2022 Eddies Awards: Game Changer Campaign of the Year

The Eddies—annual, advocate-nominated and voted awards—feature outstanding policy and advocacy wins from the past year.

This Eddies category recognizes local, state, or national advocacy campaigns that tackled a big problem and achieved a new, game-changing policy or protected an existing critical policy. Sometimes a policy window opens quickly, and advocates move fast; sometimes, the window opens after years of sustained advocacy efforts. Either way, nominees in this category pushed the envelope to make a significant impact for students and families—paving the way for others to replicate or adapt this strategy in their communities.

See a complete list of 2022 nominees in all Eddies categories. Staff at PIE Network members and partner organizations, check your inbox for a link to vote in each category. Don’t see it? Email [email protected].

Game Changer Campaign of the Year Finalists

Game Changer Campaign of the Year Honorable Mentions

FINALISTS

A+ Education Partnership

Solving the Math Crisis in Alabama: The Alabama Numeracy Act

Alabama is facing a math crisis, with only 22% of students proficient on the 2021 ACAP assessment, including only 11% of low-income students and 7% of Black students.  A+ wrote legislation to solve this problem, improved it with best practice, brought other influential education groups together, and got this bill passed into law.

The Alabama Numeracy Act creates a comprehensive plan to improve math achievement, which includes: math coaches in every elementary school (prioritizing struggling schools), training for teachers and principals, HQIM, intensive interventions for struggling students, and accountability to ensure schools are making progress. It was coupled with a historic investment, which will grow to over $100 million annually to support implementation. 

To our knowledge, this piece of legislation is the first of its kind in the nation. Unlike with literacy, states have not tackled the growing math crisis with legislation and funding. A+ wrote evidence-based legislation without any other national examples. As such, it will provide a blueprint for other states. 

American Federation for Children

Arizona School Choice Expansion: Largest School Choice Victory in US History

In 2022, Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature passed the most expansive school choice legislation in United States history. This monumental achievement provides education scholarships to all 1.1 million K-12 students in Arizona through the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, prompting school choice leaders and many in the media to name it the ‘Gold Standard’ for education in America.  

Normally, school choice expansions come in terms of thousands of students, but this overnight expansion of more than 1.1 million students exponentially dwarfs anything else in terms of both eligibility AND funding, making this accomplishment truly unprecedented. The scholarship program allows parents to access their child’s education dollars and provides every student more than $7,000 per year to use towards the education model that is best for their individual and unique learning needs. These funds can be used towards private school tuition, tutoring, materials for learning at home, online curriculum, computers, transportation, and so much more.    

Steve Smith, the Arizona State Director for the American Federation for Children, quarterbacked this campaign from start to finish with community leaders, the media, the governor’s office and the Legislature, and Steve and AFC were mentioned by name and personally thanked by Governor Ducey at the historic bill signing ceremony in August.

This incredible feat has single-handedly given POWER TO THE PARENTS and has set the template for the rest of the country to follow on how to provide educational freedom to every family!

ExcelinEd

15 States Advance Literacy Through Science of Reading

Literacy is the foundation to success, and this year 15 states made strides to ensure every child can read based upon the science of reading. This wave of policies is the result of hard work from policymakers, stakeholders, PIE Network organizations, and the ExcelinEd team. In response to pandemic-related learning loss, many policymakers recognized the need to enact or improve existing literacy policies while in other states, multi-year efforts paid dividends. Among the most exciting victories include Alaska, where a 10-year effort succeeded with the passage of the Alaska Reads Act. Other states also passed bold legislation such as Delaware’s bipartisan comprehensive literacy package; Kansas’ Reading Readiness Act; Kentucky’s Read to Succeed Act; Utah’s early literacy act, and Virginia’s Early Literacy Act. Improvements to existing policies were made in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Effective comprehensive early literacy policy and implementation are key to transforming student achievement across the nation. PIE Network Members, The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence was instrumental in the passage of the Kentucky bill, and Rodel and First State Educate made early literacy a legislative priority in Delaware, with support from DelawareCAN and a number of other state and local partners.

