Vol 15 – Live at the Charter Growth Fund

Jed and Andy record WonkyFolk’s first live session as they keynote at the Charter Growth Fund.

Transcript
Ebony:

So without further ado, let us transition to the wonky folk podcast. So if Jed and Andy can come up, they're going to dive deeply into the latest and greatest issues about our changing advocacy conditions for charter schools. And we're going to talk a little bit about policy makers and red States and blue States and the different contexts. The WonkyFolk podcast is a discussion that, um, Andy and Jed intend to provide an informative and engaging forum where educational reformers, that's all of us, can grapple with tough issues related to our shared quest to improve public education. So let's perk up our ears, sharpen our wits, and immerse ourselves in a great conversation with a live episode of WonkyFolk.

Jed:

Thank you, Ebony.

Andy:

Ebony, thank you. Are we recording, Raymond? Are we good? We've never done this live, so we don't even know how to start it. Uh, Hey Jed.

Jed:

Hey Andy, this is fun. This is a lot of fun. Uh, special thanks to Charles from the growth fund to try something new. Special thanks to all of you guys, uh, for, um, being thinking of questions. Cause we'll probably go to questions, maybe 40 minutes or something like that. Um, but, uh, just excited to be here. It's an amazing gathering and, um, we'll try this experiment and see what happens.

Andy:

I don't know what else. Uh, the podcast, we, I mean, we just sort of, it's a little hard. Jed, Jed tries to keep us on track and I'm a little more like, Hey Jed, what do you think about the Red Sox bullpen this season? And Jed's all like, let's talk about, let's talk about charter schools. Um, uh, uh,

Jed:

Can I just share one thing? Cause you, you said something about Kevin. Um, because what, what Charter School Growth Fund has done in so many different ways, uh, has been terrific. But one thing is that when I left CCSA, um, uh, Kevin said, Hey, will you go on the road? We will support you. Visit as many states as you possibly can and just write us a little report. What's the, what are the advocacy conditions in each state? And what's our advocacy readiness from an organizational standpoint? And so if COVID hadn't hit, I would have gotten to 30 states. It was like 27, 28 when I cut it off. But I have to tell you, I learned so much from that experience. And it was that that led me to say, You know what, I think we need to have something like Charterfolk. Because I had this feeling of, uh, our own world being a little bit on our haunches. And not even as committed or convinced that we were on the right side of history. Like Governor Ducey has been saying that we are, right? Uh, and so we did that. But Charter, but it really grew out of, Kevin saying, go on the road, see what we need, and, and follow your intuition and, and Charterfolk existing I think is really a function of the fact that Kevin supported me at that moment.

Andy:

And your intuition led you to a podcast.

Jed:

Yeah, well, there we went.

Andy:

Um, so, we're not going to reference the session we just heard anything, it was off the record, but we can acknowledge that Governor Ducey was here and that was very interesting. I would use him again as an opening act, I was thinking, would you? I thought he did a nice job.

Jed:

Yeah.

Andy:

We'd use him again. For sure. Um, but being here in Arizona, uh, being here in Arizona with him, like, I mean, this is kind of ground zero for school choice and I mean, there is so much happening here. And one of the things, um, is this issue of how do we detach, you know, people's personal wealth and zip code from schooling. And I know you have a lot of, you have a lot of thoughts about that.

Jed:

Yeah. So anybody that reads at charter folk or knows me from, from other advocacy, uh, work. Knows that I just obsess on these attendance boundaries and you know what I call educational red lines And I thought that Kevin wasn't very articulated in describing that we're in this Multi generational effort to evolve our movement our country away from dependency on that kind of red lines But I have to say that I I entered the discussion day a little bit irked Um, there is this new effort, some of you guys may have heard about this, called the No Lines Coalition. And it is a group of 28 advocacy organizations across the country that have come together and made a commitment to erase these attendance boundaries over time. They've set a goal to eliminate them all by the end of the decade. What irks me is when you look at the 28 Organizations that are listed there. There isn't one that's a charter specific advocacy organization Not one and I cannot believe it and and it's it. Yeah, I just feel like it's points to Kevin talking about we need to try new things We cannot keep advocating in the same way that we have in the past And believe that we're going to be able to drive a new narrative for our movement And when we are not willing or able to proactively identify these things that are at the core of what our work is all about, and get ourselves proactively positioned, we end up in a moment where a new coalition is founded and charter schools are absolutely invisible. We're going to get this corrected. There are a number of charter school specific organizations. We're lucky that we have Sonia that's here. Uh, at the Diverse Schools Coalition, I mean, we'll be a part of it, we'll get ourselves positioned there. We're gonna get 8, 10, other, 12 other charter school advocacy organizations in that space quickly, but just as a starting point, just as a starting point, that's where we find ourselves at this moment. Andy, I mean, you, you think about these issues as well. Uh, and, and where charter schools should and, and could be in this space. What are your reactions?

Andy:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you always, you have like the, the charter focus given what you do, and obviously I'm a charter supporter. I've been a trustee. I was a of, of achar of a charter school. I was, uh, a founding board member of the National Alliance. Like I'm deeply steeped in charter schools, but I also, a lot of my work is sort of the broader landscape. And the thing that strikes me is when I got into this work. It was the people on the left who were talking about, you've got this history of segregation, of racist school boundaries. We need to address that. We need to figure out ways to change that, that are, that are politically tenable and sustainable and so forth. And the politics are almost completely inverted. The left has been sort of struck moot on this point and largely on, on school choice. And the right is obviously filling the vacuum. And so some of these coalitions that emerge around these issues, you look and you're like, these are fairly right leaning coalitions. You're not seeing left leaning funders who used to, uh, work on these issues. They've sort of pulled back. And I think it's like, It's, it's, our politics have become just incredibly reactionary. And I think it's incumbent on leaders in this movement to say, what do I actually believe? What is the North star? Not what is the politics? And I would commend as a fascinating article by a guy named Michael Lind, who's a longtime analyst about Paul Krugman and immigration. He basically goes and like digs out a bunch of Paul Krugman columns from 20 years ago when the politics of immigration were different and Krugman was saying one thing. And now Krugman is saying something else, and, and Lynn's point is, look, the research and the evidence hasn't actually changed that much. What's changed is the politics of immigration have changed. And I feel like we have the same problem. Like, if anything, the evidence base on charters has gotten stronger over the last two, the evidence base actually has changed, and yet the politics have become incredibly reactionary, and when we're Staring down an election that, you know, I think, you know, most people would say is a jump ball. Who knows what the political atmosphere in the country is going to be. Like that, it is a problem for charters to be that sort of reactionary in, in, in their political orientation rather than this is what we believe and we're going to drive this forward and we're going to drive it forward with people who also believe this thing regardless of like the letter after their name or what else we may agree or disagree with them on.

