Thursday, January 31

Romney Education Plan

Improving our schools is critical to the future of our country and our economy. Governor Romney also believes that closing the achievement gap in our schools is the civil rights issue of our time.

Governor Romney Believes Our Education System Works Best When We Have More Local Control Of Our Schools. While there is a proper role for the federal government to play in education, it is not in telling parents, teachers, kids and local authorities what to teach or how to run their schools.

Governor Romney Will Promote School Choice. He believes that when parents and kids are free to choose their school, everyone benefits. That's because competition and choice in educational opportunities – whether it comes from private schools, charter schools, or home schooling – makes traditional public schools better and improves the quality of education for all of America's kids. Governor Romney believes that it is especially important that students in failing schools be able to exercise school choice so that they can get access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.

Governor Romney Has Proposed A Federal Home Schooling Tax Credit. As of 2003, there were nearly 1.1 million home schooled students in the United States. Governor Romney believes that parents who want to home school their kids should be able to do so. To help them, he will provide a tax credit to help defray the educational expenses of parents who home school their kids.

Governor Romney Will Improve Upon And Enhance No Child Left Behind (NCLB). He believes that No Child Left Behind has played an important role in stressing the role of accountability and high standards in improving our schools. Governor Romney will improve NCLB by giving states that meet or exceed testing requirements additional flexibility in measuring student performance. He will also improve the law by focusing more attention on individual student progress, rather than the overall progress of schools.

Governor Romney Will Honor Teaching As The Profession. It Truly Is. He believes that good teachers should be rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the important cause of educating our children. He will support performance-based pay and other initiatives that encourage our best teachers to teach in our highest-need schools.

Governor Romney Will Ensure Our Kids Get The Education They Need To Excel In The Jobs Of The New Economy. He will focus our efforts in fields like math and science, while promoting innovative approaches such as charter schools and public-private partnerships. Governor Romney will ensure that the workers of the future have the intellectual capital and skills they need to compete in the new global marketplace.

THE ROMNEY RECORD: Improving Education In Massachusetts:

Governor Romney Promoted School Choice And Charter Schools. He wanted school choice to be available to all parents, particularly those with children in low-performing districts. Governor Romney fought for charter schools and resisted attempts to derail their expansion. Despite a Legislature that was largely hostile to charter schools and school choice, Governor Romney increased the number of charter schools and the number of students attending them.

Governor Romney Expanded Access To Higher Education. In 2004, Governor Romney established the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Program to reward the highest performing Massachusetts high school graduates with a four-year, tuition-free scholarship to state universities or colleges. More than 14,000 Adams Scholarships were offered to members of the Class of 2006, and more than 16,000 students earned them in the Class of 2007.

Governor Romney Improved Educational Outcomes. Under his leadership, Massachusetts was the first state to ever have the highest scaled scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading and Math exams in Grades 4 and 8 in the same year.

Governor Romney Kept Massachusetts Students Globally Competitive. He supported legislation that would bolster the amount of attention paid to math and science in Massachusetts high schools by adding 1,000 new math and science teachers, requiring math and science Advanced Placement classes, and providing laptop computers to all middle and high school students.

Governor Romney Promoted Parental Involvement In Education. Because parents are crucial to a child's success in school, Governor Romney supported measures to empower parents to play a more active role in their kids' educations.

Extra Credit: Romney & Education

Mitt Romney on Education, Bill Jackson's Educational Blog

Romney Touts Education Choice, S.C. Politics Today

Romney Brings a Businessman's Perspective to Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Straight Talk About Schools, USA Today

Get Involved: Make a Donation

You don't have to be rich to make a difference: Small contributions add up fast when thousands of voters participate online. In the 2006 midterm election, about a third of the contributions came in an amount of $200 or less.


Wednesday, January 30

A Welcome, the Latest, and Great Comments

Welcome to all of you who found this site via Parent Hacks! Make yourselves comfy and feel free to join the discussion at any time.

