Our Values

Mission

Combating a History of Systemic Inequity

At DFER, we staunchly believe every child is entitled to a high-quality public education. We operate in the legacy of leading Democrats—stretching from Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to Al Shanker and Rosa Parks—who sought to guarantee a quality public education to all students, especially those previously denied that right. We work to elect and support Democratic leaders who are committed to our vision for a public education system that empowers all of its students—particularly students of color, students from low-income backgrounds and other historically underserved students—to reach their limitless potential.

From its inception, our nation’s public education system has been rooted in inequity, spanning lines of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, native language, zip code, and disability. For generations, our nation has distributed educational opportunity in discriminatory ways that rendered the American Dream illusory for too many children. While progress has been made, we continue to see the destructive consequences of systemic racism and discrimination within our education system.

DFER seeks to reverse these conditions and create a world where all American students—especially students of color and those mired in poverty—have access to quality schools that enable them to reach their fullest potential.

 

We commit to being…

1. Student-Centered.

We believe that what’s best for students should always come first and that their race, gender, sexual orientation, native language, class, zip code, or disability shouldn’t impact the quality of education they receive. Our policy priorities, research and advocacy work prioritizes the academic, social, and emotional needs of every student; however, it centers those furthest from educational justice because we believe that when we prioritize improving outcomes for students who have been historically prohibited and underserved that the system accrues benefits for everyone.

2. Anti-Racist.

We are committed to dismantling the systemic racism against Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latinx/Hispanic, Asian American Pacific Islander, and marginalized communities that is entrenched in our nation’s education system. We unapologetically advocate for anti-racist policies within the education sector. We pledge to continue to examine and understand our work through the lens of equity and racial justice, and elevate leadership who share our beliefs, both internally as an organization, and externally in our advocacy.

3. Advocates for Students from Lower-Income Backgrounds.

We believe a family’s income should never dictate the quality of education their child receives. For too long, our education system has generated economic inequity, instead of empowering our children with the resources and tools they need to succeed. We fight to alleviate the effects of poverty for students furthest from privilege—whether they live in urban communities, exurban, or rural communities—so that resources are equitably distributed, and all students are able to reach their utmost potential, regardless of income.

4. Continuous Learners.

We are committed to operating in all aspects of our work with integrity and humility. That starts with learning from the history of this country’s education system and a commitment to continuous improvement as individuals, and as an organization, to right the wrongs of the past and build toward a better future for all children.

5. Collaborative.

Improving student outcomes can only be realized when we work together across perspectives, and at all levels of our work, with others who share our “student-centered” approach. In this, we place a particular emphasis on supporting and elevating voices of those most impacted by systemic inequities. We commit to collaborating with families, educators, policymakers, elected officials, civil rights leaders and advocates to advance a common vision for a bright future for all of our nation’s students—especially those historically denied this opportunity.