Turning the Tide | December 2011
Posted on Wednesday December 14, 2011
DECEMBER 14, 2011 – Welcome to the special holiday edition of Turning the Tide, our monthly newsletter from the American Federation for Children! Now that we’re preparing for Santa’s arrival and getting ready to bid 2011 farewell, we wanted to update you on what’s happening in the exciting world of school choice. Keep reading to find out who’s been rallying at the state capitols and what our top 10 school choice moments were in 2011! Oh, and we have a special announcement about our 2012 National Policy Summit and National School Choice Week…
December's Champion for School Choice
After being elected to Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in the fall of 2007, Chas Roemer took the stage in Louisiana as a vocal leader of education reform. But this wasn’t his first time in the education ring. Roemer previously served as a board member at Louisiana’s Resource Center for Educators and is a founding member of one of Louisiana’s first charter schools, “The Children’s Charter School,” which opened its doors in Baton Rouge in 1997. As a passionate supporter of school choice, Roemer was never shy about his beliefs and fully utilized his position on BESE to gain traction for some much-needed education reforms. While on BESE, one of his most notable accomplishments was leading the fight to provide parents more choice through school vouchers and charter schools. Roemer also worked to increase accountability for failing schools and helped pass the Red Tape Reduction Law, which freed local districts from bureaucratic red tape. It was evident that he made the children in Louisiana his priority during his four-year term, and as the term was coming to a close in 2011, he knew throwing in the towel wasn’t an option. Roemer sought re-election in order to lead efforts for even bolder education reform measures in Louisiana. Facing staunch opposition from members of the status quo, Roemer won re-election campaign in the Nov. 19 runoff with 57 percent of the vote. By re-electing Roemer, the voters sent a clear message: children must come first and bold reform is needed. As education reform supporters chalked up a win, Roemer made a vow to use the next four years to improve education for students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers. For his commitment to stand up for the children and families of Louisiana, fight the status quo, and continue leading the charge for school choice, the American Federation for Children is proud to name Louisiana BESE member Chas Roemer as a Champion for School Choice.
Who's Outside the State Capitol?
If you’ve been spending a lot of time outside state houses (and there are few things that we here at TTT enjoy more), you’ve probably been wondering who’s been making all that noise. Well, this month, it’s been supporters of New Jersey’s Opportunity Scholarship Act! More than 2,500 students, parents, education reform advocates, and legislators rallied outside the State Capitol on December 1, demonstrating the overwhelming support for school choice and urging the state legislature to pass this bipartisan bill. We Can Do Better New Jersey and Excellent Education for Every (E3), two groups tirelessly fighting for educational options in the Garden State, brought together a bipartisan group of speakers including New Jersey State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr. (R) and Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D), the two chief OSA sponsors in their respective chambers. And Georgia State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan (D), Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, and our own Kevin P. Chavous all also came to show support for this vital legislation. But the Garden State wasn’t the only Capitol flooded with school choice supporters since our last newsletter. In Pennsylvania, the REACH Alliance led supporters to Harrisburg and called on the House of Representatives to do what the Senate has already done: pass legislation that creates a statewide voucher program for children in the bottom five percent of Pennsylvania schools and expands the highly-popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. Considering the respective temperatures in Trenton and Harrisburg this time of year, let’s give it up to the thousands of supporters who braved the cold in support of expanding parental choice!
Southwesterners Speak Out for School Choice
While we here at TTT are more of a words bunch than a numbers group, we know a good set of digits when we see them. And a new set of numbers out of New Mexico show strong support for school choice. Over 60 percent of registered voters support tax credit scholarships for students to attend the school of their parents’ choice, including private schools, public charter schools, and traditional public schools, according to a survey released this month. A total of 77 percent of New Mexico voters support a tax credit scholarship system for special needs students. These results show that it’s time to create a scholarship tax credit program in the state, and we’re hopeful that these numbers show the 2012 legislature that the time to do so is now! But these results aren’t unique to New Mexico. The polling data in state and national polls continue to show strong support for expanding educational options. In fact, did you know that in Virginia, majorities across all ideological lines support broad school choice measures, including the specific programs that make up the bulk of private school choice across America? Or that in Oregon, Democrats (65 percent) support vouchers more than Republicans (60 percent)? As they say, the numbers don’t lie!
Hispanic Leaders, Legislators Link Up
We joined with elected officials and fellow education reformers last month in Arizona, where a two-day conference hosted by one of the most unwavering of school choice allies aimed to address one of the seminal educational problems facing the country. The event, hosted by the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO), brought together reformers from around the country, elected officials from several states in the Southwestern U.S., and local parents and students eager to discuss how they could all get more involved in providing Hispanic children with educational options. Representatives in attendance included those from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The lawmakers engaged in roundtable discussions and presentations about how to best communicate the school choice options available to families, as well as how to expand those options to even more students. The entire event bodes well for the future of school choice prospects in the aforementioned states, as legislators left energized and inspired. In the end, that attitude can only end up benefiting kids in the long run!
The Top 10 Moments in 2011
Have you made your New Year resolutions yet? We’re all about bucking the trend here at TTT, which is why we’re going to look back, instead of forward. In what The Wall Street Journal called the Year of School Choice, here are our top 10 happenings from 2011:
Until Next Year...
Let’s keep fighting for school choice in 2012. Because more kids need educational options today! Here at the American Federation for Children, we’ve challenged ourselves to make 2012 even better than 2011. Will you join us in that fight?
Up first is National School Choice Week (January 22-28). In 2011 more than 150 events were held nationwide calling for educational choice! And this year, let’s make sure to make 2012 the most successful year yet. Keep on the lookout for more information on how YOU can get involved in National School Choice Week.
Best wishes and happy holidays from the American Federation for Children!
Copyright © 2011
American Federation for Children