On Wednesday, DFER President Shavar Jeffries detailed in The Hill President Obama’s “greatest unsung accomplishment” – his commitment to lasting, meaningful education reform and what it means going forward for the next President.
In it, Shavar outlines four principles if Hillary Clinton is to embrace and build upon President Obama’s education legacy. Otherwise, students will be relegated to a system that perpetuates inequality.
It is available here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shavar Jeffries Recognized for Continued Advocacy on Domestic Violence Prevention
Statement from DFER National Advisory Board Chairwoman, Barbara O’Brien
Washington, D.C. – Last night, Democrats for Education Reform’s National President, Shavar Jeffries, was recognized by the The Essex County Family Justice Center (ECFJC) at its Building Bridges of Hope Fifth Anniversary Gala for his continued advocacy on domestic violence prevention.
DFER’s National Advisory Board Chairwoman, Barbara O’Brien, released the following statement:
“We are tremendously proud of Shavar for his continued advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence, and this award is very well deserved. His unwavering commitment to help those affected by domestic violence and abuse is truly inspiring, and we see the positive impact his dedication to these brave survivors has on his education work every single day. DFER’s mission aims to ensure that every child can realize his or her potential, and Shavar’s work to create safe environments for children and families, and to promote their educational welfare, is one more way he is fulfilling that mission.
“Shavar’s individual contributions are far too many to list here, but the one that I find most powerful is his recent establishment of the Donna Johnson Memorial Scholarship – founded in memory of his incredible mother who, like too many women, was a victim of domestic violence. As a way to honor her spirit and legacy of love and service, this scholarship supports the educational development of a young person who has experienced the loss of a parent, guardian, or loved one because of domestic violence, or whose life has otherwise been touched by violence against women. Shavar himself was a witness to and survivor of domestic violence but was blessed with the opportunity to obtain a life-changing education. He established the Donna Johnson Memorial Scholarship in hopes of ensuring that other young people have the same opportunities he was given – turning his personal tragedy into a brighter future for a new generation children. Shavar’s selflessness, empathy, and incredible passion for kids never ceases to amaze me.
“On behalf of the entire National Advisory Board – congratulations, Shavar! We are honored to have such a dedicated public servant and role model leading our mission on behalf of children and families here at DFER.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
What They Are Saying About DFER’s New National President, Shavar Jeffries
“As a son of Newark, he has experienced firsthand the impact that failing schools have on communities and how bold leadership has the power to change lives for the better.”
– U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
“There are many who claim to fight for social justice, but Shavar Jeffries has worked at every stage of his career to make his community, state, and country a better place. And not only has he fought the good fight, he’s won the fights that matter.”
– Anne Milgram, Former NJ Attorney General
“Shavar has proven time and again that he won’t allow our next generation to be defined by the economic circumstances they are born into.”
– Mary Landrieu, Fmr. U.S. Senator (D-LA)
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) announced that longtime education advocate and former Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries will serve as the National President of DFER and Education Reform Now, its affiliated policy think tank.
Here is what folks are saying about Shavar:
IN THE DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION REFORM COMMUNITY…
U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
“Shavar is an intelligent, passionate and dedicated education reformer who has shown a lifelong commitment to improving performance outcomes for our students. As a son of Newark, he has experienced firsthand the impact that failing schools have on communities and how bold leadership has the power to change lives for the better. I look forward to working with him as the leader of the Democrats for Education Reform, as he continues to forcefully advocate transformative change in the public education system.”
Mary Landrieu, Former U.S. Senator (D-LA)
“It’s been a long time since I’ve met someone with the vision, drive, and limitless potential of Shavar Jeffries. His commitment to the students of Newark and his genuine passion for helping all kids get the educational opportunities that allow them the chance to succeed is infectious. Here in New Orleans, in the decade since Hurricane Katrina, I’ve seen first-hand the transformative power of local leaders willing to challenge the status quo when it had failed our kids. Shavar has proven time and again that he won’t allow our next generation to be defined by the economic circumstances they are born into. “
Anne Milgram, Former New Jersey Attorney General
“There are many who claim to fight for social justice, but Shavar Jeffries has worked at every stage of his career to make his community, state, and country a better place. And not only has he fought the good fight, he’s won the fights that matter. Shavar worked tirelessly to double the graduation rate in the New Jersey juvenile detention program, and he understands the enormously positive impact education can and should have. He’s as tenacious as they come. I’m delighted he’s continuing his fight on behalf of children.”
Joe Williams, DFER Executive Director Emeritus
“When I first met Shavar, years ago, I left the meeting and immediately called my wife to tell her I had just met one of the most impressive people, well, ever. He walks the walk. Shavar is the perfect leader for pragmatic, reform-minded Democrats.”
Antonio Villaraigosa, Former Mayor of Los Angeles
“Shavar Jeffries knows first-hand why it’s so critical that we make sure that every child, from Los Angeles to Newark, has access to a quality education no matter what neighborhood they’re from. He has fought throughout his career to promote better opportunities for underprivileged kids and to fix what’s broken in our education system. I’m confident he’ll be a strong leader for DFER because he understands that as Democrats, it’s our obligation to make sure the public education system gives every child a fair shot to succeed.”
