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Constitution Day and Education Reform

Thursday, September 17 is Constitution Day, marking the 228th anniversary of the document that laid the groundwork for the great experiment that is the United States of America.

Through a series of Articles and Amendments, the Framers of the Constitution provided the blueprint for federalism — that is the way in which the federal government interacts with states, and the governmental powers afforded to each entity.

When properly applied, federalism has allowed for governments at each level to function in a way that best serves the American people. The Parent Power Index (PPI) is a reflection of how this system has allowed states to implement their own meaningful reforms that improve student outcomes. PPI actually aids in the federalist process by facilitating the spread of successful programs to other states, as it measures how well state policies and their implementation, in addition to access to information about options, allow for a greater number of excellent education opportunities for the most number of parents.

However, federalism now faces significant challenges, particularly when it comes to education reform.

One challenge to federalism is the debate surrounding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), at the heart of which is defining the proper role of Congress in education. Lawmakers need to realize that the federal government’s role should be that of assessment and data gathering, while setting up the right balance of carrot and stick when distributing funds to state and local school boards.

Understanding the federalist system the Founding Fathers put in place 228 years ago is critical to ensuring the success of education reform. Failure to achieve the right dynamic does a disservice to the millions of students in need of improved schools and more educational options.

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First Day As An Intern

On the way to The Center for Education Reform’s (CER) offices for my first day, I was completely nervous with a million expectations running through my head. While navigating myself from the metro, I basically jogged to get to the office, only to arrive 40 minutes early. No one wants to be late on his or her first day (or any other day), but I made up things to do in order to waste time, as I didn’t want to arrive too early. Already having checked my phone multiple times, I decided to walk around the floor a bit to look for a restroom to assess my outfit (for a third time that morning). I was doing my best to stay calm, but I was so nervous and slightly hot. Somehow I wasted 20 minutes, and decided to go inside 20 minutes early. Upon entering, the internship coordinator, Tyler, graciously welcomed me as if we had met many times before. I instantly enjoyed the office environment and atmosphere. It’s professional, but has a lot of personality, allowing the space to be very comfortable and welcoming. Tyler gave me a very nice CER folder including everything I needed to be informed about CER and my internship. We had a short but fulfilling conversation covering various topics, and then moved on to a quick tour of the office where I was able to meet everyone. My nerves quickly retired as I was beginning to feel more and more comfortable.

As the morning moved along and I became more acquainted with the office and its employees, I began to realize the position I am in being able to work at CER. I really want this internship, not for the title, but to be a progressive vessel in the movement towards positive education reform. While

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Responding to NEA President: Caveat Venditor

A blog post by National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has popped up a few times with little to no traction, so ReformerRed isn’t going to help the piece along by linking to it here. However, it is worth addressing to set the record straight.

Garcia warns caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware when seeking alternatives to failing public schools.

Supporters of education reform in the United States argue the opposite. Caveat venditor! Let the seller (in this case, Garcia and the Status Quo) beware when the product fails to meet the standard of quality consumers expect and deserve.

Of course, caveat venditor has little meaning in a market where only one product sits on the shelf and the consumer is deprived the freedom of choice. That’s the current monopoly Ms. Garcia advocates for today – a world in which parents and children have been forced to accept flat achievement scores for the last forty years, despite huge increases in education funding. Students dropping out or failing to graduate remain high especially among African-American males, and parents of minority students must continue to accept wide racial achievement gaps year after year.

Why? Because for most families, it’s the only game in town.

Despite Ms. Garcia’s assertions to the contrary (assertions based largely on statistics from OECD nations whose public education systems rank far above our own in terms of achievement), parents and children are best served by an open market that forces schools to take responsibility for their educational mission – and that empowers parents and children to opt for a different school when that mission is neglected.

It’s simple economics. Monopolies harm consumers. It’s why we have antitrust laws that govern nearly every industry in the U.S. other than the one that matters most

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