Archives for category: Networkfor Public Education Action Fund

Marla Kilfoyle, director of the Network for Public Education’s Grassroots Network, summarizes the work of the 160 or so organizations across the nation in 2020, that used their energies to promote, defend, and improve public schools.

Marla begins like this:

The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 160 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

Needless to say, 2020 was a very difficult year.  Despite the many hardships that individuals and organizations in the network have faced, we continued to rise up to help others.  As you read the year-end roundup, you will see organizations and individuals ravaged by the impact of COVID and social injustice continue to organize with impact. The NPE Grassroots Education Network 2020 roundup is a testament to a small sample of work that has had a lasting impact on our nation. The 2020 roundup is organized into regions. I know that  2021 will be a year of continued solidarity and respect for the work we each do every single day.  

National Front

The Network for Public Education was very busy this year. In August of 2020, NPE published Broken Promises: An Analysis of Charter School Closures From 1999-2017.  Thereport provides the first comprehensive examination of charter failure rates over time—beginning in 1999 and ending in 2017. By following all charter schools from the year they opened, we were able to determine how long they lasted before closing down. We also determined how many students have been displaced by failing charter schools and where those closures are most likely to occur. In November 2020, NPE exposed that charter schools took between $1-2 Billion in PPP COVID funds meant for small business owners. To read that report, go here. Mark your calendar for the new date for the NPE/NPE Action National Conference. Due to the ongoing dangers posed by COVID-19, the National Conference has been rescheduled to October 23/24, 2021. The conference will still take place at the same location, the Doubletree Hotel in Philadelphia. NPE  will be sending more information to registrants shortly. Know that your conference registration is secure, as is NPE’s commitment to speakers and panels.  FairTest launched a petition in late 2020 to call for the federal government and states to suspend high-stakes standardized testing in spring 2021.  Please make sure you sign and share the petition. Bob Schaeffer, interim Executive Director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, sent a great update on what Fair Test is working on. “In part due to COVID school closings, 2020 was a surprisingly good year for the testing reform movement.  By the numbers: Colleges and universities with ACT/SAT optional policies for fall 2020 applicants were at 1,070.  In 2021 colleges and universities with ACT/SAT optional policies increased to 1,685. States waiving federal standardized testing requirements in spring 2019 was at 0. In 2020 that number increased to 50. Jurisdictions requiring seniors to pass high-stakes exit exams to graduate in spring 2019 was at 13. Jurisdictions requiring seniors to pass high-stakes exit exams to graduate in spring 2020 fell to 0. Pages viewed by visitors to fairtest.org in the calendar year 2019 was at 995,000, and by 2020 that number increased to 1,637,000.” Defending the Early Years has had a successful year of working toward and accomplishing their mission by providing resources for parents and teachers of young children, advocating for appropriate early childhood education, and fighting for the rights and needs of young children. Here are their 2020 accomplishments…by the numbers! Published one COVID-19 resource to help parents and teachers in the early days of the pandemic, published two comprehensive reports, produced three videos, broadcasted three webinars, announced seven policy priorities, awarded thirteen mini-grants, wrote eighteen op-eds, articles, and blogs, had sixty-two advocates sign up for DEY’s Working Groups, had five hundred and fifty-nine parents and teachers participate in their DEY survey, one thousand twenty-one people registered for the DEY Summer Institute, reported over four thousand subscribed to their DEY  monthly newsletter, and have over ten thousand followers on social media. In the Public Interest is a research and policy organization that studies public goods and services.  They have published so many powerful newsletters that the list would be enormous.  Please head over to their website to see all that they did in 2020.  The Journey for Justice Alliance’s powerful Equity or Else campaign highlighted the demand that schools are opened safely and equitably. Schott Foundation and Journey for Justice Alliance were two organizations that co-hosted the Democratic Presidential Candidates in a Public Education Forum in December of 2019. Rethinking Schools book Rethinking Ethnic Studies was named 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year. Here is a list of some of the other outstanding 2019/2020 accomplishments.  Rethinking Schools made effective and powerful use of their important book Teaching for Black Lives by hosting webinars for thousands of educators, parents, and community activists to enhance anti-racist teaching. They expanded The New Teacher Book webinar into a series of bi-weekly workshops to apply the book’s themes to teaching in the pandemic and to build ties with one another. They also produced new teaching guides to give educators practical, hands-on strategies for bringing social justice teaching to life. They published Teacher Unions and Social Justice, an anthology of more than 60 articles documenting the history and the how-tos of social justice unionism. Together, they describe the growing movement to forge multiracial community alliances to defend and transform public education. Rethinking Schools also redesigned and strengthened their digital infrastructure to bring social justice teaching stories to the fingertips of thousands of more educators to better serve their readers. They expand their focus on climate justice education work through their Teach Climate Justice campaign with the Zinn Education Project, and regular articles in the magazine. Finally, they published four issues of Rethinking Schools magazine — including an expanded “Teaching and Learning in the Pandemic” issue — and launched a new feature in the magazine of contributions from a diverse selection of education activists.

Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed legislation to take money away from Ohio public schools and divert it to privately managed schools, vouchers for religious schools, charter schools, and home schooling. She is following in the footsteps of Betsy DeVos, who spent four years trying to eradicate public schools.

If you live in Iowa, contact your legislator and Governor Reynolds! Speak up for your public schools! Resist the privatization of public funds!

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds proposed SSB 1065, (now known as SF 159) which is being fast-tracked through the state Senate.  The vote may be today. This “school choice” bill would:

  • Provide up to $5,200 per student in “state scholarships” for parents to use for private school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 
  • Greatly expand charter schools in the state by allowing applicants to start a charter school by going straight to the state board, bypassing the school district.  No longer would districts be the only decider for charter schools. 

If you love your public schools, you need to drop what you are doing and get to work!

1. Call your state senators NOW and ask them to support public schools by OPPOSING Senate File 159, SSB 1065. Or say, “I oppose the school choice voucher/charter bill.” You can find your Senator and their phone number by going here. Click on their name for their phone number.

2Click here and send an email in opposition to SSB 1065/SF 159  NOW.

3. Share this link with friends and family who live in the state

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/save-iowa-public-schools-oppose/

Don’t wait. Act now. 

Carol Burris

Executive Director

Network for Public Education

If you live in Michigan and you want to stop the privatization of public school funding, the Network for Public Education Action urges you to support Sarah Schultz for the House of Representatives, District 98.

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Sarah Schultz for the Michigan state House District 98.

Sarah, who was born and raised in Flint, is married to a public school teacher. Sarah’s children attend public schools. She strongly supports increases in school funding.

Recently she quoted a Network for Public Education study while criticizing the charter sector, which she referred to as a “Wild West model where for-profit charters aren’t held accountable to the standards of public schools.”

She has also noted that her opponent has taken money from the DeVos family. Sarah is against school privatization. 

We urge your support for Sarah Schultz when you vote on November 3.

No candidate authorized this ad. It is paid for by Network for Public Education Action, New York, New York.

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Melissa Romano in her campaign to become Superintendent of Public Instruction in Montana.

Romano, a 16-year career elementary math teacher and the 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year, has been recognized as a leader in her field. 

This is Romano’s second race against opponent Elsie Arntzen. In 2016 Romano lost the election by a narrow 3% margin. Arntzen, a voucher supporter, was a state legislator prior to becoming State Superintendent. As a legislator she voted consistently for school choice legislation, and as Superintendent has continued to support school choice initiatives.

The Billings Gazette recently reported that school choice is a “line in the sand” for Romano. She has been endorsed by three prior State Superintendents who served from 1989-2017. In their endorsement of Romano, they accuse Arntzen of “attending private school rallies, applauding budget proposals that would cut millions from Montana’s public schools, mismanaging her office, and illegally diverting aid to private and for-profit schools.”

Romano is a strong supporter of a robust public preschool program, but opposed state funds flowing to private preschools.

Please be sure to cast your ballot for this career educator and public school supporter on November 3rd.

You can post this endorsement using this link.

No candidate authorized this ad. It is paid for by Network for Public Education Action, New York, New York.

Senator Gary Peters is in a close race for re-election. He is a strong supporter of public schools. He has shared reports of the Network for Public Education with his colleagues. He needs us. I just sent him a contribution. I hope you will do the same. Gaining the majority in the Senate is crucial. Gary Peters deserves our support.

Four years ago, Donald Trump won Michigan by only a few thousand votes — and immediately, Democrats here got to work. Thanks to a swell of grassroots support, two years later we made massive progress with victories across Michigan.
And now once again, our battleground state of Michigan is in the spotlight as all eyes turn here to re-elect Senator Gary Peters. And this race couldn’t be more important — analysts at CBS News are reporting that Democrats can’t win the Senate majority if we don’t first win here in Michigan.
Here’s the bad news: far-right billionaires like Betsy DeVos’ family are trying to buy Michigan’s Senate seat, and now Gary’s officially been outraised for four of the last five quarters. That’s because the GOP is dumping millions of dollars to try and defeat Gary — and if they succeed, we can say goodbye to the future of the Supreme Court and hello to at least two more years of Mitch McConnell calling the shots in Washington.
Gary is in the final two weeks before Election Day, so he reached out to ask me if I could help him close the gap on his $20,000 goal for today — and right now, we’re still falling $13,582 short. Can you chip in $100 (or whatever you can) to make sure Gary doesn’t get outraised again so we can send him back to the Senate?
If you’ve saved payment info with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:Click to donate $100Click to donate $200Click to donate $400Or click here to donate another amountIt’s never been more important for us to elect Democrats like Gary Peters who are going to continue fighting the good fight to move Michigan forward. And with control of the Senate and the future of the Supreme Court on the line, we need a fighter like Gary standing up for Michiganders in Washington. So I’m asking one more time — with a recent poll showing Gary down by nearly two points, I’m asking you to donate $100 today to help secure victory for Gary Peters in Michigan to help us win back the Senate.

