Archives for category: Supporting public schools

“Inside Philanthropy” has done investigative reporting and discovered one funder that supports the traditional public schools that enroll 95% of American school children (not counting, I assume, the 10% or so in private and religious schools).

Who might this funder be? Not the behemoth Gates Foundation. Not the billionaires Broad, Walton, Fisher, Dell, Adelson, Bloomberg, or Arnold. Not Ford, Carnegie, or Rockefeller.

You can’t guess. Neither could I. It’s a funder in the Bay Area working with real public schools in San Francisco, giving millions (pocket change compared to billionaires like Gates, Broad, and Walton) and committing their employees to help in the schools.

They are putting their money where the kids are, not into destructive schemes to disrupt and destroy our democratic institution of public schools.

Open the link to learn who has exercised common sense, good judgment, and performs good deeds. I name this level-headed, wise company to the honor roll of this blog.

If you know of any other foundations or corporations that are helping public schools, instead of trying to control them or privatize them, please let me know.

NY Kids PAC is an organization of parents that endorses candidates who support public schools and their students. Its members have endorsed four candidates in Tuesday’s election.

Read here:

NYC Kids PAC endorses Gustavo Rivera, Robert Jackson, Debbie Medina and Robert Carroll for the State Legislature in Tuesday’s Primaries

We hope you and your family had a great summer and you’re ready for a new school year. There’s an important primary for State Legislature tomorrow Tuesday, Sept. 13, and we wanted to make sure that you knew about it. It is critical to have allies in the NY Senate and Assembly who will fight with us to protect our children and their public schools.

NYC Kids PAC, composed of parent leaders and public school advocates from throughout the city, are endorsing four outstanding candidates running for state office on Tuesday. Based on their exceptional records and their responses to our candidate survey, our board urges you to be sure to vote for Gustavo Rivera in the Bronx, Robert Jackson in Manhattan, and Debbie Medina in Brooklyn, all running for the State Senate, as well as Robert Carroll, who is running to replace retiring Jim Brennan from Brooklyn in the State Assembly.

We endorse Gustavo Rivera, who represents District 33, which includes parts of Kingsbridge Heights, East Tremont, Crotona Park, Fordham, Belmont, Van Nest, Claremont, High Bridge and Morris Park in the Bronx. Senator Rivera has an exceptional record of standing up for our children and resisting the hedge-fund backed charter school onslaught which is diverting hundreds of millions of dollars and taking precious space from our public schools. His responses to our survey were also exceptionally thoughtful on school funding, equity, and campaign finance reform. In contrast, his opponent, Fernando Cabrera, failed to respond to our survey and supports tuition tax credits for private schools, which would create huge tax breaks for billionaires and further imperil our already underfunded public schools.

We strongly endorse Robert Jackson who is running for State Senate in District 31, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights in Manhattan. Jackson is a hero to many parents, not just in his district but throughout the city, for his stellar record on public education. He led the CFE lawsuit as President of the school board in Washington Heights and Inwood, resulting in the Court of Appeals decision that the state had illegally underfunded NYC public schools. He went on to chair the City Council Education Committee, and has been fighting with parents every step of the way for our kids to obtain their constitutional right to a sound basic education. His responses to our survey also showed a profound understanding of problems related to privatization, the Common Core standards, high-stakes testing and school overcrowding.

While his opponent, Marisol Alcantara, had many good responses to our survey, she favors the continued expansion of charter schools, and has been supported by the IDC, the caucus that deprived the Democrats of control of the State Senate by voting with the Republicans. Meanwhile, Micah Lasher, who is also running for this seat, refused to complete our survey and has a long history of supporting charter school expansion and high stakes testing, first as the chief lobbyist for the NYC Department of Education under Bloomberg and Klein, and then as the founding director of StudentsFirstNY. StudentsFirstNY is relentlessly pro-charter and pro-corporate reform, though Lasher has scrubbed his affiliation with the organization from his campaign biography and his Linked-In profile. That’s why we enthusiastically support Robert Jackson as the best candidate by far for anyone who cares about protecting and strengthening our public schools.

