The latest from the Schott Foundation and our allies.
Massachusetts is facing a lawsuit that will likely lead to lifting the state’s cap on charter schools, further depriving traditional public schools of funding by allowing a potentially unlimited number of charter schools to develop. To combat this plan, education advocates are trying to demonstrate how lifting the cap will hurt students. The Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA) is asking supporters to testify against the plan at a public hearing on Feb. 10th, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice intends to intervene on behalf of the students who would be most affected by this loss of funding: students learning English, students with disabilities, and students of color. These students are those charter schools typically “push out,” leaving traditional schools to unfairly teach the vast majority of students who require the most resources.
During President Barack Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address, the President boldly proclaimed the U.S. as “the most powerful country in the world…by far.” As the leader of the most powerful country in the world, President Obama also assessed one of his biggest regrets: his inability to bring Congress together to reach consensus and make progress on a number of critical issues. President Obama’s proclamations highlight a simple fact that future administrations and Congresses must embrace — with power comes responsibility.  
New York Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State address on January 13th, mentioning numerous plans to increase educational opportunities for students in the state. He discussed community schools, preK programs, and increasing education funding. However, some education advocates have argued that the proposed funding increase still falls under what New York owes its public schools. One of our grantees, The Alliance for Quality Education, released a new report that talks about the now decade-old Supreme Court case that mandated New York fully fund its education system, and shows what steps are really necessary to ensure that happens.
Community Schools have been getting a lot of attention as more and more districts try and implement them in an effort to mitigate affects of poverty on students' opportunities to learn. In Philadelphia, the Mayor-elect Jim Kenney has called for an increase of 25 community schools. A new brief by Research for Action takes an in-depth look at how these types of schools really work in practice, and what methods of implementation have been most effective so far. This research helps to combat some skeptics, who argue that these types of full-service schools are expensive and difficult to implement, in part because they must be so individualized to each community. By pointing out exactly what has been working in community schools, the research brief provides districts and schools with specific ways community schools can work to help improve student success.
Last week President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, replacing No Child Left Behind as the latest version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. With any bill of this size and scope it defies easy description, and as one would expect given the political climate in Washington, DC, ESSA is a decidedly mixed law with the potential for both positive and negative effects.
Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Grassroots organizations are working hard for — and winning — serious victories for public school children in communities across the country. But they can't continue without gifts from people like you.
On November 3, 2015, a tight race to achieve full funding of public schools across Mississippi was lost. Initiative 42, the ballot initiative for “better schools,” was a citizen-led campaign with bipartisan, grassroots support for fully funded public schools.
The school-to-prison pipeline has drawn increased attention recently, especially after Dignity in School’s successful National Week of Action. But while stories of middle and high schoolers pushed out of school through inequitable and disproportionately applied harsh discipline policies are tragic enough, there may be something even worse: the pre-school to prison pipeline. It can be hard to imagine scenarios in which suspending or expelling a preschooler would be appropriate, but a new report from the Center for American Progress shows that even our youngest students are disciplined and pushed out at disproportionate rates.
Mississippi's public schools have been underfunded and under-performing for years. Their students, especially in the state's poorer districts, face inequitable learning environments and lack the real opportunity to learn that could help encourage their future successes. Despite these very real problems, however, Tuesday's election failed in passing Proposition 42, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required adequate and efficient funding of the state's public schools. Yet while the parents, students, educators, and advocates who led the campaign for the amendment are disappointed, they aren't giving up on Mississippi and the educational future of its children.
The Foundation Budget Review Commission, a bipartisan group of legislators and educators, released their findings on the state of education funding in Massachusetts and their recommendation for an ambitious new funding plan that would allow schools to more fully support programs to increase educational equity. While the plan would cost about half a billion dollars per year, it would also be the first step in addressing the substantial opportunity gap that exists in Massachusetts.


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