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FAQ & Mission


Education Fifty is a project of The Center for Education Reform.

Voters say education is their most important issue in the voting booth, second only to national security. That’s why we need state leaders in every Governor’s mansion to embrace real education reform. But knowing the difference between real commitment and well-tested talking points is difficult for even the savviest voter. With 37 gubernatorial races taking place this year, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reset the course of American education for our children. Education fifty is dedicated to providing you, the voter, with the information that can best inform your vote, ensuring meaningful changes to our education system are realized.

Strong leaders know that education does well when power is restored to those closest to our children – parents and teachers. Strong charter school laws, meaningful school choices and performance pay for teachers are three of the most important things our states can do to empower our communities. Each of these reforms enjoys broad tri-partisan support and deserve high priority in the platforms of leading candidates for Governor. Education fifty compares the positions of all the candidates on these core issues to help you make informed decisions. We invite you to use the information here to applaud your candidates, or urge a change of position.

Why is this important to you today? In the absence of strong state leadership, Washington has increasingly inserted itself into the education affairs of states and local communities. With US schools failing record numbers of children and providing mediocre education in even some of our “better” school districts, we need state lawmakers who can take on the status quo and enact new laws that provide better educational opportunities for all children.

When Governors embrace education reform, great things happen. All governors, not just a few, must be dedicated to fundamentally reforming education.

Because education is only as strong as our weakest link.


What do the terms candidates are rated on mean?

Glossary of Reforms:
CHARTER SCHOOLS: Charter schools are independent, public schools that are free from most rules and regulations that hinder other schools, are open by choice and held accountable for results. They are required to abide by the same standards and assessments as other public schools but because of the freedom they receive in most state laws, they deliver programs tailored to educational excellence and the needs of the communities they serve. Today, more than 5,000 charter schools serve 1.5 million students in the United States.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Publicly-funded scholarships, often known as vouchers, provide parents with the opportunity to use a portion of the money allotted for their child’s education at a private school of their choosing. Tax-credits are another form of school choice, and help provide scholarships to students who qualify for certain programs. Programs in many states are focused on children in need, both educationally and financially.

PERFORMANCE PAY: Performance pay, or merit-based pay, rewards teachers based on their performance in the classroom and not just on seniority, which is currently the norm. True merit pay is not a system of bonuses, but rather a method of linking educators’ pay directly to student performance. These policies are designed to increase individual accountability by linking compensation and job security directly to operational and academic outcomes.

Does Education fifty or The Center for Education Reform endorse candidates for governor?

As a nonprofit organization, the Center for Education Reform does not endorse candidates or take a position on legislation. But we do advocate for issues, and for nearly 20 years have been the leading source of data and information for parents, policymakers and the media, driving the creation of laws that create better educational opportunities for all children. None of the information provided on this site should be construed as an endorsement of a specific candidate.

How was the information for this project collected?

The information for Education fifty is the result of years of data collection and analysis of public positions, words and actions among all the candidates. We used their legislative activities, their policy proposals, news articles and additional sources to gauge their positions. Every available method of research was used to develop a comprehensive snapshot of each candidate’s views. If you think we are wrong, we invite users or candidates to correct the record. Contact cer@edreform.com.

Why are some candidates not measured on certain issues?

Not all candidates express views on the three big reform issues of the day, or have a record or activities that would allow us to gauge their position. We invite new information and as we receive verifiable data, the information will be updated.

How can I get involved in promoting education reform to candidates for governor in my state?

You should be prepared to call or write your candidates and share your views on the issues. You can also attend candidate forums, write letters to your newspaper and encourage members of the news media to press candidates to explain what they would do for education reform if they were elected. Some states have active groups that work to advance charter schools or school choice. Get involved with the Center for Education Reform and/or your local groups and play a role in advancing educational improvement. Full contact information for each is available.