2019 Ensemble Casts Advancing Policy
August 13, 2019

Recognizing Coalitions Across the Country

As the reform movement grows, there’s often more than one organization in most states advancing reform in their state capitol. (Visit our member map to see who’s working where.) That’s a positive trend: the line at the microphone lobbying against the status quo is even longer.

Because that’s true, most advocates find themselves working in coalitions, or in partnership with other organizations, to advance shared goals.

The Eddies!—annual, advocate-nominated awards—celebrate excellent policymaking and advocacy campaigns across the country, and in this case exemplar coalition building.

THE NOMINATIONS HELP TELL THE STORY OF HOW EDUCATION POLICY WAS ADVANCED THIS YEAR.

Below are the nominations for Best Ensemble Cast—a coalition artfully organized to respond to particular opportunities or challenges in their states that contributed to a policy win and is worthy of replication. Click on a specific nomination to see more. 

See a complete list of nominees and finalists in all categories here. Network members and partners can click here to cast their votes in each category.

Best Ensemble Cast Top Finalists

Additional Nominees

Full Day K: DFER Colorado, Colorado Succeeds, Stand for Children Colorado, Teach Plus Colorado, Colorado League of Charter Schools

Full-Day Kindergarten

When Colorado passed full-day kindergarten this year, many observers remarked that it was bound to pass because it was the new governor’s signature education initiative. The reality is it was far from a sure thing, particularly with a hefty price tag and a number of competing initiatives being championed by the new Democratic leadership in the legislature. PIE Network members DFER Colorado, Colorado Succeeds, Stand for Children Colorado, Teach Plus Colorado, and Colorado League of Charter Schools provided both the air cover and the ground game needed to push the bill from the starting line over the finish line. Their steadfast commitment as a coalition is the reason Colorado families can now count on kindergarten as an option in their district.

GeorgiaCAN and Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd)

Career-Focused Computer Science Coursework

If the jobs of tomorrow increasingly require skills rooted in technology and computer science, how well are we preparing students today? For far too many students in Georgia, the answer is: not well enough. In fact, a majority of Georgia high schools currently do not offer a single computer science course. Without access to these programs, students will miss opportunities and fall further behind peers who are learning these skills early on. So advocates got to work.  

With a broad coalition of partners including GeorgiaCAN, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), Code.org, the College Board, the Georgia Chamber, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the National Math + Science Initiative, Project Lead the Way, and the Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative, advocates set forth to dramatically expand career-focused computer science coursework for all kids. The coalition began regularly meeting with lawmakers to develop, refine and ultimately pass legislation (SB 108). 

The enacted legislation phases in requirements to eventually require all middle and high schools offer high-quality computer science coursework by 2024-25 and includes $750,000 in new state appropriations for CS teacher professional development. With thousands of tech jobs across the state going unfilled, this is a step towards building a workforce ready to fill them while preparing students with the logical thinking skills that are valuable in any profession.

The Colorado Right To Know Coalition: A+ Colorado, Colorado League of Charter Schools, DFER Colorado, Students for Education Reform

Pushing for the Release of More Education Data from the State

In 2018, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) released significantly more education data than was previously available. In May 2019, The Colorado Right To Know Coalition released a Report Card for Education Transparency & Access. The Report Card release was shared by national and local publications.

Recently, CDE has started to invest in tools and resources, with the release of 2 new data visualization tools, that would make the existing available data more accessible and understandable to a broader audience. The coalition has provided feedback on these tools, and is excited to see the Department focus on communicating education data publicly.

The Colorado Right To Know Coalition (RTK) is the largest coalition of its kind, with 21 members across sectors and partisan affiliations, fighting for transparency and access to student achievement information in Colorado. RTK launched in 2018 with public testimony to The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) triggering a release of school-level data which was previously largely suppressed.

In May 2019, RTK released a Report Card for Education Transparency & Access, finding that the state excels at protecting individual student privacy, but falls short in sharing outcomes and academic performance data on different groups of students in ways that promote a culture of learning. The Report Card release was shared by both national and local publications.

Recently, CDE has started to invest in tools that make existing available data more accessible and understandable. These tools are a win for the coalition and community, but there is still work to be done.

