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Lobbying group opens an outpost in Michigan

The lobbying group Democrats for Education Reform got its start in New York, but is spreading fast. Its latest branch is in Michigan, where it’s going by MDFER (a bit of a mouthful). With chapters in five states, the organization is halfway to its goal of being in 10 states by 2011.

DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM ESTABLISHES MICHIGAN BRANCH TO ADVANCE STATE’S EDUCATION REFORM EFFORTS AND APPLICATION FOR “RACE TO THE TOP” FEDERAL FUNDING

LANSING, MICH – December 16, 2009 – A new political action committee, Michigan Democrats for Education Reform (MDFER), was formed today by Michigan Democrats who believe systematic reform and innovative approaches are essential to solving the state’s most serious education challenges. MDFER recognizes that a unified effort is required to provide Michigan families with better opportunities for quality public education, while improving the state’s chances of winning up to $400 million dollars in “Race to the Top” federal funding.

“Many of us throughout Michigan are fed up with the status quo education system and believe our children deserve better,” said new Michigan DFER director, Harrison Blackmond. “We want to recognize and support legislators like Senator Buzz Thomas, who are willing to rise above traditional political posturing and present innovative legislation that improves the quality of education. MDFER wants to send a strong message to other legislators throughout our great state that help is on the way.”

In October, Senator Thomas introduced ‘Smart Cap’ legislation that would remove caps for “schools of excellence” that have demonstrated success in Michigan or other states. The legislation has received bi-partisan support and media praise.

“I believe this legislation is a significant first step in improving the quality of education for our children and complements President Obama’s vision for “Race to the Top” education reform,” said Senator Thomas. “I am truly grateful for the support DFER has provided our efforts on this issue. We need to put aside politics as usual and work together to best position Michigan for “Race to the Top” funding. This federal investment will help to accelerate the kind of education reform our children need – one that focuses on quality and performance.”

MDFER will operate with the national support of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and its growing state chapters throughout the United States.

“DFER supports leaders in our party who have the courage to challenge a failing system and who believe that the severity of our nation’s educational crisis demands that we tackle this problem using every possible tool at our disposal. We are eager to support Harrison in this endeavor and Michigan’s efforts toward “Race to the Top” funding,” said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform.

For more information about Michigan Democrats for Education Reform, please visit www.dfer.org and select the Michigan branch on the home page.

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