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Newswire – May 19, 2020

EDUCATION’S BERLIN WALL. When the Berlin Wall fell and East Germans experienced freedom for the first time — there was no going back.  With an assist from COVID19, and despite the overwhelming tragedies and seeming irreversible impact it has created, the walls confining students to education based on zip code has also fallen. Millions of parents and kids are learning for the first time the capacity of their schools’ administrators to respond to crises. As we’ve written in the pathbreaking report, “The Future of School” released last month, this experience is an opportunity to determine how best to educate every child, no matter where, or what their circumstances. Whether the approach taking place is called distance, digital, remote or whatever, it doesn’t matter.  The smell of innovation and creativity unbridled by bureaucracy is in the air. The anecdotal stories of parents, school leaders and citizens city by city shows that 40 percent of Americans now more likely to homeschool and enroll kids in virtual school, when given the choice. Ah, but there’s the rub.

Organizing tele-townhalls, and pro-status quo virtual marches, the NEA is spending all of its time and money advocating for more stimulus funds to plug the gaping hole of the empty school buildings and bureaucracies, to preserve what exists, not build what should.

GOVERNORS YOU CAN CHANGE THAT. There is $3 billion on the table to support students and the people working to support them. Those monies are directed to districts/LEAs (eg. many charter schools, too) to address the learning needs of students. In our not-so-humble opinions, those funds should not be distributed to districts which are not requiring teachers to actually teach students in real time (like LA and Philly, among others).  Governors can ensure that not only are funds spent in the service of students, but that the 10% of discretionary funds the state education departments are permitted to distribute as they see fit actually expand the reach of schools and leaders educating kids well.

We will have more to say on that soon, but also agree with former Governor Jeb Bush who urges the chief executives to use the money for transformational ideas  — what he calls “long runway ideas” — instead of the usual short-term fixes.

THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.  Schools which embraced remote learning and adapted to it long ago out of necessity had a huge advantage when the virus struck. Alaska and Maine are about as far apart geographically as two states can be.  But they are leaders in using distance learning for their kids.  In Homer, Alaska one of America’s most remote states is making remote learning work, and from Maine comes the news that as of now all Maine students will have access to remote learning.  The walls are falling — there’s no going back.

BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE! In between Alaska and Maine you’ll find The Neighborhood Academyin Pittsburgh, PA which serves a student body disproportionately low income and economically disadvantaged yet made a seamless transition to learning, and from Michigan a new university study of how the state’s 78 charter schools are not missing a beat in adapting to distance learning, finding that 87 percent of the charters are providing hybrid modes of instruction with students receiving lessons through virtual platforms and hard copy materials. One of the report’s authors said, “This report is really a statement about the resilience of educators and their ability to pivot and respond to their student’s needs in innovative and different ways.” Charters have been doing that since 1992.

A BAND AID OR A LONG TERM CURE? THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON LEGALIZED BIGOTRY. Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, one of the most monumental education and civil rights cases to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, must be decided by June 30 – 42 days from now. CER is proud to be part of a broad coalition in support of the plaintiffs and to have filed an Amicus Brief in the case.  The link above will take you to our page with full background and explanations of this remnant of 19th century bigotry.

CBS 58 MilwaukeeYOUR GUARANTEED SMILE FOR THE DAY - OR WEEK comes from Milwaukee, WI, the birthplace of the charter school movement.  Two twin sisters — seniors named for CER fave and true education superman, the  Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy - have been accepted into 38 schools and awarded over $1,000,000 in scholarships.  Sisters, Arielle and Arianna Williams came up with what we think is the perfect motto for ALL charter schools, “We never wanted to do the basic, we always wanted to go above and do beyond.” Super kudos to Arielle and Arianna, to Dr. Fuller and every charter school in the country.


Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education. 
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