ExcelinEd’s support for states includes developing policy solutions, building coalitions, reviewing bills, providing expert testimony, and supporting agencies with implementation.  As a result of the passage of these laws, more teachers and students will have access to best practices grounded in the science of reading.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools

​​Illinois Charters Secure First Ever $35 Million State Appropriation For Facilities Equity in a Deep Blue State

After years of strategic political and legislative advocacy work, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) secured a major policy win in the 2022 legislative session: establishing a per pupil, state-funded facilities fund that will provide needed facilities revenue for every charter public school in Illinois. The $35 million allocated to this fund in 2022 will meet approximately 50% of the unmet facilities need for all charter schools in Illinois and amount to approximately $585 per student in additional facilities funding for schools. This historic win is the first-ever dedicated state funding stream specifically for facilities for charter schools. For years, Illinois fell behind peer states across the country on providing equitable facilities funding for charter schools. The additional financial costs have become one of the greatest causes of funding inequity between charter and district schools, despite charters educating a higher percentage of underserved students compared to their district peers.

Illinois charter public schools educate over 60,000 students at 137 campuses in 14 different cities. Charter students are 97% students of color and 85% qualify for free or reduced lunch. This new state facilities funding will improve charter school students’ access to high-quality school facilities and equitable learning spaces. It will enable charter public schools to address facilities needs while retaining operating funding for students and teachers. Teacher salaries, support staff (nurses, paraprofessionals, social workers), and after school programming stand to benefit with state provided facilities assistance. As part of our campaign efforts, INCS collected data and surveys from schools to better understand their facilities challenges. Through this work, we learned: 

  • 82% of Illinois charter public schools spend per-pupil operating revenue to cover the cost of facilities.
  • On average, charter public schools divert $1,200 per pupil from their operating budgets to fund facilities costs. 
  • 22% of schools reported a “facilities emergency” in the past five years. For example: $60,000 to fix a broken elevator or $40,000 to replace a boiler.
  • Schools also spend significant dollars on required upgrades to keep students safe, such as elevator modernization projects at $400,000, fire code updates at $300,000 or an HVAC replacement at $250,000.
  • From FY17-FY21, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) budgeted $3.64 billion for capital improvements – charters only received $22 million or 0.6% for improvements.

This “win” is relevant for the broader charter school movement. At INCS, we have found major policy wins for charter schools are possible in deep blue states with the right combination of political activism, strategic advocacy, and deep school participation.

As background, INCS launched our political work with INCS Action in 2013 and participated in our first state legislative races in 2014. For nearly a decade, we have strategically grown our work into a political force that is bipartisan and well-respected by our state’s political parties, elected leaders, and other political organizations. Because of consistent political work through five election cycles, INCS has been able to build on initial political support to create legislative champions in both chambers and among multiple, overlapping caucuses. Put simply, without our political arm involved in endorsing candidates and funding the campaigns of charter supporters, this policy win would have never happened.

We have also prioritized an aggressive, proactive legislative agenda every legislative session. Even if our proactive bills do not pass in a given year, they serve as a foundation for future efforts and become a marker for our desired end state. We’ve worked on our proactive state facilities funding goal through several political and legislative cycles. It was not a short-term achievement. Playing the long-game pays off when it comes to proactive charter policy initiatives in politically challenging states.

While the road ahead is no less challenging, the good news is there is a path forward for charter school advocates to secure major policy wins in deep blue states. Moving forward, INCS will need to continue to fight to keep the facilities dollars in the state budget and grow the pot of money over time to close the funding gap between charters and district-run schools. This work will continue to be one of our north stars in the upcoming political and legislative cycles.

National Parents Union: Everyday Parents Impacting Change

EPIC

The National Parents Union has mobilized thousands of Everyday Parents Impacting Change (EPIC) using our EPIC campaign across the nation to call for transparency and accountability in the dispensing and implementation of American Rescue Plan and ESSER I/II/III funding from the federal government. Using our NPU polling, we push state and local officials to prioritize mental health support, address the staffing crisis and engage in a robust acceleration program to tackle the challenge of helping our children get back on track. To date, we have supported groups in more than 350 communities to launch their own campaigns via our EPIC program. We also joined with national partners in reviewing ways in which districts and schools had spent the ARP/ESSER funds and how they met student needs and parent demands. In addition, NPU provided 20 national grants supporting communities and families with tools and resources to implement plans created within their own community and hold school districts accountable on how ESSER I/II/III funding is spent and a website that provides insights for education leaders to use as they decide how best to use these funds.

