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Races Reformers Are Watching

If you’re wondering what Tuesday’s results might mean for education reform, here is a quick overview of races to look out for (you can access the FULL Election Night Guide here):

The White House — The top ticket is worth watching for education reformers, as candidates have different views on whether federal dollars should follow success or be awarded based on promises to pursue various initiatives.

Senate — These elections could bring about FOUR extremely pro-education reform candidates to the U.S Senate.

Governors — There are several gubernatorial candidates in the race this year who if elected would further enhance the pro-reform landscape. Perhaps most importantly, all these gubernatorial candidates are likely to stand up to teachers unions. READ MORE

One Last Chance…

by Jeanne Allen
October 19, 2012

Soon the presidential candidates will meet for the last time to debate and with the topic focused on foreign policy, one may be tempted to think education has no place in the discussion. But one would be wrong. There are at least two critical education questions that should be addressed.

QUESTION 1: A recent report from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Chancellor of New York city schools Joel Klein found that “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.” The task force behind the report argued that too many young people are not qualified for the military because they do not have an adequate level of education. Do you agree with them and how would you address the issue?

QUESTION 2: Condoleezza Rice recently told a gathering of education leaders at Education Nation last month that a child in Korea learns in 3rd grade what our kids learn in 5th grade. We know that U.S. students rank 25th out of 34 on math scores among Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, with nearly one-quarter of U.S. students unable solve the easiest level of questions. Does this lack of international competitiveness concern you and what would your Administration do to address it?

In the previous two debates, President Obama and Governor Romney have talked about education in many contexts: economic, achievement, school choice, and the role of the federal government among others. In this final debate, they have one last chance to inform voters about their vision for education in the country.


For more on where Romney and Obama camps stand on critical education issues, head over to our Education and the Presidential Candidates page.

Fact check: On education, gains difficult to demonstrate

by Howard Blume
Los Angeles Times
October 3, 2012

On education, President Obama correctly noted that his ideas for reform have been drawn from ideas championed by Democrats and Republicans, an overlap that also has drawn criticism in some quarters from allies of the president such as teacher unions.

Obama also said that his education reforms were “starting to show gains.” Such gains would be difficult to demonstrate. There are rising test scores in many states, but it’s difficult to link these to federal programs. The president has indeed favored aggressive reforms in education, but most of them are still in process as far as results.

Education historian Diane Ravitch, watching the debate, said in an email that the school-reform grants under Obama’s “Race to the Top” program have “thus far improved nothing.” (Ravitch is a disappointed Obama supporter who is strongly against Romney.) The Obama administration also has successfully pushed nearly all states to adopt year-by-year learning standards called the “common core.” The goal has been to raise academic standards and promote improved curricula nationwide, but little related to this effort has taken effect yet.

Mitt Romney spoke of education as part of his economic plan. The specifics he mentioned included simplifying the structure of the federal Department of Education. He complained that 47 training programs are housed in eight different agencies. For better or worse, job-training programs are, in fact, housed in multiple federal agencies.

He also spoke of sending education dollars “back to states,” which analysts from both parties have interpreted as a signal that he would reduce the budget and scope of the Department of Education.

Obama, in contrast, has sent education dollars from the federal government to the states via grants and direct aid, under the economic stimulus program, to save programs and jobs. Such programs have increased the federal deficit.

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What the Candidates Debate Has to Offer Ed Reformers

October 3, 2012

Who knew education would come up repeatedly tonite?

Romney: After the president opened the debate about his jobs plan, Romney introduced the education component into the debate, combining jobs and skills, which come from education.

Obama: We have to improve our education system — we have a program called Race to the Top and now we are going to hire 100,000 math and science teachers.

Romney: I agree education is key to the future of our economy but we have 27 different training programs across government not working together. (we are fact checking this)

Obama: Says he inherited 18 programs for education that were well intentioned but not working for kids; that one teacher in NV has 42 kids and 10 year old textbooks. (we are fact checking this, too!)

This smattering of their words scratches the surface of an engaging, competitive conversation that highlighted education six times (at least) before the first 15 minutes were up and despite having been asked no direct questions about education. The candidates would go on to amplify their points throughout, and eventually address the proper federal role, which, despite suggestions among education reformers to the contrary, really is very, very different. And by all twitter, news media and pundit reports, even on this issue Romney was the winner.  READ MORE


For more information, review, and comparisons on Romney and Obama’s views on education, be sure to check out these resources:

Presidential Candidates Focus on Education

Opinion: Schooling Obama

Where Do Romney, Obama Stand on Education?

School Choice is Key Issue in Election

GOP Convention Highlights Ed Reform; Now It’s the Dems Turn

Paul Ryan: Education Pioneer

And don’t forget to check out CER’s Field Guide and Mandate for Change, which serve as guides for the kinds of reforms candidates should be embracing and talking

Read More …


Candidate Views At Education Nation

“Romney, Obama Clash Over Education”
by Laura Meckler
Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2012

The presidential candidates offered clashing views on education, with Republican Mitt Romney delivering some of his harshest judgments on teacher unions and President Barack Obama defending them.

Mr. Obama attacked Mr. Romney for wanting to cut education spending, while Mr. Romney said it’s wrong to saddle young people with more federal debt. The conflicting views came in separate interviews for NBC’s Education Nation summit, which covered a range of education topics.

“The teachers union has a responsibility to care for the interests of the teachers. And the head of the national teachers’ union said at one point, ‘We don’t care about kids. We care about the teachers.’ That’s their right,” Mr. Romney said.