The Latest
Hillary Clinton and John McCain were victorious in the Florida Primary yesterday. Clinton had a decisive victory over Obama while McCain and Romney battled to the end.

I was suppose to cover Rudy Giuliani's education plan this afternoon but after his third place finish last night in Florida, he dropped out of the race today and threw his support behind John McCain.

John Edwards also bowed out of the race today after running a distant third in most of the primaries. The former North Carolina senator did not endorse anybody.

With these latest developments, it looks like it's a two person race for the Democrats and we're down to 2-3 real contenders for the Republicans.

Great Comments
If you haven't been checking the comments, then you're missing the best stuff. There are several great discussions going on.

Just the Facts: Obama Education Plan

Today, we'll look at Senator Obama's plan as outlined on his campaign site. Senator Obama's plan is broken down into three sections: Early Childhood Education, K-12 and Higher Education.

Early Childhood Education
Zero to Five Plan: Obama's comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.

Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.

Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.

Reform No Child Left Behind
: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.

Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.

Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama's "STEP UP" plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.

Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers
Recruit Teachers
: Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.

Prepare Teachers: Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited. He will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively.

Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, Obama's plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.

Reward Teachers: Obama will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

Higher Education
Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Extra Credit: Obama & Education

Visit here for a copy of Barack Obama's Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education that tooks a closer look at each of the points of his plan - PDF Document

Obama Unveils $18B Education Plan - USA Today

Obama's Education Plan and His Dance Around Hot-Button Teacher Issues - Education Week

Experts Praise Barack Obama's Education Plan -

Tuesday, January 29

Just the Facts: McCain Education Plan

John McCain's education plan can be summarized with three words: Excellence, Choice and Competition. For the complete plan, you can visit his campaign web site.

McCain believes American education must be worthy of the promise we make to our children and ourselves. He understands that we are a nation committed to equal opportunity, and there is no equal opportunity without equal access to excellent education.

Public education should be defined as one in which our public support for a child's education follows that child into the school the parent chooses. The school is charged with the responsibility of educating the child, and must have the resources and management authority to deliver on that responsibility. They must also report to the parents and the public on their progress.

The deplorable status of preparation for our children, particularly in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world, does not allow us the luxury of eliminating options in our educational repertoire. McCain will fight for the ability of all students to have access to all schools of demonstrated excellence, including their own homes.

No Child Left Behind has focused our attention on the realities of how students perform against a common standard. McCain believes that we can no longer accept low standards for some students and high standards for others. In this age of honest reporting, we finally see what is happening to students who were previously invisible. While that is progress all its own, it compels us to seek and find solutions to the dismal facts before us.

McCain believes our schools can and should compete to be the most innovative, flexible and student-centered, not safe havens for the uninspired and unaccountable. He believes we should let them compete for the most effective, character-building teachers, hire them, and reward them.

If a school will not change, the students should be able to change schools. McCain believes parents should be empowered with school choice to send their children to the school that can best educate them just as many members of Congress do with their own children. He finds it beyond hypocritical that many of those who would refuse to allow public school parents to choose their child's school would never agree to force their own children into a school that did not work or was unsafe. They can make another choice. McCain believes that is a fundamental and essential right we should honor for all parents.

As president, McCain will pursue reforms that address the underlying cultural problems in our education system---a system that still seeks to avoid genuine accountability and responsibility for producing well-educated children.

McCain will place parents and children at the center of the education process, empowering parents by greatly expanding the ability of parents to choose among schools for their children. He believes all federal financial support must be predicated on providing parents the ability to move their children, and the dollars associated with them, from failing schools.

Extra Credit: McCain & Education

Just the Facts: Clinton Education Plan

As First Lady, Senator Clinton promoted the Prescription for Reading program, encouraging pediatricians to "prescribe" that new parents read to their children. She helped create Early Head Start in order to prepare students from low income backgrounds for school. She also spearheaded the administration's efforts to grow an after-school program from a pilot program of $1 million to a $1 billion program, serving children in all 50 states. As a senator, Hillary worked to reform and fully fund No Child Left Behind. She helped enact legislation to recruit and retain teachers and principals to high-need areas.

