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On the Sixth Day of Christmas CER gave to me…

Parent Power Growing!

(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
(2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!


The 6th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

Parent Power is growing and evolving – not just in practice,
but in the way we think about and talk about what this term means. The lingo may have changed slightly, but the goal is still the same.

Let us explain.

The Center has more than two decades under its belt working to empower parents. And since 1999, CER has been providing Parent Power!, a program aimed at helping parents make sense of schooling. Parent Power! started out as a quarterly magazine, but as the World Wide Web grew, so did Parent Power!  CER has helped develop and network over 10,000 grassroots groups all across the country.

The Parent Power Index is CER’s vision for the next generation of Parent Power!

Why the switch from the alliterative title? Throughout 2016, The Center for Education Reform reenvisioned its focus and mission and began the important work of reframing the debate about education in America. No longer content just to reform education, CER is now dedicated to expanding educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans.

Our vision is a country and states that provide increased, quality educational opportunities that secure our nation’s freedom and future prosperity. At the heart of that prosperity is freedom, and the ability to apply the entrepreneurial spirit of this country to all education, where it is most urgently needed. And at the heart of that freedom is giving parents the fundamental power to choose the kind of education and

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Feelin’ 22

I dunno about you, but we’re feelin’ 22!

Yesterday CER officially turned 22, marking over two decades of advocating for choice, accountability, and Parent Power. While we’re proud of what the #edreform movement has accomplished, it’s time to ramp up the pace at which students have access to choices. Across America, only about five percent of all school-aged children are taking advantage of great educational opportunities.

YOU can help edreform grow more opportunities for children in its 22nd year and beyond in a variety of ways like donating or selecting CER as your charitable organization of choice when you shop on Amazon through AmazonSmile. Thank you for your support over the years, and together, we will continue to change the conditions of education today and push for policies that increase #ParentPower.

Hear what our friends and partners in education reform have to say about CER’s work here!


FROM THE DESK OF… Jeanne Allen, Senior Fellow: Recommendations on the GOP Presidential Debate

In the hands of some very seasoned campaign advisors, most presidential candidates take a safe approach to debates. With a relatively short time to get your talking points out, numerous issues to cover and lots of competitors working hard to hog the stage, they are advised to stay focused. But the measure of a candidate is what they do – and say – when programming is impossible. Who these people are and how they’d do as our president is best measured by dealing with issues that every one of us can relate to, the most communal of issues. That’s why I’m hoping that the candidates find opportunities across every issue to demonstrate their understanding that education is the great equalizer, and its connection to the economy and our international competitiveness, our peace, our safety at home and abroad is all connected to how well we educate our youth and our adults. Education is a big field, of course, so I’ll be looking for the guy or gal who is able to talk about education in the context of the most important current events we face today in improving and revolutionizing our schools. In my book, the candidate who touches well on the following three most important themes will win my vote.

Number One: Celebrate charter schools

Charter schools provide choice and diversity to parents and teachers, and challenge the status quo to do better. They are held accountable by performance contracts and in states where charters are largely independent from state and local bureaucracies they thrive. Charter schools are the reason we talk about standards today, have performance pay and teacher quality on the table and have closed some achievement gaps. Charters have helped breathe new life into cities like Washington, D.C. and New Orleans (just two out of

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Answering the call…

The nation will never forget watching the levees break, the fear and pain on the faces of the people trapped, the destruction, countless lives lost too soon. Ten years ago to the date, a storm, an act of God, broke down almost every system and structure that was supposed to keep the great people of New Orleans safe.

There is no question that those systems and structures were severely flawed and broken before the storm. But one in particular – the traditional public schools – literally had tens of thousands of students falling through the cracks. Before the storm, every effort to bring substantive reform to education was fought and defeated by special interests. At the time, CER was intricately involved with the dozen or so folks locally trying to bring about substantive change.

When news of Hurricane Katrina hit, we were all glued to our televisions in horror, outraged that Americans were suffering because of it. There’s a lot of speculation as to the reasons why – flawed government, brutally failed efforts to evacuate – the list goes on.

On August 29, 2005 I made a phone call. What about the hundreds of families of the dozen or so charter schools we personally knew and worked with – were they safe? Dr. James (Jim) Geiser, the former director of Louisiana Charter School Association, now Senior Program Consultant at University of Georgia, answered the call!

Jim and several charter leaders and families made it to Baton Rouge. If my memory serves me right, a charter operator in Louisiana’s state capital gave them refuge.

