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  • Newsroom | COSF

    Newsroom Bios Fact Sheet Press Contact Blog For Immediate Release November 9, 2023 On Tuesday, Voters Rejected Moms for Liberty and Its Agenda of Cruelty and Hate Learn more November 8, 2023 The Campaign for Our Shared Future Calls the 2023 Elections a Triumph for Students: Elections Send a Clear Message for Education Democracy Learn more October 24, 2023 COSF Executive Director Shares What Toni Morrison Teaches Us About School Board Races Learn more October 2, 2023 Campaign for Our Shared Future Reaffirms Commitment to Protecting Students Right to Read During Banned Books Month Learn more 1 2 3 ... 10 1 ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 10 In the News November 27, 2023 Why Banning Books is Hurting Our Democracy with Heather Harding November 9, 2023 Moms for Liberty and the ‘parental rights’ agenda flopped in this week’s elections November 8, 2023 In School Board Elections, Parental Rights Movement Is Dealt Setbacks November 5, 2023 Virginia school board elections face a pivotal moment as a cozy corner of democracy turns toxic 1 2 3 ... 13 1 ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 ... 13 Public Comment Ohio June 5, 2023 SENATE BILL 117 IS WRONG FOR OHIO Read more Ohio May 15, 2023 VOTE NO ON HOUSE BILL 103 in Ohio Read more Federal May 15, 2023 Public comment on U.S. Department of Education's proposed Title IX rule on sex-related eligibility criteria for athletic teams Read more Ohio May 8, 2023 NO TO HOUSE BILL 8 in Ohio! Read more 1 2 3 1 ... 1 2 3 ... 3

  • Campaign for Our Shared Future Elevates Student Leader’s Mission to Center Youth Voices In The Fight For High-Quality Education

    < Back to Newsroom FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 29, 2023 ICYMI: Campaign for Our Shared Future Elevates Student Leader’s Mission to Center Youth Voices In The Fight For High-Quality Education Latest Blog Post on “The Unbiased Classroom” Explains the Importance of Student Leadership For A High-Quality Education Washington, D.C . - Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) shares testimony from Addie Lentzner, a student and Executive Fellow with Our Turn , a national youth-led movement that promotes access to quality education. In the latest blog post for “The Unbiased Classroom,” Lentzner shares her experiences as a high school student during the start of the pandemic and encourages readers to center student voices in education decisions. Lentzner’s perspective adds value to discussions about curriculum and censorship. She understands how it feels to not learn about certain topics and the effect that has on her and her peers' ability to understand the world around them. Her and other youth leaders involved in Our Turn demonstrate that students care about what they learn, and student voices are crucial to creating a curriculum that is beneficial for all students. COSF knows that it takes collaboration to better education and students must be part of the conversation because they are experiencing the consequences of decisions every day. Their opinions can help us to understand what works and what could be better. Youth voices need to be heard so that they get the most out of their education experience. Read an excerpt from: “Want to improve K-12 Education? Listen to the Students.” “Addie, what happened during the war of 1812?” I quickly jumped from another tab - where I was focused on the latest news flashing across my screen - to the Google Meet screen for high school history. I unmuted, giving an answer I knew was nowhere near correct. I always loved school, and believed that education is one of the most important aspects of our society. However, I think we’re doing school all wrong. During 2020, at the start of COVID, my classmates and I had to transition to a whole new way of learning, while also navigating a period of reckoning with the incessant murders of innocent Black Americans. I understand the importance of history, and I eventually learned what happened during the war of 1812. But a classroom setting where high school students are unable to process the events taking place in the world around them and the changes that are affecting their lives isn’t an environment that best serves us. We were experiencing a worldwide pandemic, racial inequality and police brutality, and the stress of virtual learning on our mental health. And we were expected to come to the classroom and forget it all. The death of George Floyd was a moment of reckoning and yet it’s also part of a long history of race in America. A history that in too many places across the country is being erased by extremists and politicians. Did you know that there have been attempts to ban books or restrict curriculum in over 40 states? That there are publishers who have been pressured to remove race from lessons about Rosa Parks? This isn’t about making anyone feel bad, it’s about learning the true and complete history of our country - something that I didn’t get in my public school. … As the country and world watched our nation grapple with racial injustice and the continuous police brutality, we as students didn’t have the history to understand how we arrived at that moment and what we could do to overcome the adversity we were seeing. How can we expect young people to think independently and create positive change if we don’t teach them the truth? In short, we have to transform our education system to reflect the lived experiences of students and reflect the true and complete history of our country. You can read the full post here . If you are interested in learning about the work other student leaders are spearheading related to K-12 public schools the Campaign for Our Shared Future would welcome the opportunity to connect you to their work. ## The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is a non-partisan effort to support high-quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country. Previous Next

