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“Mommy, They Get Me.” A Massachusetts Mother is Overwhelmed By Her Son’s Charter School

As Massachusetts voters consider expanding opportunity through public charter schools on November 8, charter school parent Laura Richards explains how charter schools in Massachusetts have helped her son in ways she never imagined possible.

Her inspiring story:

Share Laura’s story to help cut through the noise and fearmongering from teacher’s unions and other protectors of the status quo, so that voters in Massachusetts and beyond know exactly how powerful choice and opportunity can be before they head to the polls.

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The Education Issue We Should Debate This Election Year: School Choice

The Common Core controversy is mostly forgotten. But traditional public schools are still shortchanging many children.

by Jason Riley
Wall Street Journal
February 16, 2016

Education has not been the election-year issue for Republicans that some expected last summer, when the presidential race was getting started and conservatives’ denunciation of the Common Core standards was all the rage. “Common Core might be the most important issue in the 2016 Republican presidential race,” declared the Washington Post in July. Fortunately, that hasn’t occurred.

The national reading and math standards, adopted by 43 states at the urging of the Obama administration, were seen as a kind of litmus test for GOP candidates. Republican primary voters, it was predicted, would not abide someone who favored more federal control over K-12 schooling. So far, however, Common Core hasn’t been much of a factor.

Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, who opposed the initiative (after first backing it), are out of the race. So are Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two staunch opponents of Common Core. John Kasich and Jeb Bush, who support national standards, are still around. Donald Trump is anti-Common Core, but that hardly explains his large lead in national polling.

Supporters of Common Core operate on the assumption that national standards are essential to lifting academic performance. But there is scant evidence that a new benchmark will produce better outcomes. Studies that compare state standards and test scores show zero correlation between high-quality standards and high performance. Putting quality teachers in the classroom would go a lot further than uniform standards toward improving test scores.

The bigger problem with even the modest attention given to Common Core in the campaign is that it detracts from the much more important discussion about school choice. Jeb Bush spends time defending Common Core that would

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On Elections, the Impact of New Hampshire, and the Importance of Education

by Jeanne Allen, Founder & President Emeritus

As the American people are digesting the results of the 2016 New Hampshire primary, and the news media are acting like the contest for president is over, a reminder of how Democracy in America works in is order.

Over 150 years ago, de Tocqueville called the four-year cycle of presidential elections a “revolution… in the name of the law,” writing:

“Long before the appointed day arrives, the election becomes the greatest, and one might say the only, affair occupying men’s minds… As the election draws near, intrigues grow more active and agitation is more lively and widespread. The citizens divide up into several camps… The whole nation gets into a feverish state…”

Wait, you mean that this isn’t the first year people wanted to send a message? The reality is that – thankfully, for the cause of education – the New Hampshire primary is just the beginning. Democracy matters, and for the media and the pundits to begin to declare winners and losers long before November is an assault on what we stand for: knowledge and the cause of opportunity for all Americans.

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Those of us engaged in education know that knowledge matters. In the spirit of knowledge (as well as improving the institutions that help many arrive at such knowledge, namely schools), here are a few American government basics for the voters (and a candidate or two?) of what this Democracy in America that de Tocqueville reported is all about:

1. Many people feel disenfranchised, lacking basic education, work, housing and support. “If ever freedom is lost in America,” de Tocqueville cautioned, “that will be due to the … majority driving minorities to desperation…” But our common sense, he predicted, would most

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Teachers’ Unions Win a Defensive Victory

by Mike Antonucci
Intercepts
November 2012

I toyed with the idea of writing an entire blog post this morning on how the GOP recaptured the Wisconsin state senate, since NEA seemed to think control of that chamber was such a big deal back in June, but I won’t be (such) a wise-ass.

The unions did what they needed to do. They helped re-elect the President and they brought to a halt any momentum there may have been for more serious and wide-ranging threats to their power base. They defeated hostile ballot measures in California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan and South Dakota, and were even able to put a tax hike over the top in the Golden State. There will be no mass movement into voucher systems, merit pay, tenure reform and collective bargaining limits. Those are big wins.

From a practical standpoint, however, we have the same President, the same Secretary of Education, virtually the same Senate composition, virtually the same House composition, virtually the same split of governorships, and virtually the same split of state legislatures. And unlike 2008, there is no prospect of card check, stimulus packages and edujobs bills on the horizon.

Where NEA and AFT tried to gain ground, they experienced very tough sledding. They couldn’t get tax hikes for education passed in South Dakota or Arizona. They failed to enshrine collective bargaining in the Michigan constitution. Spread thin, they couldn’t stop charter initiatives in Georgia or Washington. It’s too soon to evaluate the effect of all the state legislative races, but nothing indicates an ideological shift toward renewed public sector hiring – the only thing that can replenish union membership.

