The 74 and Roland Martin to Host an Education Town Hall on School Choice in Atlanta

The 74 and Roland Martin to Host an Education Town Hall on School Choice in Atlanta

The 74 and award-winning journalist Roland S. Martin will host their second education town hall event in their national tour, “Is School Choice the Black Choice?” on February 22nd, 2019 from 6-8pm at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center on Morehouse College’s campus.

The event will feature a dynamic panel discussion moderated by Martin and comprised of a variety of educators, advocates and opponents of educational reform who will discuss the controversial issue of the school choice movement within the Black community. Among those on the panel:

  • Aretta Baldon, Parent Organizer, Atlanta Thrive
  • Curtis Valentine, Deputy Director, Progressive Policy Institute’s Reinventing America’s School Project
  • Danielle LeSure, CEO, EdConnect
  • Gavin Samms, Founder, Genesis Innovation Academy
  • Jason Allen, Educator & EdPost/EdLanta Blogger
  • Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-74)

Local Partners include Better Outcomes for Our Kids (BOOK), EdConnect, Genesis Innovation Academy, GeorgiaCAN, Georgia Charter School Association, Ivy Preparatory Academy, State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia, Teach for America- Metro Atlanta, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. National partners include: American Federation for Children, EdChoice, ExcelinEd, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, United Negro College Fund, and the Walton Family Foundation

This event series will bring Roland Martin and The 74 to African-American communities in 10 cities across the country over the next two years. In each city, working in close partnership with local education reform, faith and civic groups, Roland Martin and The 74 will host a live event to discuss high-quality school options for black families with an expected ~400 parents and community leaders in attendance.

The goal of each event is to stimulate more genuine, fact-based conversation about the tough education issues impacting communities of color. They will also debunk myths about school choice and empower participants with resources to take the necessary steps to create change within their respective communities. Additionally, each event will be livestreamed to ensure the widest possible reach. Their first joint effort launched in Indianapolis, Indiana in December 2018.

COMMENTARY: Black Students in Youngstown City School District Targeted for Failure by State

COMMENTARY: Black Students in Youngstown City School District Targeted for Failure by State

By The Buckeye Review, NNPA Newswire Contributor

The Ohio State Department of Education published its goals for White students at 86.3 versus 63.4 for Black students, as reported by the Performance Index Subgroup Data. The NAACP Leadership made this presentation to the Roberts Deliberating Club (RDC), which is comprised of Black professionals and business leaders, last month, where data was rolled out that they found to be incredulous.

“If this is true, why is the community not more aware,” said Atty Charles Mickens, an RDC member.

“We are trying to make the community aware of this disparity which is why we are presenting it, said George Freeman, NAACP President. “It took a while to ferret out the details.”

“In March 2018, the State Superintendent didn’t even know that he could require teachers to teach the State standards,” said Freeman.

“When we pointed out to him that he had the power to order the teachers to comply and as of August 2018, there was an official order to do so.”

It took time to dig into the details, but the Ohio Department of Education Superintendent DeMaria has ordered the teachers to adhere to standards for the first-time in history, said Freeman.

That might sound unbelievable, but in retrospect, it is hard to fathom, but thanks to the leadership of the local and state NAACP, there has been intense and focused attention on providing remedies long overlooked.

DeMaria responded to a series of questions posed by the NAACP Education Task Force, one of them being, “Are all Ohio Licensed classroom teachers required to teach the State Criterion Reference Standards?”

His answer in a written response in August 2018 “There is no legal requirement specifically directed to teachers relative to teaching the State’s standards”.

DeMaria followed with the statement “standards are what is tested, one might suggest a strong motivation to teach the standards.”

The response came following months of digging into the data to prove that the fault of the failures falls squarely in the lap of the administration of both the State and the school District.

“If they don’t require it, strong motivation obviously has not had an impact” said Dr. McNair, president of the RDC. The 20 years of published report card failures prove a strong motivation does not make a requirement.”

“We often battle the misperception that poverty is the cause for low performance, but data has proven conclusively that race is a factor not understood or factored in the equation,” said Jimma McWilson, who chairs the State NAACP Task Force on ESSA and Preventing School Takeovers and serves as the Secretary of the local chapter.

Indeed, Steubenville, which mirrors Youngstown with a 100% poverty student population, has targets much higher and performance much higher. The missing link is addressing the race factor specifically, said McWilson.

When the State audit of the District was released it validated this important flaw which is obviously a key to success for students.

“You’ve heard of students graduating with high GPA’s that struggle in college because of the lack of preparation. That preparation weakness is a signal that the grades were not standard, but subjective based on the classroom teacher,” said Freeman.

“We’ve been at this for several years and the consistent clear message is that many educators don’t know the legal ramifications of their positions,” said Freeman.

“The rhetoric around teaching to a test has been bandied about, but the standards are what is required on college entrance exams” said Jerry Sutton, CPA and RDC member.

“Things like this have been happening for years and more people need to be aware of them. We could have kept them (NAACP) here for hours,” said Sutton.

Dr. McNair commended the NAACP leadership for keeping a keen focus on these details.