We endorse Debbie Medina has a long history of decades of grassroots community activism for social justice in District 18, which covers parts of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick. In recent years, Medina has stood up for neighborhood public schools and joined the community in a fight against Success Academy’s co-location in MS 50. As the responses to our survey make clear, Medina is a strong advocate of public education and supports smaller classes, reducing the role of high stakes testing in public education, and stopping the expansion of charter schools. Medina is also committed to keeping big money out of politics to ensure that our neighborhood public schools are sufficiently and equitably funded. Meanwhile, incumbent Martin Dilan failed to complete our survey and has done little for the schools in the district.

Finally, we endorse Robert Carroll, who is running in District 44 for Assembly, which covers parts of Park Slope, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood and Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn. Though all three candidates for this Assembly seat had good answers to our survey, Robert Carroll’s was the best, scoring 100% on governance, privatization and charters, parent empowerment, testing, standards, resources and more. Carroll has a progressive record as an activist on Community Board 7 and we’re confident that he will do a great job in the Assembly, advocating for our public schools.

In addition to endorsing these candidates, NYC Kids PAC members are also volunteering for their campaigns and urge other parents to do the same. Links to the candidates’ surveys and Kids PAC endorsements are here:

Please share this message with your friends, neighbors, colleagues and fellow parents at your children’s schools!

Here’s hoping for a great school year, and thanks!

Shino Tanikawa, Isaac Carmignani, Leonie Haimson, Fatima Geidi, Eduardo Hernandez, Andy Lachman, Brooke Parker, Naila Rosario, Karen Sprowal and Tesa Wilson

Robert Jackson is a great champion for public schools. He is running for State Senate in District 13 in New York City. In this post, parent activist Tory Frye explains why you should help him, work for him, and vote for him. Tory Frye is long-time public school parent activist in Upper Manhattan who served as an elected parent member of Community Education Council in District 6 and two School Leadership Teams. Robert Jackson is running for the Democratic nomination this tomorrow, September 13, in NY Senate District 31, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights. The New York Daily News reported just today that one of his opponents in the Democratic primary has received more than $100,000 from hedge fund managers who are Republicans and who support more charters. Isn’t it amazing that som many wealthy people, who don’t send their children to public schools, are so deeply committed to privatizing the public schools?

Tory Frye writes:

For weeks I have been getting glossy brochures from Micah Lasher who us running for NY State Senate. These tout his devotion to public education, in particular his aversion to high stakes standardized testing and his desire to direct money owed by New York State to NYC public school students.

Here’s the thing; actually it’s two things.

First, the whole reason the state owes NYC public school students money is because his opponent in this senate race, ROBERT JACKSON, led the lawsuit in the 1990s (!!!) that established that the state was denying our kids the money they needed to get a decent public education. The settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity established that the state owed our children billions; in fact, New York state STILL owes city students 2.2 (maybe 3) BILLION dollars! And it is all because Robert Jackson sued the State back then.

Second, Micah Lasher built his career promoting policies that totally UNDERMINE public education in NYC! He was the chief lobbyist for Joel Klein at the NYC Department of Education and then for Mayor Bloomberg when their approach to improving education included: 1) closing schools (labeling them and their students “failures”); 2) using standardized tests to hold children back and evaluate/fire teachers (despite ZERO evidence of efficacy); 3) cutting school budgets and threatening teacher lay-offs; 4) co-locating charter schools with public schools (using a flawed formula for space allocation that had students getting services in closets and hallways) and 5) pushing for a version of mayoral control over our schools that vested all power in one man, Mayor Bloomberg, and none for parents or community members

Lasher then went on to lead StudentsFirstNY, the state affiliate of a national organization (started by none other than Michelle Rhee) that sought to increase the numbers of charter schools, demand space in already crowded public schools, evaluate teachers, students and schools primarily by means of standardized test scores and all sort of corporate education “reforms” that act only to undermine actual public schools and open the “industry” to privatization.