In short, the unions drove the barbarians from the gates, but not across the border. NEA and AFT spent a lot of money to ensure another four years like the last four. Is

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Mike Antonucci: Defensive Victory for Teachers Unions

The unions did what they needed to do. They helped re-elect the President and they brought to a halt any momentum there may have been for more serious and wide-ranging threats to their power base. They defeated hostile ballot measures in California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan and South Dakota, and were even able to put a tax hike over the top in the Golden State. There will be no mass movement into voucher systems, merit pay, tenure reform and collective bargaining limits. Those are big wins. READ MORE

Missed Opportunity: Education Reform Could’ve Been Winning Issue

So where was the issue of education reform during the presidential campaign? Republicans didn’t even visit the cities that owe their education salvation to this leadership. While strong reformers who are Republicans continue to run and win elections in states, Republicans at the national level seem not to understand that in supporting educational choice they are supporting a civil right, and that they are the leaders in this support. Republican embrace of individual freedom and liberties over government at the local, state and federal level is an anchor for education reform. And it is repulsive to those who manage and protect the status quo.

Tuesday’s results are not the only wake-up call. Here’s another one: Democrats are working hard to own this issue. Do they deserve the credit? Will they advance the movement? No, but President Obama and his party have vowed to make their party the party of education reform. A recent missive from the Democrats for Education Reform declared Obama “EdReformer in Chief.” He has done little to merit such a title.

We’ve praised Obama’s candor and vocalization of the problems facing American education. We’ve commended the power his Education secretary has wielded to talk about issues that most reformers embrace. But his Administration is conspicuously quiet on the issue of real school choice. And while they talk about ensuring real performance pay for teachers, underneath the talk, the teachers unions are still in charge.

Think about the Democratic Party and this bedrock constituency. Unions once helped those most in need, but today they are keeping those poorest children, those who cannot afford to change zip codes or pay tuition to escape, in failing schools.

President Obama and his majority at the national level continue to oppose attempts to give those students choices. Absent leadership, the nation sits quietly as we

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ED-lection Roundup: Senators

Earlier we pointed out four races worth watching because wins would usher in extremely pro-education reformers to the U.S. Senate.

Two of the four races ended up as “wins” for education reform with victories for Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Ted has a national reputation for defending school choice and parent rights for over a decade, and Jeff is the author of Arizona’s pioneering charter school law and a stalwart supporter of school choice.

Another result that bodes well for education reform is the return of Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.). Carper is a relatively reliable reform vote, at least on charter schools and teacher issues, and has proven to be a friend to reform in Delaware and across the United States.

Wins for Cruz, Flake, and Carper all count as victories for education reform, otherwise, there’s not much in the Senate to report right now. More to come as we watch these folks assemble and start considering what their agendas will be.

ED-lection Roundup: Superintendents

There were a total of five state superintendent races this year across the country and none of the elected leaders are supportive of education reforms, such as charter schools, school choice, or performance pay for teachers.

Two of the winners are incumbents, including June Atkinson in North Carolina, and Randy Dorn who ran unopposed in Washington. Although the superintendent race in Montana is still too close to call, current Superintendent Denise Juneau holds the lead.

North Dakota‘s new choice for State Superintendent, Kristen Baesler, does not appear to be a leader that will push for reforms that will lift the state from its near last rating on the Parent Power Index.

Education reform took a hit with Indiana electing Glenda Ritz as Superintendent of Public Instruction, ousting current Superintendent and reform-champion Tony Bennett. While newly elected governor Mike Pence holds the same pro-reform mindset as outgoing governor Mitch Daniels, there is no doubt many will be watching Indiana to see if the Hoosier State will continue to live up to its reputation as the “reformiest” state given the difference of opinions between the governor and superintendent.

ED-lection Roundup: Reform-Minded Governors

Two new reform-minded governors have joined the other 23 in the United States that support true education reform, such as charter schools, school choice, and performance pay for teachers, according to analysis by CER.

North Carolina was the only state to elect a reform-minded governor after the last governor was decidedly against changing the status quo. In Indiana, governor-elect Mike Pence will hopefully continue on the path started by governor Mitch Daniels, who signed an expansive voucher program into law and improved charter school legislation.

Six of the eleven states holding elections this year voted to keep their current governor in office: Jack Markell in Delaware, Jay Nixon in Missouri, Jack Dalrymple in North Dakota, Gary Herbert in Utah, Peter Shumlin in Vermont, and Earl Ray Tomblin in West Virginia. Only two of these reelected governors are reform-minded according to CER’s criteria.

Incumbents were not up for reelection in New Hampshire or Washington, but New Hampshire elected a governor with the same negative attitude towards education reform as the previous governor. Results in Washington are still pending, but candidate Jay Inslee, who is not a proponent of reform just like outgoing governor Christine Gregoire, holds the lead as of now.

For a list of governors in every state and where each stands on the three key education reform issues go to https://www.edreform.com/education-50/governor-grades/.

Suggestions to Obama for Refocusing Education Efforts

The Center for Education Reform, the nation’s leading voice for structural and substantive change in education, congratulates President Obama on his reelection. We praised the President in his first term for reminding the nation of our serious problems with K-12 education, and for working energetically to spread the word and seek change. We were concerned the Administration was too beholden to the national teachers unions, and that this support was an impediment to meaningful reforms that could lead to better schools and more educational choices.

We offer the following suggestions for the President in his second term:
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