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NEWSWIRE: October 16, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 38

NEW YORK, NEW YORK? No, that isn’t a reference to the wildly successful RatPack EdReformies last week, but rather the uncertain future of charter schools in New York City. The mayoral race between candidates Bill de Blasio (D) and Joe Lhota (R) is guaranteed to have a substantial impact on the level of Parent Power and quality educational alternatives in the Big Apple. It is because of this uncertainty that Mayor Bloomberg made a last minute push to approve the creation or expansion of 23 charter schools in the event that an anti-reformer and defender of the status quo takes over. It’s also why thousands of charter school parents marched across the Brooklyn Bridge urging mayoral candidates to maintain support of schools that have provided a viable educational opportunity for their children. The ability to elect a mayor with oversight over the charter school movement creates positive accountability and allows parents more access to deciding what’s best for their child. It’s imperative that NYC parents pay close attention to the mayoral race, and the potential curtailment of their ability to have input and influence in their child’s education.

SPOTTING THE REAL REFORMER. Needless to say, the NYC mayoral race isn’t the only election going on with big implications for more and better opportunities for kids. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to spot a candidate who if elected will not be afraid to shake things up and support meaningful reforms. The challenge then becomes how to spot the real reformer, as to who’s paying lip service to fixing educational systems. Luckily, there are a few surefire ways to know whether or not a candidate is a real reformer. Click here  to find out if your candidates are speaking in a way that promises real reform, or if their tenure adds to the widespread support with the inability of lawmakers to improve the educational landscape.

THE BEST KEEP GETTING BETTER. Indiana ranked second in the amount of income-eligible students that enrolled in the statewide voucher program, only outranked by Wisconsin. It comes as no surprise that the states with the most growth in voucher enrollment are also top-ranking states for Parent Power. In both states, it’s clear that lawmakers have made a genuine effort in answering the call for more parent empowerment and expanding the types of programs that when implemented in states across the country are incredibly popular and provide much needed options for low-income students. Hopefully more state lawmakers will acknowledge the widespread support for parent empowerment and allowing for more options when current circumstances are failing students.

RESPONSIBLE PARENTS? It has long been debated that only  “responsible parents” can make choices about their children’s education. They can afford to move to a better neighborhood or invest in private school. Because only responsible parents are those of the middle and working class. Student failure in our poorest communities is the fault of their irresponsible parents. Right? But in a new twist, we’re learning that the responsible parents are feeling left behind by school reform and the choice movement specifically. AEI’s Rick Hess suggests that EdReformers “have done little to encourage, support or honor responsible parenting.” This editor would argue to the contrary, but add the modern day reform movement maybe has lost sight of what EdReform’s pioneers sought out to do – to give ALL parents more power over their child’s education. Take the remarks of WI Senator Leah Vukmir, or OK Superintendent Janet Barresi or Milwaukee’s Zakiya Courtney last week – a diverse group of moms who fought for choice and accountability in the early 90s for all students and won. Or Howard Fuller and Deborah McGriff who challenged us to change the power of who leads reform. According to a survey of America’s Attitudes Towards Education Reform, a plurality of Americans say that all parents should have more power, including access to information and data about their schools. And across the board, the public wants choice and accountability no matter their race or income, dwell in urban or suburban settings or whether they are considered “responsible” or “poor.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED our 20th Anniversary Conference, or would like to go back and review the significant insights made by the reformers themselves, the archived video is now available here. You’ll be able to hear how lawmakers successfully built necessary coalitions to create charter schools, how parents in Milwaukee became empowered and refused to be “window dressing” for politicians, and what pioneer Howard Fuller believes are the real challenges facing education reform in minority communities. All of this and more contributed to a solid reflection on the past 20 years of education reform, and what lies ahead for the future.