And Lasher has left ALL of this off his campaign literature. Indeed, he has scrubbed any mention of his year running StudentsFirstNY as its first executive director from his biography in LinkedIn.

And what was Robert Jackson doing during these five years? What was he speaking out for ALL that time? Well, I went through my District 6 public school records and my Facebook feed and can attest to the fact that Robert Jackson stood by and actively advocated on behalf of Washington Heights and Inwood public schools – but more importantly for all NYC public school students and families; for example:

• June 2011: fighting against Mayor Bloomberg’s threatened school-based budget cuts and teacher lay-offs.

• June 2012: addressing and trying to limit the damage done by high-stakes standardized testing

• October 2012: fighting Bloomberg’s plan to close PS 132, the Juan Pablo Duarte school in District 6.

• May 2013: advocating for protections of student data, including private health and disability information, that would have been sold and monetized via inBloom.

• June 2013: questioning why the Bloomberg administration was pushing to remove school attendance zones in District 6, a nearly 100 block district, making it likely that many parents would no longer have a neighborhood public school within walking distance that their children had a right to attend;

• May 2014: demanding that the Mother Cabrini Educational Complex be rented to house Mott Hall, the ONLY middle school for gifted students in District 6 currently occupying a dilapidated and antiquated building.

• June 2014: demanding that the DOE remove trailers from PS 48 in District 6.

• October 2014: educating parents about their children’s constitutional rights to a sound, basic education including equitable funding and smaller classes.

In short, Robert Jackson has been a strong and consistent advocate for fighting with parents so that our public schools will be preserved and strengthened, while Lasher has advocated for closing them and turning them into corporate-led charters.

There is another candidate in the race, Marisol Alcantara, who also supports the expansion of charter schools and whose campaign has been funded almost exclusively from the IDC, the renegade breakaway group of Democratic Senators who consistently vote with the Republicans, allowing them to keep control of the State Senate. The Republicans running the State Senate (whose campaigns are ironically now being funded by the hedge-fund billionaires behind StudentsFirstNY) have consistently voted against fairly funding NYC public schools and voted for encouraging unlimited charter school expansion, which are already draining more than a billion dollars from the DOE budget and taking previous space from our overcrowded public schools.

The choice is clear: if you care about our public schools and our children’s right to a quality education, you must support Robert Jackson in Tuesday’s primaries.

–Tory Frye is long-time public school parent activist in in Upper Manhattan who served as an elected parent member of Community Education Council Six and two School Leadership Teams in District Six. Robert Jackson is running for the Democratic nomination this Tuesday, September 13 in NY Senate District 31, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights.

Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, wonders whether the Republicans have completely abandoned public education.

Trump’s education plan, announced earlier this week, shows that the answer is a loud “YES.” He wants to redirect $20 billion in federal education spending to states as a block grant for charters and vouchers.

Tucker remembers when public schools were not a partisan issue. They had strong support by both parties both locally and nationally.

Republican civic leaders proudly served on local and state school boards.

But now the rhetoric of the fringe right has come to typify Republican rhetoric.

Marc thinks this might be a temporary aberration.

I hope he is right. I think the Republican party has become the party of privatization.

What bothers me is that there are Democrats like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Dannell Malloy of Connecticut who echo the pro-privatization views of the Republicans. Worse, no President has done more to advance privatization than President Obama.

The only way this situation will change is if voters let their representatives know that they want better public schools, not privatization. About 6% of children are in charter schools. A minuscule number receive vouchers. About 9-10% attend independent and religious schools. At least 85% of all children are enrolled in public schools. Their parents should raise a ruckus and force the politicians to stop defunding their schools and stop diverting public money to privatization.

Yesterday the blog passed the 28 million mark. That is the number of page views, the number of times that someone opened a post.

Something important is happening. It is happening step by step, but it is happening. The tide is turning.

