Marc Porter Magee Ph.D is the CEO and founder of 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

This spring, we welcomed StudentsFirst Georgia, StudentsFirst South Carolina and StudentsFirst Tennessee to the 50CAN network. These teams have spent years working alongside parents, teachers and community members to bring meaningful changes to the statehouse and the schoolhouse.

We want to share some of the important work they’ve done on behalf of kids in their states in 2016. You can also get to know each of the team members from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee over on our staff page.


At the Capitol
StudentsFirst Georgia has laid the foundation for important changes to the state’s education funding, which will be picked up when the legislature reconvenes in January. The team also successfully achieved bipartisan support and passage of House Bill 659, which will require all schools and school districts to provide detailed financial information to the public. While the legislation was ultimately not signed into law, Governor Deal has pledged his support and we believe this and the bipartisan support of the measure will help the policy goal to be accomplished next year.

In the community
StudentsFirst Georgia has been working all year on raising awareness for the proposed Opportunity School District in the state. Voters will decide on the ballot measure in the fall, but a number of districts throughout the state are already stepping up to the challenge to turn around failing schools. The team has also participated in the Educate GA Summit and National School Choice Week rally with parents and students from around the Peach State. 

South Carolina

At the Capitol
StudentsFirst South Carolina championed a number of legislative measures to ensure that each student in South Carolina receives a quality education, regardless of their address. The team successfully supported an increase in teacher compensation, making positions in the Palmetto State attractive to the best teachers. They worked to increase school accountability and support with passage of a new Office of Transformation, which will serve as an incubator for schools that are in need of assistance. And they also helped establish clear milestones for the teacher dismissal process, making the process more transparent and fair to districts and teachers.

In the community
StudentsFirst South Carolina continued to support teachers, parents and kids outside the legislature with a series of community events around the state. In addition to numerous “Policy & Pastries” events during Teacher Appreciation Week, the team led a petition drive at the Love, Peace and Hip Hop Festival in Columbia. In the course of just one afternoon, the team successfully secured 497 petition signatures to improve education in our state.


At the Capitol
StudentsFirst Tennessee continued to collaborate with various coalitions and help pass quality legislation that supports progress for the Volunteer State’s kids. The team successfully passed a major school grading bill that requires the Department of Education to develop a system based on student achievement, growth and other factors included on the state report card. They also successfully defended against efforts to roll back reforms that are working for students such as the Achievement School District.

In the community
StudentsFirst Tennessee spent the past year raising awareness and building support for the Opportunity Scholarships legislation. Throughout the year, the team collaborated with partner organizations to engage stakeholders from Mountain City to Memphis, conducting a four-part education series to raise awareness on the legislation from both local and statewide perspectives.

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming these awesome advocates to the team. Our network is strengthened by their relentlessness, optimism and dedication to the belief that all kids deserve a high-quality education, regardless of their address.


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