Jed:

Well, part of my thinking on this is informed by sitting in that CCSA. We had 670, 000 kids in charter schools, you have 1, 300 schools. Um, we're sitting there one, one block over from the California Teachers Association with their 13 story structure and just watching how the California Teachers Association drives narrative. They just, and they, boom, they just hit over and over again. And our members just getting so frustrated with us. You've got to do something about the narrative as it relates to charter schools. But how do we want narratives to be driven? No conflict, right? We're going to do it through positive stories and every positive story really really matters I'm not saying to add our smart paid media It also really matters, but it's not going to drive narrative like the California Teachers Association drives narrative with policy proposals that cause controversy in the pub, in the public sphere. And once the controversy is there, people will pay attention. It's, it's like the poetics. You go back to the very beginning, the very, very beginning. Aristotle teaching us, why does the audience sit there to get all the way through a play? Because there's conflict. There's conflict. And what we in charter school world, uh, want is to drive narrative with no conflict. And it's never going to work. It is never going to work. The reason that we don't do it right now is we're in many situations very very risk averse We want every single friend that we have right now. We want to keep what and anything that's controversial We immediately assume that's going to result in some subtraction of the support that we have. We expect our advocates to be controversy free and we expect our advocates to to drive a narrative. Never gonna work. And when we're on the right side of history, as we are on these attendance boundaries, and the other forms of redlining in our country, we need to get out and position ourselves there. And when we do, we will find that, yes, there are gonna be scary moments, because, oh my gosh, we're gonna propose some things that are controversial. But the narrative will change in fundamental ways that we've not been able to do, given that we haven't done this kind of work for the last 15, 20 years.

Andy:

And I agree a lot with that. We actually had recently on the podcast. We had Nina Reese to come on and kind of reflect on her leadership at the national Alliance. And I feel like one of the real challenges she faced was how cross pressured she had people who wanted her to be good cop, wanted her to be bad cop, wanted her to be plain old cop chart, you know, charter quality cop. Um, and that was a hard thing to navigate as a leader. I mean, I think we, we have, I agree with you. We, we, and I've seen this, I've seen this in the political space where people are like, let's be, let's not create, let's not, you know, create divides and differences. And I think, and Randy Weingarten, I think did a masterful job of sort of selling a really seductive narrative of sort of collaboration and consensus, which to a point where people want to collaborate, we should collaborate, but there are going to be disagreements. And I think, so I think you're right about that. I do think though, on the other side we have a problem. We have some people who are really addicted to the theater. And they just want to poke fair if the teachers union came to the table and said, Hey, you know what? We agree we should expand high quality charters and so forth. They would find a reason not to. We have some folks who just, they like the theater of it. And we need to, and if you just go looking for conflict and we should be honest, we have some people in this business who just want to look for conflict. You're an asshole, right? And we should like, we should not shy away from calling that out. Either if that north star thing is about getting things done and building bridges And I think we have some people who they take what you say and are like, yeah, and that's why. And that's just there's a broader set of politics there.

Jed:

I am absolutely not advocating for that I just absolutely not and I also I don't think anybody should be shooting from the hip As it relates to what would be a good specific policy to propose, as it relates to the attendance boundary erase, we gotta be smart on this.

Andy:

Jed, we have a podcast. Our bread and butter is shooting from the hip.

Jed:

Well, as long as we don't miss, I mean, whatever, but it's, you know, when you, when you start to do work like this, you start to realize the power that you have. We've got 4 million kids in charter schools, you've got a sector this big, you've got a chance for a chorus. Um, but you get out of the gate on a policy proposal that's stupid. No, we need to think a lot. And when California Teacher Association like would go after, uh, the charter schools, I mean, the amount of work that they would do on their polling, they pulled freaking everything right. They would pull on amendments. That they would consider bringing to their own bills because they knew that the amendments would start to change the narrative and so this is, I think we've gotten much, much better at comms over the last 15 years. We're much better at pulling these kinds of things, but one thing that we don't do still is that strategic polling of what not only does the public stand with us on the issues, but what will people think of the charter school world when we are seen to be advocating for something like this? Some people are going to see it all as just totally self serving. Um, and they'll just disregard anything that comes from us, but a lot of the people in the reasonable middle, they're going to be open to what is the policy issue that we're talking about and will listen.

Andy:

I think so. Um, Yes, and and with the boundaries issue in particular, like it takes a certain kind of political patience. You can We could rush into that and there's stuff you can do that's going to make you feel really righteous and we're going to shame people in these communities and so forth. But you're not going to get anywhere politically. You're talking about the largest asset in most people's personal net worth. And so you have to approach that with a account. Politics that is sensitive to that and is long term and how do we bring about that change in a way that it doesn't just engender opposition that we're not going to overcome, but instead gets to a place where we can. And you can see that you and I have talked about this. There's there's ideas around. How do you do zoning? How do you gently change the allocation of seats, stuff like that, where and I've likened it to like walking across the country with a compass that's a little off. You won't notice it if you're, you know, like if where I live in Virginia, you won't notice it when you're in West Virginia or maybe Ohio. So. But you'll notice it when you get to the West Coast and you, you know, plan to walk to San Francisco and you find yourself in Portland or, you know, or Los Angeles. And that's how we have to think about this. I think we, you know, Kevin sometimes says, Kevin, you're all, Kevin Hall talks about like, is this a 20 year, 50 or a hundred year? I mean, I hope the boundaries issue is not a hundred year, but I don't think it's a three year either. It's, and we have to be really thoughtful about that and we have to have sort of sustained philanthropic support for longterm change.

Jed:

Yeah, I mean, think, I mean, I hear Governor Ducey talk, well, am I quoting here, what?

Andy:

I didn't hear him talk about anything.

Jed:

I hear a lot, I hear a lot, I hear a lot of people talk and really focus on, you know, opposition coming from government unions. There's no doubt about that. That is what, that's a reality that we deal with, but that's only a part of this. It's the, it's the government employee unions in combination with parents and communities who are already happy with what they have and they don't want these attendance boundaries to change. They don't want these school district boundaries to change. They don't want to change the way that schools are funded. Um, and so, we have to think very carefully because you put those two forces together and they are so immensely powerful. They are so immensely powerful that this is why I say, no one shoot from the hip. No, we have to be, we have to be careful about this. But charters help with this, right? But the thing is, what we have to be able to do is grow the pie while we more fairly cut it. And there is no reason why Charterland, I mean, Great Hearts, I mean, it's so awesome to have Great Hearts here. You know, because we've got this school, you guys do great across so many different communities, right? But in some places, we don't have any strong charter school organizations working in more suburban areas. In more middle class areas. It's terrible for us. It's just a total train wreck for us. And if we were able to say, the charter school world is going to grow the supply of excellent schools. And by the way, that school that you think of, in your middle class, little affluent area, it may not be as good as you think it is. Let's put them on the run. And we show that in every community, the supply is larger. The pie is larger. So then when we come back and say we want to more equitably cut that pie, we're gonna have them be with us. But these, this is, this is brain surgery type stuff. And, you know, we need to get smart about it as we, as we take it on.

