f ipo tt le f a R ts ul
ELISE STEFANIK ON REVAMPING GOVERNMENT “Every federal agency needs to be reformed.”
February 2016 Volume 50, No. 1
The Next Steps in
EDUCATION REFORM BRIDGING THE ECONOMIC SCHOOL DIVIDE by Richard D. Kahlenberg
THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT & WHAT LIES AHEAD by Frederick M. Hess
EARNING WHILE YOU’RE LEARNING THROUGH APPRENTICESHIPS by U.S. Senator Tim Scott
JOBS FOR AMERICA’S GRADUATES: A SUCCESS STORY by Ken Smith
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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 50, Number 1 Politics and Perspective
Cover Story (cont’d.)
The Challenge of Our Time By Adam Kinzinger At a time of great peril, this Congressman and combat veteran states that our national security interests throughout the world have never been in a more vulnerable state.
Ohio: A Sure Bet as Battleground & Bellwether By Ben Toll & Bryan W. Marshall If there were a sure bet in presidential politics, the Buckeye State would own the title, having voted for the winner every time except once since the end of World War II.
Earning While You’re Learning Through Apprenticeships By Tim Scott Apprenticeships are a proven way to help people develop in-demand skills and to meet the needs of employers, yet they comprise just 0.2% of the nation’s workforce
How to Say Goodbye By Edward J. Larson Even more than his service during the Revolutionary War, voluntarily surrendering the trappings of power for private life made George Washington an American hero.
Jobs for America’s Graduates: Demonstrating Consistent Success for Highest-Risk Youth By Ken Smith Here’s something every policymaker concerned about educating and boosting employment for the most at-risk youth should know: there is a program that works.
Cover Story 11
The Every Student Succeeds Act & What Lies Ahead By Frederick M. Hess While the recent rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act got many things right, even those who regard it as a clear conservative triumph have noted that it’s no more than three-quarters of a loaf.
Bridging the Economic School Divide By Richard D. Kahlenberg The flight of wealthy students from public to private schools is a constitutional right of families. But according to this education expert, it’s also a cause for concern. Publisher The Ripon Society
Editor Louis M. Zickar
President Jim Conzelman
Editorial Assistant Stephen Jackson
Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Judy Van Rest Jim Murtha
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© Copyright 2016 By The Ripon Society All Rights Reserved
Special Feature 21 The Battle for the Middle Class: A Ripon Society National Survey By Ed Goeas & Brian Nienaber With the 2016 election upon us, The Ripon Society conducted a national survey to examine the political environment and views of a key part of the American electorate. Sections 3
In this Edition
News & Events - House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise spoke to The Ripon Society in January about last year’s accomplishments and the goals for 2016. Ripon Profile - U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
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RIPON FORUM February 2016
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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Cory Gardner - Senate Co-Chair Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer Orrin G. Hatch Pat Roberts Thom Tillis Roger Wicker U.S. Representatives: Pat Tiberi - House Co-Chair Renee Ellmers - House Co-Chair Martha Roby - Vice Chair, South Erik Paulsen - Vice Chair, Midwest Bill Shuster - Vice Chair, Northeast Greg Walden - Vice Chair, West Mark Amodei Andy Barr Mike Bishop Diane Black Marsha Blackburn Charles Boustany Susan Brooks Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Jason Chaffetz Tom Cole Barbara Comstock Ryan Costello Ander Crenshaw Carlos Curbello Rodney Davis Jeff Denham Charlie Dent Bob Dold Sean Duffy Rodney Frelinghuysen Chris Gibson Kay Granger Sam Graves Richard Hanna Darrell Issa Lynn Jenkins Dave Joyce John Katko Mike Kelly Adam Kinzinger Darin LaHood Leonard Lance Billy Long Frank Lucas Tom Marino Kevin McCarthy Cathy McMorris Rodgers Patrick Meehan Candice Miller John Moolenaar Randy Neugebauer Kristi Noem Bruce Poliquin John Ratcliffe Tom Reed Jim Renacci Reid Ribble Tom Rooney Peter Roskam Steve Scalise John Shimkus Lamar Smith Steve Stivers Glenn Thompson Mac Thornberry Mike Turner Fred Upton Jackie Walorski Mimi Walters Edward Whitfield Steve Womack Todd Young
In this Edition
Abraham Lincoln once called education the “most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” In recent years, education has also been a subject that has fallen victim to partisan gridlock and political dysfunction. The recent enactment of a plan to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act was a victory over this dysfunction. Called the Every Student Succeeds Act, the plan was also a victory for Republicans because of the reforms that were approved. We look at these reforms in our latest edition of The Ripon Forum with an essay by respected education expert Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. In his essay, Hess not only highlights some of the key components of the bill, but also points out that the measure, while a “conservative triumph,” represents “no more than three quarters of the loaf.” To that end, Hess lays out five areas where additional reform is needed and Congress should consider taking action in the coming year. Also writing on the subject of education reform is Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation. Called “the intellectual father of the economic integration movement,” Kahlenberg’s focus is on a troubling fact about America’s educational system – namely, the fact that over half of public school students attend schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or lowincome under federal guidelines.“The flight of wealthy students from public to private schools is at once a constitutional right of families and a cause for unease,” Kahlenberg writes, adding that, “Public schools that have a healthy blend of middle class and lower-income students provide much stronger opportunities for all students.” To help achieve this goal, he points to an approach that was adopted in Cambridge, Massachusetts and that any Republican can support – turn every public school into a magnet school and give parents a choice of where they send their kids. As Ken Smith notes in another essay for this edition, the challenges facing America’s students cannot be addressed by government alone. Smith is the President of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a state-based national non-profit organization that, in its 35-year history, has not only helped increase graduation rates, but has helped find jobs for more than one million at-risk and disadvantaged young men and women around the United States. “Consistent, sustained success is best achieved with the fully engaged support of both the public and private sectors,” Smith writes. Another way of lifting people out of poverty, argues U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in another op-ed, is by expanding the educational pathways they can take. “Apprenticeships are a proven way to help people develop in-demand skills and to meet the needs of employers,” the South Carolina Senator writes. “Whether you are a 22-year-old living in poverty and looking for a way to improve your skillset, a 45-year-old looking to change careers, or a high school student who does not necessarily want to get a four year degree, the ability to be able to provide for yourself and your family while improving your future earning potential is invaluable.” In addition to looking at the next steps in education reform, this latest edition of the Forum also features the results of a Ripon Society national survey examining a key party of the American electorate in 2016 – the middle class. With threats to American security increasing around the world, one of the rising stars of the GOP, combat veteran and Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, writes about the need for the United States to confront and defeat radical Islam, which he calls “The Challenge of Our Time.” And with senior Republican congressional aides meeting at Mount Vernon this month for The Ripon Society’s 6th Annual Symposium on Leadership, Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Larson examines George Washington’s Farewell Address and shares his thoughts on the lessons it holds for today. Finally, in our latest Ripon Profile, New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik shares her thoughts on such topics as the issue facing America no one is talking about and the federal agency most in need of reform. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of the Forum, appreciate your readership, and encourage you to contact us with any thoughts or comments you may have. Lou Zickar Editor of THE RIPON FORUM email@example.com RIPON FORUM February 2016
Politics & Perspective
Challenge of Our Time ADAM KINZINGER At a time of such great peril, our national security interests response has led to ISIS reaching its tentacles further into the throughout the world have never been in a more vulnerable Western world. Kidnappings, beheadings, public executions, state than they are today. Just look around the world and you and mass shootings are all proof of the ISIS threat to those will see so many hotspots emanating threats from state actors who embrace freedom and a decent society. like Iran, Russia, and North Korea. There is no more volatile The threat from Islamic jihadist terrorism and groups region right now than the Middle East with the ongoing crisis like ISIS continues to be a challenge for our time. Rather in Syria and the cancer of ISIS sweeping the region. As a than developing non-strategies that do not defeat ISIS, we combat veteran of our nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, need leadership that acknowledges America’s indispensable I take very seriously the importance of protecting our country role in leading this fight and protecting our national security. from the threat of Islamic jihadist terrorists. In 2016 and Congress continues to work at the heart of this problem by beyond, we need to passing legislation stay on the offensive that will put and bring the full additional security might of American precautions in place power and ingenuity that prevent ISIS to destroy this threat. and other terrorists Since ISIS from exploiting emerged on the scene our goodwill. more than two years However, we also ago, its numbers need a military have increased component to exponentially, along defeat the ISIS with