Voting for the 2011 Education Resource People's Choice Awards has closed. Click here to see the final list of winners.
By Sarah Wright
With dwindling government financial support causing budget cuts and other discomfort across the education sector, education advocacy is getting increasingly important. The three nominees for the Best Education Advocate award focus on different areas and they are all worthy of recognition for the impact their efforts have had.
A professor of education at New York University and former member of the Department of Education, Diane Ravitch published her latest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, in 2010. The book outlines Ravitch's focus on standardized testing as a distraction from more valuable educational activities. As she revealed in a 2011 interview on NPR's Fresh Air, this position was a bit of a reversal for Ravitch, who had previously championed testing as a government education advisor. Ravitch believes education should focus on common humanity and shared identity instead of focusing on religious or racial political debates. Diane Ravitch has emerged over the past two decades as an advocate for public education.
Michelle Rhee serves as the CEO of StudentsFirst, an organization that promotes child-focused reform as a means of achieving the best education system in the world. Rhee's first step on the path to advocacy was a position serving as a Teach for America teacher in Baltimore. For nearly two decades, she has worked to help improve public education through various means, including her role as the Chancellor of Washington, D.C.'s public school system. Under her guidance, both test scores and enrollment improved in what had formerly been the nation's worst performing public school district. Rhee continues her advocacy work with StudentsFirst in an attempt to abolish teacher tenure.
Before college, most students don't really think about textbooks. But once paying for textbooks becomes a part of the equation, they become a burden that goes beyond having to carry a heavy book around between classes. Paying for books in college can carry such a severe cost that it becomes prohibitive for many students, creating a barrier to academic success. Along with the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), Nicole Allen works on the 'Make Textbooks Affordable' initiative. By promoting different routes of advocacy, from describing affordable options to discussing the problem with prominent politicians, the initiative is doing work that could make a real difference in the lives of many low-income students.
All three nominees are highly deserving, but only one can win. Support your favorite, and don't forget to get the word out and vote on Facebook before October 21st!
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