• Reform meets immovable object … teachers union
    “When Oprah starts talking about it, we’re almost there,” says Julio Fuentes, president of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. While reform remains primarily a Republican hobbyhorse, the conversion of some prominent Democrats has brought energy and life to the pool of exhausted political players. There may be an emerging bipartisan consensus that education policy needs a massive and urgent overhaul. But if the reformers are becoming an irresistible force, the education establishment remains one of the great immovable objects in American politics.
  • Where Do Public School Teachers Send Their Kids to School?
    The data again show that urban public school teachers are more likely than either urban households or the general public to send their
    children to private schools. This is interesting because it is reasonable to assume that teachers are in a better position to assess the condition of their district’s public schools. When they do act, it’s more decisively than the “all family” average, which suggests that they may be acting from information not readily available to the average family. Put another way: it is evidence of connoisseurship in action.
  • The resurrection of school choice
    The resurrection of school choice may not be The Greatest Story Ever Told. But for the children who will be liberated from failing public schools, it’s a life-changing story nonetheless. And that is something worth celebrating this Easter season.
  • Tea Party Heads to Local School Districts
    Fresh from victories on the national stage last year, many local tea-party activist groups took their passion for limited government and less spending back to their hometowns, and to showdowns with teacher unions over pay in some cases.
  • Dear Ms. Weingarten: I’ll Show You Mine if You’ll Show Me Yours
    Teachers’ union president Randi Weingarten writes in the Wall Street Journal today that markets are not the answer in education. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to reach policy conclusions based on empirical research. So after comparing the performance of alternative school systems over the past 2,000 years, I surveyed the modern econometric literature on the subject for the Journal of School Choice. What I found is that the freest, most market-like education systems consistently outperform the sorts of state monopolies preferred by Ms. Weingarten and her fellow travelers. Appended below is the chart counting up how many studies favored education markets over state school monopolies, and vice-versa, in each of six outcome areas.
  • Will Indiana School Choice Infringe Liberty?
    Perhaps the problem here is that, in all of the education policy community’s obsession with test scores and dollars, we’ve lost sight of what school choice should ultimately be about: freedom. It should be about creating an education system that allows people to choose for themselves what values they will embrace and how they will live, not one that allows the state to dictate — either through hard compulsion or soft bribery — those things.
  • House, Senate Republicans Working Toward Anti-Collective Bargaining Compromise
    House GOP leaders are still laboring over the latest Senate addition to the collective bargaining repeal this week and say they want to put their own fingerprint on the plan before advancing the legislation.Publicly at least, the House is taking a break from collective bargaining debates for the rest of the month as they huddle over versions of the plan to repeal teachers unions’ power to negotiate labor contracts.
  • Racial achievement gap: Can it be narrowed in one easy session?
    Success in school doesn’t necessarily result from ceaselessly drilling students to prep them for achievement tests. “Noncognitive” factors, such as students’ sense that they fit in and are capable of doing the work, profoundly affect what they learn. Whether they believe they have the brainpower and the social skills to make it in the achievement-oriented world of school can shape how well they actually do.
  • Parent Involvement and Extended Learning Activities in School Improvement Plans
    This REL Midwest study, Parent Involvement and Extended Learning Activities in School Improvement Plans in the Midwest Region, reports the findings of a content analysis of 1,400 school improvement plans in five Midwest Region states. The results indicate a wide variety of practices across states. More than 90 percent of plans included at least one “potentially effective” parent involvement activity, and 70 percent included at least one extended learning activity. However, few (between 3 percent in Wisconsin to 29 percent in Illinois) of the extended learning activities were described in the school improvement plans as providing academic support.
  • Obama Ignores Results on School Choice
    Of 14 educational reform programs the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has studied, only four have shown statistically significant results, Wolf testified. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program rates as the “second most impressive” reform the department has studied, while 10 of them show either mixed, insignificant, or negative results. The only program more effective than the scholarship was problem-based economics instruction. According to the White House, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program is “not an effective way to improve student achievement.” For the sake of the nation’s students, here’s hoping all of our public schools someday become similarly “ineffective.”

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