This Week in Education Organizing - September 14, 2018

Florida Supreme Court throws Ballot Initiative Out

The Florida Supreme Court has thrown out a ballot initiative that would have removed the authority to license and oversee charter schools from local school boards, and place that authority into the hands of the state. The initiative was scheduled to be voted on in November.

The case against the initiative was brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Florida League of Women Voters. Their argument hinged on the ballot language, which didn’t use the words “charter schools,” even though the measure was specifically about them. The measure stated that it “permits the state to operate, control, and supervise public schools not established by the school board."

By a vote of 4-3, the Supreme Court agreed that the wording of the measure was opaque. If the objective is to let the voters know what they're voting on, Justice Jorge Labarga said to deputy solicitor general Daniel Bell, "Why not just come out and say it?"

Florida’s powerful charter industry was stung by the decision, blaming it on “activist judges” and accusing the League and SPLC of not caring for children. Read more about the decision here.  

California Bans For-Profit Charter Schools

In more good news, California’s Governor Brown signed legislation this week that bans for-profit charter management companies from operating in the state. The new law emerged after a lawsuit against virtual charter giant K12 was accused of manipulating student enrollment numbers to increase profits.  

While California’s for-profit charter sector is smaller than those in states like Michigan, Florida and Arizona, the new law signals new scrutiny over profiteering by the charter industry. Learn more here.


The Education Debt

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) released its new report, Confronting the Education Debt: We Owe Billions to Black, Brown and Low-Income Students and their Schools at an event on Wednesday, September 12. The report documents the historic under-funding of public schools in Black, Brown and Low-income communities and charges that politicians knowingly divert critical public dollars away from these schools in order to offer tax breaks to the super-wealthy.The report website includes organizing tools, social media supports, quotes from newsmakers about the report and more. If you haven’t already, check it out.

Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!

A new anthology of writings by education justice warriors was launched this week in Washington, D.C. Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out tells the stories of how black and brown parents, students, educators and others are fighting against systemic inequities and the mistreatment of children of color in low-income communities.

A launch event was held at D.C.’s Busboys and Poets restaurant and included remarks by Mark Warren, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, Jonathan Stith, David Goodman and Tyler Whittenberg. Watch the video of the event here: 


Hijacked by Billionaires: How the Super-Rich Buy Elections to Undermine Public Schools

The Network for Public Education has released an incredible new resource documenting and exploring how billionaire activists are buying local school board elections in order to further the privatization agenda. The report includes an interactive website that profiles 10 of the wealthiest Americans and their activist giving. This is a must-have resource for our movement!   Take a look at Hijacked by Billionaires!      

We Came to Learn: A Call for Police-Free Schools

On Thursday, the Alliance for Education Justice and the Advancement Project released a new report and Action Kit. The materials grew out of both organization’s struggles over the past three years to protect Black youth and young people of color from state violence at the hands of school police.

Rachelle Scott, a 17 year-old member of Power U Center for Social Change in Miami summed it up well: "Instead of seeing police in schools, I rather see more teachers happy because they are getting paid more, more counselors helping with trauma, better buildings since my school doesn't have any windows, better books and technology, restorative justice and better relationships. We don't have any of that. Putting more police officers isn't going to change the main problems in schools, it's going to create more issues. We need a quality education, not handcuffs," she said.

Download and read We Came to Learn here.

The Long View – A Story of the Power of Community

A new feature-length documentary, The Long View provides a close-up look at how community organizing in Oakland helped to advance equity and education justice. By profiling parents, students, educators and administrators, and documenting the process of community organizing and leadership development, the film offers a powerful vision for change. 

The film includes a screening guide which can be downloaded, along with information about showings, here.



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