Now as she looks toward the White House, Senator Clinton's education plan reflects her commitment to quality education for all children. For the complete education plan, please visit her campaign web site.

Early Childhood Education
Hillary knows that parents are our children's first teachers, and the early years have a tremendous impact on their lives. That is why she will invest heavily in proven strategies to get all children ready for school, including:
  • Nurse home visitation programs to help new parents develop parenting skills.

  • Quality child care and Head Start.

  • Pre-kindergarten for all four-year olds.

Hillary also knows that we have to improve our K-12 system in order to ensure that every child is prepared to compete in an increasingly global economy. As president, she will:

  • End the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind.

  • Meet the funding promises of IDEA to ensure that children with special needs get the attention and support they deserve.

  • Recruit and retain thousands more outstanding teachers and principals, especially in urban and rural areas.

  • Cut the minority dropout rate in half.

  • Create "Green Schools" in order to reduce energy costs and eliminate environmental hazards that can hinder children's development.

  • Expand early-intervention mentoring programs to help one million at-risk youth aspire for college and job success.

  • Identify at-risk youth early on and provide $1 billion in intensive interventions, such as early college high schools and multiple pathways to graduation, to get them back on track.

  • Double the after school program to ensure that 2 million young people have a safe and stimulating place to go between 3 and 6 p.m.

  • Invest $100 million in a new public/private summer internship program.

  • Provide opportunity for 1.5 million disconnected youth in job programs linked to high-growth economic sectors.
College Access
In the 21st century, a college education is more important than ever. Hillary believes it's time for a new bargain with the American people -- a bargain that gives all Americans willing to work hard the tools they need to get ahead. Her plan will make college more affordable and accessible so that every American who has earned it and wants to go has the chance to get a college degree. As president, she will:
  • Create a new $3,500 college tax credit.

  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant.

  • Strengthen community colleges through a $500 million investment.

  • Create a graduation fund to increase college graduation rates.

  • Increase to $10,000 the college scholarship for those who participate in AmeriCorps full-time for one year.

  • Get rid of the red tape in financial aid.

  • Hold college costs down and hold colleges accountable for results though an online college cost calculator, a college graduation and employment rate index, and truth in tuition disclosure.

  • Challenge selective colleges to expand access for students from low-income communities.

Extra Credit: Clinton & Education

Monday, January 28

Liz Edwards On Juggling Homeschooling And Life On The Stump

Since we're taking a closer look at the candidates' education plans this week, I thought homeschoolers might enjoy this article from The Huffington Post on how and why the Edwards family chose to homeschool their two children, a second and fourth grader, this year. It's an interesting read and provides more insight into Edwards' education plan that was highlighted today.

Just the Facts: Huckabee Education Plan

Mike Huckabee's education platform is different from most of the other candidates in that he doesn't list what he'd do as president, he lists what he implemented in Arkansas as governor and how that worked. In debates and media reports, he cites a recent study produced and published by Education Week, that claims Arkansas is ranked eighth in the nation for overall quality of education, a significant jump after being near the bottom for many years. However, others dispute that claim and say the numbers don't add up and that education in Arkansas is still lacking.

So let me lay out the facts and you can decide for yourself. According to Huckabee's campaign web site, these are his foundational tenets for his education platform:

  • I believe that every child should have the opportunity for a quality education that teaches the fundamental skills needed to become skilled and professional workers.

  • Music and the arts are not extraneous, extra-curricular, or expendable. They create a competitive and creative work force. I proposed legislation to provide music and art instruction by certified teachers for all Arkansas children in grades one through six, forty minutes a week. These programs have a powerful effect in leveling the academic playing field for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The study of music improves math scores, spatial reasoning and abstract thinking.