“We find it unbelievable that the standards have not been required, but rather suggested. And the fact that the State targets are so low for Black students only reinforces the fact, as earlier reported, the failure is not on the parents or poverty or even the teachers. It’s the leadership. If teaching the standards is not required or inspected, it can’t realistically be expected,” said McNair.

“What makes it so unfortunate is the Black community and the children’s future is in peril as a result. It is unconscionable,” said McNair.

“The big challenge is the R word,” said Dr. McNair. “When race is discussed as a problem White people often have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the problem. The data clearly indicates addressing race, and not poverty only, is a leadership, and a strategic planning issue that must be addressed head on.”

The Roberts Deliberating Club meeting was held at Mill Creek Community Center on Glenwood Ave, Youngstown, in December 15, 2018. The following link is to the State report card with the targets for improvement.


Do children all need to succeed the same way?

Do children all need to succeed the same way?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Primas,
Program Manager, NNPA ESSA Public Awareness Campaign

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines standards as, “something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example. For example,” the Egyptians established the 365-day calendar, recording 4236 BC as the first year in recorded history. Around 1100 AD in England, it was determined that the length of King Henry Beauclerc’s foot would be used for the standard measurement of a linear foot.

These standards of time and linear measurement are still widely used and accepted today. During the Civil War, America recognized a need for standardized gauges for the railroads so that parts were easily inter-changeable. Standards continue to remain essential aspects of organization as societies increase in size and complexity. The same concept applies to academic standards in education.

In the mid-twentieth century, educators adopted academic standards. Those standards were designed to ensure that all students progressed at relatively the same pace while acquiring the skills necessary to become contributing members of society.

One example of this is the adoption of a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) by the District of Columbia in the 1980s. CBC consisted of a series of skill sets within a hierarchy. Students were required to demonstrate mastery of the skills at one level before progressing to the next. Teachers were required to teach/test/reteach (if necessary) and then retest. Once students demonstrated mastery, they received a score that reflected such. The score did not entail how many times the teacher had to reteach and retest before the students acquired the intended skillset.

A more recent example of academic standards is the 2009 states-focused effort to create clear, consistent, and competitive learning goals, resulting in the Common Core State Standards. Common Core State Standards were adopted by 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia. The federal government supported the validity of Common Core Standards by providing financial incentives for state adoption.

Proponents of Common Core Standards argue that the standards provide students with the necessary knowledge to succeed in college and career regardless of geographical location. However, many critics have argued against this, emphasizing resulting ambiguity, lack of training, and lowered student expectations as the key points the identify a policy in need of revision. In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, a re-authorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA), offered a resolution.

Under ESSA, states have the option of keeping Common Core State Standards or creating their own state standards. The financial incentive to adopt Common Core by the federal government no longer exists and the option to work with a consortium of states to develop standards is also available to state educational leadership.

Guidelines set by ESSA for state-developed academic standards is a step in the right direction. ESSA allows for states to decide how to best set goals and meet the needs of students. It is obvious from the widespread criticisms of Common Core that uniform education standards have not worked. As states continue to develop academic standards they must keep this in mind, understanding that every child does not learn and/or demonstrate knowledge in the same way.

Unlike widgets, children will never fit perfectly into standardized molds. They learn to walk at different ages. They learn to talk at different ages. And each child has a different set of interests and learning style. Students’ ability to demonstrate mastery in one area over another has a lot to do with their previous knowledge and exposure to out-of-the-classroom experiences.

As a mother to many children, I have observed that some of my children are good in math, while others are musically inclined. A select few demonstrate the ability to make fantastic meals out of simple ingredients, while others have a hard time boiling water. We must understand that every child is capable of achievement at high levels as long as we encourage their strengths. Whatever their gifts and talents, we need them all.

Dr. Elizabeth Primas is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. Dr. Primas is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Dr. Primas on Twitter @elizabethprimas.

VIDEO: RISE 2018 — Luncheon Conversation: Every Student Succeeds Act

VIDEO: RISE 2018 — Luncheon Conversation: Every Student Succeeds Act

RISE is a day-long, bipartisan conference assessing the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: A Nation at Risk. RISE 2018 took place on April 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C..

This luncheon plenary conversation will explore federal priorities in education, including the ways in which the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was conceptualized, developed, and put into action. The discussion will also delve into the progress and process of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. Finally, the conversation will illuminate areas where we have made progress in achieving excellence for our students and areas of opportunity for continued collaboration.

Introduction by Mr. John Heubusch, Executive Director, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute

Moderated by Ms. Judy Woodruff, Anchor and Managing Editor, PBS NewsHour

Panelists include:
– Senator Lamar Alexander, US Senate, Tennessee, 5th US Secretary of Education
– Senator Patty Murray, US Senate, Washington

For more information on the ongoing works of President Reagan’s Foundation, please visit

Democrats grill DeVos on school shooting response, transgender students

Democrats grill DeVos on school shooting response, transgender students

By Juana Summers, CNN

Washington (CNN) Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday addressed the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, telling House lawmakers the shooting “was only the most recent, devastating reminder that our nation must come together to address the underlying issues that create a culture of violence.”

