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Send a Message to Sec. Of Education Arne Duncan!

November 16, 2011
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EXPAND OPTIONS FOR SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT!

Ed Advocates Demand U.S. Take Steps to Ensure that All Students are Prepared for College and Jobs, Launch Web Campaign as Part of Nationwide Push

New York parents and community leaders joined with other public education advocacy movements from around the country today to push for greater federal school improvement options in order to rescue American schools and students in crisis.  The advocates rallied and launched a Web campaign, calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to expand his School Improvement Grants (SIG) program by including an option that is both more rigorous and research-based than the current one-size-fits-all approach.  They also demanded that parents and community leaders be included in the school improvement process.

The push – sponsored locally by the Alliance for Quality Education and New York Coalition for Educational Justice – is being coordinated by the national organization Communities for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS*).  Today’s participants included parents with children in local public schools who traveled to Washington, D.C. last month for a meeting at the White House to express their views.

The organization proposes what it calls a “Sustainable Success Model”—a strategy for improving public schools more likely to produce durable results than the failed No Child Left Behind program.  To promote their agenda, NY participants and others around the country organized the day of action to garner thousands of online messages in support of the model through the CEPS Facebook page and by tweeting @edgov using the hash-tag #CEPS_NY.

The Sustainable Success Model includes the following key components:

  • A well-rounded curriculum that goes beyond teaching-to-tests to include the arts, literature, the sciences, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, economics and physical education as well as challenging and culturally relevant experiences.
  • Parent-community involvement—including a meaningful role in the decision-making process.
  • Strong leadership from school principals.
  • Qualified and effective teachers who receive regular and thoughtful evaluations that are linked to professional development and support.
  • A full range of support services to help students overcome impediments to learning.

While the group credited Secretary Duncan and the Obama Administration for backing education with significant resources, its members believe that more dramatic action is needed.  Supporters of the new model cited the failed policies of the past 12 years – many of which were promoted by, and are now infamously exemplified by the Bloomberg Administration – including largely punitive school closings, high-stakes testing with falsified results, and billions of dollars wasted on programs that are largely not preparing students for college and careers.

*Communities for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), a coalition of 35 community-based organizations in low-income communities of color across the country, believes that many districts and low-performing schools would benefit from a more demanding and comprehensive option for school reform that creates the structures and accountability mechanisms needed to close the achievement gap.

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