Last time I wrote to you at the start of summer, it was to announce the launch of our national Believe in Better policy framework. As the season ends, it’s important to reflect on the progress made by states as we gear up to tackle emerging challenges in the 2021-22 school year.
New, historic charter and renaissance funding in New Jersey
With the Garden State distributing over $75 million to address health and safety projects in schools, the JerseyCAN team fought for and won $5 million in facilities funding for charter and renaissance schools, which Executive Director Patricia Morgan calls, “An important first step.” The additional funding marks the first time since the creation of charter schools in the state that the legislature has provided additional facility funding to address health and safety for charters.
Open teacher preparation pathways in North Carolina
CarolinaCAN worked with members of the state legislature to pass a bill that creates an adjunct instructor program for high schools. Adjunct instructors can teach part-time for up to 20 hours a week without certification, providing they have expertise in the subject area and have taken one semester of teacher preparation coursework. The legislation will result in a more diverse hiring pool and removes a key barrier to recruiting career professionals. Given the challenges of the pandemic, this legislation is both timely and needed. We hope other states look to North Carolina and this policy.
More accountable school boards throughout Delaware
In Delaware, legislators passed a bill that reduced the length of school board terms from five years to four, increasing accountability for elected officials. As new Executive Director Britney Mumford shared, “We believe that this legislation will increase the competitiveness of school board races throughout the state. Over the past six years, 54 school board elections went uncontested in 16 districts across the state. This legislation will give parents more voice in who they want representing the interests of their children.”
Transform Education Now crafts a national model for transparency on stimulus spending
In Colorado, co-Executive Directors Ariel Smith and Nicholas Martinez were the force behind the passage of a bill that requires every district throughout the state to submit detailed plans to the state board of education on how they intend to spend federal funding from the American Rescue Plan. The legislation, which should serve as a model for other states, supports parent demands for transparency and public engagement over spending.
A great deal remains to be done. As summer draws to a close, we know that many children will experience their third disrupted school year in a row, leading to further losses amidst our push for a recovery.
These latest policy wins are important milestones in fulfilling the promise of a better education for all, while reinforcing parents’ ability to secure the education that’s right for their children. That right has always been fundamental to us, but it has also never been more important.