the threat and cancer before it challenge it poses. metastasizes any Since that time, the further. President has failed We continue to outline a viable to support our strategy to defeat ISIS allies in the region The threat from Islamic jihadist terrorism or reassure Americans like Jordan, the and groups like ISIS continues to be a of their security. Make Syrian Opposition, challenge for our time. no mistake: ISIS and the Kurdish has declared war on Peshmerga as they Western Civilization. stare down the In the wake of the Paris attacks, the downing of a Russian enemy. But more needs to be done in terms of our role. passenger jet, and the mass-shooting in San Bernardino, the That is why I have been calling for Congress to debate and world can no longer deny the very real global reach of ISIS pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the imminent danger it poses to us all if it is not destroyed. for the President that allows him to utilize all our military In the last seven years, there has been a decline of tools to defeat ISIS without limiting his current authority as American leadership around the globe. There is a perception Commander-in-Chief. that America is on the retreat from the rest of the world. This In this fight, ISIS must know our President has the power can be seen in our feckless response to the ISIS threat. Sitting and capability to unleash the full force of the U.S. military on the sidelines, hoping they’ll go away hasn’t worked. to do what it does best: destroy our enemies and protect More importantly, we cannot continue to accept that ISIS is our families from these barbarians. A new AUMF, which equivalent to a “JV team” or that it has been “contained.” I introduced in February, will give the President, and his Every day that has gone by without a sufficient American successor, the power, flexibility, and resources necessary 4
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to exercise the role of Commander-in-Chief in the most We are at a critical point in our nation’s history. It is effective manner possible. our calling to defeat Islamic jihadist terrorism and to stand Without considerable intervention, ISIS will continue up against this evil force that threatens our way of life. The to take advantage of struggling nations decisions we make will be forever in the Middle East and North Africa, remembered by future generations, to use propaganda to radicalize and and it is our responsibility to rise to the recruit new soldiers, and to intensify occasion. the violence and chaos that has already America is a great country – overtaken the region. We need a no, America is the greatest country! Commander-in-Chief that understands As a nation, we have faced many this threat and will put forward the tough challenges, but we’ve always most effective strategy to defeat it. prevailed. I have no doubt that Now more than ever, the United we can do so again and I believe States needs to step up as a leader and wholeheartedly we will continue to defeat these threats to our national defend and protect the values and security and to civility around the diplomatic principles upon which we world. This narrative has been a critical were founded. RF part of our history for decades. From Now more than ever, the Greatest Generation in WWII to Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th the United States needs my generation, who I served with in District of Illinois in the U.S. House of the war on terror, we have all witnessed Representatives. He served in the Air to step up as a leader the power of America’s leadership in Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and and defeat these shaping international order and global continues to serve America as a pilot in threats. security. the Air National Guard.
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RIPON FORUM February 2016
Ohio: A Sure Bet as Battleground & Bellwether B E N T O L L & B R YA N W . M A R S H A L L Ohio is both a battleground and bellwether for national average (17.4%). These demographics, among presidential elections. It is highly competitive and other factors, led the Bush campaigns to focus heavily carries a relatively large electoral vote prize for on the state of Ohio in 2000 and 2004. Democrats are also optimistic about their presidential aspirants. It is also a perennial predictor of presidential nominee taking Ohio. Ohio has always been presidential elections. Indeed, if there were a sure bet in presidential a state with heavy union presence and ranks 16th in the nation for union membership. politics, Ohio would own It is home to a number of the title, having voted for large cities that historically the winner every time since vote Democrat, with the best the end of World War II, example being the Cleveland with the one exception area. The Obama campaign being 1960 when choosing relied heavily on young Richard Nixon over John F. voters in college towns and Kennedy. cities throughout the state Since that missed call to win Ohio in 2008 and nearly six decades ago, 2012. Thus, a Democratic Ohio voters have proven campaign capitalizing on to be almost equally split young voters, urban areas, between the two major party and union households should candidates, voting for the help the party make a strong Democrat in six elections play for Ohio in 2016. and the Republican in Political scientists seven. Moreover, Ohio’s typically find that a few key governor — John Kasich factors are likely to impact — is currently running to presidential voting. First, be the Republican nominee Ohio has a larger percentage of we often look at recent for president, Cleveland statewide elections and the whites (83%) than the national will host the Republican issues in the state. National Convention, and average (77.4%), and has a much important Republicans have done well 2016 may witness one of the lower percentage of Hispanic or in statewide Ohio elections nation’s marquee matchups recently as evidenced by in which Ohio could help Latino (3.5%) than the national Kasich’s 30-point margin of decide party control of average (17.4%) victory in 2014. Further, 12 of the U.S. Senate. (The 16 U.S. Representatives are most recent poll numbers Republicans. Dating back to — Quinnipiac 9/25-10/5 — have former governor Ted Strickland at 46% and 2000, the highest two-party vote margin for a president Incumbent Senator Rob Portman at 43%, but within the was Obama’s 52.3% in 2008. The 2016 election will also see the reemergence of issues like abortion, margin of error). So, it is no wonder Republicans and Democrats which has already started with Attorney General Mike each hope 2016 will see Ohio vote in their favor. For DeWine’s threat to sue Planned Parenthood. Another Republicans, there is a case to be made for Ohio’s issue that could impact voter turnout and the discussion demographics. Ohio has a larger percentage of whites in Ohio is the rising toll of heroin abuse throughout (83%) than the national average (77.4%), and has a much the state and the potential for legalized marijuana — in lower percentage of Hispanic or Latino (3.5%) than the some form — to be on the ballot again. These issues 6
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give us only mixed signals as to which way Ohio voters will lean in 2016. Second, political scientists have found that the economy greatly impacts the vote. The economy should generally favor Democrats. The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.5% in Ohio (November 2015), while it is 5.0% nationwide. Ohio’s unemployment level is lower, by far, compared to the levels going into the last three presidential election cycles (5.7% in 11/2003, 5.6% in 11/2007, and 8.5% in 11/2008). It is not just Ohio’s economy that is doing well, as there is increasing evidence that Americans feel more comfortable making big purchases more than at any point before the 2008 recession. Political science research shows incumbent parties do well when the economy is doing well, and Democrats would seek to capitalize on this in Ohio and nationally. Finally, approval of the incumbent — even if not running — has a major impact on how a state will vote. The eventual Democratic nominee may have reason to distance him- or herself from President Obama. In a 2015 Quinnipiac University poll, Ohio voters had the least favorable view of Obama out of any battleground state. Republicans would be wise to capitalize on this unfavorable impression of the administration, along with
Kasich’s candidacy — even if it goes nowhere — and use positive press in the state from the Cleveland convention. What does all of this say about Ohio’s electoral college votes in 2016? It is likely to be a very close election again, but there is still too much to be determined about eventual nominees and the other election markers we have raised. That said, we do see strong evidence from polling of GOP primary voters that national security and terrorism are chief concerns. However, if the economy continues on the current upward trend, especially relative to lackluster performance in Europe and developing markets, the Democratic candidate will have a built in advantage. Elections research shows that the economy tends to trump other issues, and voters will vote their pocketbooks in the general election. But, one thing is for certain -- come October all residents of Ohio will be tired of political commercials because both parties will bet heavily to win the Buckeye state. RF Ben Toll is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Bryan W. Marshall is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
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RIPON FORUM February 2016
How to Say Goodbye EDWARD J. LARSON
