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StudentsFirst Policy Agenda: Introduction

A Challenge to States and Districts: Policies That Put Students First

In too many American schools, current laws, policies, and practices put adult interests ahead of students. The result is an increasingly broken education system that, if not corrected, will keep America from leading in the increasingly competitive global marketplace. We created StudentsFirst to push for immediate changes that put the success of children at the center of every conversation about education reform. This agenda is a call to action and a roadmap for state and local lawmakers who want to make the changes necessary to put American students back at the top of the international rankings.

We do not pretend that these changes will be easy or can be made overnight. To the contrary, we know that our priorities will upset vested adult interests and therefore trigger controversy. We do not pretend that we are the first to advocate the ideas in this agenda; many organizations, policymakers and individuals have made important strides that now lend proof to the need for full-scale reform. With our members, resources, partners, and the facts behind us, we will fight to shift the balance of power so that effective educators, parents, and, most importantly, students are the centerpiece of our education system.

In developing this agenda, StudentsFirst has assembled policies that will improve public education without regard to their point of origin on the political spectrum. Many of the initiatives below have been piloted at smaller scale, or pushed through national efforts like the federal Race to the Top program or the Common Core standards that many states have agreed to adopt. Each policy initiative shares a common principle: a clear-cut answer when we ask the simple question, "What is in the best interest of children and families?"

StudentsFirst will drive reforms proven to have the strongest results for students by supporting dramatic change in state and local education policies in three critical areas. We will support policies that:

  • Elevate the teaching profession by valuing teachers' impact on students;
  • Empower parents with real choices and real information; and
  • Spend taxpayers' money wisely to get better results for students.

Click Here to Read a Summary of Our Policy Agenda