The 2010 midterm election cycle is looming and its results will have consequences. Political pundits are predicting majority shifting changes and Democrats on the national and state level are worried. Republicans must capitalize on the shift in national sentiment and execute a developed campaign strategy focusing on the issues that matter. The underlying implications of this cycle will shape federal and state congressional district due to the decadal redistricting process.
Historically, the midterm elections indicate that the party in power will suffer losses at the polls. This year is clearly mimicking this trend according to recent polls. This trend raises a strong consideration for campaigns. Should state-level campaigns focus on the same issues as national-level races? What about strategy?
Clearly, this answer depends largely on the state in question. Issues of interest to North Carolinians are different from issues in Florida. Certain issues are an automatic talking point, such as, jobs and the economy. Contrastly, illegal immigration is more of a state-by-state issue.
For Republicans, their task is to execute a grassroots organization to contact and spread their messages. Utilize advancements in new media, rely on traditional methods of phone calls, direct mail and transition the public sentiment to a grassroots campaign. The “average citizens” are paying attention; they must be reached.
For Democrats, their task is to downplay national trends and rely heavily on polling if in a swing district. I think Democrats must fundraise with greater intensity during this cycle, because they must communicate more with the voters to convey their message amid the national climate.
At the end of the day, history does repeat itself and I think 2010 will hold true. Do you think that the Republicans will make the gains needed to hold a majority in Congress? In North Carolina?
Read any Florida newspaper or watch any local news broadcast and you will hear the buzz circulating about the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
The FCAT began in 1998 to help improve the education system in Florida and meet requirements for the No Child Left Behind program. The purpose of the plan was “to increase student achievement by implementing higher standards”. Students in grades 3-11 take the FCAT which “consists of criterion-referenced tests (CRT) in mathematics, reading, science, and writing, which measure student progress toward meeting the Sunshine State Standards (SSS) benchmarks”.
As if the FCAT wasn’t already enough of a controversial issue, scores that are normally released before students break for summer have still not been received. However, as stated in an article from The Palm Beach Post, the latest estimate is that “scores won’t be released until the end of June”.
With student placement in advanced and remedial classes, teacher staffing and the uncertainty of knowing whether or not students will have to retake the exam all on the line, there is an understanding why so many students, teachers and parents are anxious. Those most concerned are the high school sophomores who are wondering if they passed the “high-stakes” test; since reading and math FCAT tests must be passed in order to receive a diploma.
This glitch in scores being delivered has given more fuel to the fire of those opposed to the FCAT.
Many parents, teachers and citizens of the Florida communities are fed up with the standardizing testing and the evaluation of a student to be based on such a “high-stakes” test.
But if the FCAT was to be removed, what would replace it?
The answer: End-of-course exams.
The Florida Senate passed the “new teacher-evaluation system” and it is speculated the House is going to follow. This system would begin in 2014 where all school districts would “be required to develop end-of-course exams in all subjects.”
What is the difference between the FCAT and the new system? The FCAT only tests students in a few subjects while all subjects in the new evaluation system would be required.
However, many question how school districts would create standardized testing for creative classes and if it is smart to put so much pressure on students and the education in Florida.
With elections right around the corner and many school board seats up for election, the issue of quality education and the use of standardized testing is a major issue and concern for parents, teachers and now candidates running for school board.
Are we truly educating the next generation if we are requiring our teachers to prepare students for ONE high-stakes test to judge their skill set and ability to move forward? And is it fair for a students gain in learning to be based strictly on a high-stakes test and the teacher be judged along with those scores? Is the governments answer to standardized testing really going to be more standardized testing?
Understandably, there is the need to make sure students are receiving adequate education. And if no form of standardized testing is used, it raises the question: How will schools be able to compare the education students are receiving with in school districts, counties, states and nationally? These along with other concerns are those of supporters of standardized testing.
However, maybe the resolution isn’t relying strictly on standardized testing or completely dismissing it. Maybe schools should use the testing as a guiding tool so when test scores are not being delivered on time, the schools and especially the students do not suffer the most.
Whatever the solution, I think it is safe to say the Florida school boards are going to spend a great deal of time looking to improve standardized testing and the influence it has on students, teachers and the structuring of schools.
The Republican contest for US Senate in Florida is turning into one dirty (er, hairy) war. With a little more than 5 months left until the primary, the attacks are already flying between the Crist and Rubio camps on a daily basis. Last night on Greta Van Susteren’s show, Charlie Crist accused Marco Rubio of being a back waxer and implied that his own $11 haircut makes him a fiscal conservative.
No doubt about it, Charlie Crist has been caught off guard by Rubio’s early rise to front-runner status and is looking a little desperate. Rubio has taken full advantage of Crist’s moderate leadership, most notably his embrace (literally) of Obama’s stimulus bill.
Crist had a tough week. His final State of the State address received only a lukewarm response by Republican legislators, often getting the most applause and praise from the Democrats. This weekend the NY Times called Crist’s plan to save the Everglades “on track to rescue the fortunes of United States Sugar” and Jeb Bush said “there has been a replacement of science based environmental policy for photo-op environmental policy.” Finally, just before his odd charges on Van Susteren’s show, Senator John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who last summer made a controversial decision to endorse Crist in the primary, told reporters that Crist “seemed like the ideal candidate” because of his fundraising abilities, but “This had nothing to do with Marco Rubio, whom I subsequently met and have a lot of respect for.”
On the other hand, Rubio has risen to the top faster than anticipated and it’s not yet clear if he’s ready to handle the scrutiny that comes with front runner status. Regardless of how the private American Express bills from the Republican Party of Florida were leaked, he was unprepared, at one point claiming “There was no formal process provided by the party regarding personal charges.” One would think in his position, a formal process wouldn’t be necessary to differentiate personal versus business charges. It also revealed he double billed taxpayers and the Republican Party for not one, but eight plane tickets during his tenure as Speaker of the House. He is repaying those costs but it makes you wonder what if those documents had not been released and gives voters the uneasy sense that he’s just like all the rest.
The polls don’t look good for Crist but don’t underestimate him. He is a fighter and a veteran campaigner. This race is certain to tighten up once again. One thing is for sure, this will all make for some interesting political mail and tv in the coming months!
My advice to all candidates and politicians alike is this. If you govern and lead from a base of solid values and policies, even when it’s not popular or politically expedient, you will never have a problem defending your decisions later. Know who you are before trying to sell it to someone else.