“And then we’ll teach them how to say goodbye,” is for private life on a Virginia plantation made Washington a how George Washington depicted the writing of his Farewell venerated American hero and world-renown personification Address in the rap musical Hamilton. Of course, he already of republican virtue. He had prefaced that act with a Circular knew how to say goodbye. He’d mastered that act in 1783 Letter to the States that called on residents of the thirteen states, when he’d retired as commander in chief following the whom he call “citizens of America,” to forge a sovereign American Revolution. federal union that could protect liberty, promote prosperity, and Extolled by later historians as a signal event that set preserve independence. All three were at risk under the weak the country’s political course, Washington’s first retirement confederation then looping the states into a loose alliance. was similarly praised at the time. Citing examples from Cincinnatus had resigned twice, however, and retiring from Julius Caesar to Oliver the presidency after two Cromwell, British terms gave Washington a propagandists during second chance to establish the war had scoffed at a legacy of republican Americans for rebelling virtue. Up to this point, against one King George his Circular Letter stood only to gain another in as his most significant George Washington. public document. In it, Successful rebel leaders he had stressed that his inevitably become call for a more perfect tyrants, they charged. union could be trusted Indeed, in England, when because he was retiring expatriate American and had nothing to gain painter Benjamin West from consolidating power predicted that Washington at the national level. He would retire upon the depicted it as disinterested cessation of hostilities, a advice from a retiring skeptical King George III statesman. And it worked, replied, “If he does that, though Washington and he will be the greatest his fellow federalists had Even more than his service during man in the world.” to invest more time and the Revolutionary War, voluntarily In America, effort before the resulting surrendering the trappings of power Washington at once union could be achieved became a second for private life on a Virginia plantation with the ratification of Cincinnatus, the a new Constitution and made Washington a venerated legendary ancient leader their sweep of the first twice called from his farm federal elections. American hero. and given supreme power The results to rescue republican transformed America. Rome from its enemies only to return home once the dangers Working like a team under Washington, the new executive, had passed. After three-month’s reflection on what had legislative, and judicial branches began the process of forging a transpired, Thomas Jefferson commented, “The moderation continental republic from an assortment of states. The principal and virtue of a single character probably prevented this policies for doing so came from Treasury Secretary Alexander revolution from being closed, as most others have been by a Hamilton, who emerged as Washington’s most influential subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.” Even advisor, much to the dismay of the more states’ rights-minded more than Washington’s service during the Revolutionary Jefferson and his followers. As Secretary of State, though, War, which was performed without salary or leave for over Jefferson made his contributions to the emerging order, such as eight years, voluntarily surrendering the trappings of power by devising a broad regime of federally protected intellectual 8
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property rights. With Secretary of War Henry Knox, he also a 13,000-soldier army personally led by Washington. Then backed Washington’s efforts to open the Ohio country for convulsions caused by the French Revolution and ensuing settlement, leading to prolonged warfare with the Western war between republican France and aristocratic England Confederacy of native tribes until its capitulation in 1795. engulfed domestic politics. Washington’s decision to Hamilton’s nationalizing policies were founded on proclaim neutrality without consulting Congress outraged funding the full debt run up by Congress and the states during Jefferson and his supporters, who viewed the United States the Revolutionary War. He viewed this as a means to align the as bound to support its Revolutionary War ally. When the interests of wealthy Americans with the central government, British Navy nevertheless seized hundreds of American displace the states as independent economic actors, and merchant ships bound for French ports in the West Indies, enhance the country’s credit. To pay for it, Hamilton pushed they demanded a second war with England. Instead, in 1794, a tariff on imported goods, which would have the side-effect Washington sent John Jay to resolve differences between the of sheltering American industry, and an excise tax on some United States and its former colonial master. Bargaining domestic items such as whiskey, which he saw as a means to from a weak position, Jay’s treaty did little more than accept exert authority over frontier distillers. Jefferson reluctantly British limits on American trade with France in exchange for endorsed Hamilton’s idea seemingly meaningless of assuming state debts concessions. For the in return for moving the first time, Washington’s seat of government to popularity sagged. the banks of the Potomac In 1796, at age River. sixty-four, Washington As a capstone for announced that he his economic program, would not accept a third Hamilton wanted a quasiterm. He wanted to independent central bank retire, again, to Mount for the United States, Vernon. His Farewell co-owned by private Address, which (like investors, which would his Circular Letter) was in effect regulate fiscal printed in newspapers policy and provide a rather than delivered stable national currency. as a speech, denounced Here, Jefferson drew partisanship, Edward J. Larson at Mount Vernon the line, claiming the embraced nationalism, Constitution did not and discouraged His Farewell Address denounced authorize Congress permanent foreign to charter a bank. alliances. Speaking partisanship, embraced nationalism, Washington sided with to all Americans, and discouraged permanent foreign Hamilton, however, and Washington wrote, the bank was chartered “The unity of alliances. in 1791. By this point, Government which two distinct factions had emerged with the leaders of each – constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is Hamilton and Jefferson – in Washington’s cabinet. justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real Endorsed by both camps and encouraged to run as the only independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your one able to bridge the growing partisan divide, Washington peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; and of that was unanimously re-elected in 1792. Under the facade of very Liberty which you so highly prize.” This Address joined unity, however, two political parties were forming. On both his Circular Letter as one of his two most significant public sides, the outlines of party organizations emerged in the rise of writings, with both crafted as parting advice to the American partisan newspapers, the coordination of voting by Members people from a retiring statesman. “I wanna talk about what of Congress, and party endorsements for political candidates. I’ve learned,” was how Washington puts it in Hamilton. Members aligned with Jefferson even gained a slight edge in “One last time.” And one last time, he taught us how to say the House of Representative following the elections of 1792. goodbye, leaving us a lasting legacy of republican virtue. RF Events pushed partisanship during Washington’s second term. Frustrated by Hamilton’s domination over the Edward J. Larson is University Professor of History and administration, Jefferson left the cabinet in 1793. A year holds the Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University later, his partisans denounced the government for suppressing and is the Pulitzer Prizing winning author of The Return of resistance to the whiskey tax in western Pennsylvania with George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789. RIPON FORUM February 2016
The Next Steps in
EDUCATION REFORM 10
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The Every Student Succeeds Act & What Lies Ahead FREDERICK M. HESS In December, after years of false starts, Congress reading and math by 2014, with mandated consequences passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The for schools that missed the bar. new law rewrote the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act Washington proved to be fairly good at transparency (NCLB) and served as a long-overdue course correction — at requiring states to regularly test, disaggregate to an era of steady federal encroachment into K-12 results, and report performance. By requiring states to education. While hardly ideal, the new law gets the big test in the same subjects and grades, Congress created things mostly right and points federal policy in a more a framework for public transparency. When it came promising direction. to judging performance and trying to make schools A bit of history is helpful. In 1965, as part of President improve, however, Uncle Sam was ill-equipped for the Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, Congress passed job. Crafting a national law that can apply to 100,000 the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). schools in 50 states makes for clumsy metrics and ESEA sought to boost the achievement of disadvantaged whimsical, pie-in-the-sky targets. students. Yet ESEA failed Indeed, NCLB’s to deliver on that promise unfortunate legacy included and no one knew whether allowing the Obama federal money was actually administration to dictate Crafting a national law that can helping. K-12 policy via quid pro apply to 100,000 schools in 50 In 2001, eager to ensure quo waivers granted to that federal funds were being states desperate to escape states makes for clumsy metrics used effectively and that NCLB’s 100% proficiency and whimsical, pie-in-the-sky vulnerable children would mandate — or else label targets. no longer be overlooked, most of their public schools President George W. Bush as failures. The Secretary of and key congressional Education released dozens Democrats revamped of states from NCLB’s ESEA. The result was NCLB, a well-intentioned but fantasy targets if — and only if — they promised to pursue flawed mash-up. It sought to do three big things, all Obama priorities. In this way, the Obama administration important, but not all well-suited to federal efforts. helped turn the Common Core into a divisive distraction One was to promote transparency by requiring and poisoned new teacher evaluation systems by forcing states to regularly test students in reading and math states to hurriedly implement not-ready-for-primetime and to disaggregate and publicly report the results for schemes on a politically determined timetable. individual schools and school systems. ESSA was intended to clean up the various messes The second was to set forth a federal framework that came in NCLB’s wake: a capricious accountability for judging school performance, primarily in terms of system, a nonsensical series of mandates around school the reading and math scores of different demographic improvement, an unhealthy obsession with testing, and groups. States were required to set steadily increasing states that felt blackmailed by the U.S. Department of goals for the proficiency of each group. Education. ESSA did a remarkable job of getting most The third was to make schools improve by of the big things right. setting forth a mandated series of mostly ineffectual ESSA did a far better job than NCLB of separating interventions for low-performing schools. the baby from the bathwater. ESSA retains NCLB’s Ultimately, NCLB proved to be remarkably requirement that states test once a year in reading and prescriptive about how states would measure school math (in grades 3-8 and once in high school) and science performance and what states would do to schools deemed (once in elementary, middle, and high school). “in need of improvement.” Absurdly, NCLB required Meanwhile, ESSA gets Washington (mostly) out that 100% of the nation’s children be “proficient” in of the business of judging whether schools are failing RIPON FORUM February 2016
