Diane Ravitch Launches Network For Public Education; Closure News In Philadelphia, Chicago, New York -- Ed Today

Diane Ravitch's New Group On Wednesday morning, a group of education activists across the country -- including Leonie Haimson, Anthony Cody, and Diane Ravitch, the fierce historian-cum-reform-fighter -- announced the launch of the Network for Public Education. The group aims to fight off state advocacy groups such as StudentsFirst and Democrats for Education Reform that push a particular school-related agenda including charter schools and teacher evaluations based, in part, on student test scores. Ravitch told Politics K12 that the group plans to endorse specific candidates, but won't be donating to them -- unlike the groups they're fighting.

How is it funded? According to a spreadsheet of funders Cody sent me yesterday, all the donations are pretty small from some names that are familiar in the space. By Wednesday at around 10 a.m., the group's largest donation was $250. "The total, four hours post launch, is $3155, and about 90 donors," he said in an email at the time. By 4 p.m., that number was up to $4,000, Cody the Times.

As for the unions -- Randi tweeted her support, but I'm waiting to hear back from the National Education Association to see where they stand.

Union Leader Handcuffed? Last night, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, was arrested for protesting school closures by blocking the entrance of a School Reform Commission meeting in Philadelphia, as we report. Weingarten told me that she was denied meetings with the state's governor and the city's mayor, so the protest -- which she knew would result in arrest -- was a "last resort" to prevent school closures, what she sees as "immoral" actions.

The SRC is ultimately recommending 23 school closures, reduced from 37 in the commission's original recommendation. But if this is how the AFT reacts to closures of that scale, I'm curious to see what the union does in Chicago, a city that is considering closing up to 80 schools this year.

Closure Report In Chicago The commission advising Chicago Public Schools on closures has released its final report, saying that up to 80 schools can be justifiably closed. Their criteria, according to the Tribune: there have to be better options for kids to attend and that students are safe. If Chicago comes close to 80, it would be the largest wave of school closures in all of U.S. history, as far as I know.

Meanwhile In New York... New York City, the nation's largest school district, is also deciding which and how many schools to close this year. According to NY1, the city removed two schools from its 'phase-out' list yesterday, sparing them from closure. "According to the DOE [Department of Education], both schools were able to prove that they are improving academically," NY1 writes.