It seems the tide might finally be turning in the fight for public education.
A wonderful new issue of the The Annenberg Institute's Voices in Urban Education chronicles how grassroots organizers in New York City championed a new vision for education reform and shaped the mayoral election that put Mayor Bill de Blasio in office. De Blasio's election was "a huge moment for proponents of student-centered, equity-driven public education," and it just might signal the beginning of a new era in public education.
So how do you make an election all about education? More importantly, how do you win?
At the center of NYC's "education election" were the state-wide Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) and the city-wide Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) and Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), the leading grassroots parent and student groups. In this issue of Voices in Urban Education, leaders from AQE, CEJ and UYC explain how they turned their partnership into a potent political force.
From the introduction:
"As the articles in this issue describe, the groups took on a two-pronged strategy to address this challenge. The first advanced a key set of “wedge issues,” which were shared strategically with candidates for mayor and others. Candidates were asked to take public positions on these issues and thus to share their views on controversial issues such as testing, school improvement, closings and co-locations, and school discipline and safety.
The second pushed the trio of long-standing education organizing coalitions into a listening posture: staff and member leaders from CEJ, UYC, AQE, and their constituent organizations drew dozens of other groups and institutions into an effort to bring these key questions and others to New Yorkers across the city and engage them in creating a comprehensive vision for reform."
The issue includes articles from AQE Executive Director Billy Easton and Advocacy Director Zakiyah Shaakir-Ansari, CEJ's Ocynthia Williams, UYC's Maria Fernandez, NYU professor Pedro Noguera and many others. Check out the full issue here.