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Hold’em Informs Education Activists

On Saturday July 28, ERS’ Genevieve Quist Green and I travelled to Washington, D.C. to present at the Leadership for Educational Equity's (LEE) Policy Leadership Academy. LEE is a political organization that mobilizes, supports and trains Teach For America alumni who serve as policy advisors, community advocates and elected officials. Our topic, "Education Funding 101: Using Education Resources Wisely," was well received by the audience of former Teach For America corps members. This group had convened to participate in a series of policy workshops and programs.

We discussed the challenges urban public school district leaders face in both finances as well as student performance. It became very clear that, in the current budgetary climate, districts cannot continue with the status quo and need to make big changes to transform their systems. We then played ERS’ School Budget Hold'em where participants could take on the role of school districts leaders to get a real sense of the difficult choices they face.

School Budget Hold’em truly resonated with this group. Participant Genevieve DeBose, Director of Education Engagement for the National Board Certified Teacher Leaders, commented, “Coming from a teacher’s perspective, the game is eye-opening. I believe it can change people’s perspectives on these issues." Craig Wallace, State Director of Students First, added, “Everyone in the room is realizing how difficult [making big change] is, but we’ve been doing the same thing for 30 years, and it’s not working.” Matt Wolfe, attorney from Parker Poe, said, “The experience is great…coming from the perspective of someone who works with state budgets, I can say it’s very realistic.” Several participants said they would love to play the game with colleagues, school boards and parent groups in their districts.

Many thanks to LEE for hosting this event and inviting us to participate.

Below is the PowerPoint used in our presentation.

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