  • I have been a strong, consistent supporter of the rights of parents to home school their children, of creating more charter schools, and of public school choice.

  • We need a clear distinction between federal and state roles in education. While there is value in the "No Child Left Behind" law's effort to set high standards, states must be allowed to develop their own benchmark.

  • I created intensive reading and math programs that went back to basics that resulted in our test scores rising dramatically. I then created one of the most demanding high school curricula in the country, and the number of students taking advanced placement classes grew by leaps and bounds.

  • I opposed the teachers' union and got the Fair Dismissal Law passed, which allowed us to terminate poorly performing teachers.

  • I raised teachers' salaries from among the lowest in the nation to among the most competitive.

  • I created systems to make our schools accountable to both parents and taxpayers by insisting on transparency in how money is spent, efficiency in putting money into classroom programs rather than administrative costs, and clear responsibility of all employees for the tasks assigned to them.

  • I fought hard for more charter schools, with their strong parental involvement and their unique ability to serve as laboratories for education reform, and for the rights of parents to home school their children. I am a strong supporter of public school choice.

  • We need to test teachers as well as students, replace teachers who aren't competent, and impose reasonable waiting periods for teachers to gain tenure.

  • We should provide bonuses and forgive student loans for high-performing teachers to work in low-performing schools.

  • Just as there are executives in the corporate world who specialize in turning around failing companies, we need teachers who are "turn-around specialists" for failing schools.

  • Educators and teachers should be involved in the design of compensation initiatives that encourage training and promote performance based on merit, so that our children can have the best education in the world.

  • As President, my education agenda will include working towards a clear distinction between the federal role in assisting and empowering states and in usurping the right of states to carry out the education programs for their students. While there is value in the "No Child Left Behind" law's effort to set high national standards, states must be allowed to develop their own benchmarks.

    Extra Credit: Huckabee & Education

    Mike Huckabee & Education, On the Issues

    Huckabee and Education,

    Secret Huckabee Turns Out To Be Clintonesque, The New York Sun

    Mike Huckabee and Arts Education: A blog dedicated to showcasing Mike Huckabee's long standing commitment to arts education.

    Just the Facts: Edwards Education Plan

    "There is nothing more important to our future than our country's schools. We all pay a price when young people who could someday find the cure for AIDS or make a fuel cell work are sitting on a stoop because they didn't get the education they needed." -- John Edwards

    John Edwards offers a comprehensive education plan that starts with the educational needs of children at the preschool level. His focus on qualified teachers and successful schools is just one element of raising the bar for education in this country. He is also an advocate for raising graduation rates and providing the necessary funds to see special education programs fully funded. You can read John Edwards' education plan in its entirety on his campaign web site.

    Offer Universal "Great Promise" Preschool to Four-Year-Olds

    • Teach academic skills
    • Develop children's language abilities and introduce them to early math, reading, and other academic concepts, as well as help develop their social and emotional skills.
    • Start in needy communities
    • Be led by excellent teachers
    • Involve parents and their families
    • Be voluntary and universally affordable

    Create National Smart Start
    Promotes the healthy development of children under the age of five. It helps local partnerships make child care higher quality and more affordable, provides health services and supports families. Participating children show better cognitive and language skills and fewer behavioral problems.

    Smart Start will:

    • Link together health care, child care, education, and family support services for children under five.
    • Perform health care outreach for young children to get screening for health problems related to hearing, speech, vision, dental, and learning disabilities.
    • Sponsor home visits to new families to improve prenatal health and the quality of caregiving after birth.

