Landmark Vergara decision to transform teacher tenure policies


WASHINGTON, DC – In a tremendous victory for California students, the Superior Court decision in Vergara v. California has upheld the constitutional rights of students by significantly reversing unproductive teacher employment practices.

“Today’s Vergara decision represents a monumental affirmation that it is well within the constitutional rights of California students to access a high-caliber education,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform.

“By standing up for their constitutional rights, these nine courageous student plaintiffs have laid the groundwork for a system that properly honors teachers as professionals,” Kerwin added.

In May 2012, nine student plaintiffs sued the State of California to invalidate teacher employment practices, to include the ‘Last-In-First-Out’ retention policy, the Permanent Employment Statute, and the incredibly onerous dismissal process that protects ineffective teachers. The case officially went to trial this past January.

“Any framework that prioritizes hire date does a disservice to teachers, who deserve merit-based appreciation like other professionals, and does a disservice to students in need of a superior educator at the head of the classroom,” said Kerwin.

“Teacher quality provisions should value the positive role a teacher can play in a student’s life, and encourage student outcomes. Policies such as ‘last-in-first-out’ and permanent employment statutes create toxic safeguards and do nothing to support those who go the extra mile.”

“The Vergara decision is no doubt encouraging, however the appeal process will have to play out before there are any real effects. Although the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index indicates there is still much work to do, this victory has the potential to send shockwaves across the United States, challenging archaic employment practices that continue to plague the public school system.”


Founded in 1993, to bridge the gap between policy and practice, The Center for Education Reform is the pioneer and leading voice for substantive change that transforms learning opportunities and outcomes for America’s children. Additional information about CER and its activities can be found at


Sangari Active Science Releases Digital Edition of Middle School Science Program

Interactive tablet edition strengthens capabilities of IQWST curriculum


GREENWICH, Conn. (June 10, 2014) — Best described as an “Interactive Science Curriculum & Notebook,” IQWST Interactive Digital Edition (IDE) is the first truly interactive middle school science curriculum for tablets and laptops.  This new edition of the IQWST science curriculum expands the ways in which students are able to engage with science as it incorporates audio, video, graphic simulations, and writing and drawing tools into the already powerful IQWST curriculum.

IQWST (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology) is a grade 6-8 program designed to engage students in scientific practices as they experience phenomena and investigate science questions. Teachers are able to address key science concepts and literacy skills, including both NGSS and the Common Core, as their students read, write, talk, and do science in order to learn the core ideas and crosscutting concepts key to STEM learning.

The Interactive Digital Edition extends what the print version of IQWST can do, enabling students and their teachers to interact with the curriculum in ways that leverage the power of new technologies.

The IQWST program transforms students into scientists. Supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, IQWST was developed over a decade by science education, literacy, and learning science experts from the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Michigan State University, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Students investigate questions relevant to their lives —“How can I smell things from a distance?” “What’s going on inside me?”— by experiencing phenomena, conducting investigations, developing and using scientific models, collecting and interpreting data, and constructing explanations of how and why things happen in the real world.  And now, for the first time, this program is available in a digital, fully interactive format.

“Schools are going ahead with many interesting tablet and digital technology initiatives but there is very little strong curriculum for these new devices. We are proud to be releasing this exciting program.  It is the first truly interactive middle school science curriculum for tablets and other one-to-one devices.  We are also very proud of its strong abilities to address both the Next Generation Science Standards and incorporating the Common Core into science,” said Eric Johnson, CEO of Sangari Active Science.

“Our students are so happy to have IQWST available on their tablets,” said Kery Obradovich, the K-8 math and science coordinator for Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 in Illinois. “We have always loved using IQWST’s investigative curriculum, and this tablet edition will help students use their natural curiosity to research science in an innovative way.”


For more information, visit

About Sangari Active Science

Sangari Active Science is a mission-driven company that believes quality, investigation-centered science education is the key to sustained prosperity. Our focus is on elementary and middle school science education in the United States. With the help of strong leadership and a distinguished advisory board, our science programs are growing rapidly in districts across the U.S.