and (wholly) out of the business of mandating school of these was on school choice, where they threw in the improvement strategies. towel on efforts to allow low-income students to use The result should help to cool test mania by federal Title I funds at the public or private school of allowing states to develop accountability systems that their choice. A viable compromise is to modify the law are less reliant on once-a-year reading and math scores. so that it simply allows states to expand school choice in It requires that state accountability systems continue to this manner. base more than half of school ratings on achievement Fourth, a critical and appropriate federal role when it measures, but permits states to incorporate other comes to K-12 schooling is the support of research. This is measures as they see fit. a case of a classic public good, but one where the U.S. has In response to the Obama administration’s historically underinvested — with Washington spending unprecedented and legally on education research barely dubious use of quid pro quo 1% of what the nation spends waivers, ESSA imposed a raft on medical research. While of new prohibitions on the U.S. research is better addressed Department of Education’s under the Education Sciences ability to manipulate states or Research Act than under involve itself in their affairs. ESSA, investing in quality ESSA also included big research is an essential part of wins for charter schooling getting the post-ESSA federal and public school choice, with role right. charter schools getting the Fifth, smart federal law’s only notable funding education policy is rooted increase and the creation of a in the recognition that pilot program that allows up federal mandates are to fifty school districts leeway moderately effective when to use federal funds as part of simply requiring that states a “weighted student funding” do them is enough. For model. instance, requiring states While ESSA got these to administer annual tests Frederick M. Hess big things mostly right, even and report the results is those of us who regard it as pretty straightforward. It’s a clear conservative triumph an easy requirement to While ESSA got these big have noted that it’s no more enforce, and therefore entails than three-quarters of a loaf. things mostly right, even those little red tape or intrusion. There is still plenty of work When it comes to things of us who regard it as a clear yet to do. Five opportunities like accountability systems conservative triumph have for improvement particularly and school improvement, stand out: however, whether they’re noted that it’s no more than First, while ESSA pares done matters infinitely less three-quarters of a loaf. back NCLB’s overwrought than how they’re done. accountability and intervention Here federal efforts have mandates, its 1,000+ pages yielded incoherent mandates, leave far too much room for bureaucratic mischief. Its bureaucratic sprawl, and one-size-fits-all dictates, with language is murky enough that the law’s clear restrictions lots of consequent foot-dragging and ineptitude. on federal involvement still might be transformed into a Fighting to have Washington do more when it comes troubling invitation to bureaucratic mischief. to schooling is not the same thing as fighting for better Second, closely related, is that how ESSA is schools. In the ESSA era, it’s crucial to know where implemented is what will ultimately matter. All the Washington can help and where it can’t — and to insist law’s clear prohibitions on federal involvement in that policymakers lead accordingly. RF state standards, accountability systems, or testing still depend on faithful execution. Ensuring that the statutory Frederick M. Hess is director of education policy studies language is obeyed and put into practice is critical work at the American Enterprise Institute. His books include that requires legislative knowledge and diligence. Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from a Third, conservatives had to make serious Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s compromises to get the deal done. The most significant Schools. 12
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Bridging the Economic School Divide RICHARD D. KAHLENBERG The 19th century educator Horace Mann, the percent of private school parents made more than $75,000 founding father of American public education, famously a year (the Bureau’s highest income bracket), compared called public schools the “great equalizer.” They would to 32 percent of public school parents. give all children, no matter their background, the chance The flight of wealthy students from public to private to succeed. But in order to do so, Mann believed, schools schools is at once a constitutional right of families and a had to be “common schools,” cause for unease, given evidence educating rich and poor under that public schools are stronger one roof. The presence of when they educate a broad cross affluent and high-achieving section of students. Fourth students raises the standard of grade low-income students achievement, he argued, and “the who have the chance to attend mass will rise again and reach it. more affluent public schools, Hence the removal of the most for example, are as much as forward scholars from a school two years ahead of low-income is not a small misfortune.” students in high-poverty schools For centuries, Americans on the National Assessment violated the common school for Educational Progress in ideal when laws segregated mathematics. schools by race. The remnants To be clear, it would be of that stain remain, but in more wrong to try to rob families of recent years, a new pattern has their right to spend their own emerged. As Harvard political money to attend a private school scientist Robert Putnam notes of their choosing. In the 1925 in his book, Our Kids: The case of Pierce v. Society of American Dream in Crisis, rising Sisters, the U.S. Supreme Court residential segregation by class held that parents have the right Richard D. Kahlenberg “has been translated into de facto to choose to send their children class-based school segregation.” to private school. This is troublesome, Putnam But public schools should The flight of wealthy writes, because extensive make strong efforts to draw students from public to evidence suggests, “whom you students from all walks of life private schools is at once go to school with matters a lot.” back into the public schools. In Private schools, which have Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a constitutional right of been a longstanding part of the example, school officials turned families and a cause for American landscape, are today every traditional public school contributing to the country’s into a magnet school – with unease. economic balkanization. As special themes or pedagogical wealthy Americans retreat from approaches to attract families. the public sphere – using private security services in gated Choices are honored with an eye to ensuring that all the communities – many are also using private education for schools have a strong mix of low income and more affluent their children. students. When Cambridge instituted its all-choice, allIn 2012, private school parents were almost twice as magnet system, it was able to draw a substantial number likely to come from relatively wealthy families as public of students who had previously used private school into school parents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 the public school system. 14
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Public schools that have a healthy blend of middleclass and lower-income students provide much stronger opportunities for all students. As Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. noted in a recent address commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, “Research shows that one of the best things we can do for all children — black or white, rich or poor — is give them a chance to attend strong, socioeconomically diverse schools.” As compared to high-poverty schools, economicallymixed schools provide an environment in which peers are, on average, more academically engaged, parents are in a position to volunteer in class, and strong teachers have high expectations. Wealthy and white students benefit as well. For the first time in American history, a majority of public school pupils today are students of color. As our nation grows increasingly diverse, integrated public schools help students learn a valuable skill – how to get along with students whose backgrounds are different from their own. Integrated schools also strengthen our nation as a whole by providing what the American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker called the “glue that has held this country together.” Shanker wrote: “A
Martian who happened to be visiting Earth soon after the United States was founded would not have given this country much chance of surviving. He would have predicted that this new nation, whose inhabitants were of different races, who spoke different languages, and who followed different religions, wouldn’t remain one nation for long. They would end up fighting and killing each other…. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we became a wealthy and powerful nation–the freest the world has ever known… Public schools played a big role in holding our nation together.” Americans will always have the right to send their children to private schools. But we will all benefit when we strengthen the public schools to the point that increasing numbers will want to choose the public schools that have served our country so well. RF Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, is the author of All Together Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools through Public School Choice (Brookings Press, 2001), and the editor of The Future of School Integration: Socioeconomic Diversity as an Education Reform Strategy (Century Foundation Press, 2012).
