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Spotting the Real Reformers

Wherever there are elections, there will most assuredly be candidates paying lip service to their own interpretations of “education reform.” Naturally, many politicians favor the abstract concepts of “building better schools,” “accountability,” and an old favorite, “doing what’s best for our kids.”

However, do these lofty statements on education make these candidates, reformers? What does it actually take for a candidate to be taken seriously by voters as someone who can effect meaningful change when it comes to the educational systems of their future constituents?

Luckily, there are a few surefire ways for spotting the real reformers, as opposed to those whose words have never and probably won’t translate into action.

To name a few, a reformer candidate properly defines educational terms when using them, advocates for independent, multiple charter school authorizers and displays a healthy skepticism about the usefulness of teachers’ unions.

When speaking of school choice, the reformer reinforces the need for Parent Power, and quality educational options rather than ambiguous concerns over the effectiveness of choice and parent empowerment.

If all of this and more come through, then you just might have a real reformer on your hands!

Conversely, if a candidate uses evasive language that doesn’t apply reforms to how they might work for their constituents, then it’s likely nothing would get done under that administration. That veneer of support comes crashing down when the candidate lists a set of reforms such as introducing choice and charter schools, but insists their communities are doing just fine without them.

The other telltale sign of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is using educational terms without actually defining them. Of course no one is “for” an achievement gap, but does the candidate you’re considering define that gap in real terms and prescribe how to close it? This candidate will also make excuses for failing schools, and will miraculously never mention any excuse remotely relevant with “education.”

When a candidate speaks of the closing the achievement gap or tying teacher accountability to student performance, it’s your job to ask: BY HOW MUCH?

So who among the candidates running for office are real reformers? Read the full guide and decide for yourself!


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