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NEWSWIRE: NOVEMBER 26, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 44

THANKSGIVING. This holiday season, there are more families than ever who have reason to be thankful for the improved educational landscape in their community and chances of success for students. Here are just a few items for which we’re thankful:

We’re thankful for those in communities who have the courage to challenge the status quo and set the record straight on reform. For example:

In the latest installment of the Philadelphia school funding saga, Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky of the misleadingly named School Reform Commission, blamed Philly’s funding woes on charter schools. In just two bullet points, the Philadelphia BAEO chapter debunks this claim, pointing out how charter school students are funded at a lower rate than traditional school students. As the District continues to get back on its feet, nearly 30,000 students are on charter school waiting lists. Those in control should be looking to expand these quality options for kids, rather than blame a bright spot in a struggling district.

We’re thankful for the growing consensus surrounding the importance of Parent Power and access to data, which has since spread to more schools and statehouses across the country.

At first glance, the state of Maryland posted impressive scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) when compared with the rest of the country, but there was one problem. Data collectors excluded 62% of special education and English language learners, thus inflating the data. The exclusion of such a large bloc of students in fact goes against the trend of many states reducing their exclusion rates over the past decade. States like Maryland consistently receive high praise for student achievement, but fail to answer the call for more parent empowerment, and in this case access to data. If students are performing better in schools that are right for them, perhaps state officials would be less inclined to skew the results.

We’re thankful for reform-minded leaders that don’t mind taking heat from the establishment in order to stand up for students because they know there is much work left to be done.

 In Tennessee, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has been under continuous fire for the introduction of numerous reforms, mostly in the area of increased teacher accountability. A recent report described him as an “agitator,” a title many reformers wear as a badge of honor. Even with all of this recent movement, the Volunteer State still has a lot of ground to cover in implementing other reforms that will capitalize on those impressive NAEP gains posted by TN students.

We’re thankful for individuals whose gold-standard research provides parents and policymakers with the evidence necessary to make smart decisions about our schools.

Take Caroline Hoxby, the brilliant and talented Stanford University researcher who received a Smithsonian Ingenuity Award. Hoxby was recognized for her work in making higher education options more accessible to underserved overachievers. And this is just the latest in an overly impressive body of work virtually unmatched in education research. Hoxby has also set the record straight when it comes to invalid research, namely the national and state-based CREDO studies. Because of Hoxby’s most recent contribution, scores of bright students will now have a well-deserved chance to continue their education.

We’re thankful for those who continue to support efforts to make all schools work better for all children.

On Thursday you’ll give thanks, Friday you’ll get deals, and Tuesday…you’ll have the chance to give back!  CER will participate in #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3, a national day dedicated to generosity. Help us raise $5,000 in 24 hours to make schools better for ALL children. Follow our progress on Twitter and Facebook and tell us why you #Give2edreform on #GivingTuesday. Donate early here.  Interested in providing a matching grant? Email stephanie@edreform.com.

 

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