Sep 28, 2011

Paying Teachers More Matters [Or, I Will Cite A Preliminary Source--And I'm Not A Teacher]

Rebecca Sibilia currently serves as the Fiscal Strategy Manger for StudentsFirst, where she is responsible for analyzing the fiscal impact of education policies, and helping policymakers and administrators implement best practices to ensure education spending ultimately drives student outcomes. Prior to her work at StudentsFirst, she served as the Chief Financial Officer for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. In prior roles, she created congressionally funded education programs for public schools and vouchers and developed venture philanthropy programs to help low-income students access quality education opportunities.

The National Center for Education Statistics has issued a new report titled "Beginning Teacher Attrition and Mobility". It's the first glimpse into a major longitudinal study of why teachers stay in the profession, and why they leave.

Here's what we've found by tracking new teachers who entered the profession in the 2007-2008 school year, and whether they stayed after their first year of teaching:

What matters: 

Teachers making more than $40,000 were 3.7 times more likely to stay in the profession than those making less.  One out of every eight teachers making under $40,000 a year quits after their first year on the job.  This is why states and districts should elevate the teaching profession by paying teachers a competitive base salary, and rewarding them for results, even in the first year.

First year teachers paired with mentors were almost twice as likely to stay in the profession than those without.  This proves that providing meaningful professional support is a critical factor in keeping new teachers.

What doesn't matter:

Teachers serving low-income students were no more likely to leave the profession as those who served wealthier students.  This tells us that the composition of children in the classroom is not an impediment to job satisfaction for first year teachers.

First year teachers who entered through an alternative certification program were equally as likely to stay in the profession as their counterparts. This tells us that educators who enter the profession after studying in a different field have no less commitment to teaching than their counterparts who entered the profession through traditional routes.

What it means:

Helping teachers succeed, paying teachers competitively and rewarding them for results, no matter where they work and how they came to the profession will keep good teachers in the classroom in their first year of teaching. This is why elevating the teaching profession is a top priority for StudentsFirst.

View the full report here:

Sep 27, 2011

Back In School: Teacher Reflects On Helping Students Achieve [Or, Let Me Discount Poverty And Blame Myself For Its Existence]

Amanda Williams teaches first grade in the Arizona public school system. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University.

Of course it would make my job as a teacher easier if all students had the same life experiences, same socioeconomic status, same behaviors, and learning styles. But, of course, every teacher knows this isn't reality. Since it's the start of the school year, I thought I'd write this blog to offer a realistic snapshot of what many teachers actually face. I'm speaking from my experience, and we all know experiences vary across our country. But this is how things look from my vantage point.

All the preparation has been done, supplies are stocked, the classroom is perfect, and a whole new group of children are sitting and staring at you. The beginning of each school year is exhausting, exciting, and overwhelming. I have to give students a sense of my expectations, ignite a love for learning in them, and build a safe community. But that's not all. The biggest challenge I face, is learning where my students are academically and deciding what I can do to help them achieve at least a year's growth in learning when they are with me. It’s a huge responsibility.

In the community where I teach, families come and go often – a problem we call "the revolving door." The challenge is that our classroom population is made up of students that may or may not have ever attended school or are from a different state with different (sometimes lower) standards. They have never received consistent, quality instruction, and that has led to achievement gaps. It's up to me to address and help close those gaps. The way teachers begin to tackle this is to collect data by assessing their students in many different ways. Data has to drive our instructional decisions.

When it comes to the hard work of teaching, I need to be aware of these different ability levels but also kids' varying learning styles. While one child may learn best through visual cues, another may a physical, or kinesthetic learner.

Students today need to be actively engaged. Gone are the days where students sit still and teachers pour knowledge into their brains and expect them to succeed. Many students need special interventions that are separate from the core curriculum. With good intervention, these students will learn and achieve. Will they meet grade-level expectations in one school year? Maybe not. It may take quite a few years of quality intervention to fully close achievement gaps. But that's okay as long as they're moving at a good clip in the right direction.

So that's the reality as I see it. Kids come from different backgrounds and learn in different ways. But there are things I can do as a teacher to help them make the grade. Of course, it's not just up individual classroom teachers.

Systematically, we need more great educators teaching in all geographic and subject areas and we need to pay them what they are worth. We need administrators who will hold teachers accountable, and we need districts that will hold administrators accountable. We need fair and multi-faceted teacher (and administrator) evaluation systems, and we need nationwide standards to keep standards consistent from state to state (which we are moving toward). In my opinion, if we work together for these things, we will see the children of our country succeed. That's the reality I hope for.

Sep 26, 2011

Wanted: 250 Hours Of Learning Time [Or, I Am Not An Educator, And That's Why Rhee Gave Me This Platform]

Mike Butz
Children in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system - the country's third largest - have one of the shortest school days and years in the country. Four hundred thousand students stand to be directly affected by political battles currently being waged over bringing CPS in line with other large American districts.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is firmly opposed to Mayor Emanuel's Longer School Day Pioneer Program, which offers teachers a $1,250 bonus (equivalent to 2% of the average CPS teacher salary) and $150,000 to the school for any school voting to lengthen the school day this year. That's an additional 250 more hours per student this year alone.

The change will happen for all schools next year with or without union support as a result of bipartisan statewide legislation passed earlier this year, which the union initially supported. So why is the union so opposed to allowing teachers to choose a longer day this year? Why are they denying Chicago kids a comparable education? Here, I offer my perspective as a CPS parent on two of CTU's main objections.

The Mayor is trying to destroy collective bargaining and bust the union by urging teachers to seek waivers from the union contract. There is no evidence to support this. This program was designed to be implemented in the most American of ways – by a democratic, majority-wins vote of all union members at a school, held under the conditions of all other union votes. Waivers are a long-standing part of the contract between CTU and CPS and are routinely granted by the union for all manner of changes, including altering the length of the school day at individual schools. Ironically, the CTU is now seeking to disenfranchise their members by seeking a judicial remedy to throw out the votes of the thirteen schools that have so far voted to seek a waiver, accept the incentive funds and teach kids for more time each day.

The union is intercepting teachers on their way to and from school and providing information that is, in my estimation, misleading and presented in a manner to incite fear. What does this teach our kids? That democracy is only appropriate when you vote the "right" way, or that adult needs are more important than theirs?

There is no plan for how to spend the additional time. Karen Lewis, President of the CTU, was invited to the table to discuss the particulars of a longer day when the legislation passed. She declined to participate, calling it a "publicity stunt." Now that the Pioneer Program has gained public interest and momentum among parents who want their children to be on par with other kids, the union is lamenting the lack of a "plan" and calling out the Mayor for not having one.

These thirteen schools actually came up with their own plans, and each included extra time for all subjects, not only reading and math, but also for lunch and teacher prep. Additionally, the Mayor's office has asked the non-profit National Center on Time and Learning to work individually with schools to plan the day. Ms. Lewis had her chance to contribute and she chose to play politics instead.

Why do I think what the CTU is doing is so wrong? I think using scare-tactics is wrong. I think union leadership is looking out for the adults – which, of course, is their paramount obligation as a union, but at the expense of children? Mostly I think it's wrong because it's unfair to my child – and his hundreds of thousands of peers in our fine city – to be so shortchanged.

I know my child will be okay – my wife and I are fully involved in his education and life. But what about the other, presumably, thousands of children whose home lives are not like my son's – those kids we are always concerned about? What effect would 250 extra hours in school this year have had on their lives? Would the hours have improved their grades (an effect that could snowball in future years)? Would they have prevented more time spent hanging out, doing nothing or getting in trouble? Would 250 more hours have finally allowed for mastery of something a student had been struggling with? Would a student have found an interest in science, art or a foreign language with more time for each subject every day? Some studies say extra time is beneficial – others indicate it isn't. We know it can't hurt. But, at least for this year, we will never know in Chicago. Too much tension surrounding what should be a no-brainer: kids in the Windy City should have the same quantity of time in school as other American children.

