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National School Choice Week Forum at the University of Minnesota
January 26, 2016 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Held in January, National School Choice Week is the world’s largest annual celebration for parental choice in education. Approximately 11,082 events across all 50 states were held during School Choice Week in 2015. The 2016 National School Choice Week is January 25-30.
In Minnesota, the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Opportunity for All Kids Foundation, a state-based advocacy group focused on school choice, are partnering to host an informative discussion to look at Minnesota’s progress on school choice, the national outlook and what the future holds. Former Washington DC teachers union president George Parker will provide a keynote address that will be followed by a bipartisan panel discussion moderated by education reporter Beth Hawkins.
George Parker has 30 years of hands-on education experience as a math teacher in the Washington DC public school system. He is the former president of the Washington Teachers Union, serving in that post from 2005-2010. In 2010, Parker worked with Michelle Rhee to negotiate a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement that featured innovations in teacher compensation, professional development, and evaluations. The agreement was rooted in the shared belief that DCPS leaders must raise academic and teaching standards while also treating teachers fairly and giving them the tools and conditions to work effectively with children. Parker is currently a Senior Fellow with Students First.
Ember Reichgott Junge is a former Minnesota State Senator who retired in 2000 after serving 18 distinguished years. Elected to the Senate at age 29, Reichgott Junge is the youngest woman ever elected to that body. Senator Reichgott Junge was honored by Business Week (1992) as one of “Six Local Heros Making a Difference” for authoring Minnesota’s first-in-the-nation charter school law. President Bill Clinton came to St. Paul to celebrate the nation’s first charter school in 2000 and the Minnesota Charter School Law won a 2000 “Innovations in American Government” award from Harvard University and the Ford Foundation. Senator Reichgott Junge is a graduate of Duke Law School (1977) and holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas (1991).
Richard Komer serves as a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. He litigates school choice cases in both federal and state courts. Several of his current cases involve the constitutionality of allowing school choice programs to include religious schools among the private schools that can participate. He is IJ’s resident expert on state Blaine Amendments. Prior to his work at the Institute, Dick worked as a career civil rights lawyer for the federal government, working at the Department of Education and Justice, as well as the Equal Opportunity Commission. Dick received his law degree with the University of Virginia in 1978 and his B.A. from Harvard College in 1974.
Representative Jenifer Loon was first elected in 2008 and is serving her fourth term in the Minnesota House. A well-respected legislator, Representative Loon is currently the Chair of the House Education Finance Committee. During her time in the Minnesota legislature, Loon has championed a number of key issues including early learning scholarships, teacher licensure reforms, parental choice in education, and repealing a prohibition on selling alcohol on Sundays. Representative Loon earned a B.A. in government and international affairs from Augustana College.
Beth Hawkins is a reporter who has covered education and other public policy topics for MinnPost from its launch in 2007 to October 2015, when she left to write for Education Post, a nonprofit based in Chicago. Beth is the recipient of numerous national and regional awards, including the first-place Society of Professional Journalists Page One awards for investigative reporting and feature writing. Her work as appeared in More, Mother Jones, Minnesota Monthly and many other publications.
Questions about this event? Contact Opportunity for All Kids Foundation Executive Director Chas Anderson at email@example.com.