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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.


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.


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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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

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Reporting From the DNC in Charlotte

Coverage of the conventions continues today in Charlotte, where veteran CER staffer Kara Kerwin has been hob-knobbing with Edreformers… and some not-so-edreformers! Here at a Dems for Ed Reform event the two major union bosses flank entrepreneur, Princeton Review Founder John Katzman. (Note they look a little peeved to have to listen to someone else!) Now that it’s their turn to speak, they use the time to bash organizations like K-12 Inc. and Edison who do good work serving children in non-traditional public schools.

Earlier at the same event, on a panel of state legislators, OH State Senator Nina Turner described the need for education reform in Cleveland: “if your hair is on fire, then you better act like it’s on fire”


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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