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50CAN: Seeking More Local Investment to Advance Its Set Agenda

May 24, 2017

50CAN is a corporate reform organization that wants to expand many facets of education reform including increasing the number of charter schools (as well as the money they receive); promote the grading of schools using test scores, and passing state-level legislation for “achievement school districts” (state-run districts).

50CAN has a web site that offers a lot of information on what it believes it has accomplished and what it hopes to accomplish. Of course, one must get past the ed reform fluff, such as that on the opening page:

Hi there! We’re 50CAN!

We’re a nonprofit network of local leaders advocating for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address.

A slight shift from the usual, “regardless of their zip code.”

The mission statement page is also hazy, but it does begin with the “regardless of their address” slogan:

We are guided by four foundational beliefs that make up our vision for the road ahead.

We believe that growing the ranks of citizen-advocates will change the trajectory of children’s lives.

We believe in the power of evidence-based policy and the power of open advocacy.

We believe that nationwide change depends on a network of local advocates.

We believe that to improve education for all students, we need an unwavering commitment and a clear-eyed approach.

As for that “vision page” linked above, well, also nebulous feel-good (including “regardless of address” slogan.) Below is just a slice:

As we work toward our mission of a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address, the following four beliefs guide our work.

What We Believe

We believe that growing the ranks of citizen-advocates will change the trajectory of children’s lives.

Reimagining American K–12 education is more than a just cause, it’s the most important work we can do as a democracy. The only way we can reach the goal of a high-quality education for all children, regardless of address, is by democratizing advocacy itself: casting aside one-size-fits-all, top-down mandates and growing a larger, more diverse, more dynamic leadership corps.

Equipped with nonpartisan research and proven tools, citizen-advocates can drive the creation of stronger, more equitable schools in every state and community—and usher in an era where every child has the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

We believe in the power of evidence-based policy and the power of open advocacy.

All of our campaigns must start with proven theories of change—what we have seen add up to a real difference in students’ lives. That means researching the best policies for kids and learning from the results on the ground in communities across the country. It also means a commitment to open advocacy by making our tools and training methods easily accessible. This openness strengthens accountability, accelerates learning and promotes trust. …

How We Work

Learn how we put these beliefs into action with our organization’s new strategic plan.

READ THE 50CAN STRATEGIC PLAN

The strategic plan (linked above) is a 25-page document about 50CAN’s goals for 2018-2023.  One major goal of 50CAN is to increase the number of “citizen advocates” behind its agenda. (If you are a citizen advocating for the neighborhood school, you are not wanted.) An excerpt:

Citizen advocates are indispensable. Our civic responsibility to ensure children receive a high-quality education rests on a complex network of thousands of neighborhood, town, city, county and state systems knit together through 200 years of policy and practice. No two states or communities are alike in this vast country. Because of this, our network of citizen advocates must also be a vast one, with thousands of leaders drawing upon their own unique insights into the needs of their communities while sharing and learning together to accelerate the nationwide pace of change. …

These citizen advocates are indispensable because the United States doesn’t have a top-down national education system. Instead, our civic responsibility to ensure our children receive a high-quality education rests on a complex network of thousands of neighborhood, town, city, county and state systems knit together through 200 years of policy and practice. No two states or communities are alike in this vast country. …

50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now exists to help these local leaders be more successful advocates for kids.

So, 50CAN wants to increase local involvement in corporate reform. What is funny is that the corporate model is a top-down concept, and even though 50CAN wants to enlist more locals behind its cause, 50CAN has already determined what that cause is. So, 50 CAN wants to harness local advocates behind an agenda set by 50CAN.

50CAN citizen advocates will not be speaking against charter school expansion. They will not be rallying against the usage of taxpayer money to finance via charters a dual school system.

50CAN citizen advocates will not be seeking to end the grading of schools and teachers using test scores. And 50CAN citizen advocates will not be opposed to state-run school districts.

One can read as much on 50CAN’s “policy wins” page. The page also considers it a win to have “increased financial transparency.” However, it seems that 50CAN stops short of meaningfully addressing the financial fraud and mismanagement that has infected the charter school sector.

50CAN currently has a foothold in 10 states (DE, GA, MD, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, and TN). (50CAN began with ConnCAN (in CT), which appears to be disconnected from 50CAN–and which does use the “regardless of zip code” as part of its slogan. But ConnCAN has the same agenda as 50CAN.) There is also MinnCAN, which is apparently not networked into 50CAN and is not mentioned on the 50CAN site. 50CAN does mention that it operates in some other states to a lesser degree.

But 50CAN is methodically seeking to expand. To that end, they offer this 73-page “Guide to Building Advocacy Campaigns.”

The guide is neutral in tenor, which means that one might apply it outside of the 50CAN corporate ed reform agenda.

So, I invite individuals and organizations fighting for the neighborhood school to use this tool to their advantage– including the fact that 50CAN announces its local-level advocacy campaigns at the beginning of each legislative session.

Call it Operation ICAN Boomerang.

_____________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

8 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    The 50CAN has merged resources with StudentsFirst. One of the objectives is to make charter schools attractive to suburban communities and likely because the NAACP is no longer a full supporter of charters. THe 74million website has a 50CAN spokesperson making this case and a link to the press release about the merging of resources with StudentsFirst. I think that this points to a declining reliance on the growth of charter schools in low income neighborhoods and demise of a lot of pontificating about education as the civil rights issue of our time. Segregation by social class and race will be accepted because that is thought to spur “growth.” It is of no small significance that 50CAN and StudentsFirst are funded by the deep pockets of the billionaire foundations intent on making market based education the norm.

    • I find it interesting that so much effort at segregating students by class can now be somehow offered as “spurring growth.” What research has proven time upon time is that it is through role modeling provided by the intentional integration of diverse economic backgrounds that upwardly mobile progress is made.

  2. You forgot to mention that the CEO’s wife works for Fordham!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Actually, after looking at the website, I wish you had written about the board (ConnCAN founder is on it, maker of opiod Oxycontin), and the staff is huge

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. Is it time yet?

    Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  5. Reblogged this on Exceptional Delaware 2017 and commented:
    Hey, doesn’t Delaware have an offshoot of this? Call

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