National Opportunity to Learn Network

Schott’s Opportunity to Learn Network (OTL) unites a nationwide coalition of Schott grantees and allied organizations working to secure a high quality public education for all students.

By creating a space to highlight and celebrate grassroots organizing, share success stories and provide resources, OTL strives to create real and substantial change in our public education system. OTL advocates for supports­-based education reform, one that provides all students with access to crucial resources and opportunities such as early education, wraparound supports, fair school discipline, well­-supported teachers, and equitable school funding. To support our network of advocates and organizers, OTL provides regular updates on current grantee campaigns, publishes policy guides, infographics and other resources, and hosts summits and other network building events, all of which can be found below.

The Latest from the OTL Network

The latest from the Schott Foundation and our allies.
Talk about smart investments and tax money well spent. Voters in Durham County, N.C., will soon vote whether to impose a new quarter-cent sales tax, the revenues of which would go, in part, toward funding early childhood education programs.  
The nation is not going to improve the educational outcomes and lifetime opportunities of its neediest citizens until we turn around our lowest-performing schools. The question has been – and remains: How do we do that? Under the federal School Improvement Grant program, the answer is for schools that are targeted for the grants to adopt one of four school improvement models, ranging from a purge of school leadership to closing the school. Communities for Excellent Public Schools and a growing list of community-based organizations in low-income communities of color across the country have signed a petition urging Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to consider a different solution to turn around schools and sustain improved performance.
It’s no surprise that the voice of educational opportunity is spreading and growing louder as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Education has always been the bridge to prosperity and opportunity for Americans. And it still is: The unemployment rate for college graduates is less than half what it is for non-college graduates. But the nation seems to have forgotten this.
It’s a sad state of affairs when only one in four students attending high school in New York City are ready for college four years later, and even sadder that only half of those even enroll. But that’s exactly the state of affairs, according to the A-through-F high school report cards recently released. A recent New York Times article reported: Those numbers, included for the first time in the report cards, confirmed what the state suggested several months ago: the city still has a long way to go to prepare students for successful experiences in college and beyond.
No classroom factor is more important in the success of students than teachers. Unfortunately, that message often gets lost in today’s education debates. We are particularly concerned about the toll that the bashing of teachers, budget cuts, and pressure to produce test scores is taking on our nation’s teaching force.
Putting young people in jail – particularly for nonviolent offenses – is a failed strategy, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that relied on decades of research and data such as this: “Nationally, just 12 percent of the nearly 150,000 youth placed into residential programs by delinquency courts in 2007 had committed aggravated assault, robbery, rape, or homicide.” The greatest proportion of incarcerated youth – about 40 percent of the total, and disproportionately youth of color – are held in locked, long-term correctional facilities. 
Schools have long been inundated with rules that stifle sensible practice and ostracize the professionals who work in them.  Up until the 1950s, married women in St. Louis were banned from teaching, and in Chicago if a teacher even looked pregnant she was ushered from the classroom. Since their inception, teachers unions have worked to abolish ordinances like these and address the shameful history of how teachers have been treated. Now, more than a century later, the unions still have much to combat.
Here's an important question: What sector of public employees recently received a 71 percent approval rating from its core constituents? If you said elected officials, well, you are wrong. Give up? The answer is teachers. On the recent PDK/Gallup poll of the Public's Attitudes toward the Public Schools, nearly three out of every four Americans said that they have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in the public schools. But rather than celebrating this exemplary review, too many Democratic and Republican policymakers and business interests are selling rhetoric and policies that blame and punish teachers for the shortcomings of our education system. This is similar to blaming a swim coach for not teaching kids to swim when none of the pools have water.
Pennsylvania policymakers are getting distracted by voucher programs and ignoring more effective strategies for education reform, says a new study from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's Education Research and Policy Center. Noting the high number of "costly and nationally unprecedented voucher programs" under consideration in Pennsylvania, the study criticizes the weight policymakers give to voucher programs: