Tuesday, March 31, 2015

CA "Kids First" Conversations

Here's the press release for the discussion I attended downtown this afternoon:

March 31, 2015

Cynara Lilly
CLilly@wearerally.com or (206) 915-7821
Students Matter, Congressman Miller Join Forces to Reimagine California Public Education
Miller to Lead Series of Stakeholder Meetings Across California 

SACRAMENTO, CA—Students Matter, the nonprofit organization behind the historic Vergara v. California lawsuit, is kicking off a groundbreaking California event series, “Kids First Conversations,” today in partnership with Congressman George Miller. The series will include a string of roundtable discussions across the state hosted by the former House Education and Labor Committee Chairman and will culminate in a report summarizing public findings and best practices that can be used as a blueprint for reimagining California’s education system.

There is no aspect more critical to tackling our education challenges than reorienting our education system to put kids first,” said Miller. “I am excited to partner with Students Matter to take on this challenge in California, to find solutions to the current problems facing our schools, to listen directly to parents and communities about what they want for their children and to translate that into reimagining our current education system.”

By ruling in favor of the Vergara plaintiffs last summer, Judge Rolf M. Treu created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to refocus California’s education system to one that serves kids first. Using that as a starting point, Miller and Students Matter will lead a six-month process to create substantive findings to guide California’s education system. The project kicks off today in Sacramento. Attendees include parents, teachers, and school administrators, as well as local elected officials, civil rights leaders and education organizations.  

“The opportunity presented by Vergara and the conversations we are planning around the state open up an opportunity for community members—including low-income parents—to have a real seat at the table to translate their stories into a public policy roadmap for children of the 21st century," said Ben Austin, Policy Director for Students Matter. “We are excited to work with Congressman Miller to ensure that the real stakeholder voices—kids, parents, community members and educators—are heard and truly included in the policymaking process.

The Kids First Conversations series is the latest move by Students Matter to ensure public education delivers on its promise and obligation to provide a quality education to every child. The announcement comes on the heels of a set of policy pillars the organization released earlier this year to help guide the 2015 California legislature. Read Students Matter’s Teacher Employment Policy Pillars on the Students Matter website
In addition to Congressman Miller’s leadership, Students Matter will also partner with a major academic institution to release an official report inspired by the series featuring testimony from roundtable participants. The report will guide policy and discourse in Sacramento by giving lawmakers a blueprint for how to create a kids-centered education agenda. 

Next steps
Today’s event in Sacramento is the first in a series, with additional events scheduled for: San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles, Bay Area and a tele-townhall. 

About George Miller
Congressman George Miller of Contra Costa County served in the United States House of Representatives for 40 years as a widely recognized leader on education, labor, and the environment, fighting tirelessly to improve public education for students throughout California and across the country.


Students Matter is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to sponsoring impact litigation to promote access to quality public education. Learn more at studentsmatter.org.
Let's point out that George Miller is a Democrat from the Bay Area--which means, at the very least, he's not conservative, not in the least! But we can find common ground in wanting what's best for all kids, and I'm always willing to "reach across the aisle" when I can. On today's topics we seemed to have quite a bit of common ground, which I'm happy to find. He introduced himself as one of the principal authors of No Child Left Behind, and he, along with Ted Kennedy, are not conservatives. How do we come to agree, then?  We arrive at the same point; Miller and Ben Austin taking a left-wing route, me taking a right-wing route, but we get to the same place.  We get to that place because we genuinely care about students, we don't just say we do; we put Kids First, not adults.

I'll write more about the event itself after I've had a chance to digest it a bit.

Update, 4/3/15:  More detail on the discussion itself is here.


maxutils said...

Nice to find common ground; but I would argue that any time state money is given to the Fedral government, only to be sent back to the states with strings attached? The best possible result is what the state could have done anyway, but with a surcharge going straight to bureaucracy. So, if your goal is to put students first? You literally MUST be against any Federal intrusion on public education.

Auntie Ann said...

I'm curious: did this count as professional development hours like the check-your-privilege festival you went to a couple weeks ago?

Darren said...

No. I did this because I think it's important.

PeggyU said...

Agree with max on that.

Darren said...

Max, what does your comment have to do with this post? There's nothing in this post about a federal involvement in education.

maxutils said...

Nothing specific … but I'm currently locked in a battle with our district over CC, and a similar argument can be made for sending money to the state, and having it sent back to the district … it's an issue I'm currently fixated with, so forgive me from being hyper sensitive. But you're right, the relationship is ancillary at best. btw-- appointment with the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary next week, plus maybe one other trump to play…don't pack up your real math books just yet.