Survey of Likely Voters Showed Democratic Support for Tutoring Program Slated for Elimination in Obama Administration Education Blueprint

Washington, DC, October 5, 2010 – At the official launch of the Tutor Our Children campaign today, Democratic state senator, Anthony Williams kicked off the event with an impassioned speech to a crowd of parents about the need for greater parental choice, in general, calling the SES tutoring provisions in ESEA a “no brainer.” The parents convened on Capitol Hill to share their support for the SES program with lawmakers and staff, and shared often pointed comments with expert panelists who speculated on the fate of the program.

Speaking to the many parents in the room, Senator Williams encouraged them to think twice before stepping out in support of candidates who do not support the free tutoring provisions of the law. He committed to the crowd, “I’m telling them, if you’re not for it, I’m not for you.”

The launch of the bi-partisan grassroots campaign to save the SES program also included a presentation by former White House education Advisor John Bailey of a survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted last week. The results suggest strong support for tutoring among all likely voters. Some key findings include: 69% of likely voters – including 83% of likely Democratic voters – support the current law that requires tutoring to be offered to low-income children who attend a school that fails to meet grade level standards and 78% support parents with students in low-performing schools having the option to enroll their student in after school tutoring. Of likely voters polled, 60% do not want to see funds cut for tutoring programs that they can choose and 53% see the SES program as a support for students rather than a penalty for schools.

The survey release was followed by a panel discussion moderated by the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Gary Huggins. The expert panel included Senator Williams, former Arizona secretary of education and advisor to the McCain Presidential campaign Lisa Graham Keegan; staff director of the Senate HELP subcommittee on education and early childhood development; education policy counsel for the House Education and Labor committee; senior education policy advisor of the Senate HELP Committee; and from SES provider, Healthy Families, in Washington, D.C., Charles Brown.

“The discrepancy between these poll numbers and the Obama administration’s policy on education is remarkable,” said Ms. Keegan. “Clearly, voters want the right to choose the best academic supports for their children and the Administration has proposed eliminating this critical component of the law.”

About Tutor Our Children
Created with support from leading SES providers, the Tutor Our Children coalition includes individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that Congress empowers parents to select the student supports that are most appropriate for their high need children. The campaign gives voice to parents and students trapped in failing schools and is committed to ensuring that Congress continues the Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program that makes free tutoring possible, while improving the quality of services offered and promoting ease of access for working parents and families.

Under current federal law, low-income children who attend a school that fails to make progress for three years may be eligible to receive free tutoring outside of the regular school day. The program allows parents to choose the most appropriate support provider for their children from a list of state-approved organizations. Tutoring is often provided by the same private tutors that more affluent parents and families use. The proposed change in the law would mean an end to this important program as funding would be redirected to the same school programs and policies that failed to improve outcomes for students in the first place.