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Building Strong Public School Systems by Working Together

California Democrats for Education Reform believes that the education of our children is a shared responsibility. As Democrats we need support for parents, teachers, and school leaders by promoting public policy that provides adequate resources, encourages collaboration, and joint accountability for the success of our public schools. 

This statewide effort aims to promote progressive changes in support of strong school systems through political and community organizing. The organization is committed to listening to teachers, parents, and community leaders, in an effort to build consensus around common sense education reform.

Californians have the capacity to make our schools the best in the world. We have bright shining examples of great public schools that can be replicated in communities across the state - and we should scale up those best practices, but we lack the political consensus to make common sense reform a reality.

California Democrats for Education Reform believes that the vast majority of Democrats of all stripes want the same thing, but need to recommit to collaboration and partnership around school reform. To that end, the first phase of our organizing effort has THREE goals:

  1. Travel the state listening to teachers, parents, union leaders, community leaders, business leaders, and our elected leaders.
    • What do Californians think is working in their local schools?
    • What should be replicated in other schools across the state?
    • Where are our local schools coming up short?
    • What should we tell our State leaders about making our schools better?
  2. Assemble and challenge a workgroup of education experts, union leaders, reform leaders, parents, civic and business leaders, community leaders, and legislators to form recommendations for common sense education reforms that fit in 21st century schools.
  3. Build organizing capacity and political support around the need to work together to implement reform that improves our schools and builds solidarity in the Democratic Party around school reform. 

The task ahead is creating the political consensus necessary to implement these reforms and best practices.

California Democrats for Education Reform launched in July of 2014. Steve Barr, Chair of California Democrats for Education Reform, is among the most accomplished school reformers in the country - best known for founding Green Dot Public Schools, one of the nation’s most successful charter school networks, while embracing teacher unionism. Partnering with Steve is Joe Boyd, a former union organizer with over two decades of experience and a talented team of community organizers and teachers.

For more information on upcoming events, visit the California Democrats for Education Reform Facebook page at facebook.com/CaliforniaDFER.

Common-sense school reform in a post-Vergara world: Guest commentary

Press-Telegram, July 28th, 2014

By Christopher J. Steinhauser and Joe Boyd

If you are of a certain age, as we are, you will recall the days when your buddies all wanted to put “headers” on their V-8 Chevy, Dodge, or Ford. The effect was a loud, thumping rumble that turned heads in the school parking lot or at the drive-in theater. Headers didn’t add much performance, but they sure sounded great.

The current school reform debate reminds us of those thumping V-8s. All of the attention is focused on firing or laying off teachers, and tenure, thanks to a recent court ruling in the Vergara v. California lawsuit. This lawsuit isn’t over and the case will be appealed. But are we discussing the policy changes that will improve our schools?

We firmly believe that all students deserve a highly qualified teacher. And revisiting the parameters of teacher tenure could be helpful, as long as we keep things in perspective. The focus on removing ineffective teachers will affect a relatively miniscule number of employees, no matter what system is devised, and these processes are a very small part of what makes for a great school system. And building a great school system in California is where the dialogue around school reform belongs.

Read the full article here.