Thanks to You! A Year With the Center for Educational Equity

Thanks to You! A Year With the Center for Educational Equity

A photo of CEE staff members

As the school year comes to a close, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support of the Center. With your help, we have made significant strides in securing every student's right to a meaningful education through legal strategies, collective advocacy, research, and policy analysis. Here's a round-up of the impact of your contributions:

Students’ Right to a Meaningful Education

Legal Strategies

The Center, in partnership with the Youth Advocacy and Policy Lab at Harvard Law School, is developing a national action plan to secure the right to a meaningful educational opportunity for all students. In this regard, Michael Rebell, the Center’s founder and executive director, has been serving as a legal consultant to the Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT), which is conducting a “ Rose Revival” public engagement campaign throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Rose Revival project is in reference to Rose v. Council for Better Education, a 1989 legal decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

An Equitable Approach to School Funding in New York

New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights (“NYSER”) v. State of New York, a case on which Michael served as pro-bono counsel for plaintiffs, was settled in 2021 and dismissed in April 2023, when the State provided the final full funding amounts due to school districts throughout the state pursuant to the terms of the stipulation of settlement. However, the final disposition of the state’s nearly two-decades-old Foundation Aid formula remains unresolved. The Center embarked on a two-year campaign seeking funding from the legislature that would pay for the convening of a cost commission composed of national experts in school finance, along with the State Education Department, stakeholders, teachers, schools and district leaders, parents, and students, including a robust public engagement process. Read more about our ongoing advocacy.

Amicus Briefs

The Center has filed a number of amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs to support plaintiffs asserting students’ rights to an adequate education in cases filed in New York and elsewhere. Last year, the Center filed amicus briefs in Keith A. Bradford, et al., v. Maryland Board of Education (Maryland, Appellate Court, 2023) and Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools et al. v. Lester Young et al. (New York Appellate Division, 3d Dep’t, 2023).

Welcoming New Staff Members

Jonathan E. Collins, Ph.D. This year, the Center welcomed Dr. Collins as the Center’s associate director. He is an assistant professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and an assistant professor of political science (by courtesy) at Columbia University. His research focuses on race and ethnic politics, urban politics, state and local politics, education politics and policy, and democratic innovations. As a researcher, Dr. Collins has been at the forefront of the study of public participation at school board meetings. His book in progress, Democracy Speaks: School Board Governance through Deliberative Culture, demonstrates how democratic school board governance facilitates urban education policy reform. He has also written on civics education, African American voting behavior, local election reform, and school finance policy. His scholarship has been published in the American Political Science ReviewPolitical Behavior, the Peabody Journal of EducationAmerican Politics Research, the Urban Affairs Review, the Journal of Urban Affairs, and Local Government Studies. His public writings have appeared in the Washington PostEducation Week, the 74, and the Brookings Institute. Dr. Collins is also a regular columnist for Phi Delta Kappan . Dr. Collins is the recipient of numerous awards including the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, the American Political Science Association's Susan Clarke Young Scholar Award, and the Brown University Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Award. His research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Dr. Collins holds a Ph.D. in political science and an M.A. in African American Studies from the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as a B.A. in English from Morehouse College.

Satoshi Takahashi, Ph.D.  The Center’s long history of robust public engagement in the pursuit of strengthening educational rights has attracted attention from scholars all over the world. This year, the Center has been hosting Dr. Satoshi Takahashi, Associate Professor of Human Sciences at Osaka University, as a visiting scholar. Dr. Takahashi researches education reform in the US and Japan. Recently, he presented at the AERA conference with Daniel E. Ferguson of George Mason University on their study examining the factors that contribute to why some Japanese students struggle to make the transition from preschool to elementary school. Early findings indicate that early childhood curricula may be a factor as students migrate from a play-based environment to more academically-focused work in the classroom.

DemocracyReady NY: Collective Advocacy, Policy Work & Research

New York Civic Learning Week

DemocracyReady NY Coalition, the Center’s statewide, nonpartisan, multigenerational coalition, hosted a series of virtual and in-person events to celebrate New York Civic Learning Week from March 11 - 15, 2024. The events were organized in coordination with the National Civic Learning Week, sponsored by iCivics. Initiated by New York City Public Schools in 2018 as part of its Civics for All initiative, DemocracyReady NY hosted the first series of statewide events in 2023.

Under the New York State Constitution, students are entitled to an education that provides them with the knowledge, skills, experiences, and dispositions they need to participate in our democracy. New York Civic Learning Week builds on and contributes to the state’s efforts to improve civic readiness in New York. This year’s featured speakers and panelists included SUNY Chancellor and former US Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr., NYS Education Commissioner Dr. Betty A. Rosa, and New York State Regent Frances G. Wills, as well as several of our coalition partners. 

Legislative and Policy Work

For the past several years, the Coalition has advocated for legislation that would expand media literacy education in New York, as many other states have already done. This year’s bills reflect recommendations from our paper, “Developing Digital Citizens ,” including more robust library staffing and professional development requirements. We are also working to develop an action plan that would advise the State Education Department on ways to advance media literacy education without a legislative directive.

DemocracyReady NY’s Recent Publications

Preparing for Civic Responsibility in Our Digital Age: A Framework for Educators to Ensure Media Literacy Education for Every Student . Authored by media literacy expert Faith Rogow, Ph.D., this media literacy education outcomes framework is written for pre-K-12 school librarians, teachers, school and district administrators, school board members, and the educators and policymakers involved in creating state education standards or teaching pre-service courses for education professionals.

Gauging Civic Readiness: The State of Civic Readiness in the United States and Recommendations for Its Improvement. Preparing young people for their civic responsibilities in a democracy is an essential role of schools in the United States. Yet, this report shows that over 80% of states currently ignore the need to assess the full extent to which students are being prepared for capable civic participation.

Youth Engagement

Our youth members, convened by our communications and outreach associate Katie Loos, represent a geographic composition of students from across the state, ranging from major cities like Rochester, Albany, Syracuse, and New York City to smaller towns on Long Island and upstate. This year, they focused on the intersection between civic education and responsible technology and interviewed their peers about their perspectives on media and media literacy. They paid particular attention to their schools' responses to the rise of Artificial Intelligence. Throughout the year, we brought in guest speakers from TC’s Media and Social Change Lab and the Kentucky Student Voice Team. Center staff organized workshops on school funding and education policymaking in New York. 

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By: The Center for Educational Equity
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