CONSENSUS & LEADERSHIP.
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Earning While You’re Learning Through Apprenticeships TIM SCOTT As we seek ways to strengthen our economy, lift Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship up those living in poverty, and ensure that every person Programs Act, or LEAP Act. living in our great nation has access to the American Apprenticeships are a proven way to help people Dream, a key part of the equation comes down to job develop in-demand skills and to meet the needs of training and technical skills. employers, yet they comprise just 0.2% of the nation’s Many of the working poor and those living in poverty workforce. By 2020, the United States is expected cannot afford to return to to experience a shortage school, or simply do not of 3 million workers with have the time between associate degrees or higher working two or three jobs and 5 million workers with to support their families. technical certificates and So if an infusion of new credentials. jobs comes to their areas, Studies show that such as the manufacturing apprenticeships are a renaissance we are wise investment for experiencing in my home both participants and the state of South Carolina, government: individuals these hardworking men and who complete registered women are hard pressed apprenticeship programs to take advantage of those earn over $240,000 new opportunities. more over their careers Related to this, one of than people who did the most persistent problems not participate in such facing our economy over programs, and the tax the past eight years has return on every Federal been a declining labor force Government dollar invested participation rate. Millions in registered apprenticeship Apprenticeships are a proven of Americans have simply programs is $27. given up attempting to find As we’ve seen in places way to help people develop work, either because their like my home state of South in-demand skills and to meet skill sets do not match the Carolina, a strong program available jobs in their areas, can help people accomplish the needs of employers, yet or they have become so great things. Because of they comprise just 0.2% of the frustrated with a stagnant our balanced approach nation’s workforce economy they just stop in South Carolina, we looking. This decline comes have seen multi-national even as there are more than companies like General five million open jobs across the country – jobs that Electric and BMW, as well as many smaller businesses many employers explain are unfilled because of a lack across the state, begin to use the program and provide of available trained workers. new employment opportunities for individuals. In response to these challenges, I am proud to have That’s why the LEAP Act is modeled after the worked with my colleague Senator Cory Booker (D- Apprenticeship Carolina program, which is built on NJ) on what we believe to be a strong solution – the public-private partnerships for students along with a tax 16
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credit for job creators. The bill, which is fully paid for, limitless opportunity. has two main provisions: However, perhaps the most powerful tool First, it offers a federal tax credit for hiring new apprenticeships give is simply the ability to earn while you apprentices that are registered with the U.S. Department of learn. Whether you are a 22-year-old living in poverty and Labor or a state apprenticeship agency. looking for a way to improve your skillset, a 45-year-old Second, it addresses the fact that the average age looking to change careers, or a high school student who of apprentices is currently as high as 29 by offering a tax does not necessarily want to get a four year degree, the credit of $1,500 for ability to be able to apprentices under provide for yourself Perhaps the most powerful tool 25. The tax credit for and your family while apprentices over 25 is apprenticeships give is simply the ability improving your future $1,000. earning potential is to earn while you learn. When I visited invaluable. MTU, an international There has been an diesel engine increased interest in manufacturer with a production facility outside Aiken, South apprenticeships over the past six months, with presidential Carolina, I was able to learn firsthand from the employees candidates discussing their importance as well as high and program participants just how important the program profile Members of Congress, and I am optimistic we was to their families now and in the future. At Trident will find a way forward this year. Our workforce is only Technical College in North Charleston, I watched how their as good as the tools we make available, and expanded technical training matched with our growing aerospace apprenticeship programs would be a great addition to the industry. With such a wide variety of industries looking to toolkit. RF utilize apprentices, from advanced manufacturing, to health care and information technology to our tourism industry, Tim Scott is the junior United States senator from South South Carolina has shown that programs like this offer Carolina.
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Jobs for America’s Graduates: Demonstrating Consistent Success for Highest-Risk Youth KEN SMITH Here’s something every policymaker concerned about the national public/private partnership of JAG, serving on the educating and boosting employment for the most at-risk youth JAG Board of Directors today are the U.S. President of United should know: there is a program that works. It’s Jobs for Way Worldwide, former Governor of Michigan John Engler America’s Graduates (JAG). JAG was founded in Delaware by (R) (President of the Business Roundtable), the President of the Republican Governor Pete du Pont. The results are amazing – National Urban League, and “C-suite” executives from leading yet JAG remains one of America’s “best-kept secrets.” Fortune 500 companies, such as AT&T, G.E., IBM, JPMorgan This year JAG celebrates its Chase, HCA, Archer Daniels 35th Anniversary. It has served Midland, Microsoft, among more than one million of the nation’s others. most at-risk and disadvantaged As the nation begins a major young people, with consistent and election year, we can be sure compelling results, including: that almost all the candidates Dramatically increasing for every office will highlight graduation rates to 90% or above; important goals for education Doubling the rates of poor and jobs. It is our responsibility and disadvantaged young people to encourage them to address the who are able to secure jobs and challenge for all of our young tripling the rates that they secure people by highlighting “what full-time jobs; and, works” at scale and over time. Increasing the rates of both The economy needs these young higher education enrollment and people, and employers need them completion for this same population well prepared for the demanding – the great majority of whom are economy ahead. Ken Smith first-generation college students. JAG offers a remarkable 35In 1979, Governor du Pont year track record of success at true assembled state leaders from As the nation begins a major scale, over a long period of time, business, labor, education, and the the most rural areas (like the election year, we can be sure from community to address consistent Mississippi Delta, northern New that almost all the candidates England, and Native American failures to either educate at-risk young people or prepare them reservations in eastern Montana) for every office will well for college or employment. to the most urban (downtown highlight important goals for Chicago, Washington, DC, Consistent with his reputation for frugal, effective government, du Atlanta, Phoenix, and South education and jobs. Pont wanted a program that worked Central Los Angeles). and was cost-effective. The result The JAG Model is was Jobs for Delaware Graduates. That model is now working remarkable in its simplicity and consistency. The core offerings, in 1,000 locations in 32 states. whether in middle school, high school, or out-of-school/dropout JAG is championed and led by a bipartisan group of recovery programs, use “Job Specialists” to ensure student Governors. As JAG begins its 36th year, ten Governors now success. Those individuals are held personally accountable for serve on the Board of Directors – the largest number of Governors students’ success in school, on the job, and/or in college, through to serve on any Board. JAG is chaired by Republican Governor a critical component of the JAG program – 12 months of followPhil Bryant of Mississippi, with Governor Steve Bullock up support for students after high school graduation. The support of Montana (D), Governor Mike Pence of Indiana (R), and of the U.S. public education system typically ends at high school Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri (D) as Vice Chairs. Reflecting graduation. Under public and private sector leadership, Jobs for 18
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America’s Graduates concluded that high school graduation is The Bottom Line necessary, but not sufficient to accomplish the main objective: After successfully serving more than one million ensuring that students will get good quality jobs that can lead youth, JAG believes that policy makers should consider the to future career and growth opportunities. That is why the following points: JAG program holds the Job Specialists accountable for student 1) We do know what it takes to help even the highest-risk success in both high school graduation and employment after and most disadvantaged youth succeed both in school and on high school. the job. The nation has proven techniques to consistently and The JAG Model includes our National Employability Skills cost-effectively help even the most at-risk students succeed, curriculum, with instruction on 37-88 Employment Competencies both in school and on the job. required by most small and medium-sized employers. The JAG 2) Consistent, sustained success is best achieved with Model requires a class period a day for that instructional phase, the fully engaged support of both the public and private which also builds a trusting sectors, including their relationship with the Job investments of time, Specialist. Keys to the talent, and treasure. program are the content, Many other programs youth engagement, and have come and gone activity-based learning while JAG has persisted. under the supervision of the Most organizations do not Job Specialist. In addition, last five years and very students participate in few make it to 10 years – a number of national yet JAG is about to enter competitive events to its 36th year, growing further engage and motivate and achieving some of its them and demonstrate highest results. their employability skills 3) Today, multiple in real-time settings, with sources of state and employers serving