Democrats for Education Reform builds a network of education champions at the federal, state, and local levels to fight for educational equity through innovative, bold reforms to our K-12 and higher education systems.
We are proud to count more than 180 DFERs across our network.
In the 2022 primary election cycle, 25 DFER-supported candidates won their elections in Colorado, New York, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., with 70% of investments going towards winning candidates.
Our network of DFER Champions has helped pass important legislation—and block problematic bills—to promote greater opportunities for students. Below are a few recent highlights:
Resource Equity, so that funding goes to the students and schools that need it most:
- DFER champions in Colorado, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia led the charge to provide high-impact tutoring to over 1 million students across these three states.
- Washington, D.C., Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Anita Bonds, and Councilmember Brooke Pinto helped to pass the uniform per student funding formula adequacy study to ensure equitable funding for D.C. schools.
- In New York, DFERs helped institute an internet broadband price cap for low-income families of no more than $15 per month to provide better access to vital services required for remote learning.
Teacher Preparation, Quality, Diversification, so that we recruit, prepare, and retain a diverse pipeline of excellent educators:
- U.S. Senator Cory Booker, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, and others, introduced the RAISE Act, which would boost teacher compensation by putting tax money back in their pockets and help diversify the teaching workforce.
- Connecticut State Sen. Pat Billie Miller led the charge to pass the Right to Read Act, which supports educators to adopt the science of reading literacy by identifying and providing curricular models for instruction and creating a Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success to aid in implantation and professional development.
- In Colorado, DFERs passed legislation to require teacher preparation programs to publish first-time praxis rates, and defeated legislation that sought to roll back the use of student academic growth in the educator evaluation system.
- At the federal level, DFER champions are seeking to require the collection of outcome data for graduates of teacher preparation programs that is disaggregated by key demographics, including race/ethnicity, as part of the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
- Washington, D.C., Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Anita Bonds, and Councilmember Brooke Pinto helped to pass the Structured Literacy Training Action Plan that provides structured literacy training for D.C. Public School teachers, a $2,000 stipend for those who complete the training, and a task force to expand training and support to public charter schools.
Data, Transparency and Accountability, so that we know what is and isn’t working and can prepare all students for college and career:
- Statewide, annual assessments continue to serve as a measure for accountability thanks to Congressional leadership by DFERS, including U.S. Senate HELP Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray.
- In Massachusetts, DFERs successfully defended the state’s accountability system and helped ensure the MCAS was administered in the spring of 2021.
Public School Choice, so that all families can choose the public school that best meets their child’s needs:
- Through the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP), DFERs have allocated $1.3 billion to public charter schools.
- U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Diane Feinstein have repeatedly led the CSP Appropriations letter, including this past year for FY 2023.
- Under the leadership of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the House did not include harmful language in the FY 2023 appropriations bill that would have effectively ceased funding for the federal Charter Schools Program.
- In Spring of 2022, Democratic leadership—including U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, John Hickenlooper and Diane Feinstein, Rep. Ritchie Torres, and Gov. Jared Polis—were influential in the U.S. Department of Education’s revisions to the Charter Schools Program’s regulations, which rolled back initially proposed bureaucratic barriers to funding for public charter schools.
- In Colorado, DFERs defeated attempts in Colorado to roll back charter autonomy and authorization protection through the appeals process, advanced policy to allow charter schools to serve as administrative units for special education services and kept in place Colorado’s groundbreaking law requiring charters to receive equitable funding (90%) from any district-led property tax revenue increase.
- In Washington, D.C., DFER champions helped secure a multi-year increase to the charter facilities allotment (to 3.1% in 2024).
Higher Ed Quality and Affordability, so that everyone has a chance at more opportunities and a better life:
- DFER worked with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan to introduce the bi-partisan, Fast Track To and Through College Act, which would create a grant program aimed at helping more students earn college credits while still in high school.
- Colorado DFERs spearheaded legislation, signed by Gov. Jared Polis, that made Colorado the first state to ban the legacy preference in college admissions.
- NY State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker introduced the Fair College Admissions Act in Spring 2022 that would end the legacy preference and early decision preference in higher education.