  • Press Statement 2-8 | COSF

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 8, 2023 Contact: The Campaign for Our Shared Future Calls for Bipartisan Commitment to Child-Centered Education Anti-equity extremists got schooled by leaders committed to helping all students succeed Washington, D.C. - Today, the Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) Executive Director, Heather Harding, Ed.D. released the following statement calling for a bipartisan commitment to strengthening our public schools and condemning efforts to politicize our children's classrooms: “Last night, the president reminded us that we became the best-educated, best-prepared nation in the world when we made 12 years of public education universal. Yet, across the country there has been a deeply concerning rise in politically-charged culture wars being channeled through our nation’s public schools. Opportunistic politicians are taking advantage of families’ frustrations coming out of the pandemic to push their extremist agendas into our childrens’ classrooms. Arkansas Governor Sanders called education the “civil rights issue of our time” — which is why we need all elected officials focused on the real needs of our students and families. “Our education system was designed and must be maintained to fundamentally meet the needs of kids, parents, and educators on a local level. Last night, we heard why these individual education decisions shouldn’t be determined by politicians in Washington or state capitals, but instead by the parents and teachers who are working together in the best interest of our students. “The goal of these political extremists is to undermine trust in public education, and eventually, our democracy. We must not allow them to overwhelm our teachers and families. Our leaders must recommit themselves to protecting the partnership between parents and teachers in order to give our children the tools they need to succeed.” ​ ### The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is a non-partisan effort to support high quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country.

  • The Campaign for Our Shared Future Responds to Parents Bill of Rights (HR 5)

    < Back to Newsroom FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 2, 2023 Contact: The Campaign for Our Shared Future Responds to Parents Bill of Rights (HR 5) New federal legislation aims to scare, not help, families and wastes tax dollars on red tape Washington, D.C. - Today, the Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) Executive Director, Heather Harding, Ed.D., released the following statement in response to the introduction of the Parents Bill of Rights Act (HR 5) : “This bill is not about helping parents and teachers work together more effectively – it’s about scaring parents into thinking that schools don't have the best interests of children at heart. Instead of scoring political points and wasting tax dollars on more bureaucracy, we should be talking about the support that families actually need. We need to focus on resources that help our children. “This is a solution looking for a problem playing out through political theater by radical politicians. Federal law–as well as many state and local laws–already ensure that parents have access to the materials their children use in school. Districts already ask parents for their thoughts on materials before making purchases. “Any policy that claims to promote the best interests of families needs input and consideration from real parents in the community. It should not come from federal politicians who are trying to advance their personal agendas and have little connection to the schools in question.” ​ ### The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is a non-partisan effort to support high quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country. Previous Next

