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Where do Romney, Obama stand on education?

FOX News
September 11, 2012

CER President Jeanne Allen says any president that doesn’t make education a central issue deserves a “C”.

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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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”

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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.

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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.

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Polls, Politics and Education

by Jeanne Allen
Huffington Post
August 27, 2012

In politics, poll results are often fleeting, but they are paid much attention as a gauge on public attitudes and often influence how a candidate or leader might tackle a particular issue. With convention season here and all eyes on the presidential candidates, anyone interested in education — and the economy (which should be everyone) — should take heed to view some polls with a grain of salt.

Last week, an annual survey of public attitudes toward the schools was released by the Gallup Organization in partnership with an ivory tower group called Phi Delta Kappa. It provides additional evidence that our task is a daunting one, for despite the popularity and importance of programs that support and advance parental choice and accountability in education, this poll’s findings would have you believe otherwise.

Respondents are questioned without being given critical facts, data, and context, resulting in responses that contradict today’s current climate and demand for reform. For example, while support for scholarships (aka vouchers) increased in this year’s poll, its findings mask the true strength of public support, evidenced by other polls, by using a question that is factually incorrect and contains a built-in bias against such programs. Gallup asked if respondents favor parents being able to choose a private school “at public expense.” But parents who use scholarships to move a child from a public school (failing to meet their needs) to a private school (that will meet those needs) are certainly part of the “public!” They are targeting funds designated to educate their child to a school that will actually do so.

With nearly 6,000 charter schools in existence in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and credited with a competitive push that has finally made school districts begin to address

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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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Katrina vs. Empire

New Orleans, Louisiana’s (NOLA) education establishment has mounted a fight they hope carries hurricane force winds to the Big Easy, knocking out the careful and successful repair work of the state’s — and perhaps the south’s — worst school system. That system lost everything in the tragic hurricane of 2005, but from the ashes emerged a fresh start for schools, including no interference by a power-hungry school board and unions, as well as relief from tenure and seniority issues that protect jobs often at the expense of kids.

Next month’s elections will decide the fate of 11 positions on the state board of education. Unlike most states, their job is not only to pick a state superintendent who can advocate for or against reforms like the charter schools that gave NOLA a fresh start or the path-breaking voucher program that now helps thousands with private education, but also pick a leader who can turn around the state’s most troubled schools. This board and the state super have authority over the Recovery District, and that is why this is such a hot race.

Teacher unions have banded together with the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education to try to return NOLA to a pre-Katrina structure. It’s a pity they still don’t get it. Get involved and publicize the importance of reform-minded candidates to your friends or colleagues in the Bayou. For more information on New Orleans schools, visit: http://educatenow.net/ or http://newschoolsforneworleans.org/index.php.

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