Just like the Crayons in our logo, NPE recently became more colorful

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I am honored to serve on the Network for Public Education Board of Directors. The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, and share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education. For more information about NPE, visit http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org.

We recently welcomed Xian Barrett, Jitu Brown, Carol Burris and Kennet Santana to the NPE Board of Directors

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Xian Barrett is the Vice President of Engagement of New Voices Strategies. In Chicago, Barrett founded a citywide youth-led social justice organization, brought students to New Orleans for service learning and organized sister-city events with Japanese schools. Xian Barrett is the kind of teacher that we all dream our children will have. His philosophy of teaching is, “before the students lose interest in your instruction, ask them what they are passionate about and work with that—their learning belongs to them.”

Xian previously taught Law, History and Japanese Language and Cultures in the Chicago Public Schools. He has received numerous teaching awards, including being selected as a 2009-2010 U.S. Department of Education Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow. He is a founding member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators and former political director of the Chicago Teachers Union. He believes strongly that only by hearing and acting upon the voices of educators, parents and students can we improve our educational system and world.

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Jitu Brown is the national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance, a network of 30 grassroots community based organizations in 23 cities organizing for community driven school improvement. He was formerly the education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). Married and father of one, he was born and raised on the far south side of Chicago, Jitu attended Wendell Smith Elementary School and Kenwood Academy High School. Jitu studied at Eastern Arizona College and Northeastern Illinois University, majoring in communications with a minor in Spanish.

Jitu started volunteering with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) in 1991, became a board member in 1993 and for a number of years served as the organization’s board president. He joined the staff as education organizer in 2006. He has organized in the Kenwood Oakland neighborhood for over 17 years bringing community voices to the table on school issues. A believer in working locally and thinking globally, Jitu has taken youth leaders from KOCO to the United Nations, to the Passamaquoddy Native American reservation in Maine and to the UN Conference on Racism in South Africa. He has been published in the national education magazine Rethinking Schools, appeared in Ebony magazine and on several talk shows, including MSNBC’s The Ed Show, Al Jazeera America, WBEZ’s Community Voices, Democracy Now and CLTV’s Gerard McClendon Live.

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Carol Burris has served as principal of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District in NY since 2000. Burris is one of the co-authors of the Principals’ letter opposed to evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by over 1,500 New York principals. Prior to becoming a principal, she was a teacher at both the middle and high school level. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. In 2010, she was named Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, she was named SAANYS New York State High School Principal of the Year. Dr. Burris is the co-author of Detracking for Excellence and Equity, and the author of Opening the Common Core: How to Bring ALL Students to College and Career Readiness, and On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the 21st Century Struggle against Re-segregation, published in 2014.

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NPE Board member, Kennet Santana is currently an English Language Development and History Teacher at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, CA. He was also recognized as a hero by the San Francisco 49ers and many other organizations for tackling a would-be school bomber at Hillsdale High School in 2009. He has taught for 14 years. He has also been an entrepreneur and an elected official. He is committed to engaging students, colleagues, and administrators in courageous conversations that lead to action around issues of race, equity, and social justice.

I am proud to welcome these incredible activists and educators to the board of directors.

Here is NPE’s positive agenda:

  • We support schools that offer a full and rich curriculum for all children, including the arts, physical education, history, civics, foreign languages, literature, mathematics, and the sciences.
  • We support schools that are subject to democratic control by members of their community.
  • We support schools that have the resources that their students need, such as guidance counselors, social workers, librarians, and psychologists.
  • We support the equitable funding of schools, with extra resources for those students with the greatest needs.
  • We support schools that have reasonable class sizes, so that teachers have the time to help the children in their care.
  • We support early childhood education, because we know that the achievement gap begins before the first day of school.
  • We support high standards of professionalism for teachers, principals, and superintendents.
  • We support the principle that every classroom should be led by a teacher who is well educated, well prepared for the challenges of teaching, and certified.
  • We support wraparound services for children, such as health clinics and after-school programs.
  • We support assessments that are used to support children and teachers, not to punish or stigmatize them or to hand out monetary rewards.
  • We support assessments that measure what was taught, through projects and activities in which students can demonstrate what they have learned.
  • We support the evaluation of teachers by professionals, not by unreliable test scores.
  • We support helping schools that are struggling, not closing them.
  • We support parent involvement in decisions about their children.
  • We support the idea that students’ confidential information must remain confidential and not be handed over to entrepreneurs and marketing agents.
  • We support teacher professionalism in decisions about curriculum, teaching methods, and selection of teaching materials.
  • We support public education because it is a pillar of our democratic society.

Join NPE’s struggle against ALEC, Gates, The Walton Foundation etc and become an ally here.

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Categories: Wisdom

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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  1. Educational Policy Information - August 17, 2014

    […] By Julian Vasquez Heilig I am honored to serve on the Network for Public Education Board of Directors. The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools […] Read the full article […]

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