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CER Had a Very Busy Summer – and It’s Not Over Yet

Here in Washington, DC, most summers are pretty quiet. Not for the Center for Education Reform.

In May, our CEO Jeanne Allen interviewed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at the ASU + GSV Summit. The event took place in Salt Lake City, where hundreds of professionals in the ed-tech community were gathered, and was covered by the Associated Press and many other outlets across the country. Then, to cap things off, our board member Michael Moe, the founder and host of the summit, delivered the summit’s keynote address.

But if you know CER, you know that was just the beginning. When the Supreme Court handed down its verdict in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, we again were all over the media. Jeanne also penned an op-ed about the case for the Orange County Register.

In the meantime, CER made news about educational opportunity in Illinois (check out our op-ed in National Review), and we turned an invitation to appear on Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly into a speaking slot for our board member David Hardy. (David recently retired as president of the Boys’ Latin Charter in Philadelphia.)

Finally, no recap would be complete without mentioning Randi Weingarten. In July, the longtime boss of the American Federation of Teachers ignited a firestorm by likening advocates of school choice to — wait for it — segregationists. CER wasted no time fighting back: we issued statements, we wrote op-eds, we secured op-eds from concerned parents, we started a hash tag, and we created a webpage that features a variety of voices testifying to the outrageousness and dishonesty of Weingarten’s comments.

Of course, it’s only August, so there’s plenty more summer left. Stay tuned for more. (Hint: it involves the NAACP.)

Update 8-24: 

And as

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As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill there is myriad of comments about what she should or shouldn’t do, and what she can expect.

Fordham’s Mike Petrilli yesterday offered that she should address the criticisms of her previous testimony by talking about the tension between civil and religious rights, and the value of a pluralistic system of schools that respects both.

Politico this morning says that DeVos can expect more questioning about the Administration’s various views and more concerning the 13 percent cut in the budget. But all we’ve read seem to miss the point.

For anyone interested in outcomes for learners at all levels, the budget should be opportunity to start a new conversation – one that addresses how federal priorities can better enable and advance critical educational opportunities for our students. As we argued when the budget was first proposed, (to lots of hue and cry that we didn’t jump all over the cuts!) federal funding should be a means to an end, not simply a funding stream for previously sanctioned programs that the feds have codified into law to support one interest group or another. How does Title IV help students, and schools with technology? Does the charter grant program work for kids? Is it too bureaucratic or not big enough?

Federal funding should follow the priorities of state level efforts and effective national entities, many of which are carving new paths for personalized learning, for innovations in education technology, for efforts to eradicate zoning by zip code and free up students and families to find the best fit for their child. Those who support the status quo think these notions are heresy. Those who lead such innovations in governance, in teaching and learning know better. Let’s hear them all out. And instead of focusing

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The Top 9 Moments You Missed When We Debated Charter Schools

Are charter schools overrated? This was the topic at hand for Wednesday night’s Intelligence Squared debate. Jeanne Allen and Gerard Robinson advocated for charter schools as they took on Gary Miron and Julian Vasquez Heilig. The discussion was impassioned, intelligent, and civil (mostly). If you didn’t get the chance to tune in, here are the highlights:

  • Jeanne Allen responds to the fear of for-profit companies’ involvement in charter school:
    • “Who cares what the tax status of a company is if our kids are learning?”
  • Jeanne Allen counters Heilig’s accusation that charter schools “are anti-democratic”:
    • “There is nothing more democratic than parents actually participating directly in the education of their children.”
  • Gerard Robinson calls out traditional public schools for their lack of accountability:
    • “In 2016-2017, 35 charter schools in that state closed and identified exactly why they closed. In this fiscal year, right now, there are nearly seven that have closed. You go to a Department of Education and they say we are going to close a school, either driven by the authorizer or number of factors … How many public schools have you seen close because students didn’t do as well?”
  • The audience chimes in on Twitter:

  • Jeanne Allen underlines the real issue at hand:
    • “You’re a parent. You open your door and you are zoned to your traditional public school because of your zip code!”

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