DENVER, Aug 24, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- America's leading voices on education reform joined in Denver to call on Democratic leaders to steer public education in a new direction. On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, more than two dozen progressive elected officials, education reform advocates, school leaders and civil rights groups from across the country gathered at the Denver Art Museum to release the Ed Challenge for Change, which highlights new ideas for closing America's devastating achievement gap.
"An entrepreneurial explosion has occurred over the last few years in public education," said Joe Williams, Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform, the organization responsible for conceiving the Ed Challenge for Change. "The creativity exhibited by this new group of educators is helping raise student achievement, empower teachers, close the minority learning gap, and bring hope to places where it's been in very short supply. It's a movement that we believe Sen. Obama and other Democrats have taken to heart, and we hope to see these reforms increase in schools across America during the Obama Administration."
Recognizing the "positive perfect storm" for education reform in America, participants, including Rev. Al Sharpton (Education Equality Project), Michelle Rhee (Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools) and Delia Pompa (National Council of La Raza), identified the following core principals and priorities for reforming federal education policies:
Universal access to quality early childhood education programs. We must make bold new investments in early education programs, which have been proven to make a critical difference in leveling the playing field for students in high-poverty areas.
Expanded charter school access. We should provide parents with meaningful public school choice for all students, while also making clear that choice comes with responsibility: parents must be partners in helping our young people become disciplined students and concerned citizens.
Improved accountability measures. In order to close the achievement gap, we must set high standards and demand accountability from not just teachers, but also students and parents, principals, education schools and researchers, and policymakers.
Extended school days and school years. Research has proven that more time in the classroom is essential to helping children who are falling behind to catch up and become proficient. We must make a commitment to providing extended school days and school years for students who need it and parents who choose it.
New teacher recruitment strategies. We must transform teaching into a profession that is competitive in compensation, continuously providing growth opportunities, and focused on accountability and producing results.
New funding allocation. In order to overcome the education deficits in our poorest districts, we must provide new pay incentives to attract the best teachers and principals to the lowest-performing schools, while also expanding access to high-quality pre-school, after school and summer programs.
A full list of participants is below. For more information on Democrats for Education Reform, including a full copy of the manifesto from Sunday's discussions, visit http://edchallenge.wordpress.com/
Participants: Joe Williams, Executive Director, Democrats For Education Reform Joel Klein, Chancellor, New York City Schools Adrian Fenty, Mayor, Washington D.C. Cory Booker, Mayor, Newark Federico Pena, Former Secretary of Energy Roy Romer, Chairman, Strong American Schools, former Colorado governor Rev. Al Sharpton, Education Equality Project Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools Barbara O'Brien, Lt. Gov., Colorado Peter Groff, President, Colorado State Senate Jonathan Alter, Newsweek Michael Bennet, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools John Merrow, PBS John King, Uncommon Schools Diane Piche, Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights Andrew Rotherham, Education Sector Delia Pompa, National Council of La Raza Amy Wilkins, Education Trust Larry Rosenstock, High Tech High, San Diego Jennifer Gonzales, Metro Organizations for People Sponsored by: Democrats for Education Reform Sam and Nancy Gary The Education Equality Project Daniels Fund Piton Foundation Center for African American Policy at the University of Denver New Schools Venture Fund Education Reform Now Education Trust Ed in '08 Progressive Policy Institute School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado National Association of Charter School Authorizers National Council of La Raza Public Education & Business Coalition Terry Minger, Gary-Williams Company Massachusetts, 2020 Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound Citizens Commission on Civil Rights Center for American Progress Donnell-Kay Foundation Colorado League of Charter Schools A+ Denver Colorado Children's Campaign PICO National Network Metro Organizations for People Padres Unidos Denver School of Science and Technology The Odyssey School GetSmart Schools Denver Venture School Center for Policy Entrepreneurship Manual High School West Denver Preparatory Charter AXL Academy