TennesseeCAN, Tennessee SCORE, Tennesseans for Student Success, The Education Trust in Tennessee, ExcelinEd, Tennessee Charter School Center

Tennessee Education Funding Reform (TISA)

A strong, student-centered, coordinated coalition helped focus attention on the need to modernize Tennessee’s outdated K-12 funding system, advocating for a student-weighted funding formula that would better target support to students with the greatest learning needs. The result: passage of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), the most significant K-12 funding reform in Tennessee in 30 years. The new funding formula modernizes the state’s old resource-based formula with a student-based model that funds districts and schools based on their individual students’ needs, providing a base funding amount with additional dollars included if a student qualifies for weights or direct funding. The new formula invests $1 billion in new recurring state funding with one of the highest base funding amounts in the South, requires additional reporting and accountability for effective spending, and advances key priorities around college and career success, public charter schools, and improving student outcomes. Importantly, the new formula will generate twice as much investment for economically disadvantaged students in higher needs schools than the state’s outdated formula. Coalition efforts included educating state legislators, stakeholders, and the public through a variety of messaging, advocacy, research, and reports to build the case for change and share key principles and recommendations.

Coalition members TennesseeCAN, Tennessee SCORE, Tennesseans for Student Success, Tennessee Charter School Center, The Education Trust in Tennessee, and ExcelinEd were proud to work together, in partnership with state policymakers, the Tennessee Department of Education, and other partners, to realize this Game Changer for students in Tennessee.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Center for Learner Equity, Colorado League of Charter Schools, DFER Colorado

A School Choice Victory for Students with Disabilities in Colorado

Collectively, public charter schools in CO serve higher percentages of both English language learners and students of color than traditional public schools. When it comes to students with special needs, however, there have historically been many structural, legal and financial impediments that have stood in the way of charter schools serving greater numbers of these students. This year HB22-1294 “Special Education Services In Charter Schools” sought to address some of these impediments and remove some of these barriers. As a result of advocacy efforts, substantial changes to policy were achieved , including a change to state board rule preventing enrollment discrimination against students with disabilities in all of Colorado’s public school choice options and a change in state law that will allow charter schools a path to become their own LEAs for special education purposes. Given that over 30% of Colorado public school students are enrolled in choice schools (charter schools and out-of-zone traditional district schools), these changes will make Colorado a model for other states to follow.

In addition to advocacy efforts from the Colorado League of Charter Schools and DFER CO, the Center for Learner Equity, with the support of the Colorado Association of Charter School Authorizers (CACSA), prepared three research reports related to low enrollment of students with disabilities in CO charter schools.

The combination of research and advocacy efforts led to this game-changing win for Colorado.

Educators for Excellence Minnesota

Protect Teachers of Color from Seniority-based Layoffs

The Win

E4E MN members’ impassioned advocacy over the past two years has led to a historic achievement in Minneapolis Public Schools – modifying seniority-based layoffs to protect teachers of color. This first-of-its-kind protection is critical because, even though the district has made strides toward teacher recruitment, each spring those same teachers tend to be laid off because of the last-in, first-out (LIFO) clause in their contract. This problematic practice leads to instability for teachers trying to begin their professional careers, often dissuading them from remaining in the profession. To address this barrier to recruitment and retention of teachers of color, E4E teachers organized and partnered with other advocacy groups to propose and secure these protections amid heated union contract negotiations and a teachers’ strike. It took collective political advocacy including counter-protests during the strike, a strong coalition including parents, community leaders, and educators, as well as a well-constructed contractual proposal to produce this momentous shift. 

Facts

  1. “Teachers of color help close achievement gaps for students of color and are highly rated by students of all races,” Texas A&M International University (TAMIU).
  2. In Minnesota, fewer than 5% of teachers come from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Minnesota ranks 49th and 50th in the country in high school graduations for BIPOC students.

Significance beyond this community

This win in one of the largest school districts in our state is a model that can be replicated in other school districts. Shaun Laden, President of the Educational Support Professionals Chapter of the MFT, called this “a nation-leading model” that they expect, and E4E will work, to replicate in other districts. 

Obstacles

  1. The biggest obstacle was educators’ unions protection of their fixed LIFO seniority system.
  2. This campaign reached its peak during the first MFT strike in 50 years.