  • Facts | COSF

    The Facts What is the role of civics? What is social-emotional learing? Is transparency in schools a good thing? Learn more about what people are talking about The Facts Is transparency in schools a good thing? Yes! Parents have a right to know what their children are learning - no really, they already have that right. Federal law already requires schools to provide easily understandable data about student, school, and district academic performance and well-being. Legislation framed as a “need for transparency” is being pushed by radical politicians who want to drive a wedge between teachers and parents. They see this as an opportunity to insert their extremist agenda and culture wars into our classrooms. Is transparency in schools a good thing? What is social-emotional learning? Social-emotional learning teaches students the essential communication, decision-making, and self-discipline skills to build their confidence and succeed in the real world. By creating a positive learning environment where students learn how to focus and be productive, schools provide kids with the social skills they need to thrive. This approach has proven to increase academic performance and improve classroom behavior. ​ Students need to learn the fundamentals like reading and math, but we don't need to choose between academics and essential social-emotional skills. In fact, independent studies have found that kids who learn social and emotional skills at school do better academically than students who don’t. What is social-emotional learing? What is the role of civics? The role of civics is to teach students about how the government functions and the important role they play in that process. Our constitutional democracy requires informed civic participants, but for decades we have failed to prepare young Americans. We must ensure that all students learn the complete and accurate teaching of United States history. Teaching civics is important to the health of our democracy and the trust that citizens have in democratic institutions. What is the role of civics?

  • Press Statement 8-4 | COSF

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 4, 2022 Contact: The Campaign for Our Shared Future’s Statement On Recent Inaccurate Reporting Washington, D.C. - Today, the Campaign for Our Shared Future released the following statement in response to recent news stories. ​ “Due to inaccuracies in recent reporting, we would like to provide clarity on our work and operations. ​ “The Campaign for Our Shared Future is a 501c3 created in October 2021. A 501c4 was created in May 2022 and is still in its early stages of development. The vast majority of our work and expenditures are c3 and have nothing to do with elections, and not the congressional or senate races, focusing instead on protecting the ability of K-12 schools to serve all of their students effectively. ​ “COSF is nonpartisan. We do not support Democrats or Republicans. Our c4 is only created to focus on school board races, which are also mostly nonpartisan, and not the other elections this year. Our c4 will support school board candidates committed to preserving meaningful content and dedicated to safety and educational access for all children. Our c3 work brings allies from all points on the political spectrum together in support of a high-quality, age-appropriate, and accessible K-12 education for every child in this country. ​ “COSF is not connected to – nor funded by – any Democratic organizations, structures, or political committees.” ​ ### The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is a non-partisan effort to support high quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country. ​

