This Week in Education Organizing - September 16, 2016

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Newsletter
  September 16, 2016

Welcome to our September 16th newsletter! 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.

Chicago fights to move money from developers to schools

Education activists in Chicago are fighting for an ordinance that would direct hundreds of millions of dollars in to Chicago Public Schools. The ordinance, which would regulate the city’s Tax Increment Finance or TIF program, could result in a $150 million infusion into the city’s beleaguered public schools.

Almost 40 City Council members signed on in support, but the mayor and his allies are working against the ordinance.  Still, the ordinance is gaining momentum while members of the Chicago Teachers Union and the TIF Ordinance coalition demand that the mayor properly fund the schools. Call Mayor Emanuel and demand that he deliver TIF dollars to schools and a Fair Contract for Teachers at 312.744.5000. Photo courtesy of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.

Save Our Public Schools calls on chairman of the Massachusetts BESE to resign

Venture capitalist Paul Sagan donated $100,000 to a committee working to pass Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot this November.  Question 2 would lift the cap on the number of allowable charter schools in the state.  While Sagan’s hefty donation is just one among many in the closely watched campaign, Sagan’s contribution is a big problem.  Why?  Because Paul Sagan also happens to be the chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education – the state’s charter authorizer and oversight board. Read more about the controversy here.  

Save Our Public Schools, the coalition campaign against Question 2 on the ballot in Massachusetts this year, is calling on the chairman of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to resign. Sign their petition here.   To learn more about the campaign, go to . The website includes an interactive map that allows you to see how much specific school districts in Massachusetts are losing to charter schools. It also includes a “donate” button so you can help the cause!

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in School Funding Lawsuit

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week on a school funding lawuit. The courtroom was packed with parents, advocates, faith leaders, school and elected officials, and community members from across the state. Attorneys from the Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center cited gross inequities in school funding among the state’s school districts, to argue that the state’s current school funding system violates the state Constitution’s requirement that the state legislature “support and maintain” a “thorough and efficient system of public education.” Attorneys for the state argued that the legislature must simply set up a “system” of education, that any system that keeps the doors of schools open is sufficient, and that “no individual child has any specific right to an education at all.”

It is unclear when the Supreme Court will issue a decision in the case. Photo credit: Emma Lee/WHYY

Annenberg Institute for School Reform Provides a “Sustainable Community Schools​ Backpack​ Activity​”

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) has developed a popular education activity to help community groups increase understanding about sustainable community schools as a strategy to achieve the schools all our children deserve. The package includes facilitator instructions, a set of “flash cards,” and the AROS description of the five pillars of sustainable community schools.  It’s available for free, right now! Check it out here.

New Jersey Bans School suspensions and expulsions through second grade

New Jersey has enacted new legislation that prohibits school districts from expelling and suspending students in preschool through second grade.  Several other cities and states, including Philadelphia, New York City, California and Oregon have also taken steps to curb harsh discipline policies for children in preschool and in the early grades.  Read Senate Bill 2081 here.

Walk-Ins – Resistance is Rising

With three weeks to go, over 170 cities in 33 states have signed up to do walk ins and other actions on October 6th as part of AROS’s national day of action! Teachers, parents, students and community members are walking in to show support for the schools our children deserve.

Check your in box on Tuesday, September 20th for a special AROS newsblast with updates from around the country on how these exciting actions are shaping up.