AROS Newsletter - April 17, 2015

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Newsletter
April 17, 2015

We're all about open letters, op-eds and letters to the editor in this week's newsletter, so enjoy! Have you written one recently? Share it with us on Twitter and Facebook!

(P.S. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.)

Wisconsin Webinar
On April 11 the Wisconsin-based Schools & Communities
United hosted a webinar on
reforming ESEA "to build
the schools and communities our children deserve."
Watch the recording here!

This week as the Senate HELP Committee marked up and passed a proposed rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss featured an open letter AROS released with over 100 grassroots community and labor groups. Strauss labels our four demands to Congressional leadership as the "key principles" our legislators must uphold in the rewrite. These include: maintaining Title I funding for schools serving large numbers of poor students, funding for Sustainable Community Schools, a moratorium on funding for charter school expansion, and support for restorative justice programs to end harsh and discriminatory school discipline policies. Read the letter in the Post here.

More on ESEA: ESEA was once a pillar of President Johnson's War on Poverty, but in the decades since it was signed, the law has devolved into a punitive system of test-based accountability that encourages divestment in public schools, particularly those serving students of color and students living in poverty. Jitu Brown of the Journey for Justice Alliance and Judith Browne Dianis of the Advancement Project co-authored a powerful op-ed for Roll Call this week outlining the failures of ESEA and how, with the law currently up for renewal, lawmakers have an historic opportunity to right those wrongs. Read the op-ed here.

Circle up – it's (Satirical) Story Time! Writing in The Austin American-Statesman, Allen Weeks of Austin Voices for Education and Youth boils down the politically charged debate about education reform into a simple story of how public schools came to be and the ongoing struggle to make sure they live up to their founding principles. With a rally at the State Capitol this Saturday, Weeks and allies across Texas hope to spur legislators to write a happy ending to Week's story. Read his op-ed here.

The Opportunity Dashboard

Students are more than a test score, and so are schools! In this video about their new Opportunity Dashboard, the National Education Association lays out how lawmakers can go beyond standardized tests to measure the kinds of opportunities and resources students need to succeed. Metrics like class sizes, attendance rates, access to advanced courses or school counselors provide a better picture of what our schools can provide to support all students. Watch the video here.

In a letter to the editor for the Wall Street Journal, Lori Bezahler of the Hazen Foundation takes NYC charter school advocate Eva Moscowitz to task for her recent op-ed ridiculing restorative justice practices. Schools across the country are adopting restorative justice in lieu of harsh discipline for one simple reason: it works. It keeps more students in school, creates safer, more supportive learning environments, and raises test scores and graduation rates. Read Bezahler's letter here, and check out what discipline reform advocates are saying on Twitter here.


April 20: AROS Northeast Regional Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. Contact Bill Shiebler ( for more details.

May 1-3: Journey For Justice Alliance National Conference in Newark, NJ. Click here for details or contact Maria Fernandez (

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