Available for Pre-Order | Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation

On this day when students around the country are speaking out for social change, we should focus on the important role that schools need to play in preparing all students to function productively as civic participants. People across the political spectrum believe that all students should receive a meaningful opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that they need to be capable civic participants, including the belief in their ability to effect change.

FDHow can we make sure that all schools, including schools attended primarily by students in poverty and students of color, are equipped to provide the resources, services, and supports to make this happen?

Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation, the new book by Michael A. Rebell, professor of educational law and practice and executive director of the Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, addresses this critical question.

Flunking Democracy is the first publication from CEE’s new educational-rights project on preparing students for civic participation. In it, Rebell makes the case that, for generations now, most public schools in the United States have moved away from one of the fundamental purposes of public education—preparing students to become capable citizens. This trend has persisted despite court holdings in New York, and many other states, that education for civic participation is the constitutional right of all children.

The book analyzes the causes of the decline in civic preparation, provides a detailed analysis of what we know about how to prepare students for productive citizenship, and considers examples of best practices. Flunking Democracy further argues that the courts are a vital part of the solution to this civic decline and concludes with specific recommendations for how the courts can and should address this deficiency.

Flunking Democracy is essential reading for anyone interested in education, the law, and creating a more democratic society.

The book will be published in mid-April. Reserve your copy today on Amazon!

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CEE Releases New Edition of Guide to NY Students’ Educational Rights

Do you know what resources, services, and supports ALL New York schools must provide their students?

Today, the Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, is releasing an updated, concise summary of all of this fundamental information.

Essential Resources: The Constitutional Requirements for Providing All Students in New York State the Opportunity for a Sound Basic Education (2nd Edition) 

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Drawing on relevant and up-to-date state statutes, regulations, and the court order in the landmark legal case Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) v. State of New YorkEssential Resources zeroes in on the educational resources to which students are entitled under the state constitution.
First published in December 2012, Essential Resources became the first-ever comprehensive compilation of New York students’ educational rights, and served as a framework for assessing the state’s compliance with CFE, which guarantees all students the right to a “sound basic education”–a set of learning opportunities specifically designed to prepare them for effective civic participation and good jobs.

By raising awareness about these rights, we aim to equip New Yorkers with the research-based information they need in order to hold the government accountable for, at the very least, following its own education laws. Ultimately, all children, not just the privileged few, will have the opportunity to meet state learning standards and fulfill their civic and career-related potential.

Please join us in widely sharing the latest version of this powerful resource, particularly with families currently affected by educational-rights violations.

And help us make the new version available to thousands of New York families. Contribute today!

2017 Educational-Equity Highlights: CEE’s Year in Review

The Center for Educational Equity needs your help to make 2018 as productive as this past year! Thanks to supporters like you, here is just some of what we accomplished in 2017:

To strengthen students’ educational rights and opportunities, we turned our rights-based lens on underexplored areas of educational policy: pre-K, career and technical education, and preparation for civic participation. Our research and legal analysis in these areas resulted in several trailblazing publications:

  • Establishing the Right to Universal Pre-K, researched and written in partnership with the Center for Children’s Initiatives
  • Ensuring Students’ Right to Preparation for Competitive Employment
  • CEE executive director Michael Rebell’s new book, Flunking Democracy, Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation (U. Chicago Press, 2018)

CEE officially launched a new initiative, “Securing the Future of Our Democracy: Students’ Right to Preparation for Civic Participation.” Our work to date includes

  • A pilot study of assessing the availability of resources for civic preparation in public high schools in the New York metropolitan area.
  • A policy primer on preparing students for civic preparation that will be distributed by the Learning Policy Institute to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • Convening New York State leaders in civic education, civic engagement, and educational equity to begin planning a collective effort to align policy with the state constitutional requirement to prepare all students for civic participation.

We extended our efforts to equip and empower students and parents with useable knowledge about children’s education rights.

  • In partnership with young people and adults at THE POINT and Knowledge House, we began work on an innovative Know Your Educational Rights mobile app that will give students and parents the information and tools they need to make sure elected officials and education officials equip their schools with required resources.
  • In partnership the Adelaide Stanford Institute, we facilitated parents becoming educational-rights “ambassadors” who shared knowledge with other parents and advocated for school officials to inform families of their educational rights under state law.
  • We produced an updated, second-edition Essential Resources, the first compendium of school-level resource requirements under state law.

With a grant from the Wallace Foundation, and in partnership with stellar TC professors Jeffrey Henig and Carolyn Riehl, we led Teachers College teams to eight small American cities in field research to study collaborative efforts to improve education. The third report from this research project will appear in 2018.

We need your generous support to continue this important work. Please give what you can!

