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Persistent Inequities in College Completion Rates

(Download the PDF for a closer view here.)

Created by DFER's Communications Coordinator and Web Editor, Stephanie Doctrow

From DFER's Blog Series: Infographic Tuesdays

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Democrats for Education Reform Endorses Polis-Udall-Bennet “Growth to Excellence Act”

College and Career Readiness, Closing Achievement Gaps Would Be Key Priorities of Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the “Growth to Excellence Act” today in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, respectively. The bill would make critical improvements to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by pushing states to set ambitious, but attainable goals to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps. Any bill worthy of support from education advocates must have these essential components.

The Growth to Excellence Act represents a strong step towards fulfilling aspirations to provide each student in America with an excellent education by bringing growth in student learning to the forefront. This bill would empower states to set accountability goals within broad parameters that take into account student proficiency and growth, as well as enable states to utilize adaptive assessments that more accurately measure a student’s capabilities.

Additionally, the Growth to Excellence Act would:

  • Require states to set rigorous college- and career-ready standards;
  • Empower states to set goals for student achievement based on test score growth and high school graduation rates;
  • Ensure that states develop interventions for schools that do not make progress in raising student achievement;
  • Continue to hold states accountable by ensuring that they set academic performance targets for minority and low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities;
  • Provide recognition for top performing schools and districts while encouraging the replication of their best practices; and
  • Permit states to employ adaptive assessments that more accurately reflect student progress over time.

Democrats for Education Reform is grateful for the leadership demonstrated by Congressman Polis and Senators Udall and Bennet. We see the Growth to Excellence Act as an essential component of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Coalition Releases Letter Asking Administration to Hold Teacher Preparation Programs Accountable

Today a coalition of over 30 education reform organizations sent the attached letter urging the Obama Administration to proceed with regulations to hold teacher preparation programs accountable.

Each year, some 200,000 schools of education graduates and alternative route participants are newly placed in American classrooms. Too often, they themselves and their employers discover that they are ill-prepared to teach and as a consequence the children in their classes do not have the opportunity to learn to their utmost potential. Students from historically disadvantaged groups, who year after year are taught by the least effective teachers, are by far the most frequent victims - often with life-changing consequences - of the deficiencies in our teacher preparation and placement system.

Please read the full letter here.

List of signees include:

A+ Denver
Achievement First
Advance Illinois
Association of American Educators
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Chiefs for Change
Communities for Teaching Excellence
Council of Great City Schools
Democracy Builders
Democracy Prep Public Schools
Democrats for Education Reform
Education Reform Now
The Education Sector
The Education Trust
Educators 4 Excellence
Eli Broad
Foundation for Excellence in Education
Kevin Carey, Director of Education Policy Program,
      New America Foundation
The Mind Trust
NCLR (National Council of La Raza)
National Council on Teacher Quality
NewSchools Venture Fund
New York City Charter School Center
Relay Graduate School of Education
Step Up for Students
Students for Education Reform
Success Charter Network
Teach for America
Uncommon Schools

DFER CA joins coalition to oppose a toothless teacher evaluation system

DFER CA joined with coalition of nine education reform organizations to cosign a letter opposing the passing of AB 5 - a bill that would implement a toothless teacher evaluation system by effectively eliminating state requirements to use student standardized test scores to measure an instructor's effectiveness.

(UPDATE: On Thursday, August 16th the Senate Appropriations Committee approved AB 5. The bill also now imposes a new requirement that all aspects of teacher evaluation systems be collectively bargained, thereby changing the current law that allows school districts to design their own performance evaluations.)

Please read the attached letter here to understand more fully what is at stake.

The list of signees include:

Alliance for A Better Community
Democrats for Education Reform CA
The Education Trust-West
Educators 4 Excellence
Families In Schools
Great Oakland Public Schools
Reading And Beyond

DFER NJ Applauds Governor Chris Christie’s Signing of TEACHNJ

Democrats for Education Reform New Jersey Applauds
Governor Chris Christie’s Signing of TEACHNJ

Signing of TEACHNJ Act a Historic Day for New Jersey

Trenton, NJ, August 6, 2012—Democrats for Education Reform New Jersey released the following statement from State Director Kathleen Nugent regarding today’s signing by Governor Chris Christie of the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act.

“Today is a historic day in New Jersey. Following unanimous passage in the Legislature, Governor Chris Christie signed TEACHNJ, a policy that will help ensure all students have an effective teacher leading their classroom — the single most important factor in student educational achievement. TEACHNJ will support the recruitment, development, and retention of the best teachers possible, a critical step for progress on education reform in New Jersey and across the country.

Bill sponsor Senator Teresa Ruiz has led 18 months of research, discussion, and consensus-building to produce a final product that will result in a reformed tenure system of which students, educators, parents, elected officials, and stakeholders statewide can be truly proud. We applaud Senator Ruiz’s tremendous leadership from the first public discussion of tenure reform in her Senate Education Committee in December 2010 to the unanimous passage this past June. We also applaud Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for engaging in this critical issue, and recognize the strong efforts of Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, and Assemblyman Troy Singleton who also drove the process.

