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School Reform Advocates Sound Alarm For Innovation And Opportunity

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Hundreds Convene To Disrupt Education and Promote The Opportunity Agenda

WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders in education, business, politics, and media joined The Center for Education Reform (CER) yesterday at The National Press Club to unveil a manifesto calling on all engaged in education and learning to forge a new commitment to innovation and opportunity.

“If we as a movement are to be honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that our efforts to drive change have hit a wall,” declared Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of CER. “The reality is that more was accomplished in the first nine years of the education reform movement than in the past 16.”

Allen continued: “Resetting the landscape for structural change in education requires providing maximum opportunities for kids, teachers and families — and the flexibility for innovations to be tested and applied. Every education policy effort going forward must be focused on creating the opportunity for innovation.”

Donald Hense, Chair and CEO of Friendship Public Charter Schools, one of the top charter networks in Washington, DC, echoed these sentiments. “The freedom that charter schools once enjoyed — the freedom to innovate — is now so overregulated. We must give teachers autonomy, and we must hold schools accountable for results.”

For David Levin, President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, the imperative to innovate couldn’t come at a more critical time. “Empowerment and diversity can be very powerful and are real assets for the country. But right now we’re failing so many of our minority students. And this only raises the imperative to allow teachers to have the flexibility to experiment with new approaches. Indeed, for an innovator to succeed in education, she needs the license to explore and test and learn.”

The bottom line: “There’s no excuse for the current state of America’s educational system,” said John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable and former governor of Michigan. According to the latest scores on the Nation’s Report Card, less than half of eighth graders can read and do math at grade level. Engler added, “We run the risk of falling even further behind if we don’t incorporate innovation and opportunity as bedrock principles.”

After almost a quarter century of leading the fight for expanded educational opportunities, The Center for Education Reform will refocus its efforts on coalescing all around these principles. Said Allen: “We invite our allies, adversaries, and partners to join hands in a commitment to a new equation for education — Innovation + Opportunity = Results, or Ed Reform I.O.”

Watch the full event, video highlights, and read the New Opportunity Agenda.