December 13, 2013 | Posted At: 11:22 AM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Fixing Broken Schools , Foundation / Advocacy Follies , Teachers, Teaching, Unions , Urban Ed
Update: Barr Nonprofit Re-Focuses On Teacher Advocacy
Quick update on Steve Barr's Future Is Now nonprofit, given his scheduled appearance in New York City next week at the AFT/Atlantic event:
The organization has rebooted in the past few months -- new name (Future Is Now vs. the old Future Is Now Schools name adopted when Barr had to stop using Green Dot America) -- new staff -- three of them based in Chicago -- and a new focus on teacher advocacy than charter school development and operations. Plus twitter @teacheraction.
According to FIN's communications director Gordon Wright: "We're organizing teachers with the goal of empowering them to take actions that will improve their schools and unions. Acknowledging the wisdom and professionalism of teachers has always been a hallmark of Steve's approach, and this new effort also taps into his deep roots as an organizer."
This makes sense in a lot of ways. Barr has always been more an organizer and mobilizer than a school operator (read my book for more about this), he's always been squarely in the middle between reformers and reform critics, and he's got more experience and track record working with districts and unions (in LA, NY, and NOLA) than some of the other groups. (Funding comes from Ford, Moriah, Gates, and high-value individuals, I'm told.)
Of course, there's no shortage of groups trying to help teachers gain voice and advocate effectively (in addition to the voice and advocacy that comes from the unions), so that's going to be a challenge. FIN claims it's going to help teachers better/differently than everyone else.
The website tells stories about teachers organizing their own contracts at the school level in NYC, starting their own schools in LA, and pushing for online union voting (for UTLA).