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Newswire – March 6, 2018


SOUTH-BY. It’s the place to be, they say. Thousands gathered for the beginning of several days of “SOUTH-BY…” as in, “Are you going to SOUTH-BY?” South by Southwest EDU, FILM and MUSIC. And from just a day around the “campus,” it’s clear why: Austin is one big town full of everyone and everything who is (or thinks) they’re doing something relevant or innovative or who just wants to learn what it all means.


GREAT PANELS ABOUND. And the room was packed to hear some of the smartest minds in education today talk directly and honestly about the impact of educational failure on black kids. In particular, and how it happens, was Monday’s highlight. Moderator Rehema Ellis from NBC was clearly blown away by the intensity and honesty of the discussion. For example, Margaret Fortune talked about what she sees as the greatest challenge in charter schools. “If you’re a black person with an idea, you’re a novice; if you’re a white person with an idea, you’re an innovator.” Dr. Howard Fuller addressed how difficult it will be to teach kids if you’re not capable of doing so. “Just being fully credentialed doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to teach our kids.” Chris Stewart offered, “I believe parents have been professionalized out of the equation of our children’s education … And, black people are the new cotton. People and companies are trying to harvest our children.” These and hundreds of other insights should be featured at every event, no matter the subject, if we are to make real progress, real change.

Intrigued? Follow along with SXSW EDU.

ALSO IN AUSTIN, A PROMISING NEW SCHOOLS CONFAB. They call themselves the “one-room schoolhouse for the 21st century.” And based on what we’ve seen, this schoolhouse is indeed transformative. The founders of Acton Academy are tapping a growing army of entrepreneurs to start schools that offer a new learning revolution. Teaching students to be self-governing, using adaptive tools and personalized learning, employing an apprenticeship model, following Montessori — these and more are staples of an Acton school. Its founders, Jeff and Laura Sandefer, are evangelists for teaching that puts students at the center of learning and does away with the hundreds of other unnecessary things that exist to accommodate rules and adults. It’s a revolution that isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you like how this sounds and you ever thought of opening your own school, this may be for you.


DID YOU KNOW?… that Puerto Rico gets far more of its education budget from the federal government than any US state? Last year it was 37%! And now, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, despite stiff opposition from teachers’ unions, Puerto Rico is poised to reinvent its school system with the introduction of innovative charter schools.

Which states still have no charter school law? Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

SPEAKING OF W. VA… The unions still have teachers out on strike after almost two weeks. The issue? Teacher pay of course. But what if it were about more than just raising salaries? What if you could raise the salary of a teacher who was accomplishing more, contributing more and able to get better results? That’s what happened to narrow the achievement gap in DC (yes, some bad actors manipulated results for gain, but the majority of DC teachers are doing more, doing better and earning more as a result!).

IN OTHER NEWS. New faces at the Department of Ed? The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will vote on two nominees: Frank Brogan, for assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, and Mark Schneider, for director of the Institute of Education Sciences (the Department’s research arm).

WHERE WE ARE. Later this month, CER will be represented at the prestigious Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. Joining education leaders, policymakers, innovators, philanthropists and thought leaders shaping the future of education, our founder and CEO Jeanne Allen will speak about innovative approaches in recruiting the next generation of the best and brightest educators. Follow her on Twitter, @JeanneAllen.

GOING TO ASU+GSV? It’s not too late to join us in San Diego at the hottest event of the year for education innovation, education transformation and the knowledge industry. Industry leaders (like Margaret Spellings and Jeb Bush) will join celebrities (like Bill Gates and Richard Branson). CER will lead several discussions on how Ed Tech Can Save Rural America: Getting Personal and Education Opportunity in America. Beat the rush and sign up now.

TELL US YOUR STORY! Families all over the country have education stories to tell. Send us yours!