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Morning Shots

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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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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