Make no mistake, I think we have excellent teachers in Chicago – I want our kids learning from them for more, rather than less time. Teachers know we need it. Parents want it. Administrators want it. The Chicago Teachers Union leadership? Apparently, not so much.

There are more facets to this debate, from both points of view, and they are worth exploring and debating. The concern over compensation is a real one that must be addressed. Neither "side" is without some blame for how this has been handled. The kids, however, are not part of the discussion; they're just affected by it. We are the adults. We need to do right by them. Period.

A Teacher Discusses Her Experience With LIFO [Or, blah blah, I'm Great, Blah, LIFO]

Callie Hammond was a teacher in the Philadelphia School District before she was laid off because of the "last in, first out" (LIFO) policy. She is now working to start a nonprofit organization, Library Build, which will renovate and staff public school libraries. Callie attended an event with Michelle Rhee in Philadelphia Thursday evening in which teachers discussed LIFO and other education reform issues.

I became a teacher after working as a social worker in a Philadelphia school. I was amazed at what the children in this school dealt with: lack of resources, a desperate need for attention and after-school activities. I wanted to work with them face-to-face, rather than from an office, so I joined the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows and began a journey which has kept me dedicated to, and motivated by, education reform.

I worked in a middle school as a social studies and science teacher to all English language learners in the sixth grade. My students were vivacious, caring, and often, frustrating. But their ability to transcend race and ethnicity to form friendships was truly inspiring. During my short time with them, I engaged my students in reading and understanding The Diary of Anne Frank. I hope that they keep the messages in the book with them as they grow and become adults in Philadelphia.

When I was laid off by the school district, I was not shocked. The word had been circulating for some time that the district's budget crisis was insurmountable. It caused many excellent, new teachers to worry about their futures. A new math teacher in my school, who I greatly admired for her ability to make math creative and for her patience with the 30 students in her room, was laid off for the second time in two years because of the "last in, first out" policy. She was dedicated to the children of the Philadelphia School District, but she admitted to me that getting laid off every year only to wonder about the possibility of being called back over the summer was becoming too much of a struggle.

Many others who I trained with through The New Teacher Project were also motivated and hard-working individuals. A co-teacher during my student teaching experience had moved herself and her young daughter to Philadelphia from Indiana in order to serve Philadelphia's students. She was laid off as well, despite serving students with severe autism.

As the Philadelphia School District continues to evolve and develop after tumultuous recent events, it is important for our legislators to understand the need for reform of the "last in, first out" policy. In speaking last night with the educators of Philadelphia, Michelle Rhee pointed out that most new teachers serve in the most underserved of schools. The "last in, first out" policy ensures that these students, the most underserved, lose many, if not most, of their teachers when lay-offs occur.

I'm glad Students First is working to change this and helping to ensure that someone speaks not just for teachers, but also for the most underserved of our public school students.

Sep 23, 2011

Michelle's Reaction To Sec. Duncan's Announcement On NCLB Waivers [Or, Let Me Be Really Nebulous. It's All I Got!!]

There's no question that NCLB needs to be reformed to create a landscape in every district and state where we know what excellent schools and teaching look like, where there are accountability measures in place to make the reforms to NCLB meaningful, and to remove bureaucratic obstacles to implement the necessary changes.

If Secretary Duncan can expedite reform efforts as he did with Race to the Top, we welcome this strategy so long as there are strong accountability measures in place to ensure children have the best teachers. The need to be vigilant on this front as we move forward is especially important given the loss of turnaround measures that promoted accountability.

