For Labor Day Weekend: Pie and/or Labor and/or #CharterPolitics

First, I love apple pie. I would be hard pressed to choose another pie that I like more than my grandma’s fresh baked apple pie. I mean, there are some contenders… there is also grandma’s sweet potato and pumpkin pie. It’s easy (and painful) to imagine the smells waffing from her Saginaw, Michigan oven. Then probably my great-grandmother’s pineapple cream pie. Then much farther behind grandmas’ cookin would be key lime pie from Key West, Florida.

Second, the American Way is to vote, be heard, utilize the democratic process. So in that vein, I would like to ask for 10 seconds of your time to vote for two SXSWedu 2015 panels. You the public decide which panels are seated via SXSWedu PanelPicker.

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What is PanelPicker? SXSWedu described the process in an email to applicants that I have excerpted below:

Each year, SXSWedu invites the greater online community to share their input on content they would like to see at the event. Public voting will open at 10AM Monday, August 11 and close at midnight Friday, September 5. The community will have the opportunity to vote on session proposals (votes will be kept private) and add comments on the ideas submitted. We welcome you to also use this commenting feature to expand on your session idea, make note of updates and engage with the voting community. 

During this four-week period, it is important to promote your PanelPicker idea to your community. Anyone with internet access can cast a single vote for as many proposals as they would like to upon creating a PanelPicker account… Community voting accounts for 30% of the final score for your session proposal. Remember, this is not a popularity contest, but an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to engage a community. Another 40% is contributed by the SXSWedu Advisory Board, and the remaining 30% is from SXSWedu staff evaluation.

Last year I spoke at SXSWedu on panel about charters during a Texas Tribune special session with representatives from Raise Your Hand Texas, Texas DFER and the Brackenridge Foundation. It was a spirited conversation. I wanted talk about charters and equity, they want to talk about “fit.” Unfortunately, I can’t find the 2014 SXSWedu session on the web.

Please consider the following two sessions for your vote.

1) Reforming Charter Reform is proposed with Kevin Welner (Of NEPC fame) and is a pragmatic look at charters.

This conversation starts with twin premises: charter schools are an important part of the overall schooling landscape, and the charter school sector can be made more equitable. We will avoid the “charters good”/”charters bad” debate. Instead, we will provide several starter ideas, based on our own research, for how charter school policy can be reformed to drive greater equity. We will then lead a conversation that brings forth ideas of all attendees, jointly creating and developing our ideas.

Additional Supporting Materials

Questions Answered

  1. Understanding the unique opportunities and challenges of charter schools in a constructive way, designed to move beyond heated debates and to work toward solutions that benefit all children.
  2. Understanding how charter schools have sometimes fallen short of providing equitable opportunities, as well as how charter schools have sometimes addressed those weaknesses and become more equitable.
  3. Developing ideas to reform policy and practice in concrete ways that will move the overall charter school sector toward greater equity.



Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder

– See more at:

Vote here for charter reform session.

2) I would serve as the moderator of the District-Labor Collaborative for School Innovation session

We want to explain how Labor, Austin ISD and Travis Heights ES were able to work collaboratively with parents and teachers to develop the district’s first campus-initiated in-district charter school. This grassroots effort was a counter to the corporate-style charter schools that have invaded ISDs across the nation. We want people empowered with the belief that their schools and communities possess answers to the challenges facing public education. Participants led this innovative initiative.

Additional Supporting Materials

Questions Answered

  1. Attendees will understand how parents and teachers can work collaboratively to organize for change by understanding what the collective education values and goals of the school community are before change is undertaken.
  2. Attendees will understand that teachers union are a force for positive educational change rather than the educational scapegoats for the ills of public education that educational “reformers” promote.
  3. Attendees will believe that changes in public education can and should come from our communities and teachers instead of a rigid corporate-charter model and see how the union, community and district can work together for the benefit of our students.



Ken Zarifis Education Austin (teachers union for Austin ISD)

– See more at:

Vote here for District-Labor Collaborative for School Innovation

We have stiff competition, the SXSWedu conference has received over 1,000 proposals! SXSWedu
 will be in Austin, Texas on 
March 9-12, 2015. Thanks for considering these two sessions for your vote.

Again, please go here to vote for the charter reform proposal and to vote for the teacher organization-based reform panel.

Please Facebook Like, Tweet, etc below and/or reblog to support these proposals.

Want to know about Cloaking Inequity’s freshly pressed conversations about educational policy? Click the “Follow blog by email” button in the upper left hand corner of this page.

Twitter: @ProfessorJVH

Click here for Vitae.

Please blame the Texas DFERs for any typos. 🙂

Disclaimer: This post in no way seeks to imply that you will be bribed with my grandmother’s pie in exchange for your SXSWedu vote. 🙂

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Oh, and there is this…



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