Ryan Hill, KIPP NJ Executive Director
“Shavar has been involved in our schools since day one, first as our founding board chair; later as the father of two KIPP students. In the fifteen years I have known him, I have never once seen Shavar lose sight of what matters: how the kids – his kids, all of Newark’s kids – are doing. He is defined by an intense courage and integrity wrought by a lifetime of experiences that have brought clarity to his vision for what education can, should, and must provide for all of our nation’s children.”
Kevin Chavous, DFER Chair Emeritus; former member of the Council of the District of Columbia and Chair of the Council’s Education Committee
“I have known Shavar Jeffries for years. He is a fierce and unapologetic champion of children and knows firsthand the transformative power of a high-quality education for himself, his own children and community, and communities across the country to which he is dedicated to serving. At a time when many cities are reaching crisis points, Shavar and I share a deep sense of urgency around getting as many kids as possible into better schools — now. We know how critical that access is and what it will mean to countless lives and the future of our great cities. I look forward to working with Shavar in his new role at DFER, the organization I helped start, and all that his leadership offers at a national level. We should all expect big things.”
Barbara O’Brien, Former Colorado Lt. Governor & DFER National Advisory Board Chair
“We could not be more excited to have Shavar leading our national efforts. He brings a deep understanding that a quality education for every child can and should be not just our goal, but a given. We are delighted that Shavar will be continuing this fight alongside the countless Democrats around the country who are working to improve our public education system.”
Craig Johnson, Former New York State Senator
“Shavar’s commitment to this issue is inspiring – he has worked relentlessly in Newark for expanded opportunities for kids and being a father makes this that much more personal. His leadership is critical to DFER’s ability to put students at the center of education debate in the Democratic Party.”
“I can think of no one better than Shavar Jefferies to be named as the President of Education Reform Now. His passion and deep commitment to ensure that all children are provided with the same standard of education that many of us were afforded defines who Shavar is as a person.”
Terrance Carroll, Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives and DFER National Advisory Board Member
“We’re at a crucial time here in the reform movement – while we’ve made incredible progress on behalf of our students, there’s still much more to accomplish. The future may seem daunting, but under Shavar’s visionary leadership at DFER, I couldn’t be more excited to roll up my sleeves and keep working on behalf of our students. I can say with complete confidence that DFER is better prepared than ever to lead our movement and fight for our kids, so that that every single one of them gets the high-quality education – and the brighter future – they deserve.”
ON SOCIAL MEDIA…
Eva Moskowitz, Founder & CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools
@MoskowitzEva: Congratulations @shavarjeffries on your new role! @DFER_News is lucky to have such an amazing advocate for all kids.
Nina Rees, President & CEO of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
@Ninacharters: Welcome @shavarjeffries!! RT @DFER_News: Join us in welcoming @shavarjeffries as DFER’s new National President: http://bit.ly/1JF5qH3 cc: @EdReformNowUSA
Leslie Brody, Wall Street Journal
@Leslie Brody: Shavar Jeffries, who sought mayor’s seat in Newark, to lead nat’l Democrats for Education Reform http://on.wsj.com/1JA6jOY via @WSJ
Vallay Varro, President of FiftyCAN
@Vallay: Congrats @shavarjeffries and DFER The new face of Democrats who support education reform http://fw.to/Eo7ZV8G
Lanae Erickson, Director of The Social Policy & Politics Program at Third Way
@LanaeErickson: Congrats @DFER_News on new Prez Shavar Jeffries, a man who gets #education realities on the ground via @Joy_Resmovits http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-shavar-jeffries-takes-over-democrats-for-education-reform-20150902-story.html
Ben Austin, Policy & Advocacy Director of Students Matter and Founder of Parent Revolution
@iambenaustin: Congratulations to Joe Williams for a great run leading @DFER_News. @ShavarJeffries will be an important new voice. http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-shavar-jeffries-takes-over-democrats-for-education-reform-20150902-story.html
Michael Magee, CEO of Chiefs for Change
@mcmageejr: Congrats to @shavarjeffries & @DFER_News! Great choice for vital org in effort to improve American public schools.
For more information on DFER, please visit: www.dfer.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Democrats for Education Reform Announces New National President: Shavar Jeffries
Washington, DC – Today, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) announced that longtime education advocate and former Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries will serve as the National President of DFER and Education Reform Now, its affiliated policy think tank.
In announcing Jeffries’ appointment, DFER’s National Advisory Board chair, former Colorado Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien said, “We could not be more excited to have Shavar leading our national efforts. He brings a deep understanding that a quality education for every child can and should be not just our goal, but a given. We are delighted that Shavar will be continuing this fight alongside the countless Democrats around the country who are working to improve our public education system.”
Democratic leaders across the country praised Shavar’s record as a champion for public education and a leading voice on social justice issues.
