About CPS

The History of Citizens for Public Schools

Born of political urgency, Citizens for Public Schools was formed in the spring of 1982, to oppose a Massachusetts ballot question seeking to divert tax dollars to parochial schools. Over the course of a few hectic weeks its leaders assembled a broad coalition of organizations and individuals committed to public education. Voters across the state responded positively to the message of the new coalition and the ballot question went down to defeat by a margin of two to one.

CPS remained active, organizing meetings, sponsoring forums, expanding its membership, and preparing to fight another ballot initiative by voucher proponents four years later. Victorious again in 1986, CPS has since responded to numerous constitutional challenges in the courts and in the legislature.

Despite these victories, public education remains vulnerable to attack and needs our support. CPS believes society is best served when publicly-funded schools are accountable to the whole community and open to all children. We expect our schools to educate the whole child and, to do so, they need to stop focusing on preparing students for high-stakes exams and start using multiple measures and higher quality assessments that measure 21st century skills. CPS strongly believes that a clear delineation between church and state best furthers the goals of public education and religious liberty.

From its beginnings as a broad-based coalition, CPS has evolved into a grass roots, membership organization. In 2009, we merged with the Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education (CARE) and became a nonprofit with 501c3 status. We continue to provide a unique forum for sharing information on critical policy issues, legislation, and education-related litigation. Monthly meetings bring together members of many diverse organizations to share updates on their work and hear presentations by scholars, legislators, policy makers and other activists.

CPS closely monitors state legislative action, providing lawmakers with timely information on how certain bills and budget proposals may affect educational opportunity. Through numerous publications, CPS has challenged the steady stream of disinformation generated by right wing think tanks.

The political right continues to push for diverting public funds to charter schools, dismantling bilingual education, ending voluntary integration efforts and imposing even more high stakes testing on the public system. As a leading voice in Massachusetts for inclusive, democratically accountable public schools, CPS and its member organizations have engaged the battle on all fronts. With your support, CPS will continue to make a positive difference in shaping education policy that helps all children achieve to their full potential.