for coordinating actions around the state for maximum impact while minimizing effort required at the local level so resources and information can be shared in a more productive way. They will ask local leaders to share the timeline with their local team/s and find ways to “plug in” when they can and as capacity allows by participating in both statewide and local actions. Since 2020 is both a census year and a major election year, much of their focus will be on making sure public education remains a central focus of these conversations, and they will invite all to participate however they can throughout the year. Their efforts this year will help make possible a better budget for kids in 2021 and a better education now!  Their 2020 Summer Summit will be July 24 in Sun Prairie and they plan to hold many events, trainings and actions throughout the year to keep public education the focus of the conversation. Schools and Communities United first newsletter of the year highlights that it will be a busy year in Milwaukee and Wisconsin for SCU!  In Nebraska, Stand for Schools will be working on the following in 2020: Continue to cultivate relationships with leaders of all faiths across Nebraska who can respond to calls for privatization by emphasizing public education  as a moral good in their congregations and in the media. Expand outreach efforts beyond the major urban areas in eastern Nebraska by traveling more frequently to rural communities and school districts.  Advocate for proactive policies to help public schools serve all children better with special emphasis on better meeting growing mental and behavioral health needs and improving diversity among educators. Lead efforts to oppose ill-conceived tax legislation that would hurt Nebraska’s public schools. Nebraska’s leaders have identified property tax reform as a priority in 2020, and we will work alongside other education associations to ensure any proposals that advance are fiscally sustainable and that they neither reduce funding for public education nor disproportionately impact low-income families. Continue opposing school privatization efforts, including a scholarship tax credit bill that will return to the legislature in 2020. It is clear we will face an organized and well-funded campaign, as groups like the American Federation for Children and the American Legislative Exchange Council have identified Nebraska as a target for their agenda. Continue educating the public about evidence-based education policies and the dangers of school privatization. 

In the Southeastern part of the country here is what network organizations have planned for 2020:  In Alabama, SOS (Support our Students) anticipates many items detrimental to public education will be brought to the floor of Alabama’s Legislature in 2020. Their focus will be on keeping the public informed. In February, they will be coordinating activities with various groups and school boards to recognize both Black Lives Matter at School and Public Education Week.  They will also be bringing a screening of ‘Backpack Full of Cash’ to Montgomery in March. In Kentucky, Pastors for Kentucky Children is looking forward to 2020 and working to make sure public education is the number one priority in Kentucky! They plan to work hard to make sure that taking care of all of our children, providing everyone with quality, fully funded schools, that teachers have their pensions protected, end the funding of charters and scholarship tax credits. They will work hard to get money back into their schools that the last administration cut and failed to increase as costs increase. In North Carolina, Public Schools First NC and Wake County NCAE created some powerful visuals for 2020. Public Schools First NC will also spend the next several weeks taking a deep dive into the WestEd report. The report estimates the state will need to spend nearly $7 Billion to properly address education funding. Over the next several weeks, they will be taking a deeper dive into each one: Revise the state funding model to provide adequate, efficient, and equitable resources; Provide a qualified, well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school; Provide a qualified and well-prepared principal in every school; Provide all at-risk students with the opportunity to attend high-quality early childhood programs; Direct resources, opportunities, and initiatives to economically disadvantaged students; Revise the student assessment system and school accountability system, and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools; Build an effective regional and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools; Convene an expert panel to assist the Court in monitoring state policies, plans, programs, and progress. What happens next? Public education advocates in NC are waiting to see if: 1) Judge Lee will order the NC General Assembly to fund WestEd recommendations and/or 2) Will the NC General Assembly take action on their own to fund the recommendations? Stay tuned! In South Carolina, The Quality Education Project will be working with Rev. William Barber’s coalition in January, preparing an information session on funding equity in South Carolina, and focusing on supporting local candidates committed to racial justice and quality traditional public education in the Charleston County school board elections. In Tennessee, The Momma Bears will continue to write about all that is happening in Tennessee education. The first Momma Bear blog of 2020 may have national implications. Momma Bears believe YouScience will be spreading to other states. Pastors for Tennessee Children is planning to continue to build this spring. They hope to recruit more faith leaders into their organization. They will participate in the TEA rally for more school funding on March 16th. Tennessee Strong will focus on repealing the voucher bill that passed in 2019. They will also be pushing for more funding for the state’s funding formula (BEP). In Virginia, Virginia Educators United is heading into 2020 fighting for a better budget for the children of Virginia. 