Andy:

And it's also just context dependent. I mean, we're in a state here, if I'm not wrong, I think about one in five kids are in, in charters. Yeah. And, and there's incredible penetration, which, first of all, should be a message to Democrats. Like, this is a popular thing, right? And, and, and, and this is not something over time you want to be on the wrong side of. We can talk about some of the political demographics with that. But then you also have states, like the state where I live in Virginia, like we are, you know, very much in the infancy of having a real meaningful school choice, despite a lot of people trying to lean in, and the politics, the politics are tough. But I do think the charter piece with that supply side, it doesn't come into zero sum game. And I think that's why you've seen like, a place like Arizona, like school choice being so popular, because of that broader context. I don't mean to imply it's been easy here, but I think that that broader context has certainly, certainly helped facilitate the politics.

Jed:

So given that we're in an audience where we've got a lot of charter folk around, um, I wanted to ask you, we, we haven't, so I had a chance to write something for Education Next that came out in late November, or maybe it was the first days of December. Which is really around the charter school movement and it became an article entitled to keep on keeping on.

Andy:

It was an opus.

Jed:

It was an opus, whatever, yes. I was insufferably long as usual. Um, but, you and I haven't really talked about it. And so, um, I'd love to just get your, look, it's a momentum story. It's a momentum story, and having the chance to work in as many states that I do, I authentically, you know, believe that the momentum story is an accurate one to talk about, but when you read it, I mean, did you see things that were overstated or were missing as big parts of the story?

Andy:

Well, you're, I mean, you're optimistic and we need that. I don't think you're like naively optimistic. I think you bring analysis and so forth, but you are, you are, you are, you are, you are very optimistic and you, and you see the upside. And I think there is a lot of upside. And I think. Like how charters came through in some ways the pandemic is a lot of upside. My big concern is the politics though. My, the thing that sort of keeps me up at night is uh, when the music stops charters can be the ones without a seat. And what I mean by that is you have a couple of trends going on there worth paying attention to. Republicans are now able to push ESAs in a number of places. Those are proving to be wildly popular, and one way you know they're popular is the governor, the current governor here, is trying to undo it, but not through any kind of frontal assault, he's trying to sort of regulate them to death because they're, they're so popular that the teachers unions, which are usually pretty good at getting ballot referendums set up, can't even get a ballot referendum set up against it because people, people, I mean, and, and people don't like ESAs or have concerns about them, whatever. So, Like, that's fine, you can talk about all that, but like, what you can't deny is just how wildly popular they are every state where they're being tried. Um, people want them. So you've got a lot of energy over there. The democratic side is still split as it always has been between the producer interests, which are the teachers unions, the education establishment, the consumer interests, which is the parents. That is a striking thing because the party, you know, talks a lot about equity and talks a lot about. How it wants to be responsive to, uh, Blacks and Hispanics in particular. And yet, you look at the polling, and sort of Black Americans, Hispanic Americans overwhelmingly support school choice and charters. And, you know, the Biden administration's basically been struck, you know, moot on that issue. Um, and so, you do then have what you're seeing, because of cultural issues and a bunch of stuff. A trend that people have to get their heads around because it's counterintuitive, but non white voters are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw that. The one group that Trump, uh, didn't make gains among between 2016 and 2020 was white men. Um, every other group he made inroads, which again is counterintuitive. But, and I worry, and I don't have any crosstabs to back this up, but my supposition would be voters who are leaving the Democratic Party on a number of these issues are probably more likely to be supporters of charter schools and school choice, just given the basket of issues that is, that is, that is driving that. And so my concern is the political demographics, you get into a really polarized time, which this year is going to be polarized and awful. Yeah. Um, you get that going on, you get these political trends, like charter schools, there's some risk there. Yeah. That they could end up being the thing that is sort of politically homeless. That's, that's what I do worry about and this movement needs to think about how it wants to do its Uh, how it wants to do its politics, uh, in relation to that.

Jed:

Yeah, well, I think, anybody that's been reading Charterfolk for a while, I mean, I've been beating on, on this, the great disconnect. There's, I have this, this, this graphic with a red ball and a blue ball overlapping, um, and how they're basically, completely, literally disconnecting. And so it becomes almost impossible to talk about the Charter School experience. nationally because it's so, um, bifurcated. But then also, the shorthand that we use within red and blue context is often completely wrong. It's like, the lead for the, for the part of the, for the Education Next article was Texas. We got Starley here with us. We got this incredible sense of momentum. It's great that the governor knows enough about Texas and, and, and also your introduction, you know. Talking about the great momentum we have in Texas right now, but the part of the story I really wanted to emphasize in the article was that when the state board, um, was presumed to be with us and when the legislature was presumed to be with us because Texas is such a Republican state. You try to pass a law that gets rid of a facility problem for charter schools, or you try to get charter schools approved by the state board, they weren't there. They absolutely weren't there. There were 25 Republicans that we absolutely had previously identified on legislative scorecard as being strongly supportive of charter schools. We actually got the bill in front of them and 25 of them just not there. So, what happens? Darley accelerates the development of the C4 there and wins a heck of a lot of elections. And suddenly, you know, this red state can actually become strongly supported. So I think there's just variation in the red condition. And when we summarize around blue conditions, I thought, I thought Ducey did a good job talking about polis and others, because there are a lot of blue places where things are actually looking pretty positive.

Andy:

How do you, um, uh, so you talk about Texas and the, and, and there has been a lot, there has been momentum there. And there's been some fights and Starley, her name, I was telling her earlier, her name comes up like again and again with people like, are you seeing what's going on? It's really commendable. Um, but in LA, you know, the school board just, just this week, you know, they're clamping down. So how do you, and California has traditionally been a success story, you know, incredible expansion. Charters were really popular and now politicians in Los Angeles where you have pretty substantial penetration with charters and again, pretty popular parents there, they're starting to clamp down. So how do you, how do you think about that?

Jed:

Give us a month. We got a school board election coming on.

Andy:

And you think this will be consequential in that?

Jed:

Uh, I think it shall be dispositive. I mean, they say it's 4 3 against charter schools right now. Whatever. Uh, there are people that are closer to these elections than I am right now, but I think we have a pretty good chance of, uh, being able to basically unwind these whole decisions as soon as the new board is seated. I see this as more a moment of desperation. They knew. They've got a board right now. Their board chair comes straight from the union, Jackie Goldberg, and she's gonna be gone. And Um, and I think, I think UTLA is looking and seeing what happened in Denver and saw what happens in Philadelphia and saw what happens in New York City and saw what's happening in a number of other places and saying we better lock these winds in now because we're not going to be able to do this a few months from now. So, I actually see, uh, this big story out of Los Angeles as more a gesture of desperation. Uh, and there's nothing the charter schools should do except stay aggressive, keep moving, and realize That Los Angeles Unified has nowhere to turn. Charters are the only reason for a real fundamental hope in this.

Andy:

Well, if you're right, that would be fantastic. Because, like, traditionally, like, these school boards, they get one, and then they kind of get eroded away. Denver's a really good example of that. And, because, you know Folks who don't want reform, don't want charge, they're there every day and reformers kind of come in and get some wins and kind of move on. So that's a bold prediction we'll have to revisit. That would be, that would be great news, um, and it would be consequential.

