History of Excellent Education for Everyone – At a glance
New Jersey’s Premiere Urban School Choice Organization
The Founding of the E3 Organization (1999)
The organization was founded in 1999 by Peter Denton. Mr. Denton served as the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He quickly became known for Pete’s rule that he stated at the start of every E3 event. “Leave your ego and other issues at the door. We are not here to discuss, abortion, gay rights or the war. Our only purpose is to discuss the future of our children”. It is literally from this simple philosophical quote E3 began a march for educational justice for children attending failing public schools. The E3 organization is without question, wholly responsible in disclosing the “dirty little secret” that the majority of students attending New Jersey’s Urban Public Schools are failing, and the cost to taxpayers is astronomical. In E3’s short history the entity has sharpen its focus and has been lauded by the media and lawmakers as the premier not for profit organization for Urban School Choice in the State of New jersey.
The following is a brief historical overview of the achievements and accomplishments of Excellent Education for Everyone;
Lawsuit: Crawford v. Davy (2004 – 2009)
Crawford v. Davy was a class action suit filed by the parents of 12 children in failing schools and 25 school boards. The suit argues that the state is indeed denying children a proper education, by cosigning students to failing school districts. Rather than pump more money into a failing system and hope it improves, the suit reasons, the court should let taxpayers take their money elsewhere, be it to private schools or public schools in another town. E3 coordinate a coalition that backed the case that included the Alliance for School Choice, The Black Minister’s Council of N.J., and the Latino Leadership Alliance N.J. The Case was endorsed by the Philadelphia, Inquirer, The Courier Post, the NY Post, The Home News Tribune and Forbes Magazine.
IMPACT – Although the lawsuit was dismissed by the Superior Court, the case clearly raised the public discourse regarding hyper segregated Urban School districts and their effect on parental school choice. More lawmakers and community leaders became more aware of the need to see school districts desegregated in the state of N.J.
N.J. School Choice Alliance (2004 – 2012):
E3 established the N.J. School Choice Alliance.
The N.J. School Choice Alliance (the “Alliance”) is a broad based coalition of individuals and organizations concerned with the education of every child in New Jersey. It is charged with the responsibility of educating the public about the educational and financial benefits of parental school choice and strengthening the advocacy capabilities of a wide variety of civic, educational, children’s and business organizations engaged in the public debate over the best way to achieve the delivery of a thorough and efficient education to every child in New Jersey.
The Alliance supports legislation that recognizes school choice as an integral part of the New Jersey’s public policy and supporta all necessary public funding to offer viable options for students to attend public schools, charter schools, home schools or non-public schools according to their needs.
The Alliance membership is diverse, including representatives of tenant organizations, early childhood initiatives, Latino and African American outreach groups, nonpublic schools, including Catholic and parochial representatives among others.
IMPACT – The Alliance was a leading advocate organization in passing the legislation to reform teacher tenure guidelines. Additionally, many of the members of The Alliance testified in favor of the elimination of the Special Review Assessment (SRA), the establishment of the Urban Hope Act and supported the Opportunity Scholarship Act Campaign.
Special Review Assessment (SRA 2005 – 2008)
SRA is an alternate test which high school students take to be certified graduates.The Special Review Assessment (SRA) is an exam given to New Jersey’s 11th and 12th graders as an alternate route to receiving their high school diploma. It is only given to students after they have failed one or both portions of the standard High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) at least three times. In 2005-2006, 19.1% of HSPA takers statewide either needed the SRA, or were exempt from having to pass the HSPA at all—nearly 13,000 students, many of whom are minority and live in urban school districts.
Many officials, and the State Board of Education, agree that the SRA, once meant for a limited number of students who “froze” taking standardized tests, is “abused” in many school districts, where in some schools over 80% of students’ use the SRA. It is worth noting that these students receive the same diploma as those who pass the HSPA.
Academic standards compared to proposed new national standards in virtually all of New Jersey’s schools (Suburban or urban) are low. To minimize the value of a New Jersey high school diploma reduces the capabilities and prospects of our children moving on to college, trade schools, or work at age 18.
IMPACT – E3 implemented a strategic an aggressive program exposing the widespread practice of SRA especially in urban school districts to the media and state leadership. This fraud on students, parents and taxpayers was publically disclosed. After much testimony, the guidelines to administering the test have been changed. The State Board of Education has renamed the test to Alternate High School Assessment (AHSA) E3 Published “Giving Diplomas Meaning”, a position paper that gives critical analysis of the SRA program. You can download the complete document at www.NJE3.org
Money for Nothing (2008):
This E3 white paper examines expenditures and the academic performance of the Newark Public School district. “Money for Nothing” reports how the poor academic performance of the majority of students is paid for by, not only local tax payers but by home owners throughout the state of N.J. Since Newark lacks a home owners base to support the district. Tax dollars are being under-written to the NPS district from other cities via Title18a statute for equalization aid funding.
IMPACT – This document helped make Newark the epicenter and laboratory for urban education reform in the North East. The City gained support and attention from the Gates Foundation, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Marian Wright Edelman, Tiki Barber, Gov. Chris Christie and Collin Powell. Additionally, served N.J. tax cutting organizations began protesting the waste and cost associated with funding urban schools.