  • Voter Engagement Tips | COSF

    Back to the top Voter Engagement Tips Key Voter Info Engaging Young People Tabling Increasing Voter Turnout Local elections have the most impact on each of us, and yet voter turnout remains low. Help us change that! Each person’s vote counts equally, and every single voter has the ability to make a difference in their community simply by showing up to the polls. Voter Engagement Tips Key Voter Info Who Can Vote? School board elections typically take place every two years in most states, and are held to elect members to the local school board who will oversee the school district's policies and budget. Eligibility to vote in school board elections varies by state, but in most states, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the school district, and at least 18 years old. Did you know… That your vote truly counts? One person = one vote. Your vote in school board elections helps determine the policies and resources that shape local schools, keeping education in our hands? Voting in local school board elections is our best chance to protect local control and the rights of family involvement? Voter turnout in school board elections is typically lower than in general elections. Fewer than 10 percent of voters cast ballots in school board elections? School boards make major decisions about school leadership, determine the mission and vision, approve the budget (including textbooks), adopt policies (including curriculum), and serve as community liaisons? How Can You Help? Register to vote and make a voting plan to participate in your local school board election. Use social media to spread the word about the upcoming election and encourage your friends and family to register to vote. Attend local community events to promote the election and help register voters. Partner with local schools, youth organizations, and other community groups to spread the word about the election and encourage participation. Provide information about early voting and vote-by-mail options, if available in your state, to make it easier for people to participate in the election. Here are a few resources to help you stay informed and organized as you head to the polls. Locate my district’s candidates Register to vote Find a polling place See what’s on the ballot Registration deadlines First-time voter checklist Healthy voter checklist Nationwide voting rules Key Voter Info Engaging Young People Use creative and visually appealing methods to convey information Young voters are often bombarded with information, so making your messaging stand out is essential. Use humor, animation, or memes to make your messaging more engaging. Consider creating eye-catching graphics, videos, or social media posts that explain complex issues clearly and concisely. The Campaign for Our Shared Future voter guide is a great tool to leverage to help young voters stay informed. This resource provides essential information about registration, participation, and guidance for staying current on current community issues. Youth Ambassadors Recruit young people to become ambassadors for the local school board elections. These ambassadors can help spread the word about the elections and encourage their peers to get involved. Host events that are relevant and appealing to young voters Consider organizing events geared towards the interests of young voters. For example, you could host a concert, poetry slam, or art exhibit focusing on education equity issues. These events help create a sense of community and camaraderie among young voters, which helps increase engagement. Collaborate with influencers Partner with local celebrities, social media influencers, or other high-profile individuals who can help spread your message to a broader audience. These individuals often have large followings on social media and can help generate buzz and excitement around your cause. Collaborate with Youth Organizations Partner with youth organizations and other community groups targeted at high school and college students to help promote the elections. These groups can provide a platform for outreach to a wider audience. Provide incentives for voting Consider offering small incentives such as free snacks, stickers, or other merchandise to young people who show up to vote. This can motivate young voters who may not feel particularly invested in the election's outcome. Highlight the election's impact on future generations Emphasize the long-term impact that elections can have on the future of education and the opportunities available to young people. Encourage young voters to think about the kind of world they want to create for themselves and their peers, and to vote accordingly. Engaging Young People Increasing Voter Turnout Talk Through Text Voters will pay