Students join to advocate public education reform

Starting next semester, the University will welcome its own chapter of Students For Educational Reform (SFER).

Rooted in the national nonprofit of the same name, SFER is geared toward promoting policy change that will close the racial and socioeconomic “achievement gap” in K-12 public schools across the country. An achievement gap is the disparity between the success rates of children in under-resourced schools and children in schools that are more affluent.

Sophomore Aldric Ellis, the vice president of SFER, said the club is for those who are passionate about improving education in the United States.

“This is an awesome opportunity to help make a change,” Ellis said.

The chapter at UM will focus on informing students about educational equality through student rallies, film screenings and partnerships with other student organizations. One of the movies they hope to screen is “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary about a group of students waiting to see if they will win the lottery to enroll at a charter school.

“We’ll be raising awareness through discussion panels and screenings of films that deal with education reform, such as the film ‘Waiting for Superman,’” said sophomore Jenna Boller, president of UM’s SFER.

SFER will also partner with Teach for America, a national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit to teaching in underprivileged public schools for two years.

“We saw the need for an SFER chapter after talking with students who were committed to ending educational inequity and wanted to spread awareness about this issue,” said Krista Szaflarski, the head of Teach for America’s UM recruitment teams.

Teach for America and SFER have partnered at a national level as well as at UM to provide students with an opportunity to impact the community.

“Many were excited to apply to Teach For America but were underclassmen and wanted to have an impact now, rather than after graduation,” Szaflarski said.

SFER will have a campaign during which students will write emails, make phone calls and write letters to ask Florida senators and legislators to vote for bills which support educational reform. The chapter will also be tutoring at local schools in order to supplement the education of disadvantaged students in the community.