Hosted by The Philanthropy Roundtable
Palm Beach, Florida
The movement to expand educational options for students and parents has made remarkable progress in recent years, achieving significant growth in tax credit scholarships, charter schools, vouchers, and digital learning. Yet, for millions of parents, there remains no effective mechanism for choosing educational opportunities.
As philanthropists continue to work towards a world-class education for all children, what opportunities exist to increase the quality and variety of options available, and how can additional advocates be brought into this effort? Philanthropists from around the country gathered at this pre-conference to examine strategies for savvy school choice investing, lessons for effectively implementing policies and programs, and next steps for a movement that must continue to expand opportunities and attract a new generation of supporters.
Schedule of Events:
10:00 a.m. Registration opens (South Loggia)
11:30 a.m.–12:25 p.m. Networking Lunch (Ocean Lawn)
12:30 p.m.–1:45 p.m. Opening Session (Ponce de Leon I, II, III)
- Dan Fishman, director of K–12 education programs, The Philanthropy Roundtable
- Julio Fuentes, president and CEO, Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options
“A Bigger K–12 Tent: Expanding Choice and Improving Options”
It’s been a banner few years for school choice. Since 2010 alone, 17 states have created or enhanced school choice programs, including the formation of 12 new programs and the expansion of 13 others. Only nine states still prohibit charter schools, and almost every state is developing a plan for expanded online and digital learning. Before we celebrate these victories, however, we must recall that for millions of parents there remains no effective mechanism for choosing educational opportunities. Now is a crucial time to pause and assess our motives and methods. Have recent efforts to expand educational choice led to the improved quality and opportunity we’ve sought? Are we continuing to generate new and innovative ways to empower parents and students? Current initiatives like education savings accounts (ESAs) and á la carte choice offer much promise, but remain relatively untested. Are these programs the way of the future, and if so, what role should donors play in expanding them? We’ll discuss how philanthropy can continue to bring new advocates into the school choice tent and expand the menu of educational options available for students around the nation.
- Jim Blew, director of K–12 education reform, Walton Family Foundation
- Jay Greene, endowed professor of education reform, University of Arkansas
- John White, state superintendent of education, Louisiana
Patricia Levesque, executive director, Foundation for Excellence in Education (moderator)
1:45 p.m.–2:00 p.m. Networking Break
2:00 p.m.–3:15 p.m. General Session (Ponce de Leon I, II, III)
“Implementing School Choice Victories Successfully: Lessons from Around the Nation”
Does passing school choice legislation guarantee positive outcomes? Unfortunately, not always. A disconcerting number of charter schools, voucher programs, and other endeavors have been sunk by poor implementation. As recent abuses of school choice programs and twenty years of uneven charter school quality have shown, getting it right from the start is essential. Proper bill design, transparency, accountability, thoughtful public relations efforts, and adequate legal defense strategies are all prerequisites for high-quality implementation. With a burgeoning number of choice programs taking hold around the country, how can philanthropists ensure that bold laws lead to successful programs? Top education reformers working on the ground provide insight into how donors can support excellent legislation from the start and help steer high-quality programs once ideas become laws.
- Darrell Allison, president, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina
- Elizabeth Fagan, superintendent, Douglas County School District (CO)
- John Kirtley, vice chairman, Alliance For School Choice and American Federation for Children
- Andrew Neumann, president, Educational Enterprises
Clint Bolick, director, Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, Goldwater Institute (moderator)
3:15 p.m.–3:40 p.m. Networking Break
3:40 p.m.–4:10 p.m. Special Donor Conversation (Ponce de Leon I, II, III)
“Reflections on School Choice Leadership and Philanthropy”
Betsy DeVos has been a trailblazer in the school choice movement for decades, providing leadership and guidance for some of the nation’s most successful reforms. She’s also helped modernize school choice efforts, developing a multi-pronged strategy that now includes a deep national bench of talented leaders and a wide range of initiatives. Through these efforts and others, Betsy has become a seasoned philanthropist adept at adjusting her efforts to meet both short and long term goals. Join Betsy as we explore how her leadership and giving strategies have evolved over time, and what donors can do to continuously improve their own philanthropy to ensure forward momentum in education reform.
- Betsy DeVos, chairman, American Federation for Children and Alliance for School Choice
Bruno Manno, senior advisor for K-12 education reform, Walton Family Foundation (moderator)
4:10 p.m.–5:10 p.m. Closing Session (Ponce de Leon I, II, III)
“Diversify, Diversify, Diversify: Ideas for Crafting a Balanced School Choice Portfolio”
Perhaps more than at any other time in recent memory, philanthropists have an enormous menu of geographies and strategies to consider when working towards expanded educational choice. Yet with over $500 billion in public money flowing into K–12 education annually, philanthropy must be extremely strategic in using finite resources to effect transformative change. For many, the abundance of school choice funding opportunities—including charter and parochial schools, private scholarships and advocacy efforts—necessitates a more complex strategy focused on crafting a diverse portfolio of philanthropic investments. How can donors decide what projects to fund, and which strategies yield the greatest likelihood of success? We’ll explore the strengths and weaknesses of various school choice options, the potential benefits of tying multiple investments and goals together, and how savvy funders have (or have not) balanced their philanthropic giving.
- Tom Carroll, president, New York School Choice Foundation
- Kevin Hall, CEO, Charter School Growth Fund
- Darla Romfo, president, Children’s Scholarship Fund
- Bruno Manno, senior advisor for K–12 education reform, Walton Family Foundation (moderator)
5:10 p.m. Closing Remarks
- Adam Meyerson, president, The Philanthropy Roundtable
5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Reception (Ocean Lawn)
For additional information about the content of this program, please contact Dan Fishman, director of K–12 programs, at email@example.com or at (202) 822-8333.
*Note: This event was a pre-meeting for The Philanthropy Roundtable’s 2012 Annual Meeting. For more information about that event, please visit our Annual Meeting homepage.