2017 brought a new administration to Washington, D.C. and along with it, considerable change and conversation throughout our nation. I want to share with you that in the past month, Aspire chose to participate proactively in the national political arena in two specific ways. The choice wasn't driven by any of our personal political beliefs, but by our unflagging commitment to the ideal of family empowerment through education. Because civic responsibility is a clear driver behind our mission and vision, we took a stance on two issues:
First, a financial matter:
On Tuesday March 28th, we signed on publicly to an
op-ed in USA Today about the Trump administration's recent budget proposal
. The op-ed was authored by the leaders of KIPP, Uncommon Schools, and Achievement First, and we were joined as co-signers by 17 other charter management organizations across the country. I hope you'll take a moment to read it, and please feel free to share with friends and family.
Here's the skinny on Trump's so-called "skinny budget": It provides for $168 million in funding to charter schools like ours, which sounds great. But when we dug deeper into the budget's proposed
, it became clear that the collective movement of high-performing charter networks could not support it. We would benefit greatly from an increase in funding, but, in this proposed budget - it would be at the expense of other critical support programs for the very students and families we serve.
We stand with twenty of our 'charter cousins' nationwide in saying to the current administration: go back to the drawing board to create a budget that champions not only "school choice" initiatives, but a budget that champions children's futures more holistically. It takes more than charter schools working in isolation to break the cycle of poverty, and collectively we can't afford the defunding of programs like the Pell Grant and Americorps.
Check out the article to learn more
And second, a legal matter:
Currently, there is an Executive Order in place by the Trump administration which threatens to defund "sanctuary jurisdictions" - cities, counties, and states that have adopted sanctuary policies whereby they permit residence by undocumented immigrants and help them avoid deportation. Aspire runs schools in many of these sanctuary cities.
Santa Clara County here in California has brought a lawsuit challenging this Executive Order, and on Wednesday March 22nd, a San Francisco law firm filed what's called an
in support of that lawsuit. Many public school districts and public charter schools in California signed on to the amicus brief, and Aspire was one of them.
The brief focused on the unique harm that undocumented students, their parents, and ultimately, our school systems will experience if the executive order is enforced. The way the Order is written puts all of us at risk because it is sweeping and vague and therefore exposes us to potential abuse of power by the federal government.
Please note that this isn't just about Aspire having a moral opposition to the nature of the Executive Order. This is actually about a legal effort to clarify in the courts the appropriate oversight and intervention by our federal government. I approved our signing on to this amicus brief because local communities (ours and all others) are better able to make decisions regarding how to spend their local funds without interference from the federal government.
The bottom line is that
all children are entitled to equal access to public education in our nation, regardless of immigration status. That's not just what we believe - that's the law.
And we were willing to take a public stance, through signing this amicus brief, against anything that potentially threatens our students' access to education.
Aspire is not a political entity or a highly-politicized organization, and we don't intend to become one. But when political issues directly and negatively affect the students and families we love and serve, we will speak up, as we chose to do here.
Lastly, an honor:
At the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) Conference this month, Aspire parent Jorge Corona, of Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy and Aspire Pacific Academy in Huntington Park, was recognized as the
2017 Hart Vision Volunteer of the Year
. Corona is a major force in the local charter movement, inspiring families and parents to get involved in the fight for more high quality charter schools throughout the state. With his support, Aspire has been able to dream bigger and do more for our students. This is a statewide, highly prestigious award, and we are very proud to call Jorge Corona an Aspire parent. He is a role model to so many who hear the call to step up and serve through civic engagement. Hear more of Jorge's story in this
With gratitude for all that you do in your own way and in your own town in the name of civic engagement,
Chief Executive Officer