    An Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom

    • Raise Pay by up to $15,000 More for Teachers in High-Poverty Schools.
    • Help states and school districts improve working conditions and increase time for teacher collaboration and planning.
    • Address barriers for teachers moving between states by encouraging reciprocal credentials and studying ways to make pension plans compatible.
    • Create a National Teacher University
    • Help Teachers in Their Early Years
    • Reduce Class Sizes
    • Train More Excellent Principals
    • Use Highly Qualified Teachers for Tutoring

    Overhaul No Child Left Behind

    • Better tests:Rather than requiring students to take cheap standardized tests, Edwards believes that we must invest in the development of higher-quality assessments that measure higher-order thinking skills, including open-ended essays, oral examinations, and projects and experiments.
    • Broader measures of school success: Edwards believes that the law should consider additional measures of academic performance. The law should also allow states to track the growth of students over time, rather than only counting the number of students who clear an arbitrary bar, and give more flexibility to small rural schools.
    • More flexibility: Edwards will give states more flexibility by distinguishing between schools where many children are failing and those where a particular group is falling behind. He will also let states implement their own reforms in under performing schools when there is good reason to believe that they will be at least equally effective.

    Launch a "Great Schools" Initiative to Build and Expand 1,000 Successful Schools Across America, there are public schools that are helping children from all backgrounds succeed, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, small schools, and other models. Edwards will help 250 schools a year expand or start new branches. Federal funds will support new buildings, excellent teachers, and other needs. Among the schools he will support are:

    • Small schools: Small high schools create stronger communities, reducing adolescent anonymity and alienation and encouraging teachers to work together. At 47 new small high schools recently opened in New York City, graduation rates are substantially higher than the citywide average. Communities can establish multiple schools within an existing facility, build new schools, and reopen old facilities.
    • Early college high schools: High schools on college campuses let students earn both a high school diploma and an associates degree (or two years of transfer credit) in only five years. In North Carolina, Governor Mike Easley's Learn and Earn initiative raises rigor and aspirations, reduces tuition costs, and relieves overcrowded college campuses.
    • Economically integrated schools: While income diversity is not a substitute for racial diversity, low-income students perform best when in middle-class schools where they are more likely to have experienced teachers and classmates with high aspirations. States can build magnet schools in low-income communities and create incentives for middle-class schools to enroll more low-income children.

    Create a School Success Fund to Turn Around Struggling Schools
    Edwards will ask teams of experienced educators to spend a year at struggling schools helping start reforms. These educators will tailor comprehensive solutions to each school, rather than adopting silver bullets or one-size-fits-all solutions.

    • Provide resources to implement them: Some schools need more resources to help their children succeed. Resources will be available to recruit new school leadership and a core of excellent teachers, reduce class sizes, duplicate proven models, strengthen the curriculum, and other reforms.
    • Emphasize extra learning time. Due to our 180-day school year, American children spend much 25 percent less instructional time than other countries, which adds up to more than two years by the end of high school. When combined with making better use of learning time and designed with educators, longer school days and years create new opportunities for children to master the basics and a broader curriculum.
    • Establish stronger academic and career curricula. Edwards believes that all schools – even those in small, isolated, and high-poverty areas – should have access to challenging Advanced Placement courses. And he will support partnerships between high schools and community colleges to help high school students get the training they need for the good jobs where skilled workers are in short supply today.

    Meet the Promise of Special Education
    More than thirty years ago, Congress committed to fund 40 percent of the excess cost of educating children with disabilities, but it provides less than half that amount. George Bush has proposed a $300 million cut. Edwards opposes the Bush cuts and supports getting on a path toward meeting the federal promise.

    Raise Graduation Rates
    Edwards will create multiple paths to graduation such as Second Chance schools for former dropouts and smaller alternative schools for at-risk students. He will focus on identifying at-risk students and support the Striving Readers literacy program and one-on-one tutoring to keep them in school. Edwards will also fund additional guidance counselors in high-poverty schools.

    Extra Credit: Edwards & Education

    Sunday, January 27

    Identity Politics

    Periodically, I'll highlight questions and comments sent to me that I think will promote good discussion and cause us all to think through our convictions. This is a great question that was posted by a reader yesterday:

    I'm curious to know people's thoughts on identity-based politics. For example, for the Huckabee supporters here, do you find yourself more inclined to vote for him because of his identification as an Evangelical Christian or would you feel the same about him if he were of a different faith?