as federal funding can Students in Russellville, AR accept a $15,000 grant from the judges. be used. The key is State Deptartment of Career Education and the AT&T Foundation Those competitive breaking down the for the JAG program last fall. events are built into a many funding “silos” second component of the to support a statewide, program: the JAG Career coherent, and consistent JAG offers a remarkable 35-year track Association. We believe strategy. In addition to record of success. that the JAG student the 23 states that make organization is the “secret direct appropriations, sauce” of our success. The association is similar to Junior states regularly use the Temporary Assistance for Needy Achievement, vocational student organizations, Boys Clubs Families Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Girls Clubs, but customized to fit this population – 90% of Program, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, whom report that they had never been invited to join any club. Community Development Block Grants, and Perkins Act The JAG Career Association has terrific motivational and self- funding to finance their JAG programs. esteem building consequences. Each chapter elects officers and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted a random organizes competitive events among themselves, schools in sample survey of the 5,000 employers across the nation who their area and state, and ultimately at the national level. regularly hire JAG students. The survey showed a 96% We are often asked, “What is the most important ingredient “customer satisfaction” rating among these employers. They in the success of JAG?” We have also asked our young people found JAG students to be much better prepared (having more that question, and it is no surprise that they consistently answer of the employability skills described above), more customer “the Job Specialist.” They look to the Job Specialists as role service oriented, and more able to communicate, conceptualize, models, mentors, and friends, but Specialists must also often and show up for work on time – a clear definition of success. be a “nag” – to ensure that students come to school, meet their In short, JAG is a uniquely American story of success for its educational requirements, and aid in external problems such most at-risk population – forged, tested, and proven at scale and as housing, healthcare, challenges at home, domestic violence, over three decades of time by bipartisan national and state leaders, lack of transportation, etc. When students are asked “What was with the strong and engaged support of the private sector. RF the most important thing your Job Specialist did?,” most often the answer is, “They listened to me.” It sounds simple, but has Ken Smith serves as President of Jobs for America’s a tremendous impact. Graduates (www.jag.org). RIPON FORUM February 2016
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“The Battle for the Middle Class” A Ripon Society National Survey analysis by ED GOEAS & BRIAN NIENABER
Most all of the early political and policy discussions build the best case that they hold the strongest principles have been, and will continue to be, focused on the and policies leading to a brighter economic future for Presidential Primaries. As is often the case in past these middle class voters have the best chance of winning presidential elections without an incumbent running in November, but this data shows that the Republicans for reelection, the “out” party candidates have been in Congress can begin laying that groundwork in the largely focused on what is wrong with the policies of battle for the middle class now, before the presidential the current Administration. Meanwhile, the “in” party nomination process is in full swing and makes the candidates are trying to transition to the future. ride that tight-rope of not running for a third Political Environment term of an unpopular and the Mood of the President without totally American Electorate disconnecting with that A lot has been Party’s base voters – in written in recent months other words – new and about the “angry voter” improved. of the 2015-2016 election Once the nomination Cycle. Dissatisfaction process is set, however, with Washington and the expect two things to “direction of the country” happen. First, with no is nothing new with the incumbent President American electorate. running for reelection, Whether Republicans the 2016 Presidential or Democrats have Election will turn from controlled the White a debate about problems House, the Congress, or Dissatisfaction with Washington with the current both, over sixty percent political and economic of voters have felt that and the “direction of the country” environment to one about the country was off on the is nothing new with the American the future. Second, as wrong track for well over electorate. that shift occurs, both a decade. Indeed, voters candidates and their are remarkably negative parties will focus a significant amount of attention on about the status quo and direction of the country, and those winning the hearts and minds of middle class voters. feelings have grown even more intense in recent years. This survey, conducted for the Ripon Society, was A strong majority (70%) of voters think the country is on designed to examine the political environment and to the “wrong track”, including an overwhelming majority examine the voters’ views on tax and economic policies, of fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters who “strongly” placing a particular emphasis on the views of middle believe the country is off on the wrong track. class voters – the true Republican base. As has been the It is also important to note this strongly held view case in virtually every national survey conducted by The about the country being on the wrong track is not strictly Tarrance Group over the last three decades, this survey driven by partisanship. It is shared by an overwhelming finds that seven-in-ten voters (70%) self-identify their number of Republicans (92%), Independents (77%), economic class as “middle class”, and fifty four percent middle class voters (71%), and even conservative (54%) of voters as “white” middle class. Democrats (57%). The intensity of these wrong track Not only will the presidential candidate who can voters is further reinforced, in that, fifty-three percent RIPON FORUM February 2016
(53%) believe that “time is running out” for the country voters think that the federal government is not doing to get going in the right direction. enough to solve the problems facing the country versus Having policy proposals that could make a real just fifteen percent of voters (15%) who think the difference in our Country’s direction and in the economic government is doing too much and twelve percent of fortunes of middle class voters will be a tremendous voters (12%) who think the government is doing the asset in the coming election cycle. Therein lies one of right amount. the major hurtles the Democrats face in the upcoming Clearly, simple sloganeering like “Hope and election battles. The current leader of the Democratic Change” is not going to meet the smell test with voters Party, President Obama, has a majority job disapproval this political season. The current political environment rating of fifty-one percent (51%), and the intensity has voters thinking the federal government is an on his job approval rating is at a 1.4 to 1 “strongly ineffective mess that is causing more harm than good. disapprove” negative ratio (46% strongly disapprove However, they still want this government to be doing to 33% strongly approve). With middle class voters, more . . . more that works . . . and works for them. President Obama’s disapproval number only gets worse Nowhere is this truer than with the middle class, and more intense. By forty-four percent (44%) to fiftyseventy percent (70%) of whom believe the federal three percent (53%), middle class voters disapprove of government is part of the problem, not part of the the job the President is doing, and “strongly” disapprove solution. In addition, sixty percent (60%) of middle by a net 15 points. class voters believe that the government would not As with the voters’ concerns about the direction be able to effectively implement a solution to a major of the country, the President’s majority disapproval problem (53% “strongly” hold that position). As with rating is not just held with the broader electorate, Republicans. A majority of sixty-nine percent (69%) middle class voters (53%), of middle class voters feel Having policy proposals that white middle class (61%), that the federal government could make a real difference and Independents (56%) also is not doing enough to in our Country’s direction and hold negative views of the solve the problems facing President. the country. Compounding in the economic fortunes of The Democratic nominee this, the middle class also middle class voters will be a for President will face the has deeply held feelings challenging political calculus tremendous asset in the coming that the next generation of needing to distance will not do as well as their election cycle. themselves from many of the generation (70%), moving President’s policies while also the American Dream further needing the votes of most, if not all, of the President’s from their reach. Seventy-five percent (75%) believe strongest political supporters within the Democratic that with the current federal government solutions, the base. This will offer a real opportunity for Republicans rich get the benefits, the poor get the programs, and the to chart a path of proposing concepts that work without middle class get the bill. having to worry about walking a tightrope with a needed So for the middle class in this election, the voter bloc that holds a much different view than the rest frustration runs deeper, as will the measurement they of the electorate. use in deciding where to cast their vote. They feel the This does not mean, however, that the path for the country is, and has been, moving in the wrong direction. Republicans will be any easier in light of the decade They are extremely negative about the current President long angst about the direction of the country and voter and his policies, but are equally cynical about the ability cynicism about Washington’s ability to truly address of the federal government to effectively implement real problems with effective solutions. Voters are also solutions that work, and truly question whether those negative in general about solutions from the federal solutions are aimed at making their lives better. To government and hold mixed views on government top it off, those solutions may be moving the American action. More than two-in-three voters (68%) think Dream further and further from their reach. There is a the federal government is part of the problem for the path for Republicans in the upcoming election, but it is challenges facing their family. In addition, a strong not as simple as a few choice issue positions or creative majority of voters (59%) thinks that the government slogans. It is about painting a full picture of where we would not be able to effectively implement a solution to want to take this country to build a better future, and a major problem. more specifically build a stronger economic future for Despite these attitudes, however, voters have not the middle class. totally given up. Fully sixty-nine percent (69%) of Digging into specific concerns, a strong majority 22
