Philadelphia, PA – Stand For Schools received national recognition at the 6th Annual Network for Public Education National Conference in Philadelphia. Earlier this week, the Nebraska nonprofit advocacy group received a standing ovation from hundreds as they were presented with the Phyllis Bush Award for Grassroots Organizing.
Daniel Russell, the Interim Executive Director of Stand For Schools, said, “It’s an enormous honor to be selected from so many organizations doing really important and impressive work all around the country.”
The Network for Public Education (NPE), which hosted the conference, aims to connect students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other public education advocates. Ann Hunter-Pirtle, who founded Stand For Schools in 2016, said the gathering is, “such an important reminder that people in every state want their public schools to work well.”
Over the weekend, attendees heard from the nation’s leading researchers, organizers, and experts on a variety of issues facing public schools. Russell, Hunter-Pirtle, and Melina Cohen, Stand For Schools’ Director of Communications, were invited to lead a panel discussion about their success working to advance public education in Nebraska. They were joined by Diane Ravitch, NPE’s Founder and President, a best-selling author, and an education historian, researcher, and policy expert.
Ravitch is widely known for serving as Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush before becoming one of the country’s most prominent critics of high-stakes testing and school privatization. School privatization (often called “school choice” by its proponents) refers to policies like vouchers and scholarship tax credits that take public dollars from public schools to fund private, parochial, and for-profit schools.
Stand For Schools has been instrumental in staving off privatization efforts in Nebraska over the last several years. Despite their small size, the nonprofit has managed to stand up to much larger and more powerful interests, helping defeat several scholarship tax credit bills in the legislature despite mounting pressure, lobbying, and spending from out-of-state pro-privatization groups like Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children and Charles Koch’sYes. every kid.
As one of just two states where public schools have not been privatized, Nebraska consistently earns first place in NPE’s scorecard of states’ commitment to public schools. Ravitch said, “NPE salutes the states that have protected and cherished their public schools while fending off the siren call of privatization. They can and should build strong public schools that are open to the public and owned by the public.”