Capitol Connection

National Core Arts Standards Released

New preK—12 grade-by-grade standards for dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts are now available to educators. The National Core Arts Standards (NCAS), which are unrelated to the Common Core State Standards and were developed by a coalition of arts and education organizations, are voluntary guidelines that states or districts can adopt or adapt. The standards were shaped with the input of more than 6,000 educators, teaching artists, parents, students, and focus groups during four national reviews, and they represent the first large-scale arts standards rewrite in 20 years.

The NCAS creators intend for the standards to help educators provide all students with a well-rounded education that includes quality arts instruction and supports 21st century skills and college- and career-readiness. The standards integrate the four artistic processes—creating, performing, responding, and connecting—with the skills and knowledge, sample assessments, and criteria necessary for successful arts learning.

Visit the interactive NCAS website for resources including an archived webinar of the standards’ launch, a white paper on the framework for the arts standards, and the option to create customized standards handbooks that match your curriculum and your students’ learning needs.


Improving School Discipline

School leaders and policymakers now have access to more than 60 recommendations to improve discipline practices in schools (PDF), which build on the Supportive School Discipline Initiative under the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. The issued recommendations reflect the growing urgency in the areas of education, health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice to reduce the number of students suspended from school, who are often disproportionately students of color or students with disabilities. Earlier this year, the U.S. attorney general and the secretary of education jointly releasedguidance to help schools ensure that their discipline policies and practices are nondiscriminatory. The new recommendations build on that guidance and address ways to improve conditions for learning, strengthen responses to students’ behavioral health needs, tailor school-police partnerships, and minimize students’ involvement with the juvenile justice system.

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Communicating the Common Core

ASCD’s latest issue of Policy Points (PDF) includes basic information about the Common Core standards to help inform your communication with colleagues, parents, community members, and policymakers. The issue explains what the standards are, why and how they were created, and includes details on the standards-aligned tests that are under development. A special section outlines some key considerations and concerns that education leaders will have to address as they make the standards a reality for students across the country, from determining which instructional resources are truly aligned with the standards to incorporating Common Core assessment results into accountability systems.

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Funding Opportunity: Full-Service Community Schools

Schools that are seeking to improve education outcomes by partnering with districts and community-based organizations to provide integrated and comprehensive academic, social, and health services are now invited to apply for the 2014 Full-Service Community Schools grants. Applications are due to the U.S. Department of Education on June 20, 2014, and approximately 10 schools will receive grants averaging $457,000 each. 

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Did You Know: Fast Fact

Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely (37 percent compared to 17 percent) to graduate college as their peers with no arts education.




Unity College President Shares Vision for a Sustainable Planet in Yale Environment 360 Interview

Unity, Maine –
June 9, 2014 – The environmental college President whose vision helped ignite a growing national divestment movement sees education reform coupled with sustainability science as central to salvaging a livable planet .
In a Yale Environment 360 interview, Unity College President Stephen Mulkey, the climate scientist whose vision helped ignite the divestment movement for fossil fuels investments by higher education endowments, shares his vision for a livable future. Without widespread education reform that educates college students to meet the 21st century challenges of a world beset by climate change, the struggle will be to merely postpone the extinction of mankind.
At the American Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2013 Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Mulkey shared a startling vision for reframing higher education that drew broad praise.  His vision features sustainability science – the leading-edge of 21st century transdiciplinary (collaborative) environmental problem solving — as a foundation to ensure that college students develop the modern, comprehensive skills to not only to land their first job, but also to consistently adapt as they rise to positions of authority during their world-changing careers.
Along with founder Bill McKibben, Mulkey has become something of a prophet at the dawn of a new movement.  It is a movement that aims to reframe higher education by focusing on building comprehensive skills including business and communications, breaking down silos between the disciplines, and educating students for real world relevance.  Unity College is the first college to adopt sustainability science as its focus for teaching and learning to ensure that students are trained as visionary leaders and stewards of the Earth.
This summer Mulkey will release a video that outlines his vision for sustainability science and his cross disciplinary educational reform as a logical next step in the divestment movement.
While doing research in South America over a decade ago Mulkey came to an epiphany.  Higher education needed to change in service to saving the planet.
His uplifting call to change is not only the remedy for an antiquated higher education system in need of a post-industrial retrofit, but serves as a vision for new prosperity and economic innovation through the expansion of the “green” economy.
Unity College, which is located in the middle of Maine’s diverse eco-systems, has become a national center for sustainability science research and learning.