Jed:

Yeah, but I mean, look at Denver. I mean, Denver, I, I mean, we had a 7 0 board in support of charter schools for a while. Denver's my hometown too, so I think But, and I remember some Denver people saying, you know, the worst thing to have is a 7 0 board because you don't, uh, aren't aggressive enough. My view is, we didn't know what to do. It's like when we won LA Unified Elections, Nick Moylvone and these heroes that won in Los Angeles. Woo hoo! We had nothing to give them. We had no agenda. We had no North Star for Los Angeles. We didn't have red lines and these kinds of things that we could start to frame a, a, an agenda around in Los Angeles. And because of that, basically our people go silent at the district level. The unions just keep pounding on charters, pounding on charters, pounding on charters. The only thing that's in the public sphere is anti charter stuff. Surprise, surprise. The next election comes around, we end up losing the board. So, you know, these are things where we see the patterns that are happening. We just got to get better at our advocacy, um, in between elections. Drive better narratives. And I think we will be able to keep, with continued variation and challenge, more and more support, even in blue, in blue cities.

Andy:

Let's get some questions. Um, you guys have been here for a little bit. We've, again, we've never done it with a live audience, so we're excited people email us questions with varying degrees of snark, um, and so I would urge you, I would urge you to ask questions with varying, uh, with varying degrees of snark. We can talk about the Biden and Trump stuff, we've been kicking that around, uh, privately, I'm sure that'll come up, so, um, the one thing we need, uh, questions to be on the mic or they won't be, uh, they won't make it into the recording. So there's mic runners, uh, around on both sides. So put your, who's brave? And we love hostile questions.

Jed:

So, so while people are cogitating, let me just break. Let's just, I want to

Andy:

Aristotle cogitating, like what is going on here? So this live audience is really bringing it.

Jed:

I mean, one thing I'd like to just get in front of this audience though, is just to begin to think about what you were talking about earlier about just the fracture in, in, in red and blue. And, and I'm just wondering. Let's, let's go to federal. Let's, let's go to IDEA money. Let's, let's go to Title I money. Let's go to our charter school program. Okay. The Dems and the Republicans have been able to agree enough in Washington to send those funds to states. Um, but now we're going to have a situation where a lot of these Republicans have started new ESA and voucher programs. They actually don't have enough money to afford them all. And Title I money is not going to be able to flow to those schools. How long do you think we're going to be able to maintain a consensus in Washington from the Reds and the Blues to keep allowing the money to go, to go out to states if states don't have enough authority to direct it to what their priorities are within education? I mean, are, am I just wrong in seeing, are you seeing something similar?

Andy:

No, no, no. I know the risks you're talking about. I mean. So I think you have to like step back a little bit. Um, one of the things that is noteworthy to me, right. That's happening right now is MSNBC, you know, Trump says something crazy every day and then they put it on. Everybody's like Trump's saying lots of crazy things, which he does. He says crazy stuff every day. I would stipulate. But what that's obscuring is behind the scenes, his campaign is disciplined, they're doing a bunch of stuff, you know, 2016 was sort of the Wild West, really was kind of the bar scene from Star Wars, it is not this time, they're serious, they're locking stuff down, and so I think they are going to come in if they win, and I like Biden's chances actually, so we can talk about that, but if they win, They're going to come in with a with an agenda on a number of these things that will probably be more disciplined than it was in his first administration. And I think that will mean we already saw they tried to push charter school money out and you will probably see. Some, uh, some trends like this, my own personal, and like, this is a prediction of what it's, where I think the Republicans are going to lose the house because of how they've managed it or mismanaged it, but they're probably going to get the Senate because it is a really tough lineup. It's just hard to see democratic coattails. So you're going to, you'll see, you'll see an inversion there. Um, and then you, you know, and then it'll depend on, and so Trump could potentially with it, again, if they get a disciplined policy apparatus, actually get something through. Now, he came barreling into town in 2017 with all these plans. They didn't amount to much, but this is like a mutual fund. Past performance does not necessarily, you know, predict future performance, and you're seeing some signs that they are, that they are actually serious about this. They're developing a policy agenda. So I do think it is something, uh, Uh, I do think it is something to, uh, in deciding to keep an eye on, do you have, when I say I like Biden's chances, I hardly think it's a slam dunk. I think it's gonna be a very close election.

Jed:

Do you have any advice for a charter world in that We have been this thing where Al Al Sharpton and, and, uh, and New Gingrich could go on a speaking tour together. It's this weird place, you know, where Republicans and now things are just splintering so bad and so the straddle.

Andy:

You're making me feel old. I took my girls to one of those things. It was really fun, but they were with, it was Gingrich, Arnie Duncan, who probably wants to forget that he was there, and, and Al Sharpton, and I'm sure, I'm sure Arnie would like to memory hole that whole thing. Um, and I remember my girls, they just did not know what to make of either Gingrich or Sharpt, and they had never seen anything like this.

Jed:

Um, but do you think there is center ground for us, center ground or Is it give up? We're gonna have to like ultimately picture.

Andy:

No, I think there, no, no, no. I think there is centrist ground. I think we need leaders to stuff. As I said earlier, our politics have become reactionary. It is, I mean, all of a sudden I've actually got a piece I've written about the seven, but it's, it's education politics. It's like a high school cafeteria. I mean, seriously, it's like every, you know, think back to your high school and think about the dumb stuff people would do to sit at the cool kids table or, or now my daughter's school, the cool kids booth. And you think about the dumb stuff people would do or the, or the ridiculous stuff or the bad stuff, like It's the same thing. People want to be at the cool kids table. And that's why when Obama was throwing education and accountability over the side, very few people, and you can remember who they were, people like Jed Alderman and Anne Hyslop were willing to stand up and who were Democrats, were willing to stand up and say, this is a mistake. Most people were like, oh no, this is great. And you were like, no, this isn't. Everybody knew this wasn't great. Everybody knew what this policy was going to lead to and has predictably led to. Like, that was the high school cafeteria thing. Everybody wants to be with the cool kids. And, and, and, it's incumbent on leaders in the sector to say what is my North Star, and what am I willing to do, and what am I willing to risk for that North Star, because if you just want to make sure you're with your friends, you're not with people you don't like, you might not have people, you might have people saying bad things about you, or not inviting you to stuff you want to go to, we're never going to get anywhere. And I think that's, I do think there's a center, it's just been largely abandoned, and we need leaders to plant a flag there and say, hey, come, come back. Um, And, and the thing that's kind of interesting on this is, this is what education used to be like when a lot of us got into it. You worked with these people you didn't agree with on anything else, but you agreed with them like on this. And you know, the issue that is like that right now, climate. You see that on the climate side, you get these really interesting kind of cross coalitions and not surprisingly, philanthropic dollars are rushing over there as they are coming out of our, of our sector. I think there's something to that. So that's, that's my, we need, we need people to, um, in this business, you know, I'm stealing this from a friend of mine actually lives here in Arizona. She's always says in life, you need like a funny bone and a backbone. And I think to like be successful, this work, you need both those things.

Audience:

Hi, um, how do you think school choice will advance in Virginia in the coming years?