Sincerely,

Gretchen Whitmer
Governor of Michigan  

NPE Action previously endorsed nine Senate candidates:

Mark Kelly-Arizona

Jon Ossoff-Georgia

Theresa Greenfield-Iowa

Barbara Bollier-Kansas

Amy McGrath-Kentucky

Sara Gideon-Maine

Steve Bullock-Montana

Cal Cunningham-North Carolina

Jaime Harrison-South Carolina

We endorse three more candidates for the United States Senate:

Doug Jones-Alabama

Gary Peters-Michigan

M.J. Hegar-Texas

The Network for Public Education Action is delighted to endorse the following candidates for election to the United States Senate:

Mark Kelly-Arizona

Jon Ossoff-Georgia

Theresa Greenfield-Iowa

Barbara Bollier-Kansas

Amy McGrath-Kentucky

Sara Gideon-Maine

Steve Bullock-Montana

Cal Cunningham-North Carolina

Jaime Harrison-South Carolina

We endorse these nine candidates as friends of public education. We are not able to send them money, but we urge friends of public education in their states to donate to their campaigns and vote for them.

The Network for Public Education Action Fund is delighted to endorse Candace Valenzuela, who is running for Congress in District 24 in Texas. She was also endorsed by Emily’s List.

This is Candace’s campaign video, where she thanks her teachers and her school for enabling her to overcome poverty.

The Network for Public Education Action is pleased to endorse Candace Valenzuela for Texas House District 24. Candace is a former school board trustee who knows first hand that our public education system is under attack. She understands that corporate special interests have been undermining public education in favor of alternative models. Candace believes that public education delivers the best results on a consistent basis and true opportunity means giving every child the opportunity to learn and grow regardless of their zip code.

Candace served as a member of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District Board of Trustees At-large in Texas for two years. She expanded STEM academies and job training in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch schools and her community is already reaping the economic benefits. Candace wants to make those opportunities a reality for all children living in TX-24. She will use her experience to stand up to Betsy DeVos’s devastating agenda that strips vital funding from our schools. 

Candace will fight for universal pre-K, because she believes every child deserves a chance to get ahead. Finally, she believes that we need to pay teachers higher salaries so that we can keep more of them in our schools for longer. That also means finding a way to remove their student loan debt.

Candace is an outstanding candidate and friend of public education. We urge voters in Texas House District 24 to cast their vote for Candace in the general election on November 3, 2020.

You can post this endorsement using this link: 

Candace Valenzuela for Texas House District 24

No candidate authorized this ad. It is paid for by Network for Public Education Action, New York, New York.

Thanks for all you do,

Governor Cuomo slashed school funding across the state of New York. Other governors have found ways to protect their schools and children. Please sign the petition of the Network for Public Education Action, calling on Governor Cuomo to restore school funding. Schools cannot safely reopen with less money.

Please read the NPE Action endorsement of Joe Biden for President.

We support public schools.

Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, are hostile to the very idea of public schools. They have spent three years proposing deep cuts to public education and attempting to establish federally-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.

In contrast, Joe Biden has proposed dramatic increases in funding to public schools by tripling the amount that Title I schools would receive. He has voiced strong support for more counselors and psychologists in our schools, as well as increased funding for high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. He supports community schools that link social services and the school together to serve children and their families better.

At the Public Education Forum held in Pittsburgh in December of 2019, Joe Biden was asked by NPE Board member Denisha Jones if he would commit to ending standardized testing in schools. His unequivocal response was, “Yes. You are preaching to the choir.” He said to a national audience that “teaching to a test underestimates and discounts the things that are most important for students to know.” He described evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students as a “big mistake.”

At the same public forum in Pittsburgh, he was dismissive of the policies of Secretary of Education DeVos, saying that under his administration, “Betsy DeVos’s whole notion of charter schools…are gone.”

The public statements expressed by Joe Biden encourage us to believe that he does not intend to follow the disastrous education policies of the Obama years included in Race to the Top, which were closely aligned with the failed policies of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

We are taking candidate Joe Biden at his word. We believe that he recognizes that Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind were harmful to our schools and our children.

However, if those policies re-emerge, we will vigorously oppose them. We will also continue to be engaged in monitoring the words of both candidates and their parties’ platforms.

We urge our supporters and all friends of public education to go to the polls in November and vote for Joe Biden. The future of our public schools and our democracy is at stake.

In the words of NPE Action President, Diane Ravitch, “We support Joe Biden because he has promised to reverse the failed “test-and-punish” federal policies of the past two decades. For the sake of our children, their teachers, our public schools, and our democracy, Trump must go.”