The key to saving our schools is collaboration among allies. The Network for Public Education has developed an awesome national website called the Grassroots Education Network. Open it, and you will see your state. Click on it and you will see the name of organizations working together to support better public schools, schools open to everyone, no lottery. If you don’t see the name of your organization, contact Carol Burris, the executive director of NPE and give her the information.

The public is waking up to the fraud perpetrated by the privatizers, the corporate reformers, the privateers, whatever you call them. They dare not say what they really want.

They have no interest whatever in “reforming the public schools.” They want to disrupt them, blow them up, shut them down, and replace them with private management.

The public is wising up.

Sometimes it takes a comedian to tell the truth, as John Oliver did recently.

Day after day, the national media tell stories of charter scams, online charter scams, real estate frauds, self-enrichment schemes, charters run by religious organizations, charters run by foreign nationals, charters destroying local communities, charters cherrypicking the kids they want. How do they never see the pattern in the rug?

After 15 years of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now ESSA, what reform victories are there? The Tennessee Achievement School District has failed to make a difference despite its bold promises. The Michigan Educational Achievement Authority has failed, utterly failed. Firing teachers and staff and closing schools is not reform: It’s disruption.

After 15 years of Reform-That-Dare-Not-Speak-Its-True-Name (Privatization), the pushback is happening, and it is real.

We will not simply preserve public education. We will stand together to make American public education better than it has ever been, for every child in every zip code.

Colin Powell wrote an inspiring article in the Wall Street Journal titled “What American Citizenship Makes Possible.”

It’s ostensible purpose was to argue on behalf of immigrants and their contribution to our nation.

But in the course of making his case, he told a story about himself. His parents were immigrants from Jamaica. If they had chosen to go to England, he might have ended up as a sergeant. But as an American, he had the opportunity to rise to the top of the nation’s military. Why? Because of his free public education, from grade school through university.

The key paragraph:

“I’m a public-education kid, from kindergarten through to Morris High School in the South Bronx and, finally, City College of New York. New York University made me an offer, but tuition there was $750 a year. Such a huge sum in 1954! I would never impose that on my parents, so it was CCNY, where back then tuition was free. I got a B.S. in geology and a commission as an Army second lieutenant, and that was that. And it all cost my parents nothing. Zero.”

This article is especially enjoyable to see in the Wall Street Journal, because the WSJ is the nation’s most passionate media supporters of charters and vouchers. It never, never has a good word for public schools.

Read what Colin Powell wrote:

Colin Powell

July 26, 2016 7:05 p.m. ET

Many years ago, after I had become a four-star general and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Times of London wrote an article observing that if my parents had sailed to England rather than New York, “the most they could have dreamed of for their son in the military was to become a sergeant in one of the lesser British regiments.”

Only in America could the son of two poor Jamaican immigrants become the first African-American, the youngest person and the first ROTC graduate from a public university to hold those positions, among many other firsts. My parents arrived—one at the Port of Philadelphia, the other at Ellis Island—in search of economic opportunity, but their goal was to become American citizens, because they knew what that made possible.

Immigration is a vital part of our national being because people come here not only to build a better life for themselves and their children, but to become Americans. With access to education and a clear path to citizenship, they routinely become some of the best, most-patriotic Americans you’ll ever know. That’s why I am a strong supporter of immigration-law reform: America stands to benefit from it as much as, if not more than, the immigrants themselves.

Contrary to some common misconceptions, neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have lower rates of crime and violence than comparable nonimmigrant neighborhoods, according to a 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Foreign-born men age 18-39 are jailed at one-quarter the rate of native-born American men of the same age.

Today’s immigrants are learning English at the same rate or faster than earlier waves of newcomers, and first-generation arrivals are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or cancer than native-born people. They experience fewer chronic health conditions, have lower infant-mortality and obesity rates, and have a longer life expectancy.

My parents met and married here and worked in the garment industry, bringing home $50 to $60 a week. They had two children: my sister Marilyn, who became a teacher, and me. I didn’t do as well as the family hoped; I caused a bit of a crisis when I decided to stay in the Army. “Couldn’t he get a job? Why is he still in the Army?”

