What a Republican Congress Means for Education

Written by Jason Knapfel

With the midterm elections come and gone, the public has spoken strongly. Whether the elections’ outcome was a definitive vote against the Obama Administration or just a general “vote the bums out” statement with people still feeling uneasy about the economy is up for debate. Let’s just deal with the facts as we know them. The House of Representatives swung strongly towards the Republicans, and the Senate, while still under Democratic control, saw gains on the Republican side of the aisle as well.

What does this mean for the state of education? Well, a more conservative congress means a little more sway for the Republican platform on education policy. Let’s take a look at some of the party’s stances:

“We believe in the power of school choice, that giving parents the ability to send their children to better schools – not keep them trapped in failing schools.” – GOP.com Read the rest of this entry »

California Teachers’ Candidate Wins Superintendent Position

With elections still fresh in the minds of voters, there are some noteworthy wins that took place in our country. One such win occurred in California for the Superintendent of Public Instruction position. This office is the highest level educator in the state and provides direction to the school districts of California and serves on state governing boards. One of the candidates vying for this position in the election was Larry Aceves who is a former teacher, county superintendent and principal.

The other candidate was veteran state assemblyman and former teacher Tom Torlakson who was supported by the California Federation of Teachers. Torlakson was the victor in Tuesday’s election gaining almost 55 percent of the votes, which is great news for California public school teachers. Torlakson is known widely for being a fan of the book The Death and Life of the Great American School System which criticizes charter schools and business-driven school reforms, as well as the No Child Left Behind program. Read the rest of this entry »

White Supremacist Runs for School Board Seat Unchallenged

Image via Dan Schruender

Image via Dan Schruender

Dan Schruender was set to win a seat on California’s Rialto School Board. He did not gain much support in the district, in fact some called for him to pull out of the election. But he went unopposed.

Not only is Schruender a white supremacist, he is a former president of the California chapter of Aryan Nations and continues to be involved in the organization as the director of Publications and Information. In case it’s unclear how Schuender’s participation in the neo-Nazi organization really informs his opinions, his blog, “National Socialist American Labor Party Propaganda and Publications” is chock-full of racist propaganda. These messages, like one that implies that white women and girls are in danger of being murdered in “Obama’s America,” are even more disturbing in light of the fact that the Rialto school district is 75 percent Hispanic and 15 percent black. What kind of policies would he promote for a population he considers to be 90 percent opponents? Read the rest of this entry »

Yes, College Students Will Wake Up Early — To Vote!

Anyone who’s ever been a college student knows that “morning person” is not part of the vocabulary of a typical student.  Given their druthers, most college students won’t get out of bed before 7:00 a.m. for anything — including their early morning classes.  Heck, when I taught at Indiana University, I had students miss my 1:30 pm class because there was a power outage on campus that knocked out their alarm clocks.

But that all changed on November 4, 2008.  Students all over the United States got their butts out of bed when it was still dark and stood in line for hours to vote.  Articles about eager students shedding sleep to cast a ballots popped up all over the country. Read the rest of this entry »

We Sure Can!

As I registered to vote a few months ago, I asked my mom if I had to write a party affiliation and was somewhat scared when she looked at me and said “Of course you do.” As I gave it some thought I wrote down democrat, sealed it in its self-addressed envelope, and sent it on its way.

Tuesday November 4th 7:10: I arrive at Bel Aire City Hall to vote and notice the lack of cars. I walk in and realize there were more people than I originally thought. As I find my way towards a table with the label “A-D” on it, I am greeted with a smiling face as I give my name to receive a slip of paper that says whether I will use paper or electronically vote. I choose paper, because its much quicker. I get my ballot and sit down, anxious enough I can barely sit still. After completing my ballot, I slowly rise to my feet and go over to submit my ballot. After the scanner takes it in, I receive my “I Voted” sticker and walk out of City Hall with what now seems to be a quite ridiculous smile.

Then later that night I go to a friend’s house and as we work on homework we keep tabs on how things are starting to shape up. We continued watching until it seemed Obama would win by quite a large margin. At that point I must go home, so I rush home and plop myself right back down in front of the TV and realize Obama has done it!

I listen to Barack Obama give his speech and get chills. Maybe this is the change America really does need to turn things around. As the crowd chants “Yes We Can!” I get really excited and get up and do a little victory dance. I look forward to having Obama as a President. Just by electing him, we have started the change he is constantly talking about.

Young Voters for Obama: A Major Factor

Think your vote doesn’t count and that politicians don’t listen to you?  This election, perhaps more than any time in history since the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, young voters may make a major impact on this presidential election  And, according to the Harvard Institute of Politics, evidence strongly suggests that the impact that young voters are having is in favor of Barack Obama.