attention to the little buzz in their pockets or purse, therefore, making texting a powerful way to drive voters to the polls. Users of Outvote , a mobile app that helps you text personal contacts reminders to vote, had an 8 percentage point effect on getting their friends to cast ballots in the 2018 midterm elections. Are you thinking of using texting to help increase voter turnout? Here are a few tips to keep in mind: Build your text list by requesting mobile numbers at voter registration drives Texting had the biggest impact on the turnout of voters ages 30 to 44 Only the more personal approaches substantially increase voter turnout The Key To Knocking On Doors Team up with local organizations, such as community groups and churches for a people-powered grassroots movement. Door-knocking has traditionally been one of the most popular campaign strategies to increase voter turnout and remains a leading method in reaching out to voters. Scale Up With Social Media Fact - There are over 302 million people using social media in the U.S. As social media continues to grow in popularity among politicians using these platforms to amplify their messages, apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok are ideal places to plant voter education messages to help drive turnout. ​ Organize a Voter Registration Drive Help make an impact by registering voters. Consider using platforms, such as Rock The Vote , which will provide you with a toolkit to host virtual or in-person voter registration drives. Consider The Messenger When sending voter education messages, always consider the messenger. Deliver the message through a platform or person that people trust. For example, you can entrust the help of a local influencer that has a trusted rapport with the community; consider local leaders, a local celebrity, or a social media influencer that has a connection to the community. Increasing Voter Turnout Tabling Tabling Tabling List Items Eye-catching signage To draw people to the table, it's important to use eye-catching signs and banners that clearly communicate the purpose of the table. The signage should be clear and easy to read from a distance, and should include key messages about the importance of voting in school board elections. Tablecloth Table & Chairs (confirm tables needed with event sponsor/location) Tent Cover (depending on the weather for an outdoor event) Computer or Tablet (to collect information, register people to vote) Print Collateral/ Flyers SWAG items Branded items and merchandise Activities for children Coloring pages, crayons, games, etc. Cleaning items Clorox wipes, trash bags, gloves and hand sanitizer Set Up & Strategy Identify the right locations. To maximize the impact of tabling, it's important to set up in locations where people are likely to be. This might include community centers, libraries, shopping centers, or other areas where people gather. Use social media to promote the event, including the date, time, and location of the table. You should also use social media to share photos and videos of the event and to encourage others to get involved in voter registration and civic engagement. Have enough materials to last the whole event and take extra just in case. Prepare informational materials to distribute to those who stop by the table. This might include brochures, flyers, or other materials that provide information about school board elections, voter registration, and the importance of civic engagement. Be engaging! Cell phones and devices not being used for tabling purposes should be away from the table unless in case of an emergency. Make eye contact with community members and don’t be afraid to start a conversation. Stand in front of the table instead of sitting behind it. This shows a willingness to engage and tell community members about upcoming board elections in your community. When people stop by the table, partners and advocates should engage with them in a friendly and welcoming manner. This might involve asking them about their concerns or questions related to school board elections, providing them with information about the election process, or simply encouraging them to register to vote. Create interactive activities to engage people and make the table more memorable, setting up interactive activities such as a photo booth or an activity to develop a voting plan in preparation for school board elections. Organize your table. Be sure items are plentiful and are presented on your table in an organized manner. Keep your table neat. Throw away trash and replace wipes/hand sanitizer in between conversations. Be sure to follow up. After the event, follow up with those who stopped by the table to thank them for their participation and to encourage them to stay engaged in the election process.

