Photo by Graham Ballantyne
Policy Advances that Move the Goalpost for Advocates
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 IN 2017.
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, moved the goal line for other states, or had other national implications for advancing the work of reform.
Game Changer of the Year Top Nominees
- A for Arizona & Foundation for Excellence in Education: Results-based Funding
- Advance Illinois, Stand for Children Illinois, Educators for Excellence Chicago, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, One Chance Illinois, Foundation for Excellence in Education and many others: Funding Formula Reform, Charter School Funding, and a New Tax-credit Scholarship Program
- Colorado Succeeds, Democrats for Education Reform Colorado, ReadyCO, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Stand for Children Colorado, Colorado League of Charter Schools, & Colorado Charter School Institute: First State to Equalize Local Funding for Public Charter School Students
- Foundation for Florida’s Future: HB 7069, Comprehensive Education Reform Legislation
- EdVoice: California Legislative Landscape
A for Arizona & Foundation for Excellence in Education
Beginning in FY18, $37.6 million of ongoing funds in Arizona will go towards Results-Based Funding. Under Results-Based Funding, high-performing schools get a funding boost, with an emphasis on those excellent performers with more than 60 percent of their students on Free or Reduced-price Lunch (FRL). Dollars are to go toward sustaining and growing access to these high-quality school models, including reducing wait lists, mentoring other school leaders trying to improve their low- performing schools, and toward expanding the model into a new school site. Schools serving less than 60 percent FRL receiving $225 additional dollars per student and $400 per student for schools serving greater than 60% FRL. This is a significant shift in focus in Arizona towards expanding excellence instead of funding failure.
Many believe that fixing broken schools is the fastest way to get more kids into quality schools. But billions of dollars later, school improvement has had mixed results. Truth is, some of Arizona’s highest performers are the lowest funded while many failing schools already have more per pupil. Great schools want to serve more students. We should create the policy conditions for them to do so.
Public policy ignores the highest-performing schools—particularly those closing the achievement gap. Connecting excellence to funding to serve more kids is a first-of-its-kind policy. In Arizona, we have data to show it accelerates access to quality options and moves students out of low- performing schools.
High-performing schools stand ready, willing, and able to serve more students. Lack of attention to this in public policy is a significant gap nationally. States need a focused agenda on those already closing the achievement gap.
Advance Illinois, Stand for Children Illinois, Educators for Excellence Chicago, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, One Chance Illinois, Foundation for Excellence in Education and many others
Funding Formula Reform, Charter School Funding, and a New Tax-credit Scholarship Program
The recent education legislation passed in Illinois is nothing short of historic: newly passed legislation overhauls the most regressive funding formula in the nation. The legislation also improves equity for charter school funding and creates the largest tax credit scholarship program at inception. After years of advocacy efforts around the funding formula and some pragmatic compromise this summer, both parties in the Illinois legislature and the Governor’s office came to an agreement on fixing the funding formula to make sure schools would be able to open. The resulting compromise was forged through a bi-partisan commitment to Illinois students and offered prized policy wins. Network Members Advance Illinois, Stand for Children Illinois, and Educators for Excellence Chicago (along with many others, including Teach Plus Illinois and Illinois for Educational Equity) worked with legislators on the funding formula piece. One Chance Illinois and the Foundation for Excellence in Education worked key stakeholders on the tax-credit scholarship program and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools led the effort to ensure charter funding equity was included in the final proposal. Quite the hat trick by these groups that took the long-view! This should inspire reform in other states nationwide.
Colorado Succeeds, DFER CO, ReadyCO, CO Children’s Campaign, Stand for Children Colorado, CO League of Charter Schools, Colorado Charter School Institute
First State to Equalize Local Funding for Public Charter School Students
A robust state advocacy campaign made Colorado the first state in the nation to ensure public charter school students receive equitable access to all existing and future locally-raised tax revenue. This was truly a historic policy victory for Colorado’s 115,000 charter school students who have been told for far too long that they are worth less than their peers simply because of the type of school they attend. The campaign was relentless, bringing to bear powerful political influence on both sides of the aisle, mobilizing charter parents, driving statewide media attention, and activating top business leaders to pass a bill few thought had a chance of success. In addition to the financial victory for charter students, the bill enshrines a principle in Colorado law that every student, regardless of where they attend school, deserves equitable access to educational resources.
Foundation for Florida’s Future
HB 7069, Comprehensive Education Reform Legislation
The Foundation for Florida’s Future coordinated an extensive communications and grassroots advocacy effort with several in-state partners and parents to ensure HB 7069 was signed by Governor Rick Scott. The comprehensive legislation provides educational options for students by removing outdated barriers for part-time virtual education students, recruiting charter management organizations with proven track records of success in serving disadvantaged students, expanding scholarships for special needs students, an array of teacher bonuses, making parent and student friendly changes to state assessment policies, and much more. During the pivotal days of the outreach, more than 23,000 calls, emails, letters, and petition signatures were sent to Florida’s Governor in support of the legislation. Partners included: Step-Up for Students; Florida Alliance of Charter Schools; Florida Virtual School; Florida Catholic Conference; Home Education Foundation; Florida Coalition of School Board Members; Americans for Prosperity; The Libre Initiative; Council for Educational Change; and Florida Council of 100.
California Legislative Landscape
California legislative elections are big, expensive and complicated. A State Senate district has more residents than a congressional. Seven-figure spending is more the rule than exception in a competitive race. But the outcomes matter for kids. Legislators determine how much of the state’s $180 billion budget goes to public schools, along with shaping policy in the state’s 8,000 page education code. And for years, defenders of the status quo have dominated legislative races. EdVoice engaged with allies, such as CCSAA and Govern for California, and PIE network thought partners to change this in 2016. Together, the group executed the largest legislative election effort in California history and elected the education reform candidates in 16 of 17 races. This progress has helped build a solid defense against the perennial legislative attacks on charter schools, at a key moment, and created policy openings on topics like time to tenure, something unthinkable in the state just two years ago.