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Morning Shots

My First Day At CER

I am ecstatic to begin my journey as an intern here at The Center for Education Reform (CER). As a senior at The George Washington University majoring in human services and social justice, I have been required to take service-learning classes throughout my collegiate career. Thus far I have volunteered as an English as a second language tutor through D.C. Reads, an organization aimed at improving literacy rates in public schools in D.C. In addition, after the completion of my study abroad program in Tunisia this past semester, I worked at the Berlitz Language Center, and taught English to children ages seven through seventeen years old.

I immensely enjoyed my experiences in these classrooms, and through my experiences attending public school myself, have recognized the importance of establishing a strong and efficient education system through these truly transformative years. There is a lot of work to be done in perfecting a constantly changing system that will prepare our future leaders and contributing members of society in their endeavors.

Even though it has only been a couple of hours in the office, I am inspired by the enthusiasm and passion for education reform by all working for CER. As a political science minor, I am so excited to learn more about the process of policy reform, and to experience the education system through a different lens. I am looking forward to learning more about education reform policy and working hard to aid in accomplishing CER’s goals.

Karina Lichtman, CER Intern


Answering the call…

The nation will never forget watching the levees break, the fear and pain on the faces of the people trapped, the destruction, countless lives lost too soon. Ten years ago to the date, a storm, an act of God, broke down almost every system and structure that was supposed to keep the great people of New Orleans safe.

There is no question that those systems and structures were severely flawed and broken before the storm. But one in particular – the traditional public schools – literally had tens of thousands of students falling through the cracks. Before the storm, every effort to bring substantive reform to education was fought and defeated by special interests. At the time, CER was intricately involved with the dozen or so folks locally trying to bring about substantive change.

When news of Hurricane Katrina hit, we were all glued to our televisions in horror, outraged that Americans were suffering because of it. There’s a lot of speculation as to the reasons why – flawed government, brutally failed efforts to evacuate – the list goes on.

On August 29, 2005 I made a phone call. What about the hundreds of families of the dozen or so charter schools we personally knew and worked with – were they safe? Dr. James (Jim) Geiser, the former director of Louisiana Charter School Association, now Senior Program Consultant at University of Georgia, answered the call!

Jim and several charter leaders and families made it to Baton Rouge. If my memory serves me right, a charter operator in Louisiana’s state capital gave them refuge.

I’ll never forget Jim’s words, “It’s all gone… You can’t even imagine the destruction. We’re desperately trying to find students and their families to make sure they are safe.”

I could hear the pain in his voice while he was multitasking to

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First Day at CER

As I approached the doors of suite 705, I was not exactly sure what to expect. This organization, CER, seemed so small in comparison to something so big – the gap between high-quality and low-quality schools, the gap between education policy and what is actually happening inside of the schools, and the endeavors to empower parents through choice of school for their children. There are so many issues and ideas that CER is working toward, that I couldn’t help but think that I would be quite overwhelmed.

Being from Buffalo, one must be quite naive if he or she isn’t appalled and saddened by the public schooling in the city. However, upon further research, I very soon realized that it is organizations such as The Center for Education Reform that intend to solve these issues (the differences between education quality throughout America, the gap between education policy and practice, etc …) as well as educate the general public on education policy and the reality of education among many cities. As soon as I entered the doors of CER, I quickly realized that although this organization is taking on such a large issue — education quality — there is nothing to be overwhelmed or worried about. The staff is friendly, warm, and extremely helpful, and they all seem to care very much about their work from what I can see. I am so happy to be a part of an organization such as this because although I am only one person and CER is only one organization, slowly but surely we can improve education equality and quality.

I hope to gain many skills at CER. I have never worked in such a small, formal (yet still very laid back and calm) office, but I hope to really thrive. Through doing research and

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