Andy:

Did you put her up to that? Jed's always on us that we're not getting it done in Virginia. Um, look, Virginia shows this is not just blue red. You have a lot of suburban Republicans in Virginia who are happy to see school choice not go very far. The political power is these large Suburban school districts who tell a story about how world class they are, they don't want to be disrupted by this, and then the urbans and the rurals are sort of split politically, but they actually have a fair amount in common. Um, uh, and, and so it is, it is really tough. And so people are like, you know, you, you had. Folks in our sector, you know, basically, like, oh, if Glenn Youngkin was serious about school choice, he'd get it done, you know, I think, uh, I think it was Jeannie Allen said that in the New York Times, if, if I'm wrong, it wasn't her, apologies, Jeannie, but I think, I think she, I think she said that, and it's not an issue of like, if he just wished a little harder or wanted it a little more, Like, he can't wish votes into existence, or want, and this stuff is getting killed in committees. You know, he tried on ESAs, he didn't get anywhere on that. He tried on charter schools, which could have been a compromise, because a lot of people were, you know, that were upset about it, didn't want the ESAs. But the charters didn't get anywhere. So we've got these university lab schools, which are great, but to give you an idea of how crazy it is, like, we had to fight, there was a huge fight. Um, the Democrats, and by the way, I mean, I am one, I'm sort of lapsed on education, but, um Uh, they kept trying to get, take the money away from our ability to even let HBCUs in Virginia open these schools, so they didn't want to allow private, you know, they kept trying to like bring this in, uh, you know, reel it in and curtail it. And so we're, it's going, we're authorizing some of these schools. The first ones are, are coming online, but it is, it is really slow going. I think what we need there, and I'm not just saying this to suck up, we need a Starley. We need someone who is just like, I am going to come in. I am an organized people and I don't care if it gets people upset and all this somebody who doesn't really they don't care like what the political class necessarily like thinks of them they want to be respected more than they want to be liked we need an education advocacy group because right now we got all the you know all the adult interest they have all their groups there's not an education advocacy group out there um uh for kids and then as Jed said we need more communication people need to understand and We still can't have an honest debate in the state about school performance. People don't understand what's going on. You, we still, we have the largest learning loss in the country, um, on NAEP, and that is still, when you bring that up, that's still like a big fight. And the media writes, well, you know, some people say Virginia had a lot of learning loss during the pandemic. Other people say it doesn't, it's just infuriating, like, you know. Some people say the moon's made of green cheese. Some people may say it's made of rock, who the hell knows? Like, it's just, it's just ridiculous. Uh, it's just ridiculous journalism. And so it just leaves people confused. And, and so it's going to take all those things and that's more than any one administration, um, is going to be able to do. I mean, we have, we have a dogfight just to get accountability Virginia doesn't have an accountability system just to get accountability. And so, um, Uh, I mean, I'm not saying there haven't been missteps and strategies could have been different. I don't want to be heard to say that, but it is really hard. I don't think people appreciate, like, just how small C conservative the state is. And Jed and I have talked about this in terms of strategy. Are these states that don't really have good charter laws and have weak ones, is there just a reason for that? And we should instead focus on the places where there's a lot more potential for growth or should we focus on changing those places? That like Virginia, and I think that's like, that's actually to me a very strategic question for this sector to debate because I don't think the answer is obvious.

Jed:

I think a part of the article that I, that I wanted to get built in here was that the policy wins. In some cases we were lucky things change because of COVID. Hey, there was a, there was a ton of money that flowed into public education so we could get some charter school wins within that bigger pie. But there also was some really effective advocacy that happened in different places, and, and it just requires the charter school world to be taken on the, when Virginia doesn't have the charter base, it's so hard. But like in Missouri, there was just a huge win that happened, thousands of dollars of extra per, per pupil coming to the Missouri charter schools. Um, and the work that had to be done there, because the Republicans at a state level, they still, they love charters. But they weren't willing to, like, make state money, uh, bring the, you know, bring the charter schools to equity. Well, some really smart, behind the scenes work, some good C4 work there, with leadership in the building, and suddenly the Republicans are like, okay, we're willing to put in the money at a state level to get this funding equity. Um, but they still don't have all the votes that they need because Missouri has, within their Senate, a de facto veto. for a very small number of legislators. So a very small number of legislators in St. Louis, very Democrat aligned, could stop the whole thing. But that's when the charter school parents, working in collaboration, going with, engaging with these, that held the veto, got them to relent. Okay, you're right. These schools that serve primarily black and brown kids, they should not be suffering from this level of funding inequity, and they let it go through. So each of these things we can talk about the broader dynamics and all those kinds of things But there's also under the surface. There's hard advocacy work that's going on right now and that needs to be a part of the future for for Additional wins going forward.

Andy:

I want to get, there's another question. One other thing in Virginia, it's really important to note. Like, one of the Democrats was really, I thought a fantastic legislature, very pro charter, got primaried out. And that's not, you know, a coincidence. As, as, as both parties become more polarized and politicians are more worried about losing in primaries in general. So, it, it, it makes it harder to get anything done because you're losing the, the negotiating partners are all, are all going away. Um, please ask hard questions. The governor brought ice cream, which is nice, but I like ice cream, but Jed and I brought beer. So feel free to ask, uh, um, ask, ask hard questions.

Audience:

It won't be too, uh, it'll be somewhat softball. Um, so Jed, we've talked about at a micro level, what advocacy looks like. We're here at a policy communications and advocacy convening. Who should be coming up with the federal level agenda? On what it is that we should be focused on and driving towards and is it just the, is it the individual schools, is it the, you know, the national organizations, is it, you know, locking arms with parent organizations, like who should be at the table to create the natural agenda around charter schools?

Jed:

Thank you for that question. I think that, um, um, I, I, I personally believe that we need advocacy infrastructure that is roughly patterned after what we see from the teachers unions. We need an NEA connected to our CTA from a California perspective, uh, connected to our UTLA. Um, and we need each of these entities. To build decision making structures that authentically engage their members and we can argue about how much the california teacher association Genuinely has that but joe nunez was a beloved figure a beloved figure in california California from the teacher union perspective And what i've been able to understand is the vote when they got rid of him three summers ago was 55 45. People were just heartbroken and pissed within california teacher association that that happened, but it hung together It hung together because they believed that the decisions had been made in some kind of authentic way. And so I think we need to redouble in creating within these different levels the kinds of structures that we can then bring policy agendas to and begin to agree to some of these things. I think there's going to be variation by states, but I also think there are things that we can even agree upon at a national level. Let me say though, I'm a huge advocate of the National Alliance, I love, I was on the group that hired Nina and all that kind of stuff. I also think narrative is driven by the local organizations. I do not believe that the NEA is driving the narrative for the National, for teacher unions. UTLA is. Cta ctu is in chicago and what we'll find is that when we start to build representative Organizations at local levels and they get on the offense policy agendas We will see the narrative being driven by, uh, charter schools in ways we never have before. And I'm just doing all my work as much as I possibly can to try and encourage us to evolve and evolve into, you know, a structure like that. I don't know. Tell me what I'm totally wrong here.

Andy:

We need to be more like the teachers unions.

Jed:

Yeah.

Andy:

You're really selling it. That's, uh, is there, is there, is there a plan B?

Jed:

People find that distasteful.

