This Week in Education Organizing - Jan. 8, 2016

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Newsletter
  January 8, 2016

Happy New Year and welcome to our first newsletter of 2016! As always, share the latest stories from your city or state with us on Twitter and Facebook. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.

Mark your calendars! On February 17, parents, teachers and students across the country will join The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools for a nationwide "walk-in" for the schools all our children deserve. The walk-ins will take place in 25 cities with early morning rallies or other events outside more than 400 schools before participants walk in to their schools together to present a united front in the fight for stronger public schools. Details about the event are available here along with resources to get your city or school involved. We hope you can join us on Feb. 17!

On December 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. To help organizers understand the challenges and opportunities in the new law, the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools has published a policy brief breaking down ESSA's key components. While the new law isn't all we hoped for, it does eliminate some of the most damaging components of the previous law’s high-states testing and accountability regime and gets rid of the School Improvement Grants program, whose school closures, chartering and reconstitution requirements have destabilized communities of color across the country. Download the policy brief here. Our friends at FairTest also produced a great fact sheet about the new law, which you can read here.

Parent Power School
Participants at the NYC Coalition for Educational
Justice's Parent Power School. Picture via CEJ.

In December, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice hosted a training for more than 75 parents from across New York City to discuss the history of racism in education and what parents can do to fight back. Parent Power School highlighted ways communities have used issues such as culturally relevant curriculum, funding equity, restorative discipline and parent engagement to organize and push for the schools all children deserve.

The winter edition of the AFT's American Educator magazine shines a spotlight on the issue of harsh, discriminatory school discipline policies and the role that teachers can play in demanding and creating positive alternatives that support students. The issue includes a powerful introduction from AFT President Randi Weingarten acknowledging how policies like zero-tolerance create a punitive atmosphere for students and how new practices like restorative justice are producing real change in schools across the country. Read the full issue issue here.

Start your 2016 off with a positive boost by remembering the important victories advocates and organizers won last year in the national fight for community schools. The Coalition for Community Schools has published a great roundup of the top 10 victories from 2015 including opportunities in the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act; new legislation in Ohio, Minnesota, Maine and D.C.; and the #FightforDyett hunger strike in Chicago. Read the list here.


Jan. 9:
Citizens for Public Schools and the Campaign for Less Testing, More Learning will host a meeting focused on their testing opt-out campaign. Email for more information.

Jan. 14: The Boston Education Justice Alliance will hold an emergency town hall to discuss the impact of new citywide initiatives, school closures, and a charter school ballot initiative. Download the flyer here.

Jan. 16: The Boston Student Advisory Council will host a statewide Youth Summit to discuss education policies, share experiences, and to learn how students can help shape school discipline policies. Details here.

Feb. 17:
Join parents, students and teachers in over 25 cities and "walk-in" for the schools all our children deserve! Details here.

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