But the necessity of these waivers in the absence of Congressional action in fixing what we all know is a broken system highlights that we can't wait for change to come from the top down.  Reform starts in the grassroots. Around the country hundreds of thousands of StudentsFirst members --parents, teachers and concerned citizens -- are working with local leaders to implement reform that will usher in a culture of professionalism and accountability to ensure all children have the best teachers possible. From states as disparate as Maine and Nevada, we are working in a bipartisan way to get things done.

We look forwarded to continuing to work with the Administration and local officials to make sure these waivers produce the best results for our kids.

Sep 21, 2011

Membership Speaks Out On America's Public Schools And Solutions To The Challenges They Face [The Biggest Challenge Being Idiot Rheeformers]

As students and teachers get back into the swing of the school year we had a little homework for our membership. To our delight, our members did not respond with a groan or an eye roll. More than 12,700 people completed our member survey, including 1,259 teachers.

We were thrilled that so many of our members took the time to give us their opinions and tell us how they'd like to be involved.

We are a grassroots membership organization that depends on your feedback and involvement. Your opinions are helping to set our priorities and shape our programs for the next year.

In our survey, we asked you to describe America's public education system in one word, and you can see from the responses represented in our word cloud below that our members believe there is a lot of improvement that can take place in our schools. On this point, there is strong agreement. Our work is far from done.
America's Public School in One Word
The size of the font corresponds to the popularity of the response.
But our members also so saw that there was hope. We know through research what works and what doesn't. We know that the quality of teachers in the classroom is the top factor in determining the success of a student. We know that some schools and districts are better than others at helping kids learn and closing the achievement gap. In fact, the two issues our members most wanted us to focus on to improve our schools are: 1) Increasing the number of quality public school options for families to choose from; and 2) Eliminating LIFO policies so that when layoffs are necessary, the most effective teachers stay.

Our members come together with a common goal of fixing the things that are broken within our school system so that every student has a great teacher and access to a great school. But our members come from a wide diversity of perspectives and backgrounds.

Of those members that responded to our survey, 21% were teachers, 50% were parents, and 4% were school administrators. Our members range from students in middle school to senior citizens, and they cover the political spectrum in terms of their beliefs and party affiliations.

To thank you, we randomly selected five members who completed our survey and awarded them gift cards. Our winners included: R. from Spokane, WA; Kristin, from; Yucaipa, CA; Natasha, from Mars Hill, ME; Lucy, from Canyon County, CA; and Ali, from New Orleans, LA.
Ali in New Orleans responded,
"That is fantastic news. Thank you very much. You always think no one wins these survey things … I will use this gift to purchase more books for my classroom library and maybe a book for myself as well."
Thanks again to everyone who participated.

If you have not yet taken our survey you can do so now here:

Sep 20, 2011

Empowering Parents Is An Important Step Forward [Or, We Duped Congress, Like We Dupe You!!]

The U.S. House, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, approved legislation last week that will give families more high-quality educational choices. The Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act sailed through the House, and the Senate should follow suit and send this critical piece of legislation to President Obama as quickly as possible.

At StudentsFirst, we believe, and research has shown, that public charter schools are an important tool in closing the achievement gap between groups of students. Charter schools offer parents and students a choice when their traditional neighborhood school is not a viable option. In addition to increasing the educational opportunities available to children, charters can harness their autonomy and entrepreneurial approach to spur innovation and create a space in which teachers can grow and develop instructional techniques that truly elevate the profession.

The House legislation increases flexibility for states to use funding to help replicate successful charter schools and assist with facilities. Under this new funding framework, public charters and traditional public schools are encouraged to work, share, and innovate together. In other words, this will help great educators learn from one another. States also will have new incentives to use charter schools to reach special student populations, such as at-risk children who haven't succeeded in traditional public schools.

Importantly, the House retained provisions requiring charter schools, like all public schools, to disaggregate their student data. This critical element enables educators and families to track success and see where improvement is needed and enables policymakers and parents to hold schools accountable for educating all students.