Andy:

No, no, no. I think you're right. You're right on the politics. The one thing I do find, you have a lot of conversations in, in the ed reform world and you're like, that conversation never happened in the teacher's union boardroom. Like they know how to do politics. They're ruthless about it. They don't, they don't worry about some of the stuff that ties us in knots. I, I, I'm, I actually, so I think your vision actually makes a fair amount of sense in terms of like advocacy, bringing political power to bear on this question, empowering local communities, um, that all makes a lot of sense. My only concern is we just have to make sure the teachers unions, like there's plenty of people in the unions who are fantastic. You get to know their good people. They don't want to be presiding over lousy schools and so forth, but they are locked into this system. They have equities that they need to protect and so forth. And so they are stuck then defending stuff, which in some cases I would say is indefensible. And we need to make sure that this movement always stays, this is, this is not a just more schools movement. It's a more high quality schools movement and we don't want to be, it's very easy to start becoming the people who you set out to disrupt where you're like, well, you know, our stuff isn't like so bad and here the, you know, and, and Howard Fuller is very eloquent on this. I can't do it justice how he talks about this in terms of like all the stuff you already know about. The kids and so you can't start using that as an excuse. So that's my only concern with that sort of model you're laying out is to make sure that quality thread, uh, and accountability thread still runs through it and we don't just become another special interest in education because like we got plenty of them that seems like not a great thing to set your pick to.

Jed:

Let me just feather in one last piece too, um, because tomorrow you guys are going to hear from Starley and you're going to hear from Harry Lee in New Jersey. And you're going to hear from Ariel in DC, right? Um, these are three places where the state based advocacy or the district based advocacy has gotten a hell of a lot stronger. Colorado is another one. We could probably talk about two or three others. But if you look at Jersey, Texas, and DC, what do you see there? High levels of alignment between the CMOs and the state associations. The CMOs are fully in behind Starlee, and that's been an important part of why she's gotten stronger. And the great way for the chartered CMOs to be able to participate is to serve on these boards and to really, in a reasonable way, raise expectations such that the governance gets stronger. So, there's a very important role for this portfolio, I think, to play in the creating of structures where the governance reflects shared decision making that gets smarter over time.

Andy:

Where are the, I thought I saw a mic over.

Audience:

Um, so, I'm, I come from Florida, and there's some interesting things that are happening in Florida.

Jed:

Yeah.

Audience:

There's the talk of, um, deregulation. And so for a long time it's been charter friendly, somewhat. I think right now with deregulation, um, the need to help educate some of our reps, because there's a sense that in order to establish this, these accounts, right, that some of the money is going to be pulled away from doing some interesting things in the charter world. So we have good things that are happening. The authorizers now are moving away from the district, which is great, especially if You know, we're opening charter schools in different districts and it's just very different But I worry a little bit about something that I heard in the extreme form which was well You could always look at converting your charter school to a private school and I was like, well, why would we do that? so, um From your experience What are the potential dangers? for us to look at in our charter world and, and, and charter schools. When you're talking to folks who see deregulation and sort of want to go move to the, the, like squirrel, this is a great thing, but Hey, we're doing great things over here in charter. How about continuing to fund us to the same level as, um, and if, or better.

Andy:

I'll probably get this over to you. My mind. Yeah, like in Florida, I used to do a lot of work down there. I haven't in a while. It does seem like there's a lot going on. I saw a video from a Waffle House the other day. It was very disturbing. Um, uh, uh, so, I, I don't, Jed has a lot of, um, a lot of views, so I am going to hand this over to him. The only thing, I just think charters have to make sure they maintain their brand, and there's a bunch of issues. The Supreme Court seems to have paved the way, and you're seeing this in Oklahoma, for you can have religious charter schools. That's going to confuse the brand. This effort, I've always wondered what's going to happen when you get to more unregulated choice. Where do you start? Where is the line between charters and homeschoolers who want to work together in co ops and so forth and realize you can do that co op and get more resources? For your kids under under a charter like model, like, where does that interest? So I think there are some hard questions. Um, uh, and I, and I know Jen has sharp feelings. Like I said, I'm a hand over to him. The only other thing I'd say on the upside, and this is a Florida story. Prepare to be surprised. Florida has over the years. Uh, surprised it's the way it's accountability and choice system worked was not what people expected. The results, the special ed vouchers that work the way that you would have assumed that they that they would work. That was one that I was, um, with a colleague was was wrong on. And so I think, uh, there are concerns and Jed's going to voice them, but also a lot of stuff. Prepare to be surprised because Ford has proven to be a really interesting laboratory story. Um, on some of this stuff and it's broken in, in, in ways that are very counterintuitive.

Jed:

Yeah, so one thing just to start on Florida. Um, the recent conversion discussion around converting traditional public schools to charter status is another kind of conversion that's happening. And, I have, I have, at Charterfolk, I've written incessantly about all the things that I screwed up at CCSA, a lot of them, terrible. The second worst thing that I did, the second worst thing that I did, was to allow the charter school movement to move away from conversions. An emphasis on conversions. Bill Clinton knew it, all the Democrats knew it, in the early going. You present chartering as, yes, we're going to make a bunch of new schools too, but chartering is something that can make all schools better. And we allowed conversions to basically become turnarounds. So now we associated charter with punishment We had schools that were in abject terrible situations the asds that turned some of these schools around thank goodness it happened but the tax that we had to pay to present charter schools as As a punishment. Horrible. Of course, if you say that all we're going to do is new schools, we're one big replacement strategy. We also say that there's no potential within the traditional public school system. We dismiss the people that are working so hard here. When we say, please come, you're not the problem. We're as much here for you as we are for anybody else. You want to be more, we want to help release potential. That Florida is the first place, is the first place where we've seen new life breathed into the conversion idea. So I celebrate that. From a, from a, from a Florida perspective on, on what's going on around choice and, and, you know, will we create incentives for public schools or what. I think we need to have a discussion ourselves about what are the kinds of schools that we believe, Move us toward greatly more public education. I think the right thing for us to say is that unfortunately our public school system has turned out to be not that public. It's, and what makes it un, uh, not public is all the unfairnesses that we've been talking about and the lack of rate quality. And, so what are the kinds of evolutions that could happen that would move us towards something that is more greatly public? And I think there are all sorts of things that we could do within traditional public schools to erase attendance boundaries, to get rid of selective admissions, to have better financials. There are ways for us to design voucher programs and ESAs that also are going to give those that have not had opportunity even more opportunity in the future. But there are ways to design those things also where they'll actually end up with less. And so I think we need to start having more discussion ourselves about what we believe the kind of choice systems are that result in something greatly more public than what we have right now. And we've basically been keeping our heads low for all sorts of good reasons. But we can't stay in that posture for too much longer. We need to have those conversations, and then at the right moment, start to share what our view is about the future of choice systems that align with our values.

Audience:

So actually my question is to push you on what you just said. What is the choice system? When we talk about public school choice, are we diluting it when we throw in ESAs, and we throw in vouchers, and we throw in doing homeschool co ops? When is the time to have that conversation? If not now, and how do we start it?

