2023 Eddies Awards: Game Changer Campaign of the Year

The Eddies—annual, advocate-nominated and voted awards—feature strategic advocacy that is driving impactful policy change.

This Eddies category recognizes local, state, or national advocacy campaigns that tackled a big problem and achieved a new, game-changing 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 2023 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

A+ Education Partnership – Passing Data Governance Legislation to Codify Education and Workforce Data for Alabamians

A+ Education Partnership was integral in the passage of HB 109—a huge win for both the state and Alabama’s students and families navigating education and workforce pathways. The legislation establishes a secure education and workforce data system. Most importantly, this law emphasizes inclusivity and diversity in how the data system is governed and aims to enhance transparency, data analysis, and policy development to improve education and workforce outcomes in Alabama. It incorporates workforce data into the system and matches it with individual-level education data to link early learning, education, workforce training, and employment outcomes—crucial pieces of information that leaders need to make decisions that benefit students. A+ Alabama’s tireless work made the passage of this law a reality. The legislation was introduced in the previous session and passed unanimously in the House but failed to pass the Senate. The dedicated advocates in Alabama took on the work to ensure its passage this year and by doing so, have set up Alabama’s students and families to access more and better information about education and workforce pathways and Alabama’s leaders to make evidence-based decisions about how to best support students through high school and beyond.

Advance Illinois – Supporting the Whole Child

Non-network partners: Center for Childhood Resilience & Illinois Education Association 

Like many (if not most) states, Illinois has not had a systemic approach to addressing student mental health and well- being. Some good work happens at the local level, but it is generally idiosyncratic and leader-dependent. With leadership from the Black Caucus, Advance Illinois, Center for Childhood Resilience, and Illinois Education Association, the state formed a Whole Child Task Force that issued recommendations on how Illinois could create a true system for supporting student mental health and well-being. This spring, these same groups drafted and passed a bill to begin implementing key elements of the Task Force recommendations, including (1) creating an ‘adversity index’ to understand the mental health issues at play in districts and communities across the state; (2) adopting a common definition of ‘trauma’ and ‘trauma-informed/healing centered’; (3) reporting school/district staffing levels for counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses on the state report card; and (4) developing clear professional development around trauma-informed/healing-centered care. Put simply, Illinois now has a blueprint for a systemic approach to student mental health and well-being, and is taking steps to implement it.

Colorado Succeeds, DFER Colorado, Ready Colorado, Stand for Children Colorado, Teach Plus Colorado, Transform Education Now (TEN)

In 2023, Colorado passed HB23-1231: Math In Pre-Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade. This groundbreaking bipartisan legislation is the first of its kind in the nation, implementing a holistic, all-encompassing approach to addressing the 50,000 Colorado students who are currently struggling with math. In 2019, 8th-grade students received a NAEP score of 285 in math. By 2022, that score had decreased by 10 points to 275, a trend that is not unique to Colorado, but still jarring to educators, advocates, legislators, and parents alike. This $28 million investment utilizes evidence-informed strategies through a free train-the-trainer model that trains current and future educators, as well as caregivers, enabling them to fully participate in getting their student(s) back on track to math proficiency alongside educators. Creating specific and narrow language to truly capture the essence of the bill without being over-prescriptive or burdensome to schools and school districts was challenging. The bill was also met with opposition from certain assembly members, citing concerns regarding the cost of the legislation. Because of the gravity and urgency of students’ math proficiency, investing one-time funding in math curriculum and intervention was a priority to mitigate this imminent crisis our state is facing.

Educate Texas, The Education Trust in Texas – Outcomes-Based, Student-Centered Community College Finance Reform for Texas

Non-Network partners: Commit Partnership, Texas 2036, E3 Alliance, Texas Association of Business, Texas Business Leadership Council, Philanthropy Advocates, Good Reason Houston, Greater Houston Partnership, Longview Chamber of Commerce, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Austin, Young Invincibles, Breakthrough Central Texas 

Lawmakers and advocates united to pass House Bill 8, which provides a generational investment transforming Texas’s education and workforce system through our community colleges. Funding formulas had been largely unchanged for 50 years and failed to account for differences in student need or local resources, contributing to low rates of student completion and exacerbated workforce skills gaps, with less than 1 in 4 Texas students achieving a postsecondary credential by age 24. A multi-sector coalition of education advocates working with community college, student, business, and philanthropic leaders brought stories, data, and urgency to the Capitol. The new funding model prioritizes student outcomes tied to regional and state workforce needs. Student success is directly tied to completing credentials of value, transfer, and dual credit with additional incentives for economically and academically disadvantaged students and adult learners. HB 8 also increases access to postsecondary courses in high school with the creation of a dual credit financial aid program for economically disadvantaged students. Further, HB 8 facilitates collaboration, cost sharing, and operational efficiency across the sector. In a climate often-hostile toward higher education, passing HB 8 unanimously was a testament to strong legislative and agency leadership, bolstered by unified, cross-sector advocates.