We were a tightknit family with cousins and aunts and uncles all over the place. But that family network didn’t guarantee success. What did? The New York City public education system.

I’m a public-education kid, from kindergarten through to Morris High School in the South Bronx and, finally, City College of New York. New York University made me an offer, but tuition there was $750 a year. Such a huge sum in 1954! I would never impose that on my parents, so it was CCNY, where back then tuition was free. I got a B.S. in geology and a commission as an Army second lieutenant, and that was that. And it all cost my parents nothing. Zero.

After CCNY, I was lucky to be among the first group of officers commissioned just after the Army was desegregated. I competed against West Pointers, against grads from Harvard and VMI and the Citadel and other top schools. And to my surprise, I discovered I had gotten a pretty good education in the New York City public schools. Not only in geology and the military, but also in wider culture. I had learned a little about music, about Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and theater and things like that. I got a complete education, all through public schools, and it shapes me to this day.

This amazing gift goes back to 1847 when the Free Academy of the City of New York was created with a simple mandate: “Give every child the opportunity for an education.” And who would pay for it? The citizens and taxpayers of New York City and State. They did it and kept at it when the Academy became CCNY in 1866, because they knew that poor immigrants were their children. They were the future.

They still are. Today some 41 million immigrants and 37.1 million U.S.-born children of immigrants live in the U.S. Taken together, the first and second generations are one-quarter of the population. While some countries, like Japan and Russia, worry that population decline threatens their economies, America’s economic future vibrates with promise from immigrants’ energy, creativity and ambition.

Every one of these people deserves the same educational opportunities I had. It wasn’t, and isn’t, charity to immigrants or to the poor. Those early New Yorkers were investing in their own future by making education and citizenship accessible to “every child.” They knew it—and what a future it became!

We still have that model. But today too many politicians seem to think that shortchanging education will somehow help society. It does not. It hurts society. We need people who know that government has no more important function than securing the terrain, which means opening the pathways to the future for everyone, educating them to be consumers, workers, leaders—and citizens.

We are all immigrants, wave after wave over several hundred years. And every wave makes us richer: in cultures, in language and food, in music and dance, in intellectual capacity. We should treasure this immigrant tradition, and we should reform our laws to guarantee it.

In this political season, let us remember the most important task of our government: making Americans. Immigrants—future Americans—make America better every single day.

Gen. Powell was secretary of state (2001-05); chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93); and national security adviser (1987-89). This is adapted from his comments at a May 25 forum hosted by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College of New York.

Bill Honig was State Superintendent of Schools in California in the late 1980s. I came to know and admire him at that time. Bill Honig has spent many years dedicated to the improvement of education. He continues to work in schools, providing ideas and support.

He recently created a website to share what he has learned about education.

The site is designed to present the research and experience supporting the “build and support” approach and show why the more extreme measures of the “test and punish” approach haven’t worked. It has 16 short articles about the major issues in the debate including a piece about experience in California and is designed for educational and political policy makers and members of the media. The site provides accessible background, research, and evidence and could be a useful tool. If you read the home page and the introductory remarks you can get the flavor of the effort.

I urge you to read it. Bill is a staunch friend of public education.

You know how important it is to elect informed people to school boards and state legislatures and Congress. That’s the way we will save our public schools from the grasp of privatizers and defend our teachers from punitive laws that intrude on their ability to teach.

That is why I am happy to endorse Rachel Barnhart for the New York State Assembly, representing the 138th district in Rochester.

Rachel Barnhart grew up in Rochester. Her parents are retired Rochester City School District educators. Rachel’s parents were strong believers in public education, sending her to Rochester city schools. Rachel graduated from John Marshall High School and Cornell University.