Andy:

I think this movement should be very clearly about what it's for and less about what it's against. People are going to agree or disagree on a range of things. I'm unusual among like a lot of people I run with. I happen to think she really exciting part of the sector. I think it's a ton of work, but I love that. I think I think when I see parents coming together and doing that, I think it's, it's fantastic. It's empowering. Um, uh, it doesn't trouble me. Other people have reasons in there that they're against. It's not mine to say if those reasons are right or wrong. And to me, it's a little irrelevant for charters per se, because we should be talking about what makes a charter unique. You know, high quality, public, school of choice, independently authorized, I mean, all those characteristics. And so I think part of the problem is we've allowed ourselves to get buffeted in all these politics, rather than just lay out what is our brand. Um, and how do we want to enter the actual marketplace and the political marketplace? Uh, talking about that, I worry, like, people are going to agree and disagree on all this stuff because a lot of it's very value laden, complicated empirically, and reasonable people can disagree. Um, you wouldn't know it from the way we have the debate. Reasonable people can actually disagree about a lot of this stuff. Um, and so we should not get tied up in that. We should be like, this is what charter schools are about. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools should be very clear what it's about. And the rest of this stuff will continue to go in a little bit because the ship has sort of sailed, right? Like, like again, ESAs are super popular. So like, even if you don't like them, like, what good is it to say charter schools are against them? That's not politically, uh, that's not politically smart. Thing to do because they're they're wildly popular. We should just focus on our stuff, which is uh, How do you grow and expand public charter schooling?

Jed:

I pretty much agree with you, but I have some important nuances. First of all, I mean we're in a moment where if you say the wrong thing about a voucher program in a particular state the retribution that's coming against you and coming against us would be so bad You can do nothing except shut up for a while for a while. Um, and like, heaven forbid you get crosswise from Governor Abbott right now when this matters this much. You, I mean, Texas charter schools could, in terms of retribution, if we did this stupidly, it'd be so counterproductive. Um, but I do think that us having conversations about what are the foundational pieces, uh, for future school choice, for me, one of those things is means testing. Um, and means testing means different things to different people. I brought up means testing with. You know, the head of, uh, with Robert Edlow just, you know, a couple of weeks ago, he presumed I was thinking, Oh, means testing means, oh, you can't have any voucher whatsoever if you are above some, uh, income level. Means, that's not, you can still have a universal program. I'm just saying Tiger Woods kids should get about 4, 000 bucks. And, and, and the highest needs kids should get about 40. But that's, that's, how mean is the means testing? Is where, you know, the things start to come in. What happens to special education kids? I think this is, are, these are important pieces. What happens really around academic accountability? I am very, very skeptical. Um, that, that we're going to see hundreds of billions of dollars put into vouchers and ESEA programs. And there is going to be some moment where society ends up asking, are the kids learning anything or not? And so while it may be controversial in the near term, this is one where I can also, I think we can just say, Hey guys, we're on your longterm wellbeing, you know, side here. We don't think that's a position that's going to long last for you. Um, what are ways for us to think about that? These are conversations that I think need to be happening as Naomi suggests, you know, within structures where we can really have the kind of conversations and we can be intentional and be proactive and choose our moments, you know, to begin to get our values out into the landscape. Not doing last minute things that could end up having us just be roadkill on, on, on the political highway right now.

Andy:

Yeah, I don't think we disagree much on that. Okay. I just think it's important to have that affirmative vigi worry. We are getting way too much caught up in all the political atmospherics. And who do we, again, the cafeteria. We don't want people to think that we might be having lunch with those kids. And I just think that's the wrong way to even think about this. It's, it's, what are, what are we about in terms of public accountability, public transparency, all of those things? Like Charters have a great story to tell and we should tell it.

Jed:

But it's not just in this area though too. It's just people are talking about Los Angeles, they're trying to kick the kids out, out of the los, out of the LA schools. I mean, they are kicking kids, charter school kids out of buildings in Newark right now. Right. And, and and, and we can learn so much from Newark. You can learn. So do we have anybody from Newark here? I

Andy:

mean, I

Jed:

think this is a moment for us to have a conversation about, you know, what are we really trying to work toward here? Because in Newark, it's incredible the schools that we have there, incredible schools that we got there. But what does the school district do in response? It basically is creating a bunch of new selective admissions magnets and it is leaving a third of the kids in just abjectly horrific schools that they're sucking money away from to subsidize these new selective admissions magnets. So the New York school that got kicked out this week, what is the school that's going to go into the space that they are now vacating? One of these selective admissions magnets. So, you know, when we are going to throw ourselves on the track because, tracks because we don't like something that's about the design of a new choice program, I think it's forgetting that there are all sorts of things that are happening within our traditional system right now that are equally, if not even worse than what's happening. And so, when we throw our, our, our, ourselves on one track, But not the other? Where's our credibility? We need something, a unifying vision that will hold us together across a range of challenges that will be coming to us in the decade ahead.

Andy:

And just this week, the Supreme Court, uh, is basically upheld a decision on selective admission magnets that you can do various kinds of selective admission that is somewhat race based as long as it's not, uh, discriminatory, which is sort of, there's a deviation from the Harvard Affirmative Action case. And, uh, two justices dissented, Alito and Thomas, but the court decided not to hear the case. And so they're letting a Virginia plan that was pretty controversial stand. And so I think that we're going to see more of that. Um, and then we talked about it, and I don't want to end on a bad note, so I want, like, good. But one area this sector does, you mentioned it, Jet Special Ed. Um, and English language learners are just two areas where we need to do better. Um, uh, and then we heard, uh, earlier from a charter school, uh, that's focused on autism is growing that and we need like so many more models like that because that is as you start to scale, people want to ask what's happening with these kids. It is a lot of kids. Those parents expect high quality and they're organized and, and we should be, we should be responsive. Um, Other questions?

Jed:

Yeah, make this one our last one.

Andy:

Uh, we're guys, the clock is ticking. We'll see. Depends on what kind of, depends on what kind of question is.

Audience:

Biden campaign campaign managers. And one of the questions that we're always faced with is why is the charter narrative. Always collect, uh, conflicting to the black community, black funders, black electives, black allies. In your opinion, what should we do to actually change that narrative and what can we collectively do to change that nationally?