I’ll never forget Jim’s words, “It’s all gone… You can’t even imagine the destruction. We’re desperately trying to find students and their families to make sure they are safe.”

I could hear the pain in his voice while he was multitasking to

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The Power of Choice: Who’s blocking ‘choice’ in the Rochester City School District?

By Berkeley Brean
NBC 10 Rochester (WHEC.com)
May 20, 2015

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If a family in the city had the money to move to the suburbs for the good suburban schools that would be a choice. But what about the families in the city that don’t have the money to make that move? What choice do they have?

If they don’t win the charter school lottery, their children have to enroll in the worst ranked school district in the state. That’s why News10NBC traveled to Washington D.C. which is the capital of school choice.

We looked into who is blocking choice in Rochester. It’s the people who control the school system the way we know it now, according to the public school reformers we spoke with.

Jade Yates wants to make music and she wants that music to help people. Yates says, “I know a lot of people are going through a lot of things and depression and I think music really helps people.”

Jade is in the eleventh grade at Richard Wright Charter School in Washington D.C. It’s a charter focused on journalism and media arts. Going there was a choice her mother made.

Mother April Goggans says, “I think choice is just that. I think a lot of times parents feel shackled to their school in the neighborhood.”

Doctor Marco Clark is the founder and principal at Richard Wright. He makes a promise to every parent that their child will be accepted to a college.

“The question I ask is, ‘will the public schools do that?'” says Wright. “Do they make that type of promise? Are they bold, do they have the audacity to say things that charters and schools of choice actually have the opportunity to do? We stand by our

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Newswire: April 28, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 17

CHOICE IS POWER. This editor of Newswire had the pleasure to sit down with a mom yesterday to talk about her son’s education and the impact making a choice has had on his life. Barbara left D.C. in the mid-90s to escape the violence and chose to move to suburban Virginia to give her kids a fighting chance. Her youngest son was struggling in a big suburban school, where the achievement gap is only growing among white and black students. She decided to move back to D.C. recently because she has witnessed how school choice has changed her community for the better, and now her son is thriving and has aspirations for college. Congress passed the controversial D.C. School Reform Act in 1996 to bring dramatic change to the nation’s capital and #edreform has done just that. Barbara said that “people aren’t inherently bad, but they make bad decisions when they have no choice in the matter.” She noted the people in her community haven’t changed since the mid-90s, but school choice has empowered them to make better decisions and aspire for something greater. The nation is watching Baltimore clean up from yesterday’s destruction caused in large part by young schoolchildren that have no choice in a city where violence looks a lot like D.C. did twenty years ago. Meanwhile, advocates continue to battle the status quo in Annapolis who believe “small progress” and a political win are more important than taking the bold and controversial steps as D.C. once did to empower parents in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.

FUNDING FIASCOS. In Connecticut, lawmakers are toying with children’s futures by eliminating funding for two already approved charter schools, Capital Prep Harbor School in Bridgeport and Stamford Charter School for Excellence. Dr. Steve

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Opinion: Education Reform – School choice would benefit all Montanans

by Joe Balyeat
Helena Independent Record
January 29, 2013

“There is no respect in which inhabitants of a low-income neighborhood are so disadvantaged as in the kind of schooling they can get for their children.” Economist Milton Friedman

Given the fact that Montana continuously ranks near dead last in the country in average wages and our “low-income neighborhoods” arguably encompass our whole state, it should not go un-noticed that Montana also ranks dead last nationally in educational choice reforms as well. The Center for Education Reform ranks Montana 51st (even behind Washington D.C.) in its Parent Power Index. And Friedman’s economic analysis is spot on: There may be a direct connection between Montana’s failure to provide educational freedom to our impoverished families and the continued multi-generational stagnation of economic opportunity in Montana.

Of course it is the entrenched special interests such as government union bosses and bureaucrats who block any and all attempts at true reform, insisting that the only answer is to throw more money at a system that al-ready spends $11,530 per student statewide. This means the average Montana worker’s entire annual salary is devoured educating just 3 kids for nine months. This tired “increase spending” non-solution is repeated despite the fact that there are at least 138 studies nationwide which prove that level of funding bears no statistical corre-lation to quality of education.

To the contrary, numerous studies reveal real education reform which does work – and the key ingredient is true educational choice. Even think tanks like the Brookings Institution concur that both public and private schools do a better job educating kids in “market” environments where there is true competition on a level play-ing field, as opposed to monopoly areas (such as Montana) where public schools have no real competition.