According to a study released by the institute, a whopping 56 percent of young voters are supporting Obama, whereas only 30 percent of young voters have expressed support for John McCain.  Moreover, the study found that young voters are significantly more excited about Obama than they were about John Kerry in 2004, which could translate into more actual votes come election day from students and other young people.

So, students, whether you’re an Obama fan or not, be sure to vote on election day!  There’s a good chance that voter turnout among young people will reach record numbers, which means that the days of politicians ignoring the needs of younger voters may be ending.  Need more convincing?  Here are five reasons why college students need to vote.

Obama’s Tax Cut Calculator

We’ve heard a lot about taxes in this campaign- but does anyone really know what they stand to save when either of the candidates are elected? All this talk about dollars and percentages, tax credits, retirement savings – it’s a lot.

So the Obama campaign has made it very simple. This new Obama Tax Cut Calculator explains exactly what you or your household stand to save under his administration.

For example:

Your income is $20,000/year (or less), you’re single with zero dependents and zero child care costs, you’re under age 65, do not have a mortgage and do have college expenses – you would receive a $1,000 tax savings from Obama with a $4,000 tax credit to put toward college expenses. It also shows that under McCain, you would receive a $0 savings.

Learn more about Obama’s and McCain’s positions on education.

3 Campaign Issues Most Important to College-Aged Voters

Yesterday we discussed how the under-30 voters could play their most influential role ever in the election of our next president. If all 44 million eligible voters in this Gen-X/Gen-Y demographic turned out to the polls, they would impact 25 percent of the overall vote. Right now it’s anticipated that 86 percent of these voters will show up on election day.

What is it that these young, and some first-time voters, are interested in hearing from the candidates? For this age group, their priorities are:

1. Economy

2. Iraq War

3. Health Care

“For us, that’s a big thing because we’re starting our careers and we need jobs,” said Sam Szynskie, a 21-year-old senior at Lawrence University.

It can be a worrisome time for new college graduates, as they enter the work force saddled with mountains of student loan debt, likely credit card debt, and a desire to put the past four or five years of hard work into lucrative practice. With the economy sliding further down the spiral everyday, and large companies continuing to slash jobs, students are paying attention to the economic plans of our next leader and making sure there is something in it for them.

The under-30 voter is also more concerned with the environment, finding more Earth-friendly energy solutions and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

Under 30 Vote Most Influential in History

It’s no secret that the young voter population is paying attention to this presidential election in record numbers, and being more involved than they ever have before. The 18- to 29-year-old vote is one that’s been highly sought for years by candidates, but because of a vicious cycle where candidates don’t listen to the college voter because they don’t vote and they don’t vote because the candidates don’t listen – they both end up losing one another’s attention.

A fire has been lit, and people from both political parties are certain that the college-aged, 20-something voters will turn out in record numbers, likely to be higher than any other election in history.

How important are these votes? They’ll be quite influential, considering the 44 million eligible voters who fall in this age group make up one-quarter of the total electorate. They’re impact on this election could be quite decisive. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Wants to Help College Students; McCain Says Students on Their Own

The two candidates couldn’t differ more on any hot-button issue you toss in front of them. Their positions on supporting American college students is also quite the contrast, as are their individual college experiences. Obama attended Columbia and Harvard, and only recently paid off his student loan debt; McCain attended the U.S. Naval Academy, which was free.

Amongst a crashing economy where college tuition support is harder to come by, and college tuition is skyrocketing faster than inflation, one candidate is in favor of the government lending support to college students, while the other thinks that you should cram in a night job between an 18-hour class schedule- plus labs and study groups. While they agree that college tuition isn’t affordable to most Americans and that the process to attain that aid is convuluted- the similarities part there.

McCain’s message when it comes to increased tuition is, ‘You’re on your own,’” says Michael Dannenberg, senior fellow with the New America Foundation and not a member of Obama’s campaign. “Obama’s message to families is, ‘We’ll give you more financial aid to help you with college costs, but your kids are going to have to help others.'”

Obama’s plan is more detailed than McCains, albeit with a larger price tag. His position is that it’s the government’s job to support college students persuing a degree. He’s not giving it away- in exchange for 100 hours of community service each year, the government will offer students a $4,000 tax break. McCain has put focus on making the financial aid system more efficient, but does not intend to increase its breadth. He wants parents to be more informed and says more money can be available if we eliminate wasteful spending. Read the rest of this entry »


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