DeFENSE stands for Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education. We believe in preserving and fostering the original intent of public education in the United States: ensuring equity and excellence for ALL. We are not against charters, etc. Instead, we see neighborhood schools, where most kids to go school, as a first priority.
If you believe in a free, excellent public education for every child, join us!
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Our Kids, Our Schools, Our Neighborhoods…
A Call to Action to Institute a Blueprint of Reform
Our Kids: Deserve an Inclusive Process to improve their schools*
- The process should include All Voices, All Proposals and All Facts.
- All Stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, administrators, community, union representatives) should be involved as partners in design as well as implementation.
- All Schools should have the ability to implement ideas that resonate with stakeholders, i.e., an “arts emphasis,” small class sizes, contracts with parents, etc.
Our Schools: Need Change that Works**
- Based on best practice changes that have worked and experimental reforms that haven’t — commit to evidence-based reform.
- “Transformative Change” vs. “Experimentation” — district and national examples
- A meaningful chance for transformation should precede turnaround, closure or replacement.
Our Neighborhoods: Need an Investment in Neighborhood Schools***
- A comprehensive neighborhood school should be an option for all students and is needed to welcome and fully serve English language learners and others with special needs.
- We must monitor the proliferation of charter schools that has been shown to interfere with the overall quality of all district schools.
- Destabilizing neighborhood schools destabilizes the neighborhood itself.
Our Responsibility: To Follow the Rules*
- State law that mandates “accountability committees” (including stakeholders) at each school site and gives them the authority to recommend the school improvement plan (which should include turnaround strategies) — should be followed.
- Federal provisions that mandate full stakeholder involvement (not just notification) in the design of turnaround strategies should be followed.
- Site and regional stakeholder oversight committees should be created and involved in design, implementation and evaluation of schools involved in turnaround strategies.
- An evaluation instrument should be developed and consistently used by stakeholder oversight committees.
- We must follow state and federal statutes as well as moral and ethical standards regarding equity, fairness and non-discrimination.
*Federal School Improvement Grant guidelines; State Law: SB163; Harvard Family Research Project.
**DPS and national examples of successful transformation schools and unsuccessful turnaround/charter schools.
***Federal and state mandates for English language learners and special education students; “The Charter School Express, is Proliferation Interfering with Quality,” Education Week, October 7, 2009.