Andy:

That's a great question. Um, I think first of all, look, we have to be honest about where the Democratic Party is. As I said, there is a tension in the party between the Dem the Dem the Republicans, like, For better or for worse, that's a, that's a party that is sort of bound together by a set of ideas, right? And that's why Trump has a pretty high floor and a pretty low ceiling because you're going to get a lot of people who are like, yeah, you know, I don't necessarily like him, but I'm a Republican. I'm going to, I'm going to vote. I'm going to vote for him. The democratic party by contrast is a coalition. It is all these different groups. That's somewhat by design, um, and on education. The groups are in conflict and people try to pretend that's not the case. And the Biden people pretend that's not the case, but we know it is the case. You know, the, the two groups that disproportionately don't like charter schools are public employee unions and the teachers unions and sort of elite white progressives, particularly with advanced degrees, which is increasingly the Democratic Party's, uh, uh, is, is a growth area. You're seeing that, you know, college educated voters, of which, by the way, there aren't that many, like, few, that's fewer than 40 percent of the electorate. Um, and then people with, with advanced degrees. Um, there's a tension there, and we should stop trying to fuzzy it up and pretend. There, there is a disagreement there, and I think we need to, uh, lean into that. We need to lean into that in terms of Applying political power, forcing people to confront their commitments. I mean, I will say I am sick and tired of hearing all about equity and listen to communities and all of this. And then suddenly that doesn't seem to count on education and charter schools. And like we had Lakeisha young on a while ago, she's very articulate. Um, uh, and, and I think it, it, it requires some hard conversations. I don't look at, we're not going to throw, they're going to throw, um, the teachers unions to the curb, nor, nor should they, it's not about this, but right now those communities are getting thrown to the curb and we need to just restore that equilibrium some. And so I think it's, it's all those things. It's applying political power and it's applying political, um, money. And that is hard in a polarized, uh, Environment, but I would submit it's also an opportunity. Like, and I say that in the sense of you hear all these polls, like 75 percent Biden's too old. Okay. Sure. Biden is pretty old. I think we can all stipulate that. But if he's on the ballot against Trump, that's the wrong question. People are going to, people are going to vote for him. Right? Same thing. Does a lot of you have like concerns about Kamala Harris and her political talent or various positions she's taken, but like. Most Democrats, if she's on the ticket against Donald Trump, that's not even like an interesting question. Of course they're going to pull the lever for her. So I think there's actually more of an opportunity to have some of these conversations. And I think if we have them the right way, it could actually bring some of those voters who are, who are leaving the democratic party back. Um, so that's my, I, I am, I think we shy from this fight. We pretend it's not there. Um, people minimize. The polls, I'm struck like people just, oh no that's not the case. It's like, this is, this is like an empirical fact. You can see it. Um, and I think, I think we need to, we need to lean into all those things and we need people to say, yeah, like I wrote a piece a while ago where it was like, I was like, I don't like Biden's positions on education. They're not good. Trump's weren't good either. And either being better than Trump is not the standard and nor is like when people ask you like, I don't like Biden stuff. They're like, what do you want Trump? It's like, that's a stupid conversation. Like no. I don't like Biden's positions education. I'm still going to vote for Joe Biden. We need to be having more of those kinds of, of, um, uh, conversations that it's, it's not like this, you know, binary, um, because that's not how it's going to play out. And there's more space to get the democratic party to a place where it's actually responsive to the people that claims to be responsive to and, uh, and care about.

Jed:

Do we want to do one more question? Do we, did we have one more question?

Andy:

Okay, one more. Oh, do you have anything to add to that?

Jed:

Well, I mean, I do, but then I worry about us going over time. So But maybe we'll just let go one more question and I look forward to finding a new surfer, uh, you know a beer And we can talk more about this. I want to I want to learn more from you.

Andy:

Yeah Yeah, well one thing we used to do we used to take people around we used to take so I used to do The any Casey foundation funded it and we used to take civil rights leaders out to charter schools This is when there weren't so many so we would go any like Indianapolis Um, or Los Angeles and we would visit schools and just bring people together and we've kind of gotten away from that. So I think some of it is these conversations we're talking about. How do you bring people together to actually facilitate those conversations, get them in rooms with people like Lakeisha, who are willing to have these hard conversations? Where you're actually seeing this, it's very exciting, is on literacy. The move on reading and what you've seen with local NAACP chapters, you know, getting serious about literacy, it was, you know, the work LeVar Burton is doing is fantastic, but this stuff was already happening before, hey, um, he or Emily Hanford, they were on the scene, and so I think, um, there's some lessons there, there's some lessons there as well, but this is like, just local organizing, blocking and tackling, and too often, this stuff is happening at just really elite, uh, levels.

Jed:

Yes, I agree, and I think we need a better policy agenda, um, and I think if we have a better policy agenda, it will demonstrate kind of unequivocally greater alignment with, um, the issues that so many black Americans who have been not served as well as they should have been by our public education system care about, um, and it's ripe for our taking, it is ripe for our taking, but we have to get our acts together and develop an agenda that would allow us to drive a narrative along those along those lines for 10 years. I also think conversions actually matter. I mean, I've had my conversations in New Orleans. If we had done conversions when we were at 30%, rather than waiting until 70%, we would have brought so many of the existing black educators into the charter school space way earlier. But we didn't make, we didn't do that, and we're still suffering because of that to this very day. So, these are things that I think if we just get smarter and learn from our own experience, We're going to, I think, have an opportunity to drive a narrative that's going to resonate in the black community better than it has in some, in some places.

Andy:

There's two hands. Let's do a quick lightning round and then we'll land.

Audience:

My question actually ties in really well to this conversation, but Andy, you mentioned earlier African American voters, Hispanic voters being in favor of charter schools. And so my question is, well, we're all aware that there's a large amount of communities, specifically in the inner city who are not showing up at the polls. So, what are some efforts being made by advocacy groups to gain an improved perspective about the true concerns from those communities?

Jed:

I think, um, all that we can do to get our parents involved here, I know, uh, Gregory is here from, from murmuration, uh, and this is one where I, I believe our larger charter school organizations have a very important role to play. In terms of getting their parents, uh, engaged to provide the parent contact information to the advocacy partners and to get better over time at turning, um, turning folks out and, um, in places where we have done that, we are demonstrating a growing ability to, to win races. So this is what I just state totally within our space. The thing that makes the charter school world different is not only can we build schools that are going to be more successful, but we're building a base. And the base has the possibility for being the counterweight the base by the way is higher membership dues coming to your state associations So we have sustainable advocacy for the long term But it's also a base where we have boots on the ground, but we need to build these systems such that we can more reliably turn people out over the long term. But I, I think we're getting stronger at this, but we've got a lot further to go.

Andy:

And I guess, look, I don't want to make this partisan, but I'll just say the thing. You've got two candidates, one of whom, just last week, threatened to throw our allies who bled for us after 9 11, just throw them under the bus. Says all kinds of crazy things. Oh, and by the way, didn't respect the results of a democratic election, which is our like foundation of where we live, all those things, not to mention, it's all the craziness and Democrats are saying, how do we beat this guy? And that's on the Democrats a little bit, like what's on offer. It has to be compelling. Right now it is not compelling. That's why we're in this situation. And I do think education is one piece of making it more compelling. I mean, what do people fundamentally care about? It's basic stuff. They want economic opportunity. They want safe communities. They want good schools. This isn't rocket science. And like, those are all important things for the people in this room. It's the good schools part of that agenda. And we've got to put stuff on offer that is going to be compelling. And right now that's not the case. That's why you keep seeing the polls. And so. These conversations that need to happen about how do we change how the Democratic Party is perceived, which is not based on just changing how it's perceived, it's changed based on its policy agenda and what it is actually, what it is actually doing. Alright, did you, is that last question? All right. Okay. We want to thank you all so much. First of all, for your patience. I know we're standing between you and an open bar. Uh, uh, and again, just for, for having us and letting us try this, uh, try out this, this live format. Thank you so much.

Jed:

Yeah. Thank you guys.