50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now is a nonprofit advocacy organization that recruits and supports local leaders who build citizen movements in their states to ensure that every child has access to a great school.
50CAN is led by President & Founder Marc Porter Magee, and is built on the groundbreaking accomplishments of ConnCAN, where he spent six years as its chief operating officer. 50CAN operates campaigns in Minnesota, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. We aim to launch 12 state campaigns by 2013 and reach half of the country by 2015.
Watch this 90-second video to find out what 50CAN is all about, meet the faces of our state movements and learn how we are working to restore the American dream one school at a time:
Our model is built around the conviction that all politics is local but locals shouldn’t have to start from scratch. We identify education reform leaders in each state and then provide them with the tools needed to build an effective advocacy movement. By empowering local leaders, we help create a true, lasting, successful state-based education reform movement tackling 50 sets of education policy challenges in 50 states to close the achievement gap between the haves and have-nots in America. 50CAN supports local leaders to run results-oriented advocacy campaigns through:
Research & Policy
50CAN’s original research marries in-depth analysis of state-level public education data in each state with the latest national education policy research.
Communications & Mobilization
50CAN helps local leaders create a movement of informed citizens through media work, e-advocacy, publications, graphic design, partnerships with like-minded civic and community groups, phone banks, petitions and rallies.
Advocacy for Policy Change
50CAN’s expert staff teams with our local leaders to develop and enact concrete, meaningful education reforms through both legislative and administrative action.
Our 12 major policy victories in the states include two new alternate routes to teacher certification, two overhauls of teacher evaluation systems, a new preschool evaluation system and a 20 percent increase in state funding for charter schools amidst a severe structural deficit.
There is growing knowledge of what works to dramatically improve student achievement, drawn from high-performing schools and districts across the country. Supporting these proven strategies doesn’t mean trying to write every best practice into state law, but instead advancing three fundamental principles that work together to reward success, reduce failure and raise the quality of everything in between:
Our calcified education system is resistant to the innovations of educators, the desires of parents and the realities of the global economy. Expanding options for families injects innovation, competition and a grassroots level of accountability into the system. These choices should be supported by school finance systems that fund students based on their learning needs at the schools of their choice.
Over the past 20 years we made significant strides in developing rigorous state standards and aligned student assessment systems. We must now use the information collected through these systems to drive instruction and curriculum, expand public awareness of school performance, ground teacher evaluations in student results and close chronically failing schools.
For greater choices and accountability to translate into greater student achievement, our educators need greater flexibility to run their districts and schools. This means expanding alternative pathways to serving as a teacher or a principal and providing principals with greater control over staffing, instructional strategies and budget.
Our core policy principles of choices, accountability and flexibility go hand-in-hand with our core advocacy principles:
50CAN believes the development of local leadership, boards and brands are paramount. Every campaign starts with the recruitment of visionary in-state leaders and powerhouse state advisory boards. We take local branding very seriously. It’s not “50CAN’s Minnesota campaign,” it’s “MinnCAN.”
During six years at ConnCAN, we fine-tuned strategies for movement building and political advocacy, including a microtargeting model and online School Report Cards. Pushing the envelope with an innovative, technological approach to advocacy is at the heart of our organizational culture.
The battle for education reform won’t be won or lost in a year. Our campaigns span policy development to implementation, weathering many election cycles and operating no matter which way the political winds blow.