August 24, 2008

Prominent Education Reformers Call for Longer School Days, Performance-Driven Teacher Pay, Expanded Public School Choice


Contact: Rodney Ferguson, +1-202-457-8011 - work, +1-202-262- 1684 - cell, [email protected], or Lydia Pelliccia +1-202- 457-8100 - work, +1-202-422-5205 - cell, [email protected], both for Democrats for Education Reform

DENVER, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- 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://


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

SOURCE Democrats for Education Reform

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