Thursday, September 30, 2010

In conjunction with the release of WFS, Education Reform Now has launched a web site and advocacy effort – please sign up at  Here's the email from ERN's Executive Director Van Schoales:

Dear Friends,

Today marks an important milestone in American public education reform.  The important new film Waiting for "Superman" opens in New York and Los Angeles. Check out a great review in the NY Times today.

Later this afternoon Education Reform Now launches the largest coalition of non-profits (which will grow daily) for education reform called in collaboration with the Waiting for "Superman" social action campaign here.

Our "Done Waiting" coalition is focused on gathering citizens to work to support change in local, state and federal policy so that every child has an effective teacher and great school.

Waiting for "Superman" gives Americans a first-hand look at the problems plaguing our public schools, and it makes clear that the status quo must change.  Davis Guggenheim's film is a gift to all of us. Thanks to this movie, there will be a new awareness by whole group of ordinary Americans of the serious challenges we must solve.

The film underscores the inequity that exists in our current system—that a student's zip code can mean the difference between a life of opportunity and a life of poverty.   The movie also dispels some long-held myths— parents are at fault, or that schools cannot make a significant difference for low-income students—and unmasks the special interests that are truly preventing children from getting a great education.

While there is still much to be learned to improve our public education system, we do know the power of an effective teacher and how to build school cultures and programs so that most students will be prepared for life, college and work. 

Our biggest challenge to creating an effective public education for most American kids is creating the political will to say we are "done waiting" and know what to do.  This will require all of us working harder to enlist a broader group of people to join our movement and demand policy change at the local school board, state and federal levels.  

Why should schools remain open that fail 80% to 90% of their students while there are often some schools in the same communities serving similar students where most are succeeding.  It's insane!   We need to rapidly promote and replicate success while we stop doing things that don't work.

I've been working at this for 22 years (nothing compared to many of my heroes in education reform like Howard Fuller, Debbie Meier and the late great Ted Sizer) but I have to say these last few years are really the first time I've felt like we collectively have the knowledge and now the will to make it work for many more kids. 

You're going to hear and see a barrage of media over the next month that will try to convince you of simple solutions of which there are few, but know that we have made progress and it is possible to dramatically improve public education. 

Also know that we have to fix our public schools if we are to solve or even make a dent in all the environmental, political, economic, social and security problems that we are facing now and are only likely to get worse in the coming decades.

The American public education was a great system for the 20th century but is now far from delivering what is needed for the 21st century.  We can't afford to have over half of our urban youth unable to read, write and perform basic math not to mention being able to do critical thinking and other essential knowledge and skills.

So look for later today and sign up.  We need you and ten others to help push the system to change. 

Please shoot me an email if you'd like your non-profit to join the coalition or have enlisted other organizations. We have about 70 as of now.  We want as many organizations to join with us to co-brand as the largest mobilization for education reform.

Thanks, Van Schoales

Executive Director, Education Reform Now

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