The Empire Strikes Back: The Sudden Rise and Ongoing Challenges of Democrats for Education Reform

Still relatively new on the scene, the group Democrats for Education Reform benefited enormously from its long-shot early endorsement of Barack Obama and the unprecedented national focus on Obama’s $5 billion Race to the Top grant program.

Conflicts with teachers unions and other traditional education stakeholders steadily heated up over the years, thanks in part to DFER’s dogged focus on charter school expansion (and charter school funders), challenges to sitting incumbents, and reform implementation challenges.

DFER became increasingly exposed when unions and others shifted their support for Common Core and began attacking the organization as part of a “corporate reform” movement led by white elites. Meanwhile, DFER was slow to broaden its agenda to include immigration, school discipline, and other social justice issues.

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