Democrats for Education Reform praises three key provisions within TEACHNJ, which will strengthen our schools, support our teachers and put student success above all else:

  • First, TEACHNJ will fundamentally strengthen tenure in New Jersey by tying its acquisition and retention to demonstrated effectiveness in the classroom.
  • Second, TEACHNJ will create significant professional development support for teachers and school leaders in order to ensure resources target individual needs and foster the greatest possible increased student achievement.
  • And third, TEACHNJ will dramatically reduce the time and costs for tenure challenges while ensuring due process and protecting employee rights in a responsible way.

The success of our students and of our state depends on a first-rate system of public education, and TEACHNJ will strengthen New Jersey’s ability to provide the highest quality education possible in all of our classrooms - a historic day indeed.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Votes on FY13 Approps. Bill

In April, a coalition of ed organizations released a letter advocating that the House and Senate fund key reform priorities in its appropriations for FY 2013. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted out its bill yesterday. In looking at the attached table, you will see we made progress in most areas, though funding levels are generally short of our targets. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as the Appropriations process unfolds.

Read our coalition letter from April here.

Read a Breakdown of Requests & Allocations for FY13 Labor, HHS, & Education Bill here.

Democrats for Education Reform Statement on Romney Education Speech

Mitt Romney earns an A for his efforts to present his education plan today in Washington, D.C. but on content he just barely gets a passing grade.

Long on rhetoric and short on specifics, Romney made school choice, including letting parents use public funds to pay for private school tuition, a central part of his speech. He put much less emphasis, however, on making absolutely sure that a child gets a good education wherever he or she happens to go to school.

"The type of schools that get federal funding aren't as important to us as what that federal funding is used for," said DFER Executive Director Joe Williams. "This has, and always should be, about equity and ensuring quality."

Romney seemed to be using the four assurances of Obama's landmark Race to the Top initiative as talking points. Without acknowledging Race to the Top, of course.

Romney also paid lip service to ensuring parents get better information about their children's schools, overlooking twenty years of effort at the federal, state, and local level to do exactly that. He just doesn't seem to want to require that states or school districts take any action based on that data.

"If Romney's policies passed Congress and were signed into law - the odds of which I'd put at about 100:1," said DFER Federal Policy Director Charlie Barone, "families who could afford to kick in tens of thousands of dollars on top of the feds' $3,000 per pupil allocation to send their kids to private school would do fine. The big question is, what's the plan for everyone else?"

Also, don't forget to review our recent policy briefs:
- Mitt Romney: What Kind of President Would Mitt Romney Be on Education? 
- Why Ed Reformers Must Make Sure President Obama is Re-Elected

Ed Reform Coalition Urges Congress to Support Key Programs in FY 2013 Budget & Appropriations Process

On Federal Education Funding:
Serve High-Need Populations, Drive Innovation & Boost Effectiveness

A coalition of education reform organizations released a letter today requesting strong support from Congress for key education reform programs in the FY2013 budget and appropriations process.

The group is requesting the following as a way to raise standards, close achievement gaps, improve instruction, and simulate innovation within our Nation's education system:

    • 2.5% increase in overall education funding;
    • Support for federal efforts to recruit, prepare, reward, and retain effective teachers and leaders;
    • Increased investment in high-quality public charter schools;
    • Removal of restrictions that prevent the implementation of high-quality expanded learning time programs in schools;
    • Investment in and expansion of eligibility for the Race to the Top program;
    • Continued investment in the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund.

By advancing these crucial education programs, we will continue to build on the progress we have made toward ensuring every child - regardless of background or ethnicity - has the ability to earn a high-quality education.

The following groups signed the letter:

Read the full letter here.

Democrats for Education Reform Applauds Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's Determination to Save Public Education

Democrats for Education Reform Applauds Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's Determination to Save Public Education

The following statement was issued today by Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform:

"Cleveland, Ohio Mayor Frank Jackson is absolutely right that bold action is needed today to save public education. In addition to offering greater opportunities for students in his city, Mayor Jackson is making a case to taxpayers that public education is worth saving and that it won't be business-as-usual under his watch. The public has long told us that it is more than willing to support public education when leaders like Mayor Jackson make a convincing case that we are making the kinds of bold changes that are necessary to improve outcomes for students. Without this kind of visionary leadership, public education in Cleveland can be expected to continue to spiral downward with little support from taxpayers."



Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives began debate on its budget proposal for FY 2013, the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1st. The debate resumes on the House floor today.

According to the White House:

• Funding for the U.S. Department of Education would be cut by more than $115 billion over a decade;

• Almost 10 million students would see their Pell Grants fall by more than $1,000 in 2014; and,

• Over the next decade, over one million students would lose support altogether.

Other analyses indicates that:

• Costs to educate more than 1.6 million students with disabilities would be shifted to states and school districts;

• As many as 200,000 students could be eliminated from the Head Start program;

• Upwards of 5 million - one in ten - U.S. students would see services reduced or eliminated because of cuts to the Title I program.

Read more here.


Also, read our state specific reports:













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