Turning the Tide | September 2010
Posted on Thursday September 02, 2010 | National
SEPTEMBER 2, 2010 - Welcome to Turning the Tide, the monthly e-newsletter of the American Federation for Children. In this month's edition, we recap key primary elections from across the country, while giving you a preview of contests yet to come.
September's Champions for School Choice
Sunshine Reigns on Florida's Tough Primaries.
AFC’s electioneering communications program in Florida’s primary—led by Florida Chairman John Kirtley—was followed by some big wins for school choice last Tuesday. Several choice supporters—including Broward County Democratic Representative Gwyn Clarke-Reed and Miami Dade Republican open-seat candidate Carlos Trujillo—prevailed in tough primaries. Democratic school choice champion John Patrick Julien won the Democratic primary for an open Miami-Dade seat in the House. And another six House incumbents and one Senate incumbent have now cleared the primary gates! Meanwhile, school choice supporters are now rallying around the Republican candidate for one of Florida’s top jobs—attorney general (AG) candidate Pam Bondi, a stalwart choice ally and prosecutor. A Bondi victory in November’s general election would be a huge win for choice, especially now that career politician Dan Gelber has prevailed in the Democratic AG primary. Gelber has voted against every choice program in Florida, and would no doubt use his bully pulpit as AG to harass choice programs at every turn—if not even sue to gut them entirely! If Gelber had his way, he’d turn back the clock and throw tens of thousands of disadvantaged children out of the schools of their choice. Creepy, huh?
Is School Choice a "Post-Partisan" Issue in PA?
Has the Keystone State moved beyond tired and rhetorical debates over school choice? Doubtful, yet it might be starting to move in the right direction. But we’d like to ask: What’s in the water in Pennsylvania? Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato announced his support for school vouchers in August! Republican candidate Tom Corbett is also a supporter of school choice, virtually neutralizing and yet elevating the issue as voters go to the polls. Yes, you read it right: they both support VOUCHERS for low-income kids. Meanwhile, a new pro-school-choice PAC in Pennsylvania, Students First, has emerged as a key player in state politics and is now working in partnership with AFC and other national education reform groups. To give credit where it’s due: State Senator Anthony H. Williams, State Representative Dwight Evans, and the team at BAEO and DFER all helped to lay the foundation that made this once unthought-of feat—a high-profile campaign in a partisan year where both candidates have embraced school choice—happen. For more information about the exciting election campaign for our school choice allies in Pennsylvania, visit www.studentsfirstpac.com
Diane and Rory, It's Not Working...
A few prominent politicians are using school choice to their disadvantage this year. In New Mexico, after eight years as lieutenant governor, Diane Denish is still shooting blanks on education reform. Her zeal for attacking gubernatorial challenger Susana Martinez on school choice issues has fallen flat with the state’s electorate. In fact, after a raft of negative attacks, polls now show Martinez gaining even more ground, leading in a new Albuquerque Journal poll by 45 to 39 percent. This comes just days after a special debate on education reform—in which voters who watched the debate overwhelmingly gave the nod to Martinez. Go, Susana! The same meme appears to hold in Nevada, where Rory Reid (yes, we used his last name … even though he doesn’t seem to like it much) lost an education debate against Judge Brian Sandoval and then started attacking Sandoval on … you guessed it … school choice. Guess who’s climbing in the polls there, too? Maybe Diane and Rory should have taken a cue from their counterpart Dan Onorato in Pennsylvania (see above)—school choice transcends partisan politics!
Hope for D.C. Kids.
The news about the fate of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) isn’t all that depressing (just the part about Congress continuing to play politics in blocking its reauthorization). Get this: this past Saturday, a group of community leaders with ties to AFC helped to provide free school supplies to one-third of the children who receive school vouchers in the District—and parents picked up campaign-like yard signs and bumper stickers to promote the OSP. The funds for the supplies (each low-income child received a hefty shopping bag!) were donated by more than 100 individuals, corporations, and nonprofits across the country—a strong show of support for a program that some have written off but that still serves thousands of kids. Meanwhile, D.C. Parents for School Choice released a new survey showing that support for saving and expanding the OSP is widespread in the District—with at least one competitive Democratic candidate running for each seat backing the OSP. It’s not over …
Back to School!
As America’s kids go back to school this month, nearly 200,000 children will be going to the private schools of their parent’s choice. In the 20 years since the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was signed into law, there are now 20 publicly funded, private school voucher or scholarship tax credit programs operating across the country. The new PDK/Gallup poll of America’s views on public education didn’t include the ever-controversial “voucher” question this year (we suppose PDK got tired of defending their flawed methodology), but it did reveal that if parents had a choice, more than a third would send their child to a school other than their conventional public school. Plus, 65 percent of poll respondents want a charter school in their community, and national support for charters has increased by 26 percentage points (to 68 percent) in 10 years!
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American Federation for Children