  • NO TO HOUSE BILL 8 in Ohio!

    < Back to Newsroom NO TO HOUSE BILL 8 in Ohio! May 8, 2023 NO TO HOUSE BILL 8 in Ohio! Chair Bird, Vice-Chair Fowler-Arthur, Ranking Member Robinson, and members of the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee: The Campaign for our Shared Future (COSF) is committed to fighting for the right of every child to an inclusive and high-quality education that prepares them for success in life. Unfortunately, House Bill (HB) 8 undermines this goal and would help dismantle public schools that serve as the backbone of this country. HB 8 is not about protecting children – it’s about banning books. This bill would give a single person the power to appoint themselves judge and jury over what’s appropriate for everyone else’s children. Parents already have the power to make choices about their children’s education. In fact, federal law protects their right to review their child’s materials. All they have to do is ask. HB 8 could result in more books that reflect ALL of Ohio’s children being pulled from library shelves. Indeed, one in three books censored last year feature LGBTQ+ characters. ALL of Ohio’s children deserve to see themselves and their families represented in books. HB 8 is a needless waste of resources . HB 8 could result in every school hunting down words or sentences from tens of thousands of books, which will remove teachers, librarians, and administrators from their primary responsibility to educate children. This bill is burdensome and would undermine continued efforts by the legislature to tackle the teacher shortage crisis. HB 8 is redundant and unnecessary. Federal law already guarantees parents’ a right to access their child’s education records, and allows parents and guardians to review any surveys before they are administered to their child, among other guaranteed rights. Provisions concerning students’ records are a thinly veiled attempts to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their parents without their consent and will undoubtedly create barriers for students who need mental health services but may not have supportive or involved parents. HB8 is a distraction from the real issues facing Ohio's students: staff shortages, substandard school facilities, insufficient school funding, and more. Say NO to HB 8 because all Ohio students deserve the right to access robust, high-quality education. Sincerely, Heather Harding Executive Director of the Campaign for Our Shared Future Previous Next

  • The Campaign for Our Shared Future Calls On College Board to Resist Political Attacks and Preserve High-Quality Education

    < Back to Newsroom FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 25, 2023 Contact: The Campaign for Our Shared Future Calls On College Board to Resist Political Attacks and Preserve High-Quality Education Washington, D.C . - Today, the Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) Executive Director, Heather Harding, Ed.D., released the following statement urging College Board to preserve curriculum of Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course: “It is my hope that as the College Board continues to grapple with revisions to its AP African American Studies course, they will reject attempts by extremist politicians to censor our country’s history and instead will reinforce the teaching of true and complete American history—including Black history. “The efforts to remove topics from this AP curriculum are rooted in political theater and are pushing partisan politics into our classrooms in an attempt to censor what our students are allowed to learn. The College Board must not bow to political pressure and disrupt the full and complete teaching of African American history in our public schools. “It is the role of families and educators to determine what courses and materials best suit the needs of our students—not politicians.” ### The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is a non-partisan effort to support high quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country. Previous Next