 Finally, in the Northeastern part of the country here is what network organizations have planned for 2020: In Connecticut, Children Are More Than Test Scores have three actions planned for the first six months of 2020. They are planning an April Equity Walk in Connecticut on March 3rd and an “Equity Now: Anything Less is White Supremacy” Education Salon on March 4th. Some members will travel to Selma, Alabama for the Selma Jubilee and will march together across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On June 20th some members will be attending “The Poor People’s Assembly and March” in Washington, D.C. Jesse Turner, co-founder of Children are More Than Test Scores, is now the Moral Monday Connecticut Education Ambassador and member of the Moral Monday Connecticut Strategic Planning Committee. In Connecticut Moral Monday and Children Are More Than Test Scores plan and work together. Children Are More Than Test Scores also are main participants in producing CCSU TEDxCCSU April events.  April 2020 will be their 7th TEDx event. In Massachusetts, Citizens for Public Schools has a clear vision for 2020. To make sure that the promised funding gets to the students who need it, to fight privatization, and, to replace discriminatory high-stakes testing with fair and helpful assessments. In New Jersey, Our Children Our Schools will participate in NJ’s FY21 State Budget process as it relates to school funding by analyzing the Governor’s and Legislature’s proposals, providing public testimony, informing stakeholders and the press, and working towards full funding of NJ’s school funding formula. South Orange-Maplewood Cares About Schools is planning to continue to inform the South Orange and Maplewood public about issues and events going on in the district. They will also continue to advocate for the integration of the schools and the reduction of standardized testing. In New York, Class Size Matters will focus their efforts to keep a small school in Brooklyn open with very small classes – PS 25 Eubie Blake in Bed Stuy that has high numbers of homeless students and 100% low-income students – which though it outperforms the city average in test scores the city tried to close. Beating back the College Board which tried to get the state to change their student privacy regulations to allow for them to continue selling student data, and helping Illinois Families for Public Schools organize a class action lawsuit in federal court against this practice. Getting their class size lawsuit versus the city to the Appellate court which will hear oral arguments in ten days. NYSAPE and LI Opt Out will be urging people to attend graduation requirements meetings. They will be holding Facebook live events so parents can ask questions about opting out. They will continue to publish fact sheets on State Education Department calculations, opt out rates, questions and answers for parents, testing threats by districts, and testing stories.  Finally they will survey parents and teachers regarding the removal of exit exams for graduation. The Alliance for Quality Education is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Twenty years of determination and commitment to educational justice for the students of New York. AQE’s new executive Director, Jasmine Gripper, is excited to lead an organization with such a strong legacy and focus on our most precious New Yorkers, our children. AQE ended 2019 by celebrating outgoing executive director Billy Easton. Billy led AQE for 14 years. Here is a video to celebrate all his amazing work. Heading into 2020 AQE will remain committed to equity and justice for the children of New York. Their work will continue until all children, regardless or race, class or immigration status has access to high quality public schools in their community.  Finally, AQE put together a Fund NY Schools digital toolkit with all the resources anyone would need to be the champion NY children need. AQE invites anyone to use the toolkit to help you set up a town hall, press conference, and more. Jackson Heights People for Public Schools will continue to push school integration in Queens and New York City. By engaging with neighbors and working alongside allied organizations such as nycASID (nycasid.com) and D30 Equity Now (d30now.com), they are advocating for a robust integration plan that will build a system that is diverse, equitable, and culturally responsive at every level and every classroom. They plan to push forward in 2020 to finally end high-stakes standardized testing and fully fund our public schools. Rochester Coalition for Public Education submitted a proposal to the NYS Board of Regents for the purpose of helping Rochester City School District students meet their psycho-social and academic needs. They will be hosting education forums for feedback and support for their recommendations. In Rhode Island, Providence Student Union ended 2019 with a 10 year Alumni Reunion. PSU thanks all the former members of PSU for their dedication and commitment to building student power. Check out the photos of this event. 

NPE Grassroots Education Network – Resources and Graphics

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.