“Our commitment to every student’s success is one we must renew every day, but first we must ensure our children are safe at school,” she said.

DeVos also said the school safety commission she oversees, which was created in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting earlier this year, “looks forward to delivering best practices and findings by year’s end” and gave lawmakers some details of the group’s most recent meeting last week. She described that meeting as “one of the first broader listening sessions” and said members heard from parents of students that had been killed in school shootings.

She stressed that the “primary responsibility for the physical security of schools rests with states and local communities, and made no mention of gun measures or reforms.

Betsy DeVos pushes back against criticism over “60 Minutes” interview, March 12, 2018

DeVos’s Capitol Hill testimony Tuesday marked her fifth time testifying before congressional lawmakers and comes on the heels of a trip to New York in which she was criticized for not visiting any public schools. Instead, DeVos toured two Orthodox Jewish schools and spoke in support of public funding for religious schools.

While DeVos was questioned by several lawmakers about school safety in the wake of another deadly shooting, the issue was not the overwhelming focus of the broad hearing. DeVos took questions on a wide variety of topics including her response to teacher walkouts across the nation, the agency’s Office for Civil Rights and her commitment to the rights of LGBTQ students.

She was pressed by Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott — the committee’s top Democrat — over whether she had approved state education plans that violate the law. Scott repeatedly pressed DeVos on plans where school grades don’t include subgroup performance, suggesting that allowed states to ignore disadvantaged groups.

“All of the plans that I have approved follow what the law requires and it will, we will continue to do so,” DeVos said.

“How do you address an achievement gap if subgroup performance isn’t addressed,” Scott asked DeVos.

At one point during the hearing Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson asked DeVos if she was aware she was “resegregating” the nation’s schools by expanding school choice programs, and in turn, transferring federal funds away from public schools.

Read the full article here.

VIDEO: NM PED Holds Las Cruces Town Hall For Every Student Succeeds Act

VIDEO: NM PED Holds Las Cruces Town Hall For Every Student Succeeds Act

New Mexico’s Public Education Department is working on a plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, and held the last of a series of regional meetings Tuesday in Las Cruces to get input from various stakeholders.

New Mexico First helped facilitate regional meetings for New Mexico’s Public Education Department. Pamela Blackwell, Economic Policy Director for New Mexico First says town halls are important to hear from stakeholders.

“They are meant to solicit input from the public,” Blackwell said. “Teachers, administrators, parents, families, business leaders, on how to best implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, and what we can do to implement that for each community.”

David Morales, a Las Cruces Teacher and New Mexico’s 2016 Teacher of the Year everyone in the community should have a voice.

“I think this is an important first step,” Morales said. “I think if the Public Education Department takes this and back and listens to all the contributors, I think they can see a good swath of who their stakeholders are.”

As a teacher, Morales wants to see more time spent finding innovative ways to educate.

“I’d like to see teachers have a little bit more autonomy,” Morales said. “And also have a little more time to plan and collaborate with their peers, so that we can develop fuller more richer lessons for our kids.”

Teresa Tenorio says she’d like to see better communication with parents, and had trouble finding information for this meeting.

“I feel like the information isn’t mainstreamed,” Tenorio said. “It’s difficult to access, they wanted us to register, and when I did it didn’t show up. I think that’s very intimidating to parents.”

Tenorio says she’s also concerned about the amount of testing her young daughter has to take.

“As the parent of a first grader,” Tenorio said. “They’re already starting testing in grades K-3, and that a lot of parents don’t even know how often that it, and that it’s become a culture that probably turns the kids off to what they’re real interests are.”

Pamela Blackwell with New Mexico First says they’ve heard many similar concerns across the state.

“There are a lot of similar concerns,” Blackwell said. “As far as teacher evaluations, and how those are communicated, and how to best use those to inform instruction. That’s a huge piece. Also, parents and student support, how to help further engage parents in the education process and how to help guide their students. Also coursework, there has been more of an emphasis in these meeting on vocational education, as a key to student success.”

Blackwell says in addition to concerns they also heard innovative solutions.

VIDEO: Trump Panel Slammed on Slow Pace of School Safety Work – Education Week

VIDEO: Trump Panel Slammed on Slow Pace of School Safety Work – Education Week

Education Week logoNearly three months—and six school shootings—since President Donald Trump created a commission to seek solutions to school violence, the Cabinet-level panel is being slammed for what critics see as its slack pace, lack of transparency, and limited representation.

Advocates, parents, and educators note that the commission, which is led by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has met only once since it was set up in the wake of February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. They say there’s been very little outreach to the education community. And they worry that the commission seems to have already made up its mind about where to go on school safety.

“It really begs the question of how seriously they are taking this situation,” said Myrna Mandalowitz, the director of government relations at the School Social Work Association of America. “It’s past time for this commission to meet and get the ball rolling.”

Besides DeVos, the commission includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. It has had one organizational meeting, on March 28. Since the commission was first announced on March 11, there have been six school shootings resulting in death or injury, according to Education Week tracking of such incidents

Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.