  • Campaign for Our Shared Future Highlights Pennsylvania Mother and Advocate’s Fight for Parental Involvement

    < Back to Newsroom FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2023 Latest Blog Post on “The Unbiased Classroom” Outlines How Parents Should Get Engaged To Help Our Students Thrive Washington, DC - The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) shares insights from Kate Nazemi, the Co-Founder of Advocates for Inclusive Education on the importance of parent-teacher relationships in the latest blog post for “ The Unbiased Classroom .” Read an excerpt from: Parents Play an Important Role in Their Child’s Education As parents, we want the best for our children. We desire to see them succeed in school, identify their passions and live out their dreams. While we play an essential role in our child's education, it is important to acknowledge the vital contribution of teachers in helping our children reach their full potential. The success of our children hinges on our support. Studies show that students with involved parents are more likely to have better academic performance, better behavior, and stronger self-esteem. In a time when education seems to be under attack, the best defense is a strong and united front composed of parents and teachers working for the greater good of students. As a mother, I believe every child deserves an inclusive, meaningful education that supports their health, learning and success. And I know that the relationship between myself and my childrens’ teachers impacts how well they do in and out of the classroom. As a parent, I have seen that collaborating with teachers to provide a positive and supportive learning environment allows my girls to thrive. Teachers are an essential resource for children to gain knowledge and skills to succeed. Every parent has a dream for their children, and well-equipped schools and educators help actualize them. You can read the full post here . COSF understands that open dialogue is necessary to create real change in our education system. For that reason, COSF collects the perspectives and expertise of educators, parents, leaders and advocates to encourage respectful conversations that can produce effective solutions for the success of our children. Kate’s experience as a mother and educational advocate provides an exceptional perspective on why collaboration and teamwork is crucial to an inclusive education system and the success of all children. ### The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is a non-partisan effort to support high-quality K-12 education and preserve access, inclusion, and meaningful content in our schools so that every student has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. COSF is a common ground effort committed to fighting the attack on education across the country. Previous Next

  • School Boards | COSF

    School Boards Attending School Board Meetings How to Speak to Your School Board Resolutions for School Boards Historically, school boards didn't gain much attention outside of their communities. But a lot has changed in the past year. Across the country, culture wars have disrupted school board meetings and undermined healthy local control of our schools. School board members have come under attack for trying to do their jobs and run our schools well. In the short term, these outbursts are distracting, but their long-term effects are more troubling: They will change who runs for local school boards and who wins those seats—in many cases for the worse. In order to ensure that we elect school board representatives who are focused on the real needs of our children, we need to be informed voters. Oftentimes, the information you need is hard to find. Check out this guide for help on learning as much as you can before Election Day. School Boards Attending School Board Meetings As a concerned community member, you may wish to be part of the decision-making process for your local schools by attending school board meetings and supporting important proposals. If you do, there are important ways to ensure that your voice is heard. You won’t have a lot of time. Make sure that your message is succinct and powerful. Find out what the process is for speaking during the public comment period as well as how long you will have to speak. This can usually be found out by calling the main district office or looking on the school board’s website. The most powerful public comments are those that are unique and personalized. If you are speaking as part of a group, ensure that each person speaks to a different point so that the testimonies don’t sound repetitive. This also ensures that you can get multiple points across as a group even though each person only has a few minutes. A strong closer is important. Don’t just trail off at the end. Time yourself so that you ensure you can get through your closing without being cut off. Write down your remarks to ensure a polished presentation. Practice your remarks out loud. Don’t be afraid to show emotion. It’s not typical for the school board to ask or answer questions during an Open Forum. Be prepared to give your remarks without comment from the school board members. Be confident. This is your school district, and you have every right to be heard. Attending School Board Meetings How to Speak to Your School Board Step 1: Finding Your School Board’s Calendar First you will need to visit your school district’s website and then go to the calendar and identify when there are upcoming meetings. Step 2: Gathering information about your school board’s meetings Reach out to your school board member, superintendent, or principal and find out what issues the school board will be discussing. Ask when the public will be able to weigh in on these issues and how the school board will share those details with the community. Ask where and how school board meeting minutes will be available. Step 3: Registering to speak at a school board meeting You will likely need to register to speak at the meeting. Sometimes this can be listed under “participation” or a similar option. Many times school boards will have a deadline or a limit on how many speaking slots are available per meeting. Make sure you know when the sign-ups open so that you are ready to claim your spot. Step 4: Preparing your remarks You should be prepared to communicate clearly and directly and to share your story. Tell the board who you are and why you care. Some school boards have a limit on how long your remarks can be. Make sure you practice so that you don’t get cut off. How to Speak to Your School Board Resolutions for School Boards School boards are an important place for you to champion the voices of young people and families. One way to do this is through school board resolutions. Resolutions are a statement of policy or an order by the school board that a specific action be taken. What should be in your resolution? You should consider what policies your school, district, or state has in place that can be supported by your school board. You should also consider what opportunities there are to update or create new policies. The Campaign for Our Shared Future has worked to develop resolutions strengthening parents’ and students’ rights, creating a student representative position on a local school board, and opposing radical state legislation that interferes with childrens’ education. If you would like support choosing or modifying any of these resolutions, please contact: Resolutions for School Boards

