Policy Advances that Raise the Bar for Advocates
The Eddies!—annual, advocate-nominated awards—celebrate excellent policymaking and advocacy campaigns across the country.
THE NOMINATIONS HELP TELL THE STORY OF HOW EDUCATION POLICY WAS ADVANCED IN 2018.
Below are the nominations for Game Changer of the Year—a PIE Network member or partner campaign that set a new precedent, offered a leading model, raised the bar for other states, or had other national implications for advancing the work of reform.
Game Changer of the Year Top Nominees
- America Succeeds: Age of Agility
- DelawareCAN: Who Runs Our Schools?
- Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Florida Charter School Alliance: Capital Outlay Funding for Public Charter Schools
- Foundation for Florida’s Future and Step Up for Students and the Florida Coalition of School Board Members: Tax Credit Scholarships for Students Who Are Victims of Bullying
- Tennessee Charter School Center, Low-Income Investment Fund: More Equitable Funding and Finance Opportunities Coming for Tennessee Charter Schools
- Tennessee SCORE: Preserving Tennessee’s Student-Centered Education Reforms
Age of Agility
Last fall, America Succeeds released The Age of Agility report, highlighting staggering statistics, anecdotes from the field, and models for optimism, while calling into question whether our education system is agile enough to respond to the challenges ahead due to the rise in automation and artificial intelligence. Its bottom line is straightforward: if students and workers must be agile and adaptable to succeed in this new world, then the same holds true for the education systems that prepare them.
America Succeeds then leveraged its unique role as the only national network of business-led education advocacy organizations to host a series of summits across the country designed to spur conversation and crowdsource ideas for policy solutions. These twelve events, in cities across the country, have included business and education leaders, policymakers, and gubernatorial candidates, urging them to develop actionable solutions to develop agile education systems. PIE Network partners include A for Arizona, NewMexicoKidsCAN, TennesseeCAN, Tennessee SCORE, Aligned (Kansas & Missouri), Empower Illinois, Oklahoma Achieves, Idaho Business for Education, Arkansas Learns, JerseyCAN and others.
The Age of Agility tour provided the opportunity for communities—business leaders, education experts, and policymakers—across many states to confront the skills gap and to identify both the barriers to and the policy agenda to support creating a more agile education system, including more nimble workforce pathways, an expanded focus on lifelong learning, and a more effective accountability system. Not only did the Age of Agility report mobilize organizations to take action, the tour provided the opportunity for many partner organizations to bring more community members to the table.
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.
Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Florida Charter School Alliance
Capital Outlay Funding for Public Charter Schools
This year, Florida lawmakers directed more than $145.2 million in capital outlay funding for Florida’s public charter schools, which serve more than 295,000 students. This increase is the largest amount of capital outlay funding for public charter schools in the state’s history and represents a $95.2 million increase over the prior year’s funding. On average, public charter schools in Florida outperform district-run public schools in several academic comparisons. Yet they have been woefully underfunded compared to traditional public schools’ capital outlay—until now. Lawmakers crafted this change to create a per pupil minimum for charter capital outlay, and even created an incentive for school districts to lobby in favor of this funding for charters. Along with an increase in capital outlay funding, legislators also strengthened autonomy for public charter schools.
Foundation for Florida’s Future and Step Up for Students and the Florida Coalition of School Board Members
Tax Credit Scholarships for Students who are Victims of Bullying
In one school year, more than 47,000 of Florida’s public school students reported being battered, bullied, harassed, assaulted, or attacked. The Sunshine State has laws in place to address the perpetrator of bullying behavior in public schools. However, victims of bullying had few, if any, options to choose a safer school setting. In 2018, Florida leaders passed House Bill 7055, which established a program that allows parents of public school students subjected to bullying, harassment, or other behaviors to transfer their student to another public school or receive a scholarship to attend a participating private school. This scholarship program is the first of its kind in the nation, and is already garnering consideration in at least a half dozen other states. It’s estimated that scholarships will be available for more than 6,600 students in the program’s first year.
Tennessee Charter School Center and Low-Income Investment Fund
More Equitable Funding and Finance Opportunities Coming for Tennessee Charter Schools
Although the Tennessee charter market is rapidly growing (having ranked #3 in the country for the 2016 school year in terms of growth) it is less mature in terms of number and track record of school operators, development capacity, and capital availability. While the industry has reliable indicators of success for the mature players, underwriting a new operator with limited performance data and no renewal track record requires significant diligence, which is not feasible for institutional players.
As a result, the Tennessee Charter School Center (TCSC) and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), joined forces to launch a $50 million Tennessee Charter Facilities Program. Together, these organizations requested and were awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program (CEP). Funds will allow TCSC and LIIF to deliver a statewide program custom-built for Tennessee, designed to create additional financing options for Tennessee charter operators by offering products with below market interest rates and highly flexible terms that are designed to address the identified market-specific challenges. As proposed, award funds will be used to increase high-quality educational opportunities for low-income students in underperforming school districts across the state of Tennessee. They will leverage the CEP grant at least 6.25:1 with private capital over five years, financing 20 schools and serving more than 7,500 students.
Complementing financing activities, TCSC will work on the ground with schools, delivering a robust program that is custom-designed to guide Tennessee-based charter schools in every step of the facility development and expansion process. This partnership offers a highly efficient “one-stop shop” that addresses not only the capital needs of Tennessee’s charter schools but the capacity building required to ensure charter school operators realize their growth plans and facility projects are executed to success.
Preserving Tennessee’s Student-Centered Education Reforms
To ensure Tennessee’s next governor continues the student-centered work of the previous two administrations, SCORE developed a comprehensive, multifaceted gubernatorial engagement campaign to encourage all candidates for governor to support education reforms. Twelve months before the general election, SCORE collaboratively identified five education priorities in a vision report titled “Excellence For All.” SCORE then conducted individual policy briefings, engaged candidates with educators, coordinated partner organization candidate engagements, and shared data on student-focused policy issues from SCORE’s polls of likely primary voters. With 40 supporting partners, including TennesseeCAN and the Tennessee Charter School Center, SCORE organized the 2018 Gubernatorial Forum on Education—Tennessee’s first televised, multi-candidate, bipartisan event and the only one focused exclusively on education.
SCORE’s game-changing effort to engage all top candidates ensured that Tennessee’s next governor is prepared to continue student-centered policies. SCORE’s gubernatorial engagement work was the first of its kind and sets a model for future gubernatorial transitions nationwide.
Winners in each category will be announced at the PIE Network Summit on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 4.