Week 206
March 11, 2024

It is week 206 of our new reality and we are thinking about what the voters are telling us they want from the education system of the future.

“San Francisco voters sent a clear and decisive message to the city’s school board Tuesday, demanding through Proposition G that the district bring Algebra 1 back into middle schools,” writes Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle about the 85 percent of voters who supported the measure. “It was a resounding victory for parents, students and community groups that have been fighting for years to allow eighth graders to take the math course.”

What is this all about?

The measure was made necessary by a misguided effort that sought to reduce the rigor of the city’s math curriculum to “level the playing field for kids who are struggling in math.” In other words, they sought equality by restricting opportunities to learn rather than expanding them. A Stanford study found that it did nothing to reduce the racial gaps among San Francisco students while slowing down those who were ready for more advanced classes.


Meanwhile in Texas, another misguided effort to restrict opportunities for children faced a similar backlash from voters. “In a major victory for Gov. Greg Abbott, at least a dozen proponents of private school vouchers on Tuesday defeated incumbent House lawmakers or forced them into runoff elections in key Republican primaries across the state,” writes Edward McKinley for San Antonio Express-News. “The results were a political show of force for the governor after he suffered an embarrassing defeat in November when 21 Republicans joined Democrats to block his voucher plan … Tuesday’s results make it far more likely that Abbott has the votes to push a policy through.”

Voters in diverse communities across the country are saying loud and clear that they want more opportunities for their kids to learn, not fewer. Let’s hope politicians are listening.

Last time in The New Reality Roundup, we put a spotlight on the enrollment crisis in big cities and talked to Steve Hernandez, the new ED of ConnCAN. This week, we look into the legislative progress in Hawaii, including a workforce development bill that may prove a model for other states, and check in with Derrell Bradford in the latest AdvocacyLabs video on the power in provoking a reaction.


Take note of Hawaii’s emergence as a leader on career and workforce development

“Researchers estimate that Hawaii could face approximately $31 billion in economic losses during the 21st century because of classroom setbacks over the last four years,” Hawaii Civil Beat reported last week. “David Sun-Miyashiro, founding executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN, said students attending remote classes during the pandemic may have failed to develop fundamental skills in subjects like reading and math. In turn, he said, workers may struggle with obtaining college degrees or getting higher paying jobs.”

This new reality will be especially poignant for Hawaii’s children, given that rising costs, recovery efforts from the 2023 Maui wildfires and low interstate mobility are creating new economic challenges for far too many families on the islands. That fact has added new energy to David’s drive to remake Hawaii’s education system to be an engine for economic opportunity.

His ideas are taking concrete shape in the form of three bills, each of which was passed this month by the House nearly unanimously and have now crossed over to the Senate. The first two bills are focused on moving to the structured literacy pedagogy that is at the heart of the science of reading. The first, HB1655, brings transparency to the process by which schools select curricula, empowering families and the public to see which schools are using materials aligned with the science of reading. The second, HB1657, implements a dyslexia screening requirement in all schools in order to connect the thousands of undiagnosed students with the resources and services they need to thrive.

It’s the third bill, however, which is garnering the most attention, both statewide and nationally. HB1654 is designed to harness Hawaii’s diverse community of employers through a grant program that will incentivize businesses to offer high-quality internships to local high school students. This is a big deal for students whose interests and goals don’t’ fit into traditional CTE classes, empowering them to find opportunities that will better grow their skills and connections

David is now focused on shoring up support in the Senate. “We know that Hawaii has an affordability crisis, and that high quality education must be a key strategy to set our kids and Hawaii’s broader economy up for long-term success. Work-based learning is a powerful tool, and we need to act now to increase access and quality. Our upcoming tactics include co-hosting a work-based learning expo at the Capitol this March with Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and more than ten other partners to share how high-quality career pathways are a game-changer for local students and businesses.”

The task this week is to get inspired by Hawaii’s leadership and set your sights on expanding opportunities for students to develop workforce skills outside the classroom.

AdvocacyLabs: How to Change the World

Derrell is back in the third episode of our video series, AdvocacyLabs: How to Change the World. In this episode, Derrell looks at student organizers in Philadelphia, as we explore how provoking a reaction from the opposition is one of the most effective ways of supercharging your advocacy campaign.



to share this video on social media and elsewhere to help bridge the gap between research and action in the world of advocacy.


The Louisiana Kids Matter team continues driving toward legislation and funding that will tackle learning loss through accelerate learning, including securing $30 million from the state board of education to continue to fund tutoring once ESSER funds run out, the largest state-based increase in tutoring funds in the post-pandemic era. Additionally, Executive Director Kelli Bottger working hard to ensure 2024 is also the year of ESAs in the Pelican State.

Transform Education Now is building on the success of Denver’s MySpark program, which provides families with funds to spend on afterschool enrichment programs, tutoring, sports and arts. The team is working on a $12 million investment in the program to dramatically expand access throughout the city.

ConnCAN continues to fight against the Governor’s efforts to pull out $40 million from the $150 million the team previously secured for student-centered funding last year. To that end, they’re building support for the Education Funding Bill, which brings additional clarity and stipulations for how education dollars are spent, mandating the original $150 million be used for K-12 education.

Having come up just a few votes short in their push for an ESA program last year, the GeorgiaCAN team is hard at work to get across the finish line 2024. The team secured over 5,000 calls across the state over the past few weeks to make sure parents’ voices are heard.

Key Resources

Chalkbeat has the story of how Philadelphia is struggling to provide special education services in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving parents frustrated.

K-12 Dive covers the education news coming from President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union, including a focus on expansion of high-quality tutoring and career development.

Education Next takes a clear-eyed look at the experimental study in the 1980s that has inspired so many dreams of a tutoring-led educational renaissance.

The Wall Street Journal profiles Sal Khan’s plans for merging AI and tutoring to create the individualized supports that students need.

Urban Institute explores the lack of research connecting PK–12 education and economic mobility and makes the case for a new generation of research to fill these gaps.

Brookings analyzes the win-rate for candidates endorsed by Moms for Liberty, finding that their win rate dropped from 47% in 2022 to 33% 2023 and was down across all geographies studied.

Mike Petrilli, writing for Fordham, encourages districts to “level up” their grading policies instead of “leveling down,” by focusing on high expectations and away from lenience.

Moment of Resilience

GeorgiaCAN’s student advocates brought their message of expanding opportunities to the Capitol. In their meetings with legislators, they voiced their support for passage of a universal ESA bill that would give all families in the Peach State the opportunities only the wealthiest now enjoy. “We aren’t quite there yet,” Outreach Director Steven Quinn tells us, “But every day, thanks to students and families like these, we’re getting closer.”

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