He was referring to a 2009 speech by the National Education Association’s former general counsel, Bob Chanin, who was making a different point. He wasn’t suggesting that the union doesn’t care about children, but arguing that the NEA is an effective advocate for its point of view “not because we care about children” but because of the union’s political power.

Mr. Obama, in his interview taped over the weekend, said, “I think Gov. Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher bashing.”

“When I meet teachers all across the country, they are so devoted, so dedicated to their kids,” he said.

The Obama administration has taken some heat from unions by pushing for more charter schools and seeking to tie compensation to student achievement. Mr. Obama described that as trying to “break through this left-right, conservative-liberal gridlock.”

Mr. Obama said that education reform isn’t enough, though, and must be accompanied by adequate public spending. On the campaign trail, he often mentions education as one of the areas where the nation should spend more

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Educationfifty.com Educates Public About Candidate Reform Positions

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
September 12, 2012

The Center for Education Reform’s (CER) campaign to Take America Back to School on Education Reform continues with a web-based guide to candidate positions on education reform. Educationfifty.com is a dynamic tool that empowers voters to educate themselves about which candidates are real education reformers and which ones merely pay lip service to the idea.

Educationfifty.com compares candidate positions on three key reform issues: 1) strong charter school laws, 2) meaningful school choice, and 3) strong teacher evaluations with performance based rewards.

Currently Educationfifty.com contains information on the nation’s gubernatorial races and state superintendent races as well as the incumbent governors who are not up for election. Comparative information on the presidential candidates will be available in October.

The site, which is based on thousands of data points and comprehensive research, will be updated in real time – providing up-to-the-minute research to voters craving the truth about candidate’s plans for fixing education systems.

“Education is only as strong as its weakest link. Bold, substantive reform happens when the public holds policymakers – both present and potential – to their promises and demands answers on specific policy proposals,” said CER President Jeanne Allen. “When Governors and other state policymakers embrace real reform, great things happen. Educationfifty.com arms voters with the information they need to elect reform minded leaders who will take on the status quo and support real solutions that lead to better – and more — education opportunities for kids.”

CER is going all out this election season to educate voters about the nature of true education reform. In addition to Educationfifty.com, the Field Guide to Education Reform: How to Spot a Real Education Reformer provides voters with those important education policy questions they should be asking their policymakers. Those policymakers (present

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GOP Convention Highlights Ed Reform; Now it's the Dems Turn

It’s the moment one waits for, a bit of a dream come true, when day after day members of a major political party endorse and embrace the work to which you have devoted your professional career. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa was the icing on the cake – demand for high standards, the imperative for school choice, respect for teachers and their good performance, and a resolve to no longer tolerate the false promises of unions who want to defend the status quo of tenure over results. Condoleezza Rice implored us to understand that school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. A parade of Republican Governors who have fought the reform wars and won also embraced the cause and the bi-partisan agreement that has allowed real reform to thrive. Whatever ones politics, it is a real milestone when leaders of a party rarely credited with education as a signature issue demonstrate that it is just that. CER is in the middle of a campaign to educate the public and politicians about what real education reform is and why it is crucial to the future our country. It’s heartening to see that some officials already understand that. With the need for education reform to be a national – not a partisan imperative – the Democrats must now ante up.


Paul Ryan: Education Pioneer

Editor’s note: In a recent story, The Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits cites a Whiteboard Advisors survey of supposed “education insiders” which suggests that the educational credentials of Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan are not up to snuff. But CER President Jeanne Allen relies on her years of experience to remind them that Ryan was actually somewhat of a pioneer on ed reform:

I’m not entirely sure what “insiders” Whiteboard surveys, as most of the insiders I know have never been surveyed. That said, even if they were surveyed, it would not matter since Congressman Ryan has not been on education or ed reform radars recently as he’s developed an economic platform to which most ed reformers today pay little attention. Newbies would not remember that Ryan staffed the committee that evaluated options for the District of Columbia before school choice and charters were even a glimmer in their eyes, and was instrumental in influencing his later colleagues in Congress to promote reform throughout numerous vehicles.


Short "Short list" for Romney Education Secretary

Editor’s note: EdWeek’s Alyson Klein reports from the first of the two convention sites, and offers some early insights into the field for who might be considered Romney’s education secretary. But as CER president Jeanne Allen comments, the current “short” list is, well, short:

Very provocative, Alyson. I’d venture to say, however, that most of those you mentioned know they have more power to effect real education reform right where they are. Arne Duncan’s philosophy of change lies in the notion that government can wield change in education, while the Govs and state chiefs you mention actually believe people, locally, if given authority, can wield that change — at the parent and school level first and foremost. Duncan’s defiance of statutory law in favor of giving waivers puts power back in the hands of school districts (which is government) whereas those you mention all have pushed power to parents and individual schools. There’s another problem in the quarterbacking on Ed Secretary or even the candidate’s positions that everyone is doing…much of the commentary is based on the notion that running the US Education Department can actually improve education. As we’ve often said, the last few years have seen a flurry of federal activity, but little real accumulation of snow. The progress that has been made from DC to Indiana to Florida and throughout the nation has been a result of strong Governors, strong legislators and strong grassroots momentum for change. That Secretary Duncan’s reign has thrown positive energy their way at times is politically astute — and ancillary. The only viable candidate who has already helped accomplish historic reforms and whose whose own Governor will soon be in another position is Indiana’s Tony Bennett, but whether he’d want to slay the goliath in DC over future higher state office is

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