Rachel worked as a television journalist in Rochester since 1999. Rachel’s reputation in the broadcasting industry is that she is one of the brightest and most insightful reporters in ferreting out corruption and finding the truth. She frequently reported on financial mismanagement in Rochester public schools, earning her the respect and admiration of many teachers. Rachel often blogged about growing concerns regarding Common Core, testing, school closures and teacher evaluations. She also used her blog and huge social media presence to talk about poverty and segregation.

As a reporter, Rachel challenged politicians, including Governor Andrew Cuomo. (The governor once called her a cynic when she questioned a big drop in the labor force.) She won’t be afraid to challenge Albany’s culture. She will represent citizens, not the governor, the speaker or special interests.

Rachel gave up her job to run for the Assembly. She will be a champion for public schools.

I urge you to support her, contribute to her campaign, and vote for her if you live in her district.

Jennifer Ramsey is a 17-year veteran teacher in Texas. She watched Donald Trump Jr. insult public schools and their teachers on national television, and she was outraged. She asks: What does he know about public education? We know he attended an elite and pricey boarding school (The Hill School in Pennsylvania), which costs $55,000 a year. But has he ever set foot in a public school?

Public education is a foundational institution in this great nation, promoting democracy by educating students to become active citizens. It is a truly American establishment. Unlike elite private schools, public schools do not pick and choose which Americans we teach. We teach students of all races, religions and economic levels. We teach brilliantly gifted students, as well as children with severe disabilities….

Does Donald Trump Jr. know that?

I will begin my 18th year teaching in a Texas public school. Unlike Donald Trump Jr., I know something about public education.

Public education is a foundational institution in this great nation, promoting democracy by educating students to become active citizens. It is a truly American establishment. Unlike elite private schools, public schools do not pick and choose which Americans we teach. We teach students of all races, religions and economic levels. We teach brilliantly gifted students, as well as children with severe disabilities.

As for Trump’s assertion that public schools are run for the benefit of teachers and administrators rather than for the students, again, I must ask: What does know about public education? Has he ever stepped foot in a public school?

Trump doesn’t know that in public schools, teachers spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets and hours beyond the workday preparing their classrooms to be fun and happy environments for the new group of American learners coming in. He doesn’t know that teachers help little ones learn the social skills they may be lacking at home, or how often teachers buy clothes for the little ones who are sent to school in clothes with holes and stains and too-small shoes.

Trump doesn’t know what it’s like to comfort a middle-school child whose mother beat him before he came to school, with his mouth still a bloody mess. Or what it’s like to try every single teacher strategy you know to reach the girl who is shut down, hates school and everyone in it — only to find out that her mother is selling her to grown men for drug money. He doesn’t know the heartbreak and real American life that teachers experience every day while interacting with their students.

Trump doesn’t know the love most teachers feel for their students. He doesn’t know our students are always “ours” — even years later. He doesn’t know how often teachers give their students lunch money, snacks, second chances, a shoulder to cry on and hugs. He doesn’t know the tears of pride and joy we cry when our students walk across the stage at graduation. He doesn’t know the anguish we feel when our students die.

The truth is that Trump and the public school bashers like him don’t know anything about public education. I am proud to be an American public school teacher, and I have heard enough of the un-American rhetoric that politicians and businessmen like him use to tear down a truly American establishment and condemn the millions of Americans working hard to care for the children of this nation.

Hillary Clinton’s choice for her running mate is Tim Kaine, Senator from Virginia. Tim Kaine is one of the few people in American politics who has been elected mayor (of Richmond, Virginia), governor, and senator.

He is also a steadfast supporter of public education, even though he graduated from a Jesuit high school. His own children attended primarily black schools in Richmond. His wife is now Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virgina.

This is what he wrote three years ago about his life as a public school parent in Richmond.

Anne and I are now empty-nesters. Combined, our three kids spent 40 school years in the Richmond Public Schools. While we both interact with the school system in our professional lives, we’ve learned even more from back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, attending school events and pulling crumpled notes to parents out of our kids’ backpacks. The lessons learned as parents have made me think about what works and what doesn’t work in Pre-K-12 education. Here are seven changes I’d like to see:

It’s about the individual!

