Turning the Tide Newsletter: December 2010
Posted on Monday December 13, 2010
DECEMBER 13, 2010 - Welcome to Turning the Tide, the monthly e-newsletter of the American Federation for Children. As you prepare to celebrate the holidays, we hope you'll enjoy our final newsletter of 2010. In this month's edition, we recap the stunning election victories in November, look ahead to school choice efforts in the states, and recognize a true champion for school choice, incoming House Speaker John Boehner. Enjoy your holiday, and please visit us online at www.FederationForChildren.org for updates.
December's Champion for School Choice
On the day before he was elected by his colleagues as the Speaker of the 112th U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman John Boehner of Ohio could have met with practically anyone in the world. He chose, however, to meet with a dedicated group of D.C. parents who have fought valiantly to restore and expand the endangered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Speaker-elect Boehner’s devotion to parental choice in Washington, D.C. isn’t a newfound passion. In fact, his steadfast refusal to back down from the fight over educational equality in the District of Columbia has earned him the admiration of countless parents, children and activists. For keeping the faith on school choice—even when it wasn’t popular—and for keeping the issue top of mind when the eyes of the nation have been upon him, the American Federation for Children is proud to name incoming Speaker John Boehner as a Champion of School Choice.
Break Out the Eggnog: School Choice a Big Election Winner
By now, you’ve perhaps transitioned from listening to political talk radio to enjoying some holiday music. But in our first post-election edition of Turning the Tide, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least recap the revolution that took place in November. Just consider it another reason to break out the eggnog a bit early. In two words: we won! By our count, nearly 90 percent of pro-school-choice candidates (there were more than 200 of them) in AFC’s targeted states were victorious in November. In a year when AFC and its affiliated political committees invested 40 percent of our funding in races where school choice supporters were Democrats, that’s good news for our bipartisan coalition. Click here to read our election news release. Now, it’s up to voters and school choice activists to keep candidates who ran on school choice platforms accountable to their promises!
...And Now, For the 2011 Elections
OK, if you sipped your eggnog after reading that last entry, now it’s time to snap back to attention. We need your help, because the State of Louisiana is holding crucial state elections in 2011. To keep the momentum for school choice going strong in the Bayou State, school choice supporters must prevail. (After all, in 2010 the New Orleans scholarship program hit its cap, with a record number of students enrolling!) In addition to state legislative contests, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal—who detailed the successes of the state’s voucher program in his insightful new book—is up for reelection in a contest that is likely to garner national attention.
Building On Success in the Keystone State
After a historic election in which both major-party candidates for governor openly embraced school choice, Pennsylvania is increasingly looking like fertile ground for an expansion of educational choice. Why is Pennsylvania moving up on our list? For a few key reasons. First, Governor-Elect Tom Corbett is a stalwart school choice supporter, and both houses of the state legislature have bipartisan champions, including Democratic State Senator Anthony H. Williams and Democratic State Representative Dwight Evans. Second, Pennsylvania has a positive history with school choice. This year, the 45,000-student Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program was quietly restored to full funding. Perhaps, with the help of the new statewide Students First PAC (www.studentsfirstpac.com), an American Federation for Children partner organization, even more disadvantaged children in Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to benefit from school choice in the future.
If enthusiasm is a good measure, Indiana—like Pennsylvania—is another state to watch closely. Governor Mitch Daniels is eager to make education reform history in his second term as the Hoosier State’s chief executive. In talks with school choice leaders, the governor has indicated his support for pursuing an ambitious reform agenda, with choice as a key provision—and now the Governor is starting to drop hints in the media. Check out this article for more. And to everyone in the Hoosier State who’s fighting for school choice—we’ve got your back!
More Evidence That Florida Rocks
Some status quo defenders laugh off the argument that “school choice improves public schools” as a well-crafted talking point. But time and again, the research demonstrates that, indeed, school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs provide significant benefits to public schools. Florida’s tax credit scholarship program—a model for the nation—is the subject of yet another rigorous evaluation—authored by Northwestern University researchers David Figlio and Cassandra Hart and discussed in this month’s Education Next magazine. The renowned researchers found that when public schools compete with private schools for students, the test scores of students in public schools increase!
All The News the Media Didn't Report (in Arizona)
Last year, a newspaper in Arizona—which will go unnamed (hint: it went out of business)—sought to earn itself some elite journalism prizes by maligning the state’s Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Program as a boon to “the rich.” Sadly, the now-defunct paper didn’t really do much research…or win any awards. It turns out that the program in question is actually serving predominantly low- and middle-income families, after all. To get all of the details, check out the great new report from Vicki Murray, who conducted the investigation. In the end, we think the study is a perfect example of why commonsense transparency and accountability is so important in school choice programs. The public needs to know that the programs are working, lest some in the media, or other adversaries, spin “evidence” to the contrary.
Events Past and Future
Not all conferences are created equal, and your faithful writers of Turning the Tide are quite particular about events. But two gatherings in the last two months deserve recognition. The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) symposium for elected officials in Jersey City, New Jersey, was spectacular in tone and in content (kudos to AFC Board Member Kevin P. Chavous and BAEO President Ken Campbell) and demonstrated the growing bipartisan support for school choice. Over 180 elected officials, legislative staff, and leaders attended – a record turnout once again! And the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) summit in Washington, D.C. (hosted by FEE Chairman Governor Jeb Bush) brought together a constellation of reformers in Washington, D.C., for two days of high-energy policy discussion, networking and strategizing. Speaking of events, mark your calendars for National School Choice Week, January 23-29, 2011…where state-based and national education reform groups from sea to shining sea are creating a network of diverse events to raise the profile of the school choice movement. The Federation and the Alliance are “in” for this celebration, and we hope you’ll get involved, too. Learn more.
Until next month, 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