This Week in Education Organizing - December 8, 2017

#WeChoose National Conversation – December 12

The #WeChoose Campaign is hosting a national “critical conversation” on Tuesday, December 12th, in Washington, D.C.  The event follows over 30 local “conversations” around the country, that have raised a demand for equity, and an end to privatization in public education.

The event is being moderated by Melissa Harris-Perry, who will be joined by Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP, Judith Browne-Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project, and Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance.  The event will also feature presenters and an in-depth discussion on the state of public education, the impact that Education Secretary DeVos is having around school privatization, zero tolerance discipline policies, the declining number of teachers of color and community schools.

Tuesday’s event will be held at the Thurgood Marshall Trust Center from 10-12 noon and will be LiveStreamed on the Journey for Justice Facebook page, and replayed at 6:00pm eastern time that evening.

Vouchers Coming to Pennsylvania?  Find Out More

Instead of working to fix Pennsylvania’s public school funding crisis, many PA lawmakers are instead trying to advance the agenda of Betsy DeVos and the school privatization lobby, through a proposal for education savings accounts (ESA).  Senate Bill 2 may be debated soon in the state Senate Education Committee, according to Ed Voters.

Pennsylvania currently has an “opportunity scholarship tax credit program,” which allows corporations a tax credit for contributions to non-profit organizations that in turn provide vouchers for qualifying children.  SB 2 would create a new and costly government entitlement program that removes taxpayer dollars from public schools and gives this money to families to spend on private/religious school tuition, college savings, tutors, supplies, and other educational expenses.

Ed Voters and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is hosting an informational webinar about education savings accounts on Thursday, December 14th at 7:00pm eastern time.  Registration for the event can be found here.   

During the webinar you will learn how ESAs:

  • Enshrine discrimination against students into law,
  • Will impact school districts that never have had a low-performing school,
  • Drain funding from public schools in order to subsidize the private education of wealthy families,
  • Provide limited fiscal and academic oversight and are ripe for waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars,
  • Force students with disabilities to give up rights and protections guaranteed to public school students under federal law, and much more.

Click HERE for a link you can share on Facebook to invite others to join this webinar.

What Did You Learn in (Your Voucher) School Today?

Today in the U.S. fourteen states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs, and seventeen have tax credit programs (sometimes called “vouchers lite”) that offer corporations and wealthy individuals tax breaks for contributions to a voucher fund.  A majority of schools across the country that accept voucher students are religious schools—many run by evangelical Christian churches.  This week, the Huffington Post released the results of a study they conducted of 8,000 schools that offer private school choice.  They researched the religious affiliations of each school, and looked at the most common curriculum providers.  It’s a pretty amazing report.  Check it out.  Who knew that slaves were “immigrants,” that Nelson Mandela was a Marxist?  Well, it turns out that thousands of students are learning lessons like these in school.  The HuffPost article also tracks two students who are coping with lifelong trauma after a childhood of hearing such lessons.

Campaigns to Reduce Testing are Winning!  Why?

FairTest has released a new report: Testing Reform Victories Surge in 2017: What’s Behind the Winning Strategies?  The report is based on interviews across the country where efforts to roll back the “drill and kill” movement have succeeded.  The report found that “widespread public awareness of the damage caused by the overuse and misuse of standardized testing, coupled with effective grass-roots organizing by parents, teachers, students and their allies, is increasingly producing positive changes in state and district testing practices.”  It goes on to document the types of victories that have been seen across the country, and some of the successful strategies used.  The Washington Post ran a commentary about the report, if you want the highlights.


Backpack Full of Cash Screenings:

Indianapolis:  December 9th at 8:30am at the Purpose of Life Ministries, 3705 Kessler Blvd. North Drive.

Camden, NJ: January 30th, 2018.  Location and time TBD

Pittsburgh, PA: January 31st.  Location and time TBD

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