Notably, this bill is moving ahead of other proposals under consideration as Congress moves to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reflecting the broad support that public charter schools enjoy. Public charter schools enroll nearly 2 million students, with another 420,000 on waiting lists. More importantly, however, the Quality Charter Schools Act shifts the federal focus to replicating high-performing charters rather than simply growing as many charters as possible. This approach will empower parents with high-quality, meaningful choices and move cities closer to creating systems, networks, and portfolios of top-notch schools.

The federal legislation is a significant step in the right direction, but there is more to be done. Now is the time for states to enact policies that will maximize the impact of the federal action, such as:
  • Strengthening accountability mechanisms and empowering strong authorizers to act aggressively in closing poor-performing charter schools;
  • Providing equal funding for all public school students, regardless of whether they attend traditional public or public charter schools, as long as the schools prove results over time;
  • Establishing alternative authorizers and 'fast-track' authorization processes for high-performing public charter schools seeking to expand;
  • Removing arbitrary caps on the number of public charter schools;
  • Establishing supports that enable charter schools to provide safe, modern learning environments, such as a per-pupil facilities allotment, priority access to public education facilities, and alternative capital financing structures.
With these reforms, states will ensure that they have the necessary components in place for success -- with increased accountability, equal access to public resources, and structures that reward consistently high performance, all schools, and the children they serve, will benefit.

Sep 17, 2011

StudentsFirst Launches Teacher Fellowship Program [Or, We're Desperate]

We're thrilled to announce that the StudentsFirst Fellowship Program got off the ground this week in Sacramento, where the fellows came together to exchange ideas about reforming the nation's schools so they work better for kids.

Our fellows and senior fellows will serve as advocates for student-focused education reform and will help build momentum around the call for change nationally. They'll continue to work in their schools, while also helping our grassroots effort to give all children the schools they need and deserve.

The fellows include four educators from across the country. They join StudentsFirst Senior Fellow, George Parker, whose role was previously announced. Parker is a former teacher and president of the Washington Teachers Union.

The four fellows work in both traditional public and public charter schools and have taught for a combined 42 years.

We are confident these standout educators who will help inform our thinking about how to improve the nation’s education system.

The StudentsFirst fellows include: Dr. Michele Jahnke, a veteran teacher and a high school dean of students in Merrill, Wisconsin; Dr. Kadhir Rajagopal, a high school math teacher and author who was named California teacher of the year; Gina Wickstead, a middle school language arts and social studies teacher in Seattle; and Kristen Briggs, who teaches special education at a public charter high school in Philadelphia.

More D.C. Teachers Taking Bonuses [Or, Many Are Not, But We'll Ignore Them]

Congratulations are in order to the more than teachers in Washington, D.C. who were deemed highly effective this past year and were eligible for significant bonuses. Nearly three-fourths of those eligible for the bonuses took them this year -- up from last year. The news was reported by WAMU Radio's Kavitha Cardoza:
The number of "highly effective" D.C. Public School teachers offered and accepting bonuses has increased this year. This year, 670 teachers were eligible for bonuses and 70 percent of them accepted the money, a 10 percent increase over last year.

Jason Kamras, who oversees the bonus program, says there were a variety of reasons for the hike. "We have a track record of paying these things and that's something DCPS has struggled with in the past," Kamras says. "And I think, second, people are recognizing that the strings that were attached were not too limiting.
Read more about it here: Teacher Bonuses.

Michelle Rhee Responds To President's Call For School Aid [Or, Let Me Lie Some More About LIFO]

StudentsFirst Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee issued the following statement subsequent to President Obama's announcement Thursday of additional resources for the nation's public schools:

With our nation's education system failing far too many students, it is good news to hear that additional resources are being dedicated to our schools. The best jobs plan is to reform our broken school system, and we are glad to see that recognized in the President's approach. We hope those funds will be allocated and spent wisely, where they are most needed.

Given what's at stake, we cannot afford to waste any dollars on policies that don't work. We at StudentsFirst believe that no matter where a student comes from, he or she deserves the opportunity to have a high-quality education.