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(67%) of voters are very worried (24%) or somewhat policies to get the country on an economic path that worried (43%) that the United States will suffer another is both fairer for the middle class and provides more economic downturn over the next twelve months. economic opportunities, there are real gains to be Awareness of this level of economic anxiety should made. be an important consideration as proposals are put forward. Much of the electorate views policy debates Middle class voters in Washington through a lens of both discontent with As noted earlier, our national survey work has the status quo and fear that the future will bring bad consistently found that around seven-in-ten likely voters financial news for their family. self-identify as middle class. The size of this group It should also be noted that just 26% of voters makes it one of the largest and broadest demographic believe that the next generation will have a better groups in the electorate. While a majority of middle quality of life while 69% believe the next generation class voters are white, there are a notable number of will not. In other words, the American Electorate middle class voters who are African Americans (8%) or truly questions whether the American Dream, a better Hispanics (6%). In the current economic and political life for our children and grandchildren, is still within environment, there are a significant number of middle reach. class voters whose first test of a policy will be its Indeed, the economic issues that are important economic impact on them. This mindset provides a to middle class voters are the “kitchen table/ valuable opportunity for Republicans to increase their pocketbook” issues on which Republicans should support among minority voters. These middle class have the advantage. The top issues selected were minority voters will be willing to consider Republican creating jobs (20%), reducing the cost of health care policies and candidates if they are convinced that these (15%), reducing the deficit policies will have a positive (14%), and cutting taxes impact on their personal (11%). These are all issues on finances. Simple sloganeering like which a political party who is A clear sign of the electoral “Hope and Change” is not united on the need for fiscal gains to be made with these responsibility should be able going to meet the smell test voters is seen on the generic to make a compelling case for Congressional ballot. On this with voters this political improvement to voters. ballot test, almost one quarter season. Finally, one of the biggest (22%) of middle class African surprises within the data American voters are either considering the cynicism already voting GOP (13%) or of the voters about Washington and the direction undecided (9%). Getting to just twenty percent support of the country was the attention level of the voters. among African Americans would be more than three The political environment as we begin 2016 finds times the amount of support African American voters many voters enthusiastic about having a voice in the gave Republican Congressional candidates in 2008. upcoming elections, but wary about both the status quo For Hispanics, 45% of middle class Hispanic and their economic future. voters are either already supporting the GOP (21%) or Overall, 70% of voters say that they are “extremely are undecided (24%). This is an impressive amount likely” to vote, a level of intensity often not seen, even in of openness to persuasion considering much of the the final weeks before the election. Republicans (72%) political chatter in 2015 was consumed by a leading and middle class voters (73%) are more enthusiastic GOP Presidential candidate making inflammatory about voting than Democrats (68%) or lower income statements about Mexican immigrants. Middle voters (57%). While the generic Congressional ballot class Hispanic voters are open to giving Republican is a statistical tie (42% GOP/43% DEM) and partisans candidates a chance to make their case, especially on are at parity in their current level of support for their economic issues. own party, there are real opportunities for Republicans As seen throughout this analysis, middle class to make gains. Republicans have a slight edge with voters of all races are anxious about the direction middle class voters (44% GOP/42% DEM), and a solid of the country, worried that the federal government lead with white middle class voters (52% GOP/36% may not have the tools and the skills to fix problems, DEM). Additionally, 14% of middle class voters are and anxious about their personal economic situation. undecided and Republicans enjoy strong support from They want a government that will provide better those voters whose top issue of economic concern is opportunities and assuage their fears, but they are cutting taxes (66%) or reducing the deficit (61%). If distrustful and skeptical that the government will be Republicans can make a strong case that they have able to make positive changes. RIPON FORUM February 2016
Framing the debate on fiscal issues The best place to start at solving this problem is to set the terms of the debate on the fiscal issues facing the country. For example, Speaker Ryan has already taken a big step in that direction by framing the economic goal of his speakership as creating greater upward mobility in our society. That economic goal receives seventynine percent (79%) agreement with the total electorate and middle class, seventy-seven percent (77%) with Republicans voters, and grows to eighty-one percent (81%) with middle class whites and eighty-two percent (82%) with middle class African Americans. As seen in the chart below, there is broad consensus among voters that a federal government that reins in its spending, embraces technology, promotes economic opportunity, reforms welfare, and treats the middle class
be mindful that many voters begin in a very pessimistic place about the economic future of the country, and we have to address their concerns about the fading American Dream with solid goals and real solutions. Voters will give positive consideration to policies that are aimed to achieve goals with which they agree. Laying the groundwork of informing voters of your philosophy and your intent is as important as the specifics of any fiscal policy. In fact, many voters will not delve into the minute details of policy and will instead make a decision about this policy based on their view of the intent behind the proposal. In testing a variety of tax reform proposals and budget policy reform proposals, the strongest support came for tax policies aimed at making the tax system fairer and flatter and for budget policies aimed at promoting
For more charts from The Ripon Society national survey, please visit www.riponsociety.org. better would be a significant improvement over our current federal government. Other statements tested -- like the benefits of cutting the corporate tax rate (56% agree) and support for a health care reform with lower costs but fewer insured (52% agree) -- have majority agreement, but far less broad support. Cutting the corporate tax rate and this type of health care reform concept test well with base Republican voters, but other voters do not yet agree with these assertions and are less effective in framing the debate in a way that allows us to add the brush strokes of specific economic and tax issues. While selling optimism and policies that allow economic mobility will be crucial over the next year in framing our economic and tax policies, we should always 24
targeted workforce development programs, focusing health policy spending on finding cures, and reviewing the utility of federal regulations. Voters clearly favor policies aimed at creating an economic environment where taxation is more equitable and understandable as well as a federal budgeting process aimed at maximizing economic opportunities and solving real problems. Conclusions Republicans have an extraordinary opportunity in 2016 to make a strong case to voters overall and especially to middle class voters that they are the party with the best fiscal and budget policies. Voters are highly dissatisfied with Washington and very anxious about their personal economic situation. However, while
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wary and distrustful of government, they still want a 2008. The road to winning at the polls in November will run through the middle class and the road to winning government that tries to take action. It will be important to first lay the groundwork with with middle class voters runs through convincing them voters of explaining the intent behind these policies. of your intention to make economic mobility a real possibility. RF There is broad agreement among Methodology voters that a federal We should always be mindful that many The Tarrance government that voters begin in a very pessimistic place Group is pleased spends less, uses to present these technology more about the economic future of the country, key findings effectively, promotes and we have to address their concerns from a national economic mobility, about the fading American Dream with survey of likely and treats the middle voters nationwide. class more fairly is a solid goals and real solutions. All respondents federal government interviewed in this that most voters study were part of a would strongly support. Policies that are clearly pursuing these goals fully representative sample of N=1000 registered likely voters. Responses to this survey were gathered December will receive the support of voters. Winning the hearts and minds of middle class voters 12-16, 2015. The confidence interval associated with a RF will be an enormous help for Republicans. Winning the sample of this type is ±3.1% in 19 of 20 cases. strong support of these voters will ensure a Presidential victory and will ensure that Republicans maintain control Ed Goeas is President & CEO and Brian Nienaber is of Congress. Making an effective appeal to middle class a Vice President at The Tarrance Group, one of the voters will also ensure that Republicans achieve a level most respected and successful Republican research and of support from minority voters not seen since at least strategy firms in American politics today.