Most policy debate these days seems to be about charter schools or high-stakes testing. But I’m convinced that the most important reform has been under our noses since 1975, when legislation was passed to guarantee children with diagnosed disabilities receive individualized learning plans tailored to meet their specific needs.

Each child brings a mix of strengths and challenges to the classroom. Let’s use the insight gained through advances in educating kids with disabilities to leverage new technologies and teaching methods that can individualize learning for each child.

Early childhood education works

My daughter was able to attend a year of high-quality pre-K in our city schools. This experience made me a believer, and it’s one of the reasons why I greatly expanded pre-K for at-risk 4 year olds when I was governor.
The research is powerful — if you invest in high-quality programs that coordinate with K-12 curricula and have mandatory teacher standards, the gains from early education are lasting. It’s also important that we focus on coordinating investments made in early childhood programs — such as Head Start — to ensure we are effectively using our funding, eliminating any waste and bolstering the structure of our education system.

The article goes on to add other recommendations, including the importance of arts education and the necessity of reducing testing.

His article ended like this:

Finally, a note of gratitude. Our kids were blessed to have many wonderful teachers. There were some weak ones, but RPS teachers were mostly solid, some spectacular and a few life-changing for our children. As I listen to public debate, it often sounds like our main issue is how to get rid of bad teachers. But this problem pales beside the larger issue of how to keep good teachers.

Too many great prospective teachers never enter the profession and too many great teachers leave too early over low salaries, high-stakes testing pressure, discipline challenges and an overall belief that society doesn’t value the profession. We need a robust debate about how to value and attract good teachers.

Better yet, Tim Kaine’s wife Anne is a long-time champion for children and for public schools. Reformers will not find an ally in her. She cares about children and has a deep commitment to improving their lives.

As a schoolgirl in 1970, she was on the front lines of the fight to desegregate Virginia’s public schools. Holton is the daughter of Virginia Gov. A. Linwood Holton (R), who championed integration in a state that was known for its vigorous efforts to resist it. To drive home this point, he sent his daughters to a historically all-black Richmond City public school, escorting Anne Holton’s sister to class in a gesture captured in a historic photograph.

“I have spent much of my working life focused on children and families at the margin, with full appreciation of the crucial role education can and must play in helping young people escape poverty and become successful adults,” Holton wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in June 2015.

Holton and Kaine also sent their three children, who are now grown, to Richmond public schools.

The pair met at Harvard Law School, from which they both graduated. She became a legal aid lawyer representing low-income clients in Richmond and eventually a judge in the city’s juvenile and domestic relations court. She stepped down when her husband was elected governor in 2005 and as first lady made a priority of finding and stabilizing homes for teens in foster care.

She continued to work on improving opportunities for foster youth after Kaine left the governor’s office.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) chose her as the state’s education secretary in 2014. In that role, she has worked to reform a standardized testing regime that had been criticized as unnecessarily time-consuming and onerous.

“Teachers are teaching to the tests. Students’ and teachers’ love of learning and teaching are sapped,” she wrote in 2015. “Most troublesome, Virginia’s persistent achievement gaps for low-income students have barely budged,” she continued, arguing that “our high-stakes approach” with testing has made it more difficult to persuade the best teachers to work in the most difficult, impoverished schools….

She continued to work on improving opportunities for foster youth after Kaine left the governor’s office.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) chose her as the state’s education secretary in 2014. In that role, she has worked to reform a standardized testing regime that had been criticized as unnecessarily time-consuming and onerous.

“Teachers are teaching to the tests. Students’ and teachers’ love of learning and teaching are sapped,” she wrote in 2015. “Most troublesome, Virginia’s persistent achievement gaps for low-income students have barely budged,” she continued, arguing that “our high-stakes approach” with testing has made it more difficult to persuade the best teachers to work in the most difficult, impoverished schools.

Tim and Anne will be great advocates for public schools. Unlike many reformers, who never set foot in a public school, they actually know from personal experience what they are talking about.