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FROM THE DESK OF… Jeanne Allen, Senior Fellow: Recommendations on the GOP Presidential Debate

In the hands of some very seasoned campaign advisors, most presidential candidates take a safe approach to debates. With a relatively short time to get your talking points out, numerous issues to cover and lots of competitors working hard to hog the stage, they are advised to stay focused. But the measure of a candidate is what they do – and say – when programming is impossible. Who these people are and how they’d do as our president is best measured by dealing with issues that every one of us can relate to, the most communal of issues. That’s why I’m hoping that the candidates find opportunities across every issue to demonstrate their understanding that education is the great equalizer, and its connection to the economy and our international competitiveness, our peace, our safety at home and abroad is all connected to how well we educate our youth and our adults. Education is a big field, of course, so I’ll be looking for the guy or gal who is able to talk about education in the context of the most important current events we face today in improving and revolutionizing our schools. In my book, the candidate who touches well on the following three most important themes will win my vote.

Number One: Celebrate charter schools

Charter schools provide choice and diversity to parents and teachers, and challenge the status quo to do better. They are held accountable by performance contracts and in states where charters are largely independent from state and local bureaucracies they thrive. Charter schools are the reason we talk about standards today, have performance pay and teacher quality on the table and have closed some achievement gaps. Charters have helped breathe new life into cities like Washington, D.C. and New Orleans (just two out of

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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.

Click here for free educational resources and

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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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