Crumbling and inadequate school facilities are a reality for far too many of our students, and represent an unacceptable injustice.

The president has also proposed funds to help avert teacher layoffs in districts across the country. Layoffs are never desirable, and layoffs in districts based solely on seniority - with no regard for the effectiveness of a teacher in contributing to student learning - are even worse.

We welcome these efforts to provide relief as states all across the country work to reform their education systems so that they focus on what is best for students.

Sep 12, 2011

Steve Brill Discusses His New Book With StudentsFirst [Because Nobody Else Cares About Brill's Book]

Steven Brill is the author of "Class Warfare," a critical examination of the state of education reform today. Brill has written feature articles for The New Yorker, where he wrote about the practice of housing teachers in "Rubber Rooms," The New York Times Magazine, and TIME, and has been a columnist for Newsweek and Esquire. He teaches journalism at Yale and founded the Yale Journalism Initiative, which recruits and trains journalists. Brill founded and ran The American Lawyer magazine, Court TV, and Brill's Content magazine. He is the author of "After: How America Confronted The September 12 Era," and "The Teamsters." Brill is the CEO of Press+, which has created a new business model for journalism to flourish online. He is married with three children and lives in New York. The website for his new book is at:"Class Warfare".

Why did you decide to write this book, "Class Warfare?"

I stumbled into the issue of education reform when I wrote a story about the so-called "Rubber Rooms" in New York, where teachers who had been accused of gross incompetence or worse earned full salaries to sit in rooms and literally do nothing while their cases took years to be decided. As I learned more about the system, I was blown away by the story of this massive workplace - America's public schoolrooms - where, unlike pretty much any other workplace in the world, there was no accounting for performance.

Along the way, I learned that there was a battle going on about these issues and how we reform our schools. And I realized that nobody outside the education community really understood this battle, or even realized that it was happening. This issue, education, is crucial to our national security, economic vitality, and future as a country. I think people everywhere should know and care about this story, and I wanted to introduce it to them.

Have you been surprised by the reaction to this book?

I've been surprised both happily and unhappily. I've been happily surprised by the mail I've gotten from parents and teachers who have thanked me for trying to explain to civilians what this is all about.

I've been disappointed by how many book reviews I've read which start with something like "I have not read this book and I don't intend to, but here's what I have heard it says." It's disappointing that people are criticizing the book without having read it.

Some critics have said that since you’re not a teacher, you can't comment on education policy. What's your take on that?

That's absurd. That's like saying only lawyers should shape the laws. Why shouldn't parents, citizens and elected officials also have a voice in such a critical issue that impacts all of us? Every American has a stake in the performance of our education system. We shouldn't be limiting the debate just to the voices that have steered the system to where it is today.

Are you 'anti-teacher,' as some critics of the book have suggested?

Some people turn any commentary about the union into an attack on teachers. In my experience, that's not the case at all. One of the things that I've learned is that there is a big difference between certain union leaders, and most teachers. You see this in the low turnout rate in elections for union leadership.

This book is a testament to great teachers and their role in shaping our future. Unfortunately, high-performing teachers are burning out because these contracts are bad for them. They end up having to work in this terrible system, under these onerous contract rules, and it's exhausting.

What do you think is the element of your story that people who haven't read the book would find most surprising?

I think people will be surprised to learn about all of the politics that surrounds how we educate our kids, and how those political interests so often actually hinder our ability to provide a great education. There are a lot of stories about this in the book, highlighting both the successes that some reformers have had, and the challenges they face. This is a report from the front lines.

Whether it was how the issues surrounding Michael Bloomberg's mayoral campaigns limited Joel Klein's ability to negotiate with the teacher union in New York, or how the reforms implemented in Washington D.C. came back to impact Adrian Fenty's re-election campaign, the degree to which these issues are dragged into todays political battles is pretty astounding. And it has a really direct impact on, say, whether people can open new charter schools and get the charter school limit raised in New York, or extend the school day, or cut central administration spending so that we can spend more on classrooms.