Educators for Excellence-New York – Culturally Relevant Curriculum Campaign: Ensuring Instructional Materials are Grounded in Science of Reading

For over two decades, every school in New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) has selected its own curriculum, resulting in inconsistent quality and cultural relevance, an inability to comprehensively align professional learning with content, and a lack of understanding of what was working and what wasn’t. E4E educators from all five boroughs drafted recommendations calling on NYCPS to transform the selection of curriculum and its currently haphazard implementation. They brought these recommendations to their colleagues, garnered feedback, went back to the drawing board, and ultimately collected over 1,000 signatures in support of the final product. After meetings with Deputy Chancellors, a panel discussion with Schools Chancellor David Banks, dozens of school visits and monthly educator convenings, NYCPS announced “NYC Reads”, an early literacy initiative that will limit K-5 ELA to one of three curricula – – each of which is grounded in the Science of Reading — to be selected and used uniformly across each of NYCPS’s 32 local districts, impacting 300,000 students. The effects of this change, if implemented properly, are hard to fathom. In NYS, 14% of Black fourth graders and 20% of Latinx fourth graders are proficient in reading. These new curricula stand to triple or quadruple those figures, and the impact on each student that those numbers represent will be truly life changing. New York City is also the largest school district in the country and often sets the tone for other districts. The press coverage and national attention NYC Reads garnered has the potential to revolutionize ELA curriculum and professional learning across the US.

National Alliance of Public Charter Schools – Monumental New Charter School Law in Montana

The passage and signing of HB 562, The Community Choice Schools Act, brings public education options to students and families in Montana, the 46th state to enact a charter school law. HB 562 was a necessary step to provide more high-quality public education options in the state. All public charter schools, or community choice schools as they are called in HB 562, are public schools and free to attend. Until this law Montana was one of the only five states in the nation that did not allow public charter schools, depriving families of the opportunity to choose innovative public schools that best fit their students’ needs. According to the National Alliance’s Charter School Model Law, HB 562 will be ranked as one of the strongest laws in the nation. According to a recent poll conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling that surveyed 550 Montana residents in eight counties, only 15% of respondents describe the quality of their local public schools to be excellent, and 56% of parents and grandparents with a child in school support or strongly support the establishment of charter schools in Montana. ‘In Montana, less than half of students in public schools are proficient in language arts, and only one-third are proficient in math. Clearly, there is a need for higher quality public education,” says Monica Berner, parent and advocate. ‘Parents should have a choice of schools, regardless of their reasons why.’ HB 562 was championed by citizens who saw a need for public education options in their state. Trish Schreiber, one of the citizen leaders who advocated for this bill, says, “This was a colossal effort, 24 years in the making, that ultimately was accomplished by having a strong relationship with the National Alliance in conjunction with the right bill, the right sponsor, the right leadership in both chambers and, of course, the right Governor.”

Game Changer Campaign of the Year Honorable Mentions

BESTNC – TeachNC: The One-Stop-Shop for Becoming a Teacher in North Carolina 

What if: instead of disconnected and temporary solutions to the teacher shortage crisis, there was an affordable, research-based, candidate-driven platform that not only removed unnecessary barriers, but also made becoming a teacher appealing and accessible? What if: instead of trying to convince more people to go into teaching, we started addressing shortages by eliminating the support barriers and information lag for people who already want to teach? That’d be a real gamechanger – and it’s happening in North Carolina! In 2018, business and education leaders joined forces to build a state-wide, one-stop-shop to help candidates find the information and support they need to prepare for a teaching career, licensure information, financial aid opportunities, a statewide jobs board, one-on-one coaching, and authentic, personalized support from active North Carolina teachers. This past year, TeachNC unlocked the Game Changer Achievement Level! With 20,000+ registered users and nearly 3,700 new TeachNC-supported applications to Educator Preparation Programs in the first three years, TeachNC is now fully-funded by the state budget and will increase student access to fully-licensed teachers for decades to come. TeachNC is the premiere resource for individuals who want to go from curiosity to the classroom!

