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NEWSWIRE: January 12, 2016

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Vol. 18, No. 2

RANDI’S RANTS. AFT President Randi Weingarten is having a rough few days. After grumbling over how the feds are handling opt outs under the new ESSA, she now has to read headlines about how the Supreme Court Justices could be siding with veteran teacher Rebecca Friedrichs, who believes it’s against her First Amendment right to be forced to pay dues to an organization she chooses not to belong to. Yesterday, we stood in the crowd among Friedrichs supporters alongside paid protestors who didn’t really know why they were there, other than they were just told to “show up.” Once we started mingling with the Union ralliers, it was clear that some of them actually stood for some of the very issues that were at the core of Team #Friedrichs!

#ISTANDWITHREBECCA. We continue to stand with Rebecca and her brave colleagues until the Court reaches a decision expected late June 2016. A few of MANY highlights from those who publicly spoke in support of the cause for teachers’ rights:

“If we trust our teachers to educate our children, we should trust them to choose about their union” – Julie Collier, Founder, Executive Director, Parents Advocate League and CER Grassroots Advisory Board MemberScreen Shot 2016-01-12 at 6.15.23 PM“Great education is about great educators, and great educators need freedom. You cannot drown out the rights of teachers in this country!”” – Jeanne Allen, CER Founder and President EmeritusScreen Shot 2016-01-12 at 4.32.10 PM


Thanks to the State Policy Network for their great work on organizing support for Rebecca and teachers nationwide, and to organizations like AAE who offer alternatives to educators. Watch the Live Google Hangout following yesterday’s oral arguments, and check out pics from the event. Regardless of the outcome, the High Court taking on the issue of teacher freedom is already a win because it exposes the public to the power of collective bargaining.

QUALITY COUNTS. While still big on inputs and spending to rank states (giving New York inflated scores over Florida despite achievement gains of the latter over the former) Education Week’s Quality Counts is a welcome and informative tool in the area of student achievement. If you break out the results from the inputs, the story of American education progress is clear — states that are innovators and have created and sustained structures that challenge the status quo do better with students who are behind and improve schooling for all as a result. A few key takeaways for reformers here.

#SOTU. Tonight, President Obama will establish what his legacy will mean in the State of the Union address, and no doubt present the case for work that remains outstanding. With the Race to the Top initiative and Student Success Act behind us, we suspect that our President will largely ignore the importance of the real unfinished business of education. And so we offer a wish list to reflect the philosophies of those who work on the ground daily to advance innovation, freedom, and flexibility in American education, complete with suggested guest appearances for the First Lady’s box.

NEW JUSTICE IN TOWN. Great news in Arizona, where edreform-minded Gov. Doug Ducey has appointed school choice champion Clint Bolick to the state’s highest court. Bolick is co-founder of the Institute for Justice, an institution that’s become a mainstay in helping school choice programs fight court battles brought on by the BLOB. He was a lawyer in one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court decisions in education since Brown v. Board, the famous Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case, which ruled Ohio’s voucher program constitutional.

EDU GOES SOUTH. Not really, (well, that is, unless our leaders choose to ignore mandates for change and principles surrounding innovation and opportunity that provide bold agendas for what it truly takes to improve education in this country), but just in a matter of speech, thanks to the Jack Kemp Foundation’s Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity in South Carolina this weekend. Many of the presidential hopefuls and leaders in attendance talked about the link between poverty and education, and how expanding opportunity by way of #edreform is key. A quick social media recap here.