Securing the Future of Our Democracy: Preparing ALL Students for Civic Participation

vote gen 3The Center for Educational Equity (CEE) at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University, celebrated election day by announcing the launch of our educational-rights initiative focused on strengthening students’ preparation for civic participation.

Through our new initiative, CEE will work with TC colleagues, educators, parents and students, and other leaders in the field to:

  • fill critical knowledge gaps through research;
  • develop legal strategies;
  • engage the public; and
  • build a coalition to advance a common policy agenda.

Preparing students for their important civic responsibilities as members of a democracy has historically been an essential role of schools in the United States. In most states, preparation for civic participation is also central to the right to education afforded by the state constitution.

In New York, the state’s highest court ruled in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case that the state government has a constitutional obligation to provide all students “the opportunity for a sound basic education” that prepares them for productive civic participation and competitive employment. This means every school must be equipped to help all students develop the knowledge, skills, and habits they need to be effective civic participants when they graduate from high school.

As co-counsel for CFE, Michael A. Rebell, presently TC professor of law and educational practice and CEE executive director, led a statewide coalition that fought hard to win this right. Over the past year, CEE has been closely analyzing the substantial gaps in civic preparation that exist in schools here and nationwide. Rebell has written a book, Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts and Civic Preparation (U. of Chicago Press, forthcoming, 2018), that examines these issues in detail.

The current state of civic life and our democratic institutions has generated great interest in this topic. For example, the New York State Education Department recently signaled the state’s commitment to preparing students for civic participation by including a “college, career and civic readiness index” concept in its Every Student Succeeds Act plan. We would like to see New York lead the way in equipping young people to strengthen our democracy.

CEE’s new initiative will help ensure that all students — particularly students living in poverty and those of color— have the opportunity to become effective civic participants.

Learn more and support our Securing the Future of Our Democracy civic-preparation initiative here.

Today, the Campaign for Educational Equity becomes the Center for Educational Equity

The Center for Educational Equity (CEE) will continue to champion children’s right to a meaningful opportunity to graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and civic participation—and work to define and secure the full range of resources, supports, and services necessary to guarantee this right to all children, particularly children in poverty and children of color.

You can now find us at www.centerforeducationalequity.org.

You can still connect with us through our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handle: @eduequity.

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The Campaign for Educational Equity will become the Center for Educational Equity

CENTER for Ed Equity bannerOn October 5, 2017, the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University will become the Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College.

The Center for Educational Equity (CEE) will continue to pursue our mission to champion children’s right to a meaningful opportunity to graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and civic participation—and to define and secure the full range of resources, supports, and services necessary to guarantee this right to all children, particularly children in poverty and children of color.

Our dynamic approach to this work, which combines research, policy development, legal analysis, and public engagement, will remain the same.

Our new name reflects our ongoing position as a permanent policy and research center at Teachers College, the nation’s largest and oldest graduate school for education. As part of the Teachers College community, we benefit greatly from the diverse expertise and experience of TC’s students, faculty, and administration.

 

New York City’s Universal Physical Education Initiative: A Postive Step toward Ensuring a Meaningful Education for All Students in NYC

PhysEd4All-Teal-300x275The Campaign for Educational Equity is a member of the Phys Ed 4 All  Coalition, a network comprising community-based organizations, advocates, parents, educators, health professionals, and school administrators who are committed to increasing access to quality physical education in New York City public schools.

The Phys Ed 4 All Coalition applauds Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for the city’s announced Universal Physical Education (PE) commitment to provide all schools with designated spaces for effective phys. ed. by 2021.

New York City’s Universal PE Initiative is an important acknowledgment that the facilities of many NYC schools do not currently meet the requirements of the state law. All New York students are entitled to public schools that provide them with suitable and accessible facilities, including adequate specialized spaces for libraries, laboratories, auditoriums, gymnasiums, and playgrounds (see CFE v. State of New York, 2003).

As Mayor de Blasio stated, “Incorporating physical activity into the day isn’t just the healthy thing for our young people, it is the law and one that was ignored for far too long.” This recognition that access to physical education is an educational right signals an important shift by elected officials toward honoring the rights of all students to a sound basic education by providing the learning resources to which they are entitled.

Suitable facilities is just one of the important educational resources necessary to fulfill students’ rights in this area. As noted in the recently released New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) report, Leveling the Playing Field: Access to Physical Education in New York City’s Public School System, many New York City students also lack access to state-mandated hours of PE instruction. Students in kindergarten to third grade, Black children, and children with disabilities are reported as most affected.

More information on the physical-education opportunities mandated by New York State statutes, regulations, and judicial requirements can be found in our Know Your Educational Rights handout on that topic. Information on the full range of students’ educational rights under state law is detailed in our December 2012 report Essential Resources. (Note that we plan to release the second edition of Essential Resources by fall 2017 to reflect recent policy changes.)