Even Democrat researchers John Chubb and Terry Moe concluded: “Conventional

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Pa. gets good grades in education reform ranking

by Damon C. Williams
Philadelphia Tribune
January 26, 2013

The Center for Education Reform, a national non-profit tasked with improving public education, has released an encompassing report that grades parental empowerment, solid educational choices, teacher quality and access to digital learning, among other factors. That Pennsylvania ranks in the top ten of all states can be viewed as proof educational reforms in the commonwealth are beginning to take hold.

According to the annual findings released in the Parent Power Index, Pennsylvania trails Indiana, which ranks first; Florida; Ohio; Arizona; Washington, D.C.; Louisiana and Minnesota. Wisconsin and Utah round out the top ten.

The PPI is an interactive, accessible online tool that collects and itemizes data critical to judging the gains and deficiencies in a parent’s control of their child’s education. The index is designed to provide in-depth information to not only parents, but to stakeholders, politicians and education policymakers as well.

“All across America, parents are demanding more power over their children’s education, but the task of sorting through all the information out there is daunting,” said Center for Education Reform President Jeanne Allen. “There are a variety of resources available to evaluate how students are achieving, but there is widespread disagreement about what constitutes sound education reform policy.

As the mother of college students, I liken the PPI to a cumulative GPA, which is a composite of grades from varying professors,” Allen continued. “In this case, these professors are among the nation’s leading authorities and critical evaluators of education policy.”

Each state is graded on five broad categories: school choice, charter schools, online learning, teacher quality and transparency, and the findings related to Pennsylvania are interesting.

For example, the state received points for having a pro-education reform governor in Tom Corbett, but suffered due to limitations in the so-called parent-trigger law, which allows parents

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Join the Next Grassroots Revolution in U.S. Education

October 4, 2012

Dear Friends,

I hope you all found time this weekend to go see Won’t Back Down. Now that it is in theaters, parents are seeing the movie and wondering if – and how – they can take control of their child’s education. Lucky for them, our Parent Power Index© can tell them just that.

As I mentioned to you last week, there are powerful anti-reform groups actively working against this movie, including the teachers unions. They fear that old adage that “information is power.” So we’ll double our efforts to make sure parents get the power they need and deserve.

We know firsthand the enormous tasks that parents can accomplish on behalf of their children when given the right tools and information. The Center has since 1993 counseled thousands of parents and activists on how to improve their schools, and with the tools we’ve created they’ve started schools, changed laws, and taken back their communities. And to meet the demands of anyone’s schedule our new Take 5 Minutes and Take Back Your Schools gives actionable tools to anyone wanting to get engaged now.

Thousands have already explored the Parent Power Index© and with your help in spreading the word we can create the next grassroots revolution in American education. So tell your friends and neighbors to visit the Parent Power Index© and become part of the national imperative to secure real, substantive improvement in all schools!

Thank You!

Jeanne Allen

“Parent power” film stirs hopes of education reform activists

by Stephanie Simon
September 28, 2012

Education reform film “Won’t Back Down” opened Friday to terrible reviews – and high hopes from activists who expect the movie to inspire parents everywhere to demand big changes in public schools.

The drama stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a spirited mother who teams up with a passionate teacher to seize control of their failing neighborhood school, over the opposition of a self-serving teachers union.

Reviewers called it trite and dull, but education reformers on both the left and right have hailed the film as a potential game-changer that could aid their fight to weaken teachers’ unions and inject more competition into public education.

Private foundations, nonprofit advocacy groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have pumped more than $2 million into advocacy efforts tied to “Won’t Back Down,” including 30-second ads, promotional bookmarks, websites, private screenings and a six-month, cross-country discussion tour that will keep the film in circulation long after it leaves theaters.

Their goal: To attract new foot soldiers who will help them fight for legislation that allows parents to seize control of local schools, as dramatized in the film; eliminates tenure protections for veteran teachers; and opens the door for more competition to neighborhood schools in the form of charters, which are publicly funded but privately run.

“This movie has the potential to be one of the most transformative vehicles in the history of education reform,” said Ben Austin, a longtime Democratic activist.

Austin now runs Parent Revolution, which promotes “parent trigger” laws allowing parents unhappy with struggling schools to take control, fire teachers and bring in private management.

His organization is holding 35 private screenings of “Won’t Back Down” in states from Georgia to Utah to New York over the next month to rally more parents to the cause. “This movie is telling a story that’s relevant

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