    Assuming his identification is a factor, do you encourage other voters who might share an identify with another candidate, based on gender, race, religion, or whatever, to likewise vote on that basis?

    I'm sure everyone can find other reasons to vote for particular candidates, but it seems like identity is a significant factor behind several of the candidates' support. I'm just curious to hear people's thoughts on the issue and whether identity politics is viewed as a good, bad, or neutral political dynamic. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a registered democrat, white male (non-mom), leaning toward Obama.

    What are your thoughts? How do you see the issue of Identity Politics?

    Friday, January 25

    Kucinich Drops out of Race

    Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich is the latest presidential hopeful to bow out of the race. He announced he was withdrawing yesterday and will now focus on running for re-election in his Ohio Congressional district.

    via New York Times

    Welcome and a Thank You

    Welcome to everyone visting here from Reston Baby. Thanks to Ainsley for the great introduction! I hope you'll all visit often.

    Special thanks to Six in the Mix for surprising me with this great header she designed. You Rock!

    Republican Debate Recap

    Coming on the heels of the economic stimulus package that was announced yesterday, the economy was foremost on the minds of Republican candidates at their debate last night. While all agreed the tax rebates were a great first step, most wanted to go a step further and make the cuts permanent.

    While the debate maintained a respectful tone, the candidates repeatedly made the point that their democratic rival Senator Clinton was not the candidate best suited for the White House.

    Here are three more stories from the evening:

    At Debate on the Economy, Republicans Become Kindest of Candidates, New York Times

    GOP Candidates Talk Tax Cuts in Florida Debate, Fox News

    GOP Rivals Depict Clinton as Unworthy, Yahoo News

    Thursday, January 24

    Deal Reached on Tax Rebates

    The House of Representatives announced a new economic stimulus plan today that could have money back in your pocket by early summer. According to the proposed plan,

    Individuals who pay income taxes would get up to $600, working couples $1,200 and those couples with children an additional $300 per child under the agreement. Workers who make at least $3,000 but don't pay taxes would get $300 rebates.
    The plan also addresses tax cuts for businesses and raises the limits on Federal Housing Administration loans and home mortgages.

    The Senate will consider the package next week with hopes to have a final bill on President Bush's desk by February 15.

    via AOL News

    What's Coming Up...

    As Politics for Moms gains full steam, here's some new features you can expect to see each week as we learn together what the candidates stand for and how they line up with our personal beliefs and convictions.

    Just the Facts: These posts will summarize the major points of each candidate's plan on various issues as outlined on their campaign web sites.

    Extra Credit: Sometimes you might want to know more about a particular issue or topic, or you want to know what others are saying. These posts will give you links to other articles, op-eds and blogs so you can dig deeper on those issues that you care about most.

    It's Your Turn: These posts will give you the opportunity to take all you've learned on a particular issue and to form your own opinion that we hope you'll share with everybody. Don't be shy---we're all in this together!

    Next week we'll tackle our first policy issue, one that is near and dear to all moms: Education. Here's what you can expect:

    Monday: Edwards & Huckabee
    Tuesday: Clinton & McCain
    Wednesday: Obama & Giuliani
    Thursday: Romney & Paul
    Friday: It's Your Turn

    If you know another mom who's interested in the future of education, invite her to join us for next week's discussion.

    Take Action: E-Mail the Candidates

    Every Thursday, Politics for Moms will provide a "Take Action" post that will give you simple ideas for getting involved in the political process. As moms, we don't have a lot of time but there are still lots of ways we can make a difference at the local, state and national levels. This week's idea deals with something we use every day: e-mail.

    Running out of time at a recent campaign stop, John Edwards told the audience to e-mail him. "If you say you were here today, " he promised, "I will personally answer your question." Other candidates are reaching out online too. If you write it, they just might read it. And thanks to technology, no postage is required.


