Vallay Varro was a founding state executive director. She now serves as the president of 50CAN.

50CAN is always full of energy and activity, but perhaps never more so than the first quarter of the year. It’s in these first three months that our local leaders are putting their advocacy campaigns into motion across the country to bring a high-quality education to all kids, regardless of their address.

Advocacy in action

This year there are seven state CANs running advocacy campaigns in support of 20 unique policy goals. To learn about all of these goals, check out our campaigns page. I wanted to share with you three updates from their progress so far this session:

  • NYCAN: In New York, Governor Cuomo signed a strengthened teacher tenure policy into law. Starting this summer, new teachers will wait for a four-year probationary period before becoming eligible for tenure protections, up from the current three years. After the four-year mark, tenure will be based on a series of factors beyond duration of teaching, including an annual evaluation. Further, any teacher rated “ineffective” for three years in a row can now face firing proceedings.
  • MarylandCAN: In Maryland, the legislature passed a charter reform bill, which now heads to the governor’s desk. The bill is a small but significant step forward in the hard work of reforming the nation’s most restrictive charter law. It contains four important improvements for charter school students and teachers on the long road to a better law.

  • MinnCAN: In Minnesota, the MinnCAN team and their partners have been hard at work improving teacher policies in the state. The team is working with bipartisan champions in both the House and Senate on a bill to streamline licensure for experienced educators moving to Minnesota from other states, and helping out-of-state teachers share their frustrating licensure stories at the Capitol, on the MinnCAN blog and beyond. MinnCAN is also advocating for a bipartisan bill to help ensure that student teachers have strong mentors, and is encouraging legislators to rethink Minnesota’s seniority-based layoff policy. All of the policy proposals on these issues will soon go to conference committee, where differences between the House and Senate bill versions will be ironed out.

Growing the movement

In January, we shared some of our most exciting news yet: nearly 800 people applied to the 50CAN Education Advocacy Fellowship class of 2016 to get the chance to launch an education advocacy effort in their community.

This tenfold increase over last year is extremely humbling, and a clear indication that there’s an overwhelming hunger to bring great education policy to communities across the country. We’ve begun the interview and selection process, and are thrilled to welcome 108 advocates to the next round. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to selecting our cohort this fall!

Sparking the conversation

This quarter, we’ve also begun to open up the world of education advocacy with a revamped blog and a series of posts that distills the 10 years of advocacy experience across more than 100 policy campaigns into concrete steps that can help you become a better advocate for kids. Check out the introduction to the series, read why we think #OpenAdvocacy is the most important approach, and learn how we set our goals by not skipping steps. Have a topic in education advocacy or reform that you’d like to see covered in the blog? Want to lend your voice to the movement? Email CEO & founder Marc Porter Magee to share your thoughts—and help us spark the conversation in education advocacy.

Joining the team

We’re a passionate, dedicated and energetic group of advocates—and we’d love to have you join our team! 50CAN is currently hiring a Development Associate. Explore our careers page and send us an application if you’d like to work hard for kids across the country.

Staying connected

If you’re curious about the work we do and want to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest at 50CAN, please join our mailing list. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can always email me at I look forward to sharing more exciting news with you soon!


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