Some have said that the last chapter of your book has a different message than the rest of it. Did you change your mind along the way because one of your teacher heroines resigned due to burnout?

No. I started writing my first chapter well after I'd gathered all of my evidence, and long after I knew that Jessica Reid would be resigning from Harlem Success academy. I wrote the book in the way that I did so that readers would be able to learn all of the personalities and history involved and learn as I did while doing the reporting. Good journalists take readers on a journey. The issue that I saw on my journey is that you have to overhaul the whole system to encourage and support great teachers. The ambitious and talented people whom we need as teachers also need to have a career track so they can thrive - through promotions and other forms of recognition when they are successful, and we need to be able to scale that up to provide more and more kids a great education. And that obviously involves having teachers and their unions in that discussion, which is where my book ends[.]

How should people react to this book?

This is not just about dry policy issues and acronyms. This is a book written for "civilians." I hope that people already deeply involved in this issue will get their friends and relatives to read this book so that more people will understand what's being talked about regarding education reform, because it's such an important debate that it shouldn't be left just to those in the education community. This is the national security issue, economic security issue and civil rights issue of our time.

Sep 10, 2011

Good News For Parent Empowerment From CA And OH [Or, Look How We Helped Manipulate The Ignorati!]

In a previous blog post, Olivia Demas, mother of three, wrote about the attacks that were occurring across the country against parents who were advocating for a better education for their kids.

Parents in Compton, Calif. had petitioned for their failing neighborhood school to convert to a charter school under the state's Parent Trigger Law. Both parents and their children were being intimidated in an effort to get them to remove their signatures.

An Ohio mother, fearing for her kids' safety in her dysfunctional neighborhood school, had used her father's address to enroll her students in a different nearby school district. Her penalty for using this last resort to have access to a decent school -- 9 days in jail and a felony on her record.

A leading school reform blogger writes about the turn of events for these cases.
California Parents Celebrate Two Historic Victories!
LOS ANGELES – Today, parents across California -- from Compton to Sacramento -- are celebrating two historic victories. Parents in Compton celebrated the opening of two new high quality charter schools that were the direct result of the historic first Parent Trigger campaign at McKinley Elementary, and parents across California celebrated the unanimous, final passage of the Parent Trigger implementing regulations at the State Board of Education.
"A year ago or even six months ago, we could have never imagined that we would be celebrating such a momentous day," said Ben Austin, Executive Director of Parent Revolution. "Just one year ago, parents at McKinley Elementary had no voice in their children's educational destiny and were forced to send their children to schools where children are 50 times more likely to drop out of high school than go to college. Now parents across Compton are breaking the cycle and sending their children to one of the two new Celerity campuses, including one only two blocks from McKinley Elementary." Read More
Ohio Mom Who Sparked Viral Petition Campaign Granted Clemency by Governor John Kasich
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Gov. John Kasich today reduced the charges against Kelley Williams-Bolar, a single African-American mother jailed and convicted of a felony earlier this year for enrolling her children in a school district in which she did not live. 

The news comes after more than 184,000 members emailed Kasich's office in support of Williams-Bolar since January of this year, when her conviction sparked a viral campaign on created by Massachusetts resident Caitlin Lord. Read More

Sep 5, 2011

Thank You Teachers [Or, I'm Like Your Abusive Husband, Bashing You While Proclaiming My Love]

While we are all enjoying the long weekend, the picnics and the barbecues that mean Labor Day to most, we at StudentsFirst also wanted to take a moment to thank our nation's teachers who do the work of educating our children every day.

Their job is extraordinarily hard, often carried out in difficult circumstances, but so often done with great dedication.

They are owed not only a debt of gratitude but also deserve to be treated like the professionals they are.

To all the teachers out there, working hard every day to provide all of our kids the great education they need and deserve, thank you from all of us at StudentsFirst.