  • Re: COSF Statement on Proposed Changes to Rule 2445.40 (Instructional Materials)

    < Back to Newsroom Re: COSF Statement on Proposed Changes to Rule 2445.40 (Instructional Materials) July 14, 2022 To: Robert Joey Wiseman, Jr., Director, Middle and Secondary Learning Services, West Virginia Department of Education The Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) is writing to comment on the revision of Policy 2445.40 (Instructional Resources), issued by the West Virginia Department of Education on July 14, 2022. As a campaign dedicated to ensuring every child has access to an excellent K-12 education, inclusive of and accessible to all, we are committed to stopping harmful policy that threatens our children’s freedom to learn. The legislation underlying the proposed rule was unnecessary and will cause untold harm to West Virginia’s students. Federal law, via the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), already ensures that all parents have access to the materials used in their child's classroom—all they have to do is ask (1). The West Virginia General legislature’s ill-conceived decision to amend W. Va. Code § 18-5-27 was based on a fictional narrative that educators are teaching inappropriate concepts behind parents’ backs. The lack of clarity around implementation in the proposed rules, including the lack of safeguards for teachers in the complaint process, further exacerbates the level of potential harm to our children. We believe the proposed rules fall short of providing sufficient guidance and clarity to educators and school staff—a harmful oversight that has already resulted in needless inventories of classroom libraries and will undoubtedly continue to sow confusion, chaos, and censorship (2). As this comment will explain, the Department must propose detailed language that institutes fair and transparent complaint processes; safeguards educators from political witch hunts; and prevents the politicization of the state’s public schools. The Department must continue to function as a much-needed non-partisan policy-making body, especially amid the Legislature’s continued effort to chip away at its autonomy (3). Yet the proposed changes to Policy 2445.40 only double down on the legislature’s fictional narrative. It is our sincere hope that the Department will prioritize clarity, transparency, and stakeholder engagement in its revision and implementation of Policy 2445. To this end, in addition to the changes outlined below, a public hearing is necessary to ensure parents, young people, and educators have an opportunity to give input on the proposed rules and any additional guidance the Department develops on the matter. COSF is disappointed in the proposed language and will continue to monitor the development, implementation, and impact of this policy on the availability of high-quality education for all children. The proposed rule has no time limits on when a complaint can be dredged up. Under the current proposal, an individual can file a complaint months, if not years, after an alleged violation occurs. At a minimum, the Department ought to establish a reasonable window for accusations to be made. We recommend that complaints be filed within 10 business days of the alleged violation. This window will ensure details of an alleged violation are not forgotten and that the potential influence by outside parties is limited. Further, the proposed rules are unclear on whether a teacher is required to meet with eligible individuals within 10 business days. One reading of the rules is that teachers have 10 business days to “schedule”—that is, set a date—for the inspection, but such an inspection can take place after the 10-day window. We recommend this reading, which requires that teachers, within 10 business days, set a date for a meeting that can occur at a later time, including during regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences. The proposed rule does nothing to protect a teacher from harassment by bad-faith actors. As written, an individual could submit dozens of complaints about a teacher⁠ over the same facts if they choose. We strongly recommend that the Department include language that expressly prohibits a complainant from filing multiple complaints based on the same facts and allegations. It is also common sense to place a limit on the number of complaints eligible individuals can submit to ensure this policy is not abused by a few bad-faith actors. Nothing in the proposed rule prevents illegitimate complaints from being submitted and reported to the legislature. The proposed rules require yearly reports to the state legislature on the number of parent complaints filed—but not the nature or resolution of complaints. Reporting only the number of complaints filed would provide an unclear picture of the problem in local schools, considering that individuals could file illegitimate allegations both knowingly and unknowingly. To alleviate this problem, the Department should propose language in the yearly report section requiring county superintendents to report on the nature and resolution of complaints filed. We also recommend that the Department require county superintendents to distinguish in their reports between substantiated and unsubstantiated complaints, with the former characterizing instances where a teacher was found to have affirmatively and intentionally broached provisions of Policy 2445.40. Additionally, we recommend the Department expressly clarify that legitimate complaints under Policy 2445.40 include failing to schedule an appointment, failing to furnish a list of required books, or failing to explain how materials align with state standards if prompted. General complaints about the age-appropriateness or content of materials are not covered under proposed changes to Policy 2445.40. In Tennessee, where a similar complaint system was instituted in 2021, rules expressly clarify that general complaints about the subject matter or age-appropriateness of materials are to be filed with the local school pursuant to the school’s locally adopted policy for addressing such complaints (4). We recommend that the Department heed this example. Finally, educators deserve assurances that the legislature will not use the yearly report to target particular schools or teachers for political reasons. We cannot allow this to happen in West Virginia. To prevent the potential for personal or dangerous attacks on our schools or educators, the Department must add a provision to Policy 2445.40 that ensures all data reported by county superintendents are anonymized to protect students, teachers, and schools. The proposed rules undermine fair investigations into complaints. Not only does the 7-day window for resolving complaints make fair investigations difficult, but it is also far from the norm. In Tennessee, superintendents are given sixty (60) calendar days after receiving a complaint to investigate and determine whether the allegation can be substantiated. At a minimum, the Department should enshrine minimum requirements for investigating complaints that call for documenting evidence and ensuring due process for teachers, including allowing teachers to appeal a resolution. The lack of exceptions could result in teachers being reprimanded for exceptional circumstances. Currently, the proposed rules do not offer exceptions to the 10-day window for teachers who are sick, who have a family emergency, or who otherwise cannot find a common time to meet with families within the 10-day allotted period. The Department should allow the timeline to be extended upon approval from the school principal if exceptional circumstances can be appropriately documented. The proposed rule does not prevent varying standards for teacher behavior county to county and school to school. The proposed rule does not articulate what constitutes a resolution of a complaint, ensuring no uniformity in the implementation of remedial actions across the state. Without guardrails, a teacher in one county could get a warning, while a teacher in the next county could get fired over similar facts. To address this, we recommend that the Department codify appropriate resolutions for substantiated complaints. We appreciate the opportunity to submit this comment. If you have any questions, please contact us at . Sources United States Department of Education, Student Privacy Office, Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), The Dominion Post, “Classroom libraries must be inventoried because of new law,” House Joint Resolution 102, Tennessee, Rules of the Department of Education, Chapter 0520-12-04, Prohibited Concepts in Instruction, Previous Next

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