“Shavar Jeffries knows first hand why it’s so critical that we make sure that every child, from Los Angeles to Newark, has access to a quality education no matter what neighborhood they’re from,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor of Los Angeles. “He has fought throughout his career to promote better opportunities for underprivileged kids and to fix what’s broken in our education system. I’m confident he’ll be a strong leader for DFER because he understands that as Democrats, it’s our obligation to make sure the public education system gives every child a fair shot to succeed.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve met someone with the vision, drive, and limitless potential of Shavar Jeffries. His commitment to the students of Newark and his genuine passion for helping all kids get the educational opportunities that allow them the chance to succeed is infectious,” said Mary Landrieu, former U.S. Senator (D-LA). “Here in New Orleans, in the decade since Hurricane Katrina, I’ve seen first hand the transformative power of local leaders willing to challenge the status quo when it had failed our kids. Shavar has proven time and again that he won’t allow our next generation to be defined by the economic circumstances they are born into.”
In an email to DFER’s supporters, Jeffries wrote, “I am a Democrat for Education Reform because a high-quality education changed my life. Virtually everything I am is connected to the opportunity to receive an education that enabled me to fulfill my potential. I want the same thing for every child in our country.
“Here at DFER, we fight every day to ensure that every child, regardless of where they grow up, has access to a quality education. We are committed to investments in what is working and getting rid of the programs that fail our kids. We believe that being a Democrat means being a voice on behalf of the voiceless—that the Democratic Party has always been and should continue to be the party that refuses to accept mediocrity for our students.
“We’ve made enormous strides over the past decade. Under President Obama and Secretary Duncan’s leadership, we’ve made significant advances in improving educational standards and quality, increasing graduation rates and incentivizing performance across the board. But we have much work to do. We must make sure all children, regardless of race or class, have access to a quality education. Too many interests are still protecting a status quo that has perpetuated an unfair system.
“When it comes right down to it, I’ve been a Democrat for education reform my whole life—before I knew what education reform was and before there was a DFER to bring us all together. I couldn’t be prouder to join as president, and I look forward to protecting the progress we’ve made and working every day on behalf of America’s students.”
About Shavar Jeffries
Shavar Jeffries serves as President of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Jeffries began this role in September 2015, and brings a personal commitment to ensuring that a child’s zip code does not define their destiny. From his efforts fighting for fair funding practices to get schools the resources they deserved to his service leading the New Jersey Attorney General’s Juvenile Justice and Civil Rights Departments, he has been a vocal advocate for social justice.
Shavar’s commitment to improve education stems directly from his personal experience. Jeffries was raised by his grandmother in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey. His grandmother, a public school teacher, instilled in him a deep respect for the value of education. After receiving scholarships to Seton Hall Preparatory School, Duke, and Columbia Law School, he moved back to Newark with the firm belief that his path to success—through high-quality education—should not be the outlier for students in Newark, but rather the rule.
Shavar has been extensively involved in the Newark community and has tirelessly advocated to improve the city’s schools. He was the founding Board President of TEAM Academy Charter School, Board President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, and a board member of Seton Hall Preparatory School. In 2010, he was elected to the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board, and was then unanimously selected by his colleagues to serve as Board President. Shavar ran as a candidate for Newark mayor in 2014 in a campaign that attracted national attention, and during which he made improving Newark’s schools a cornerstone of his campaign. Despite being a first-time municipal candidate, Shavar gained broad support, obtaining over 46% of the vote, a historic number for a first-time Newark municipal candidate.
Shavar also serves as a partner at Lowenstein Sandler, where he has been a fierce advocate for families seeking fair practices in funding education and ensuring that the laws governing education systems help students, rather than trapping them in failing schools. Prior to joining the law firm, he was an Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Social Justice in Newark, New Jersey, where he ran a litigation clinic focused on complex and class action litigation and advocacy. In this role, he helped numerous clients, in both individual and class actions, defend themselves against unlawful education policies, consumer fraud, and overly broad government actions in wide-ranging matters affecting individual rights and liberties.
From 2008 to 2010, Shavar was Counsel to New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram. In that role, Shavar oversaw all multistate investigations, spanning a range of issues from securities and consumer fraud to environmental protection and human trafficking. He also supervised several divisions of the office, including the Division on Civil Rights, encompassing responsibility for enforcing a wide range of state and federal employment and antidiscrimination statutes.
Shavar began his legal career as an associate at Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, where he represented the University of Michigan in defending its affirmative-action student admissions programs, and also represented Black farmers who had been discriminated against by the United States Department of Agriculture. After leaving Wilmer, Shavar served as a Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest and Constitutional Litigation at Gibbons P.C., where he handled school-funding, special-education, affordable-housing, and prisoners’ rights cases, among others.
Shavar has received numerous honors for his advocacy, including “40 Under 40” recognition by the National Bar Association as one of the nation’s top lawyers, the Congressional Black Caucus’s Chairman’s Award, the NAACP’s Freedom Fund award, the Brendan Byrne Distinguished Public Servant Award, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options’ education-reform award.