Results

With advocacy and organizing coaching from E4E-MN and events hosted in coalition, our members collected petition signatures alongside the strike picket lines, participated in virtual fireside chats, and received extensive media coverage.

First State Educate

Wilmington Learning Collaborative

“It will be impossible to get in front of what kids need unless we have the flexibility to make different decisions with our calendar and resources.”- Wilmington Education Leader

In spite of the best efforts of teachers, school leaders, and many other stakeholders, more students in Wilmington are chronically absent (25%) than read at grade level (15% and less).  Half of the teachers in Wilmington schools that are split among three school districts turn over each year so there is little continuity in student-teacher relationships as students are bused to schools in and outside of the city. Systemic problems require systemic and coordinated solutions From a student’s perspective, barriers that interfere with learning must be eliminated. FSE brought together a coalition of community leaders in August 2020 to explore a potential problem solving, evidence based collective action for city schools that did not require general assembly legislation. The coalition called itself “Not Another June” to signal no more patience with the status quo lack of literacy, numeracy, relevance and well being among students. The coalition’s work caught on, simultaneously merging with the governor’s conviction that something different needed to happen to combat dire outcomes in Delaware’s landmark city. The WLC was designed to create an unprecedented, shared governance model amongst the three school districts to structurally empower city educators and leaders to make school-based, student-based decisions, share culturally relevant, focused curriculum, and deploy comprehensive services particularly suited to city students in these particular schools. Local control and local focus on a local issue.

  1. Innovations are being tested across the country. Any progress of magnitude can serve as a model for others hoping to drive innovative problem solving to long-standing inequities within bureaucracy.
  2. Enormous obstacles and challenges were creating interested stakeholders and working through decades of mistrust in top-down interventions. FSE was able to bring in the Governors office as well as community leaders. When it came to a vote, FSE worked to have all three school boards unanimously approve moving forward starting the MOU process. Students in the city will have a greater sense of community, a centralized curriculum for all students within it’s boundaries, and a pragmatic solution to a decades-long problem. The entire plan is up for final vote in the September school board meetings with the launch of the Collaborative, funded with 7 million extra from Gov’s budget annually.

Georgia Charter Schools Association

GCSA Tackles Charter School Facility Funding in Georgia

Facility costs often force charter schools to choose between adequate buildings and other critical educational services. Over the last year, GCSA has led the charge to develop and implement charter school facility finance solutions that leverage multiple funding streams (both governmental and non-governmental). During the 2022 legislative session, GCSA worked with state policymakers to increase Georgia’s existing facility grant funds by $3M (bringing the total grant fund up to $7.5M in FY23). This appropriation represents the largest single-year increase in funding since the grant’s inception in 2017 and will afford every charter school in Georgia $75K in grant funds (up from $49K last year) to help offset facility costs. Additionally, GCSA launched an in-house Facility Resource Center (FRC) in July 2020 which—over the last year—has grown rapidly to support over 20% of Georgia’s charter school sector. The FRC helps schools plan for growth, identify potential facility sites, negotiate contracts, develop project budgets and timelines, and procure facility project financing. In a very short period of time, GCSA’s FRC has increased charter school access to more affordable capital by securing competitive financing (saving 1-1.5%/school on financing) as well as $25M in credit enhancement funds to be leveraged in the state of GA to help new schools access financing to cover: a) 120% loan to value, b) leasehold improvements, c) subordinate lending, and d) senior lending. To date, the credit enhancement savings amount to approximately $7M over the term of the loan. The GCSA FRC is now working to secure “Bond Guarantee Program” funds from the US Treasury which will allow schools to take on more competitive long-term debt.

A January 2019 landscape analysis of Georgia’s charter school facility finance sector revealed that charter schools allocate an average of 12.5% of their annual operating budgets to facilities (and spend TWICE what districts spend on facilities) despite charter schools’ lack of access to dedicated funding streams like ESPLOST dollars and revenue bonds commonly utilized by traditional public schools to offset capital expenditures. This lack of access to more and better forms of facility funding represents a critical equity issue for Georgia’s 70K charter school students and creates significant per-pupil funding disparities throughout the state.

Georgia’s historical lack of financial support for charter school facilities has created a predatory market that—for many years—afforded schools two choices: cut bad financial deals or risk not being able to open. GCSA’s FRC is slowing pointing the sector in a more positive direction, and while the battle to continually add additional facility grant funding to the state budget is always hard-fought, every dollar saved by creating greater access to more affordable capital is a dollar that can be invested in students rather than buildings.