ExcelinEd – The Arkansas LEARNS Act

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduced and championed the Arkansas LEARNS plan, which led to the introduction and adoption of the most far-reaching and comprehensive education package in the nation this year. The Arkansas LEARNS Act, which was signed into law in March 2023, addresses a broad suite of K-12 education policies. Key elements include: a focus on early literacy to ensure students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade; strategies to expand and replicate effective public charter schools; a universal education scholarship account program that allows parents to customize their child’s education; performance-based pay raises for teachers; and stronger education and career training programs to ensure students are prepared for in-demand jobs. This comprehensive plan for K-12 education promises to give hundreds of thousands of students across Arkansas the quality education all kids deserve. The impact of the LEARNS Act’s comprehensive approach—both in the near term and the future—cannot be understated. Approximately 144,000 students in grades K-3 will benefit from the bold early literacy policies designed to support struggling students. The LEARNS Act will require classroom teachers to be paid a minimum base salary of $50,000 beginning in 2023-24, with teachers who were making above $50,000 in 2022-23 receiving a minimum salary increase of $2,000 in 2023-24. It also creates a Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program that will offer up to $10,000 bonuses for teachers who demonstrate outstanding growth in student performance, with the goal of retaining the state’s best and brightest educators. To support student success beyond K-12, the LEARNS Act requires students to develop individualized career plans in preparation for graduation, creates a Career-Ready Pathway High School Diploma and expands education-to-workforce pathway offerings for students.

National Parents Union, Edunomics Lab –  National Parents Union Education Finance Certification

Financial allocations that impact U.S. public education policy are not universally understood. Without this knowledge, parents cannot have significant influence on decisions regarding whether resources in their local districts are used in ways which impact student outcomes. Recognizing an educational void that needed to be filled, the National Parents Union (NPU) collaborated with Georgetown University to open their one-of-a-kind Certificate in Education Finance (CEF) to everyday parents, not just state and district education finance personnel. In partnership with Edunomics/Georgetown University, NPU facilitated the enrollment of National Parent Advocates into the certificate program, where they gained the skills and knowledge to: analyze how policy can affect resource use, what common cost drivers are in education, how to find and use education finance information, and how resources can be allocated in ways that don’t have unintentional negative impacts on students. Upon completion, participants are armed with practical skills in strategic fiscal management, finance policy analysis, and financial leadership, as well as continuing education credits (3.0 CEUs, 36 CPEs and/or 30 PDCs). Because of NPU’s influence, Georgetown University now waives the course fee for NPU parents. With NPU sponsoring travel costs, this certificate is completely free of charge.

Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) – Models of Expanding School Choice For and With the Community

In 2017, PAVE organized eight Ward 8 and military parents to form a Parent Operator Selection Team (POST) that brought a parent-selected public charter school to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Ward 8. In 2018, the DC Public Charter School Board unanimously approved the application of the Ward 8 POST selected school, LEARN DC. The school opened in 2021 and serves 164 students in grades PreK3 through 3rd grade, adding a grade level per year until the 8th grade. LEARN is the first intentionally diverse charter school opened East of the Anacostia River, serving students from the base and Ward 8 community.

In 2017, PAVE hosted elected officials on a tour of Bard Early College High School in Baltimore. In 2019, after negotiations between the Mayor and DC Councilmembers, Bard DC became the FIRST East of the Anacostia River application high school to open in more than two generations, providing families in our most geographically and socio-economically isolated communities in DC, Wards 7 and 8, a high-quality school option with the option for students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree – all tuition free. Bard DC’s model addresses significant barriers for low-income students to not only attend but graduate from college.

In school year 2021-2022, 377 students, nearly 94% of whom were Black/African American, were enrolled. In 2023, Bard DC moved into a permanent home in Ward 8: a 108,200 sq ft fully modernized school building with a total of 32 classrooms. Bard DC currently has a high school graduation rate of 96% and 62% have earned their associates degree. 

Both of these wins serve as models for how to intentionally expand quality school options to those historically excluded from opportunity by centering communities’ voices and visions in the planning and implementation processes.

