Advocacy is hard work.
Advocates take tough stands, hold strong in unpopular positions, and fight for issues that—as Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White noted in his keynote address at the PIE Network 2018 Summit—many politicians are running from.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize progress—both to celebrate advances made for kids, but also to help new ideas evolve. As White said in his Summit address, “If we want…more politicians who put all the noise to the side, who invent, who create newness, who expand opportunity in real ways, at great scale, in every corner of every jurisdiction, we have to change something.”
“We have to reinvent. We have to be new.”
The Eddies!—annual, advocate-nominated awards—help tell a collective story of education reform over the past year. For every effort that didn’t quite make the finish line, somewhere else, the broader movement moved the dial for kids. Both the 2018 Eddies! winners and nominees help us celebrate the progress made by the movement—together. You can find the entire slate of Eddies! nominees here.
Game Changer of the Year
Who Runs Our Schools?
Atnre Alleyne and his team with DelawareCAN are continuing to build a reputation as a force to be reckoned with at the state capitol. They brought awareness, accountability, and mobilization to school board elections with a first-of-its-kind campaign called “Who Runs Our Schools?” that they hope can be a model for other allies. They built a statewide, 501(c)(3) voter education campaign directed towards 2018 school board elections that persuaded a high percentage of school board candidates in the state’s largest districts to complete a public survey, built a centralized resource for voters to learn about the positions of school board candidates, and used innovative technology/tools to inform and touch thousands of Delaware voters to raise the profile of school board elections. Their website had more than 20,000 visits in one day at its peak.
Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Educators for Excellence
In a year of change and challenge for the teaching profession, Educators for Excellence’s Evan Stone has been a leading force ensuring that teachers’ perspectives are understood, heard, and acted on. In the run up to and wake of the Janus decision, Evan has offered Network members and the broader public a candid, forward-looking perspective on the future of teachers’ unions. E4E’s teacher survey is a groundbreaking, sometimes convention-defying look at teacher perspectives on issues impacting the profession, from economic security to school safety to accountability and choice.
E4E has also been a leading voice on fair, effective school discipline in local board meetings, statehouses, and Washington. And, under Evan’s leadership, E4E’s state and local chapters have been active, effective members of coalitions alongside Network members and other diverse advocates. In an ed reform community that has, quite frankly, struggled with whether and how to incorporate teacher perspective, Evan is teaching us all a necessary—and inspiring—lesson.
John B. King Jr.
President & CEO, The Education Trust
Throughout his career, but especially during the past few years, there is no advocate who has done more to continue the fight to keep the public’s attention on the need for equity and excellence in our public schools for all students than John B. King Jr. Throughout his career in education, King has been a strong and passionate voice for all students but especially for our most marginalized students. President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” committed to “preparing every child for success.” As a teacher, principal, charter school founder, state commissioner, U.S. Secretary of Education, and now, CEO of The Education Trust, he has consistently emphasized the urgency of closing achievement and opportunity gaps to educators, district leaders, policymakers, and political leaders.
John’s entire life story is an extraordinary testament to the transformative power of education. Both of King’s parents were career New York City public school educators, who passed away from illness by the time he was 12 years old. He credits New York City public school teachers for saving his life by providing him with rich and engaging educational experiences and by giving him hope for the future. His life and career are models for all of us as educators, reformers, and social justice advocates who aspire to the promise of “all means all.”
Best Kept Secret
Aligning School Board Elections with Primary or General Elections
Historically, local school board elections in Arkansas were held the third Tuesday in September, a date that didn’t align with any other local, state or federal elections, and, in fact, benefited incumbent school boards, contracted administrators, district employees, teachers’ unions, and county clerks.
In 2015, Arkansas Learns worked to pass a bill that gave districts the option to hold their school board election either in September or on the same day as the general election. While no districts proactively chose the November option, the state required it for two districts returning from state to local control. In those districts, voter turnout for school board seats set records and served as irrefutable examples of how this legislative change could increase civic engagement.
In 2017, after six years of work, legislation replacing the September option with the primary (currently May) was finally enacted statewide. As a result, school board elections in May 2018 set turnout records across the state, with more to come this November.
In the Pulaski County Special School District, voter turnout increased from an average of 1,163 voters in contested races in its last election to 6,399 voters in its most recent, empowering six of seven student-focused candidates to be elected. That was a 550 percent increase in turnout in a seven-zone district that decreased in size by 25 percent because of the separation of a new district.
Best Ensemble Cast
Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) Coalition, including Teach Plus California and Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles
Realizing the Promise for All: Close the Gap by 2023
Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a broad coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based, and civil rights organizations dedicated to ensuring that all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. Led by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the twelve core organizations include Alliance for a Better Community; CARECEN; Center for Powerful Public Schools; Community Coalition; Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles (PIE member), Families in Schools; InnerCity Struggle; MALDEF; Partnership for Los Angeles Schools; Teach Plus California (PIE member) and Promesa Boyle Heights.
Over four years, CLASS engaged historically-underserved communities in the nation’s second largest school district to understand their priorities for district spending. Using this extensive work as a launching pad, the coalition worked with an array of partners to craft a comprehensive resolution that both identified goals with higher expectations of schools and students, and looked at ways to better equip teachers and administrators to reach those goals. Armed with the resolution, the CLASS coalition then launched a grassroots campaign to put pressure on the LAUSD School Board to adopt it. This resolution, “Realizing the Promise for All: Close the Gap by 2023,” was adopted unanimously by the Board on June 12, 2018.
Close the Gap, in combination with other recent reforms, is helping to bring about a just distribution of resources and differentiated supports to high need students across LAUSD. As the organizations representing teacher voices on this team, Teach Plus and E4E are continuing to work with the CLASS coalition through the implementation of the resolution to foster more productive partnerships between educators, families, students, and the district.
Most Actionable Research
School Finance Reports
EdBuild’s research is the go-to on state school finance and they’re on a mission to help every state advocacy organization tackle the hardest problem in education in the smartest way possible. Who else would you trust for your information and analysis? Just ask PIE members in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. From stories on how districts are re-segregating, to how unfair funding models shortchange the neediest students, to schools and districts abandoned by the state when they need support, EdBuild continuously puts out great resources. They have Alexander Russo wondering where EdBuild came from and how everyone is citing their work all of the sudden. They’re referenced in legal filings and court opinions. Their data visualizations are regarded as among the best in the business.
View the full slate of 2018 Eddies! nominees here.