The Education Trust–New York and Educators for Excellence-New York: The New York Equity Coalition

Policies that Increase Access for Students of Color to Rigorous Courses

The New York Equity Coalition is a group of civil rights, education, parent, and business organizations committed to fighting for higher achievement and greater opportunities for all students in New York State. The coalition originally came together in 2016 with a shared belief that the Every Student Succeeds Act presents a critical opportunity to improve New York’s education system. The coalition’s diverse, cross-sector membership and collaborative style make it an exemplary model of excellence. This past year much of the coalition’s advocacy focused on ensuring greater access for all students to rigorous coursework that will prepare them for college and careers. One of the 5×25 Commitment recommendations was included in the governor’s state of the state agenda, and the New York State Education Department has taken steps to focus school districts on how they can create more equitable course opportunities for students.

Additional Nominees

K-12 to Jobs Design Committee (Tennessee SCORE)

Expanding Student Success From K To Career

In 2018, SCORE convened 39 education, business, and government leaders to examine postsecondary education and workforce readiness issues in Tennessee and issue recommendations to state leaders. The K-12 to Jobs Design Committee met over the course of six months to identify solutions that would ensure more students successfully transitioned from high school to success in college, technical training, and the workplace. The committee developed a shared vision:  that every Tennessee student should have the opportunity to earn a degree or credential with labor market value that leads to a high-quality job, ensuring economic prosperity and a skilled workforce for the state overall. The committee’s work led to the Future Ready Summit, a daylong event dedicated to building statewide understanding and support for innovations in college and career readiness. More than 350 educators, policymakers, and community and business leaders convened to learn from state and national experts. Takeaways from the day’s learning influenced policy and lawmaking initiatives during the following legislative session. Because of their commitment to workforce readiness, committee members were invited to engage in early stakeholder discussions that are shaping the Tennessee-specific Perkins V plan in spring 2019.

Ohio Excels and Thomas B. Fordham Institute–Ohio

State Adoption of New High School Graduation Requirements

Three years ago, the Ohio State Board and legislature waived higher graduation requirements that were to be in effect for the class of 2018; they did it again for the 2019 and 2020 classes. It marked the first time in 25 years that students could graduate without demonstrating basic academic proficiency. Under a State Board proposal, this would have become the permanent new normal. So Ohio Excels and Fordham-Ohio got to work, building a strange bedfellows coalition including 74 suburban districts, the eight largest urban districts, and the state’s right-leaning think tank, among others. Together advocates crafted a compromise proposal to require students to earn passing marks on two end-of-course exams or meet career-technical or military-readiness targets in order to graduate. The legislature embraced it and Governor DeWine signed it into law. Policymakers expressed awe and appreciation that this unlikely coalition came together and this unique partnership helped cement their success.

The Hunt Institute, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education and the Education Commission of the States

Virginia is for Learners Advisory Committee

The Virginia is for Learners Advisory Committee was made up of 28 bipartisan leaders from across the Commonwealth who represented a diverse range of perspectives—including representatives from the Governor’s Office, the legislature, and the Virginia Board of Education as well as district superintendents, principals, teachers, business, and other constituencies to help incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane develop his policy platform.

The Virginia is for Learners Advisory Committee convened three times to help refine the Department of Education’s priorities, particularly as it relates to: College & Career Pathways, Curriculum & Instruction, Early Childhood, Equity, School Quality Improvement, and Talent Pipeline. The Committee discussed these foundational topics and developed actionable recommendations, which were used to determine Department priorities and gain buy-in from stakeholders.

Committee meetings fostered well-informed discussions as members were presented with foundational knowledge of each topic and discussed policy priorities. The Hunt Institute compiled these discussions into final recommendations and incorporated feedback from Committee members. The final report was presented to the Board of Education to outline Superintendent Lane’s priorities.This process has been replicated in Missouri and can be scaled in all states. 

Virginia is for Learners remains a statewide initiative with cross-agency support and recommendations outlined by the Committee have driven the Department’s work. The Department hosted the Virginia is for ALL Learners Ed Equity Summit this summer. Additionally, the Governor’s Office and the Department of Education launched the Virginia STEM Education Commission.

Learn more about the 2019 finalists in each category.

Winners will be announced at the PIE Network Summit on Thursday, Sept. 26. Network members and partners can click here to submit their votes.


    Ashley Schmidt

    Ashley is PIE Network's Senior Director of Member Engagement & Communications


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