School Watch (2008 – 2010)
School Watch is E3’s educational research arm that provides empirical data and analysis for print and broadcast media efforts. Our office has been a leader in analyzing urban school budgets, graduation rates, staffing, and policies that conversely affect urban public schools. Additionally E3 produced “The Third Rail”, a series of podcasts that analyzed key educational reform issues. The program averaged over 15,000 listeners per month.
IMPACT – From editorial boards to national education journals, E3 has become the go-to-organization to provide critical analysis to on failure of urban public schools.
State of Emergency (2009 – 2010)
E3 published the white paper document, “State of Emergency”. The document asserts the premise that all children are equally capable, and that their academic success or failure is the province of how our school bureaucracies are staffed, organized and deployed. More importantly—with the billions of dollars spent on urban education reform in New Jersey as a prologue, explores the increasingly negative impact that New Jersey’s State Department of Education, Teacher Union, and traditional educational advocacy group policies have had on our urban students. Those policies, when viewed as individual instances, are not adequate for today’s contemporary education settings, and are oftentimes outrageous.
IMPACT – This E3 produced white paper/position paper has served as an advisory document to many key leaders in N.J. i.e. Governor Chris Christie, Rev. Reginald Jackson, Bret Schundler, Former State Education Commissioner, George Norcross, and current Acting State Commissioner, Brendan Cerf. The complete document can be found on www.NJE3.org.
The Cartel (produced 2009):
This 90 minute documentary film specifically targets the public school system in N.J. which spends more money per pupil than any other state. The film depicts hideous low test scores in reading and math, impenetrable obstacles to remove poor teachers a, insidious corruption and the waste of massive amounts of tax payer’s dollars. The film is produced by former television reporter Bob Bowden. The film also captures much of the work and activities of E3 to create school choice in N.J. Six months prior to the film’s nationwide release, the producer allowed E3 to tour the film to colleges, community organizations and black churches in N.J. After each showing, there were discussion groups facilitated by E3 staff.
IMPACT – The film helped propel E3 to national recognition as a major Urban Education Reform organization.
Community Outreach/Organizing (2003-2012)
From our inception, E3 recognized the importance of organizing and informing the grassroots community. To assist with our advocacy we organized a few specialized interest groups such as;
- The E3 Ministerial Alliance represents dozens of Faith-based leaders from the state that support urban education reform with their congregants and communities.
- The E3 Business Alliance represents dozens of N.J. corporations who support urban education reform and its necessity for a healthy economy and diverse workforce.
- E3 Membership represents nearly 5,000 N.J. residents who support urban education reform for their families and communities
- E3 has employed street teams and canvassers to survey, promote and educate citizens in urban neighborhoods of key educational reform issues.
IMPACT – E3 community outreach has created more informed citizens and groups to partner and support E3 Urban School Choice Initiatives. Additionally, E3 community organizing has resulted in greater community awareness and participation in the urban education reform movement.
The Center – Legal Clinic (2004 – 2008)
E3 created The Center to help protect low-income families and advance the education rights of New Jerseyans who could not otherwise afford legal support when confronting school districts.
IMPACT – In 2006, Angel Cordero and Pastor Tim Merrill started the Community Education Resource Network (CERN) in Camden, New Jersey. CERN became a safe haven for members of the Camden community who could no longer justify sending their children to dangerous schools. For those seeking to graduate high school, CERN is a beacon of hope and a chance for a better life.
New Jersey Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA 2008 – 2012)
The Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA) is a 5 year pilot program using corporate tax credit scholarship bill that will fund scholarships for low-income students attending the state’s lowest performing, chronically failing public schools. The scholarships would enable students to attend out-of-district public schools, or non-public schools anywhere in the state, that choose to participate in the program.
School Choice is Your choice Campaign
Spokespeople and entertainers performed including American Idols’ Fantasia Barrino, Terrence J (BET), legendary rapper, Kurtis Blow. Naughty by Nature and Cory Booker (Mayor of Newark), for the NJ Opportunity Scholarship Act and E3?s “School Choice is Your Choice” campaign, spoke in support of educational opportunity and the NJOSA at the “Old School for New School Choice” rally on June 15, 2010. The concert was held in Washington Park in Newark N.J., with an audience of 3,000 people. Additionally, several of the celebrities produced video commercials for our campaign and were featured on N.J. Transit bus advertising. This campaign was centered in the Greater Newark area and gave high visibility to OSA.
Save Our Children Rally (2011)
E3 partnered with “We Can Do Better” to organize and host this rally of supporters the OSA bill, which gives scholarships to tens of thousands of students in failing public schools to attend private and parochial schools. The event, packed with over 2,500 supporters was held on the Trenton’s Statehouse steps, urging legislators to take action.
Speakers included: Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Assemblyman Tom Byrne, and Rev. Reginald, Georgia Representative Alisha Morgan.
IMPACT – OSA was never voted on because the speaker of N.J. Assembly refused to post the bill. After several iterations the bill received bi-partisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate.
2012 History Coming Soon
Prepared by Alfred Bundy, Bundy Productions (2012)