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News & Events
“It’s important for us to be bold.”
McCarthy & Scalise Discuss 2015 and Goals for 2016 WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA-1) appeared before a luncheon meeting of The Ripon Society on January 12th, delivering remarks in which they discussed not only some of the key accomplishments in Congress over the past 12 months, but the importance of having a bold agenda in 2016. “It was a busy year,” Scalise stated, referring to 2015. “The Majority Leader had a very impressive schedule on the floor. And we’re going to have a very impressive schedule on the floor this year…It’s important for us to be bold, especially with a presidential race later this year that’s going to take all of the oxygen out of the room. While we have a few months, while people are still paying attention to what’s going on in Congress, we have a real opportunity to show people what we stand for. “But when you look at 2015, we ended with an omnibus bill where we laid out a number of things we wanted to achieve. We wanted to first of all get more buy-in from our own Members. Early on, getting 100 of our Members to vote for it would have been a significant accomplishment. But we pushed for a majority of the majority, and we had 150 Republicans vote for the final product. There were some important components in that, especially tied to tax extenders. We got 20 different tax extenders made permanent, including R&D, putting some certainty in a tax code that’s had big, big problems with uncertainty. That was a big achievement. “Getting a highway bill done and paid for – that was also a big achievement. We were able to come 26
together with the Senate for the first time since 2001 to pass a budget that actually gets to balance in a 10-year window. That’s not something that should happen every 15 years, but it was something we were able to do. It was a big achievement, too, and it gave us a tool of reconciliation to go after Obamacare. Ultimately, we were able to pass a bill that guts Obamacare and defunds Planned Parenthood and get it to the President’s desk. He vetoed it last
week. But the Majority Leader has set a date, and on January 26th we’ll have the first-ever House vote to override a Barack Obama veto. It shows people that if you actually had a President who shared our values, you could gut Obamacare, which has devastated jobs all across the country.” Pointing to other agreements that Congress reached on the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and trade, Scalise concluded by saying that: “It was a very successful year in terms of the things we were able to get done. We blocked some bad things, but we actually got some really good things done for the country and the economy.” McCarthy agreed. “There are a couple things that Steve talked about that were big and we RIPON FORUM February 2016
should actually celebrate,” the Majority Leader stated. “One thing this majority has not learned how to do is celebrate. Seventeen times they tried to solve SGR, and they had all three bodies at the time -- the Senate, the House, and the Presidency. On the highway bill, 35 times they passed a short-term extension. We passed a five-year plan. With regard to what we passed on tax extenders… that sets the stage for overall tax reform.” Looking ahead to the coming year, McCarthy struck an ambitious but realistic tone. “The goal is to come out and frame an agenda,” he declared. “We want to be very bold. We want to have something that we like. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the presidential race -nobody can predict that. But we want to make sure we have something that we can run on. I think that will help the presidential nominee.” The Majority Leader also discussed the uncertain political and economic climate in America, and the “positive disruption” that is now taking place. “You see the climate in everything you do,” he observed. “I call it positive disruption. Positive disruption is happening all across this country. We are actually in our fourth Industrial Revolution, and it’s happening much faster than any revolution we’ve had before. How old is Uber? Yet it has transformed something that has been around forever -- the taxi industry, which is like a big bureaucracy. Think about all the disruption that’s happening politically and economically. We need to start having it inside government, as well.” RF
Support Family Caregivers. Support the RAISE Act. About 40 million Americans help their older parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home. These family caregivers provide an estimated $470 billion of unpaid assistance annually, helping to eliminate the need for more expensive nursing home care and unnecessary hospitalizations. AARP thanks the U.S. Senate for unanimously passing the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, which would require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers. We also thank bill sponsors Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) for their leadership and support of family caregivers. At AARP, we believe supporting family caregivers is a top priority for all of us. We ask members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the RAISE Act, and help bring this vital issue to the forefront.
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Name: Elise M. Stefanik Occupation: Proud Representative of New York’s 21st District in the House of Representatives
First job & lesson learned from it: Growing up in my family’s small business, Premium Plywood Products, the first job I can remember doing is helping my Mom and Dad with filing at the office, as well as answering phones (no more than two rings was the rule!). On the day after Thanksgiving each year, I would help organize the coupon mailing for the annual holiday discount to our hundreds of loyal customers. In high school, I also worked part time during the school year and summers in retail at Old Navy and became lead register during the holiday season and head of the Sunday weekly cleaning crew with the title of “Captain Clean.” These early jobs helped me understand that “no job is too small,” which I think every business owner and entrepreneur understands. I work to instill this value in my Congressional office. Book(s) you’re recommending to friends: Instilled by my Mom and teachers growing up, my love of reading has been an important part of my life. I frequently post what I’m reading on Instagram (@EliseStefanik) and have loyal followers who seem to look forward to my recommendations. And I love their feedback. In 2015, one of the highlights of my reading list was Champlain’s Dreams: The European Founding of North America by David Hackett Fisher. It is an incredibly vivid history of Champlain’s discovery and commitment to the settlement of North America -- much of it set in my district NY-21! Currently I am working through Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels (I just finished Book 3!) which have captured the literary world by storm. They are excellent. Top issue(s) in America that no one is talking about: Rural broadband. In my district, one of the main concerns is access to rural broadband. In order to have access to compete in the 21st century economy, you have to be connected. Rural broadband should be viewed as part of our nation’s fundamental infrastructure. Challenge facing your District that you’re working hard to address: I continue to focus on economic growth and job creation in my district. We have growing sectors such as tourism, clean tech start-ups, agriculture, trade with Canada, medical device manufacturers and transportation parts manufacturers to name a few -- but we need to promote federal policies such as tax reform and regulatory reform to allow and encourage these sectors to grow. Finish this sentence: “If I could reform any agency or department in the federal government, it would be…” Every federal agency and department needs to be reformed. I am the youngest Member currently serving in Congress and part of my goal is to rethink the way government works by bringing positive, disruptive solutions that provide more transparency, accessibility, efficiency and accountability across the federal government. Let’s start at the VA so our nation’s heroes get the care, benefits and services they have earned.
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