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Annenberg Institute: Activists Offer Alternate Vision of Public Schools

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A commentary released last week by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, at Brown University, in Providence, R.I., states that pockets of community activists are poised to become powerful change agents in the swiftly changing public education landscape.

Despite the current conversation about Common Core State Standards and providing students with "21st Century skills," the paper argues that public education appears to be a "system in crisis" as it grapples with massive budget shortfalls and the "toxic divides between new education reformers and teachers and communities."

The commentary states that many current education reforms seek little input from the community. But the paper suggests that "grassroots organizers and activists are asserting their own alternative vision for improving their schools."

The commentary cites examples in Chicago and Philadelphia as proof that grassroots groups can positively lend their voices to public education debates that it contends have left parents, teachers, and other community members out of the discussion. In Chicago, community groups are actively engaged in protesting recent school closures, while in Philadelphia student groups are working to find alternatives to drastic budget cuts.

"Each of these community-based responses should offer hope and inspiration generated by dedicated youth, parents, teachers, and community members who refuse to surrender as they watch the reforms in their respective cities dismantle public education," writes Keith Catone, a principal research associate in the institute's Community Organizing and Engagement area.

Read the institute's full commentary here.

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