Dear Friend -
Welcome to the new Forza! It’s a new format for the newsletter I started a year ago this September, intended to personalize the “official” CER Newswire I’d been editing for decades and help you differentiate a bit from all the rest. Find out more about why it’s called Forza in the About section. But after a brief hiatus for the marriage of my youngest daughter and the important launch of the 2022 Yass Prize, there’s a lot to cover.
Where is Bill when you need him? He would have been chock full of guidance and ideas about how best to convey this edition’s crazy array of news impacting children’s education…but he’s not with us anymore. My long-time colleague, friend and conspirator on Forza, former CER Newswire editor,
in Piazza script writer and jack of all communications trades, Bill Saracino passed away suddenly this month. So much more I could say, but will ask you to simply send your best thoughts and prayers for him to the Heavens and his heartbroken family and friends. We are all sure he’s typing away sharing his humorous and punchy commentary with a Higher audience on why educational Blobs must end. RIP, dear friend.
An all-time favorite, this picture represents everything those two words mean. A night at the Nationals’ ballpark a few years ago was one of the many efforts to rally the grassroots and engage parents to fight for their charter school options in the District of Columbia, when the City Council wanted to lock them out from excess and needed facilities, and mess with their autonomy. Parents had little idea that their choices were under siege. This is changing, but we still rely way too much on “professionals” to do the work that parents actually can do best - rally for the chance to create or choose the best opportunity in education that is available, regardless of zip code, wealth, or demographic. There are lots of us writing about this idea, there is more progress on that front (see below), but we’re barely scratching the surface on getting parents educated and engaged. We have 6 weeks until most families will see their kids off for another year of schooling.
Parents and their children should be the focus of your most important work or concern. Which is why when federal regulators work on the teachers union's behalf to undermine state charter school laws, violate charter school freedoms, and in sum, to prevent their growth, people shouldn’t pause until they’ve won.
Our friend Bill would have had a field day with this one:
The Biden Administration’s new rules
for the federal charter school grant program which were designed originally in 1997 to incentivize and promote charter schools will bring their growth to a screeching halt. The rules require, above and beyond state laws, that schools demonstrate - regardless of their success to date in attracting and serving diverse communities - how they outreach to families, how they are serving the needs of communities, how they are addressing special needs populations and much, much more that fill a 135 page document which doubles down on charter micromanagement.
“Applicants must conduct a needs analysis…include a robust family and community engagement plan that, among other things, describes how the charter school’s recruitment, enrollment, and retention processes will engage and accommodate families from various backgrounds. …Applicants must include details about the school’s common enrollment and retention practices … how it will disclose to families and community members policies or requirements (e.g., discipline policies, purchasing and wearing specific uniforms and other fees, or family participation)…that could impact a family’s ability to enroll or remain enrolled…”
The intention here is not to help charter schools. It’s to cost them time, money and union activities that will ensue to twist and turn everything schools put into writing. The new federal rules now supplant state laws, making the strongest weak, and the weakest incapacitated.
If you’re still not sure this is a correct interpretation, take it from the leading mouthpiece of the opposition who celebrates the final regs:
Silver Linings? The more the unions and opponents push even modest charter school efforts into oblivion, the more educational options that include other sectors will emerge. Arizona is the third state in less than a year to dramatically expand education freedom for parents, by passing the most groundbreaking new law in the nation, which now allows 1.1 million public school parents to have an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) worth approximately $7,000 to choose the educational pathway they believe best meets the needs of their children. Lots more to know. Start by reading this great piece by Janine Yass, Yass Prize Founder and CER Director.
To honor the victory, $1 million for Arizona education providers who embody the guiding principles of a Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless education (STOP) will be awarded through the 2022 Yass Prize competition, including 1 grand prize of $500,000.
Are you spreading the news about The Yass Prize yet? Do you know of an education provider who can use these funds to expand education opportunity and innovation? Over $12 million in awards for great education innovators. Hurry. The deadline is July 25!
A Bull Market for Education Opportunity
Read Jeff Yass’ piece in Forbes this week about why programs like Arizona’s can help equalize the economic and educational advantages of every family.
Clouds in the Mountain State
A temporary dark cloud appeared in the Mountain State when a Circuit Judge declared that the West Virginia education choice program was unconstitutional, not because it really is, but because, in her words, she shares the State Education Department’s defense of the public education system. It won't survive, because the Attorney General is already filing a countersuit, but read what this judge thinks is the problem with parental choice.
“..It incentivizes people to leave the public schools, causing a reduction of students which will decrease funding for school teachers and all support staff."
Nothing about education success, judge? Hmmm. Voters sharpen your pencils.
Kudos to the NEA
A huge kudos to the National Education Association (NEA) for its efforts to support school choice. What?! Yes, you heard me. Last week at its annual Representative Assembly, where the most powerful NEA leaders meet, the NEA took great measures to preserve the status quo, double down on social engineering agenda at the expense of education, and remind the public that the NEA ain’t your mama’s teacher association anymore. Our personal favorite this year was the item that proposed swapping ‘mother’ with ‘birthing parent.’ Because that has so much relevance to children learning?
We anticipate more such support from Randi Weingarten and her union, the AFT, this week in Boston. First Lady Jill Biden is headlining.
Before you go… Take this book, Collective Illusions to the beach. It may just help save civilization. Until then, have a great week.