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Newswire: March 15, 2016

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Vol. 18, No. 11

ED TECH CAN BOOST OPPORTUNITY. Every child in America deserves the opportunity to access a high-quality education in whatever formphoto 2at best fits their needs. Microsoft knows CER Founder Jeanne Allen has been a tireless advocate towards that goal, and wanted her thoughts on how ed tech, a booming source of innovation in the education world, can help make that a reality. Here’s what she had to say.

ARE YOU A SLACKER? Slack is a digital platform helping teams “be less busy,” bringing all communication together in one place, combining real-time messaging with archiving and search functionality. With over 2.3 million users since its launch two years ago, EdSurge is taking note of Slack’s popularity, posing whether it could be the next online learning platform as it signals a new way to house learning online, more akin to the seminar classroom than the lecture hall.” We’ve been fans of this tool for a long time, and can attest to its effectiveness in streaming our own in-house edreform conversations!

EDUCATED VOTE. Voters in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio are taking to the polls today in another big primary Tuesday. Whether or not you have voted yet, make your sure the ballot you cast is an informed decision. With Bernie Sanders making up a new kind of charter school, and Trump earning three Pinocchios from the Washington Post for his comments on Common Core, it’s more important than ever to determine what’s reality and rhetoric and learn how to spot a truly reform-minded candidate. A vote for expanded educational opportunities is a vote for a great nation, so be sure to get active and get involved.

TIME FOR CONGRESS TO ACT. That’s whDC_Rally_WS_03at the Washington Post Editorial Board, Mayor Muriel Bowser and a majority of the DC Council, and parents of the more than 1,900 applicants for just 146 spots are saying about the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). If Congress doesn’t reauthorize the DC OSP, funding could dry up with no new students being accepted after the 2016-17 school year. With three DC Council members having a change of heart about killing a program that’s successfully helping low-income children, let’s hope newly minted Education Secretary John King will sing a different tune about his Department sitting on $35 million in carry-over funds dedicated to the DC OSP. 

TRIBUTE. A message from Jeanne Allen, the Center’s Founder:

In a world fixated on a political race that challenges all measure of civility, we often fail to recognize the incredible people who have shown us a path to what it really means to make America better. Beth Curry and Jim Kimsey were two such people. They left this world in the recent past, but their gifts, and their example, live on.

Beth Curry was co-founder of Eagle Capital with her husband Ravenel, and together this Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 3.33.48 PMCharlotte, NC native and her husband would contribute to education and education reforms throughout the nation. Beth helped drive their philanthropy with her inquisitive mind, helping to tackle cities as perniciously difficult to improve as Newark. In my few meetings with her on regular visits to seek support, Beth would focus the conversation on how parents and children might have real power, and whether particularly policies or practices would help them get it. I always thought, wow, if more donors asked these questions, we may arrive at our destination of excellence for all students much sooner.

Equally focused on giving parents choices and kids a chance, Jim Kimsey was a strong Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 3.36.22 PMand early contributor to the programs created to do precisely that in Washington, DC. The co-founder of AOL not only used his financial resources but his political clout to help others, like his old friend Joe Robert, ensure that the city and the nations’ elected officials do everything in their power to save children from failing schools and create real opportunities for education success. The DC scholarship program was an outgrowth of their support, and Kimsey’s commitment to answering the call of schools throughout the region was legion.

While only acquaintances, I saw in both of these individuals enormous positivity and humility in all they supported. Interestingly, neither of their obituaries talks about their great education contributions. But for countless families, Beth and Jim’s generosity of purse and spirit truly made lives better.