    Republican Debate Tonight

    MSNBC will broadcast a two-hour debate from Boca Raton, Florida at Florida Atlantic University. It will air from 9:00-11:00 pm and feature all Republican candidates.

    Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News, Tim Russert, Meet the Press and Paul Tash, editor of the St. Petersburg Times, will moderate the debate.

    Wednesday, January 23

    Duncan Hunter Throws His Support Behind Huckabee

    California Rep. Duncan Hunter withdrew from the Presidential race after last week's South Carolina primary. Today he threw his support behind Mike Huckabee.

    “Of the remaining candidates I feel that he is strongly committed to strengthening national defense, constructing the border fence and meeting the challenge of China’s emergence as a military superpower that is taking large portions of America’s industrial base,” Hunter said in a statement.

    You can read the entire story at Fox News.

    Fred Thompson Withdraws from Race

    Fred Thompson dropped his presidential bid Tuesday, after the former Tennessee senator and actor finished third in the South Carolina primary and was unable to score a victory in any of the early primaries or caucuses.

    “Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people,” Thompson said in a statement.

    via Fox News

    Benazir Bhutto

    Last fall, I began hearing the name Benazir Bhutto in the news. I knew nothing about her but the few times I saw her on television, I was struck by this woman's passion for seeing democracy established in her beloved country, Pakistan. I was also captivated by her intelligence, beauty and fearlessness as she refused to be silenced by her detractors.

    However, it was her death on December 27, 2007, when I started reading more about her life. Her father was Pakistan's first democratic prime minister who was popular among the people. When Bhutto was 25, he was hanged after being charged and convicted of conspiring to murder an opponent. Bhutto's desire to carry on her father's mission of democracy propelled her to devote her life to restoring democracy to this troubled country.

    Bhutto was elected and served two times as Prime Minister but was overthrown both times on charges of corruption. Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998.

    Bhutto returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn. She declared her intent to run for Prime Minister again and she quickly became a contender due to her determination and populist support that was a huge threat to terrorists and others . With her life in constant danger, she was assassinated just three weeks before the elections.

    So what does Benazir Bhutto have to do with this blog, Politics for Moms? Check back tomorrow...

    Tuesday, January 22

    What is Politics for Moms?

    Trust me, when I say that I have resisted starting this blog with all of my heart. As much as I love blogging, I don't need another one to fill my time. But I also know that for the last 6-9 months I've felt this persistent urging to get moms more invested and interested in the upcoming presidential election.

    I have always had a fascination with presidential elections and politics. I studied political science in college and walked away with a minor in the field, but I have absolutely no credentials or experience to make me an expert on the subject, just an interest and growing passion for the process.

    What I have noticed, though, is that moms tend to "check out" of discussions on politics and elections because, frankly, we've got better things to do. It may not be as leader of the free world but our mounds of laundry, dirty diapers and desperate need for a good night's sleep are about all we care about in the early years of having kids.

    Soon, we get a little more time on our hands and when we do show a little interest in what's going on outside our four walls, the information that is thrown at us from thousands of sources is overwhelming, confusing and, frankly, doesn't seem to really affect our daily life. As a mom, I don't have time to worry about CAFE laws and whether you voted for something before you voted against it.

    So the disconnect grows and before long we are merely going to the polls to fulfill our democratic duty, but not really having a clue who we are voting for and what they stand for. This frustrates us because we know we're not one of those mindless moms; we do care, we can think for ourselves, we know we can do better than throwing caution the the wind and flipping a coin before we flip a lever...we're just not sure how to get started in this world of information overload we live in.

    Politics for Moms is intended to help moms simply and quickly understand the issues and the candidates. It will be a place where moms can ask questions, hear other moms' opinions, and get the information they need to make their own informed decisions.

    This site will not endorse candidates, parties or ideology. It is simply a resource for moms to use in educating themselves on the American political process and on the candidates and issues so moms can make their own decisions.

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