Texas Public Charter Schools Association – Charter Schools are Public Schools: A Victory for Equal Treatment 

When public charter school educators tried to open new campuses in Texas, they were forced to pay extra fees, held to different standards, and punished with excessive delays. Just to obtain a construction permit, one public charter school was forced to pay $500,000 to repair roads that private businesses had damaged. Another public charter school had to pay $400,000 for water pipes in a nearby neighborhood. Across the state, we’re talking about millions of taxpayer dollars being stripped from public charter schools. We had schools share their story. Click here to see the problem articulated by schools. For eight years we have fought to right this wrong. This legislative session, we fine-tuned our strategy and got the bill over the finish line with bipartisan support. Of the 69 returning House members who voted “no” in 2021, TPCSA flipped 31 votes from “no” last session to “yes” in 2023. We had solid support among House and Senate freshmen: Of the 28 new Representatives who cast a vote for the first time on this issue, all 19 Republicans, and 3 of 9 Democrats supported. All freshman Senators voted yes (R & D). This was not luck accomplished by chance–it was strategy. 

We started earlier than previous years
•Priorities set early 
•Interacted with presumptive winners even BEFORE their elections and supported charter schools building relationships early on
•Set and met pre-session goals

Commitment from lawmakers that mattered
•Secured the best bill sponsors
•Improved House Committee make up
•Significantly increased TPCSA presence at the Capitol

Improved upon our “Surround Sound” strategy 
•Great comms as a starting place (see a debrief of our communications strategy)
•Strategically ensured charter schools across the states were building quality relationships with their lawmakers
•Clear and concise messaging

Schools have reached out saying how this bill has completely altered how they work with cities on a local level. We saw an immediate impact.

The Education Trust-Midwest – Fair Funding for All

Non-Network partners: Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity 

In June, Michigan became one of the first ten states in the country among those with similar funding systems to send increasing levels of funding to districts as their concentrations of poverty increase. This huge structural change is the most important funding reform in Michigan since the mid-1990’s. It now lays the groundwork for larger conversation on school revenue expected in 2024. This remarkable overhaul was led by The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM) and the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity (MPEO), for which ET-Midwest serves as a backbone organization. Our coalition and organization were the only actors in Michigan advocating on this historic policy win. Coalition members successfully proposed and achieved a new funding formula, called the Opportunity Index, that accounts for the concentration of poverty in students’ school districts for the first time in Michigan.

The impact for Michigan students from low-income backgrounds is significant:
•Upon full implementation, the new funding mechanism will invest more than $2.9 billion annually in students from low-income backgrounds.
•This year, it will invest more than $950 million in these students – a greater than $200 million increase above FY23.
•The win is garnering attention and interest from national school funding experts for its attention to concentration of poverty, among other important substantive changes. Coalition partners also successfully advocated to increase funding for English Learners by 50%, amounting to the highest funding level ever and representing the first meaningful state investment for English Learners in a decade, as well as significant increases for students with disabilities. 

The wins followed a three-year-long advocacy campaign, including dozens of meetings with stakeholders, policymakers and the governor’s office; an advocacy day at the state capitol; public testimony; two funding reports; multiple guest opinion pieces in Michigan’s major media outlets; over a dozen interviews and individual learning sessions with media; and a social media campaign with digital toolkits, advocacy alerts, a letter-writing campaign to lawmakers and a Fair Funding Pledge. 
ETM is the backbone and convening organization for the MPEO, a statewide, diverse, bipartisan table of more than 50 civil rights, civic and business leaders who work on issues that impact students who are the most underserved in Michigan.

The Education Trust-West – Math Matters

Non-Network partners: California Association of Science Educators, Californians Together, California Partnership for Math and Science Education

The Education Trust-West’s Math Matters campaign achieved two big game-changing wins in the last year – an $85 million investment in the 2022-23 California state budget for a math, science, and computer science professional development state network (which ETW co-sponsored as a bill and budget request) and the approval of an equity- focused new mathematics state framework in July 2023. Both of these wins are significant as they are designed to address critical needs for improved and more equitable STEM curriculum, instruction, and achievement for California’s students. The approval of the framework was the culmination of more than three years of coalition building, deep content-specific engagement, direct advocacy, and clear and consistent communications to keep the focus on student achievement and equity despite many forces that sought to derail the process or undermine equity. The Education Trust- West mobilized the support of more than 30 advocacy, educator, research, and family-serving organizations to uplift the voices and perspectives of those most impacted by California’s dismal mathematics achievement. Now, due to both the new framework and the emerging statewide professional development network, the state is much better positioned to roll-out the updated instructional guidance with an approach that will center equity and reach each county in our large and diverse state.

Anna McDaniel-Wyatt

Anna McDaniel-Wyatt

Analyst, Communications & Member Engagement