Turning the Tide | August 2010
Posted on Friday August 06, 2010 | National
AUGUST 6, 2010 - Welcome to Turning the Tide, the monthly e-newsletter of the American Federation for Children. In this month's edition, read more about New Jersey's battle for school choice, the need for expanded educational options in Ohio, the determination of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, and our take on Race to the Top. (Plus our kudos to an old friend in a new job.) Enjoy!
We've made no secret out of our admiration of former Louisiana State Senator Ann Duplessis, a Democrat who co-authored the pioneering scholarship program for disadvantaged children in New Orleans and has carried much of the major charter school reforms the past several years. But now that she's left the state senate (as of last month!) to join Mitch Landrieu as the new deputy mayor of New Orleans, we find it only fitting to recognize her pioneering work with the August Champion for School Choice award.
Get It Done.
New Jersey's bipartisan Opportunity Scholarship Act (NJOSA) is still very much alive and has a fighting chance of becoming law…if only Garden State lawmakers would pass the darn thing and send it to Governor Chris Christie. Right now, the OSA is caught up in an Assembly committee, where competing proposals to "improve" the bill are being debated. Meanwhile, a new report from the governor's office shows that private schools are saving New Jersey taxpayers $2.3 billion a year, just as more people—like American Idol Winner Fantasia Barrino!—begin to line up in support of the NJOSA's passage. If you're a Jersey resident, take action today to help pass the NJOSA. For more information about the NJOSA and all things New Jersey, visit our friends at Excellent Education for Everyone: www.NJE3.org
Waiting In Line.
If you need any evidence that Ohio should lift the cap and expand its successful EdChoice scholarship program, headlines like this should do the trick: "Hundreds Still Waiting on School Vouchers." Ever since the Buckeye State's parents applied in record numbers for the vouchers earlier this year, watchers have wondered what would happen when demand exceeded supply. Well, some parents are still waiting, just weeks before school is set to begin. Let's hope that lawmakers—and candidates for office—take this demand seriously and LIFT THE CAP. For more information, visit www.SCOhio.org
Rhee-Vitalizing Vouchers in D.C.
In the news yet again for daring to fire ineffective teachers, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is also making waves this month for her new proposal to create a special needs voucher program for D.C. kids. The program, which would complement the endangered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (which is federally funded), would allow parents to select private schools for children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Meanwhile, an interesting contest is shaping up in the Democratic primary for D.C. Delegate—pitting pro-scholarship candidate Doug Sloan against incumbent candidate and education reform opponent Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has loudly opposed vouchers for disadvantaged children in her own community despite having sent her own child to a private school. To learn more about the battle for school choice in D.C., visit www.SaveSchoolChoice.com
It Doesn't Count, But...
Our ears perked up a bit when the 19 (yes, 19) finalists for Round 2 of Race to the Top (the Obama Administration's $4.3 billion education "innovation" fund) were announced. E ven though private school choice has been pilloried by the administration (see D.C.), eight of the finalists (Arizona, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) have private school choice programs. It's a shame school choice isn't a factor in the competition, because these states all offer programs that provide new hope and opportunity to kids.
Congratulations, Peter Groff!
It's always good to see reformers leading great organizations, and the Federation is pleased to congratulate Peter Groff, whose selection as the new president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) was recently announced. A stalwart education reformer, Peter is the distinguished former president of the Colorado State Senate and served for a year as a high-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Education under President Barack Obama. AFC’s Chairman Betsy DeVos met with Peter at the recent NAPCS national charter school conference in Chicago to discuss growing the outstanding partnership between our two organizations. We look forward to continuing to work with Peter to advance the cause of educational opportunity for all children. Congratulations, Peter!
Until September, best wishes and thanks for your support of the American Federation for Children. We're glad you're in this battle with us—this fight to give kids hope!
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American Federation for Children