HawaiiKidsCAN

Reimagining Hawaii’s economic pillars through quality career readiness education

For far too long, Hawaii has relied on tourism as our primary economic pillar. This is a problem due to many low-wage jobs in the sector, which doesn’t produce financial stability in a state with a high cost of living. The sector can also be unstable due to global events, with 1 in 4 people out of work when COVID-19 hit in early 2020. HawaiiKidsCAN our education system can address critical shortages of qualified and credentialed workers in various sectors, including health, education, air travel, agriculture, and technology. HawaiiKidsCAN passed SB2826, signed as Act 143, which creates the first legislatively-funded incentive program to reward schools for helping kids get ready for careers in growth fields by attaining industry-recognized credentials. The legislature appropriated $2.6 million for this program, which is 26 times the budget we had in mind when drafting the bill. Act 143 builds on a win from last session – SB516 – by harnessing career readiness data to improve opportunities for students when they graduate. We believe this work will ultimately help to diversify the state’s economy, set our kids up for financial stability, and keep more talent in our state.

Prichard Committee

The Big Bold Ask ($1 Billion More Annually)

In 2019, the Prichard Committee put forth a 6-year plan to increase Kentucky’s investment in education –early childhood, K12, and postsecondary—by $1 billion dollars annually.

When we launched the six-year plan, the immediate response was our ask was far too bold! In fact, the investment we were asking for was more than doable given the state’s revenue projections, and the six-year plan is much like the state’s “road plan”.  

Our plan includes seven line items within the three areas of education. Each is designed to increase education outcomes in an equitable manner, and each can be evaluated for return on investment.

At present, we are four years into the six-year plan (two of three budget cycles) and are on track overall toward the additional $1 billion annually. We have one budget session left to go!

The model of a six-year plan across all areas of education is significant as it brings with it many constituencies who can support the plan and a structured way to build a stronger foundation for education funding, rather than forward progress in one area—often at the detriment of others.

Stand for Children Colorado, DFER CO

Reducing Financial Barriers and Increasing Diversity in the Teacher Workforce

Stand for Children Colorado partnered with several education partners, like Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform, as well as teachers, parents, education advocates, rural schools, and even college professors statewide to pass House Bill 22-1220: Removing Barriers To Educator Preparation. The inspiration for this bill was to ease the financial barriers that are particularly harmful to teacher candidates who are black, indigenous people of color; multiple studies suggest that these barriers are directly responsible for diminishing teacher candidates, who are far less likely to have the kind of resources and generational wealth to financially support them while they complete their education programs. To this end, we created a whole new stipend program to pay for the costs associated with becoming a licensed teacher here in Colorado: testing fees, including preparation and travel for rural students, as well as stipends for living costs during student teaching. It also included student loan forgiveness for teachers in Title I and rural schools who serve five consecutive years in these schools. It was funded for over $53 million, to be distributed over the next two years.

The Education Trust-New York

Universal Child Care

Never before this past legislative session was Universal Child Care on the agenda for New York. In this past session, Universal Child Care became the talk of the town with conversations amongst everyone from classrooms to the capitol. Every day New Yorkers came to understand the challenges of the childcare crisis and they began to make noise. As a result of fierce advocacy from Ed Trust–NY and partners in the Raising New York Coalition, we brought child care to the agenda of almost every voter upstate and downstate. The new mayoral administration expressed that universal child care was core to their agenda one week before the mayoral election. This was the result of fearless advocacy at every level of government as well as activating parent leaders across the state. As a result of the advocacy efforts, we secured $7B in early childhood funding from the state budget, increased eligibility for state support at 300% of the federal poverty rate, and launched a cost-of-quality model in collaboration with the Early Childhood Advisory Council, the New York State Education Department and the Office of Children and Family Services. More New Yorkers will have access to high quality child care with the new funding; however, our work is not done. We have even more ahead as we work to ensure that every New York family can afford quality care for their child in the modality that they choose. We are looking forward to this coming year where we will fight to raise the wage floor for child care workers and ensure that every child has a safe learning environment beginning at birth.

See a complete list of 2022 nominees in all Eddies categories.

Ashley Schmidt

Ashley Schmidt

Managing Director, Communications & Member Engagement