• Anti-Americanism Disguised as Ethnic Studies in Tucson Schools
    The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is in a contentious fight with the state of Arizona over its controversial Mexican-American Studies program. A state law went into effect in Arizona on January 1, 2011, banning the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 schools. It was prompted by an investigation into TUSD’s ethnic studies curriculum by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne when he was State Superintendent of Schools. TUSD’s test scores are among the lowest in the state. Contrary to the claims of ethnic studies proponents, students who take ethnic studies classes perform worse academically than other students.It has been shown that students become angry and resentful after being taught this kind of propaganda. It would be an affront to the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., who used civil disobedience to defeat discrimination, if a handful of radical activists successfully use not-so-civil disobedience to bring discrimination back.
  • The Stealth Strategy of National Standards
    I continue to believe that the chief architects of the nationalization campaign at the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education are intentionally concealing the full extent of their nationalization effort to improve its political prospects.  For example, repeatedly describing the effort as “voluntary” and led by the states is obviously false and misleading, especially as the primary impetus was financial rewards during Race to the Top and its persistence is the offer of selective waivers to NCLB requirements to those states that comply with federal wishes.
  • Local students participate in new virtual school
    Teachers there are state-certified, but it is a parent or other adult who fulfills the daily role of “learning coach.” Currently, 30 other states offer a virtual public school through K12. About 1,320 students are now enrolled in Tennessee, and there’s a waiting list, according to Wayne Goforth, Union County Schools director. “TNVA is a not a ‘home school,'” Goforth stressed. “It is a public school, equal to all other public schools in the state. TNVA meets the same state accountability standards, including participation in state assessment tests. With Tennessee’s new public school option, all of the school materials are shipped to the students, including a computer. K12 works through a combination of online and offline coursework, which includes the classic textbooks fomented by CDs, videos and teachers available via phone or Internet. A teacher is assigned to each student and directs the learning coach while managing lesson plans.
  • Our public schools need a champion
    So as the politicians and school officials start planning in earnest for the merger, allow me to offer a few suggestions: Rename the combined system The Shelby County Public Schools and create the position of chancellor. This person would be the system’s chief executive with all the skills that I described earlier. Divide the school system into two regional districts of comparable size, and appoint area superintendents to handle day-to-day management of each one. Create centers of excellence at various schools and offer opportunities for students who may be enrolled at their neighborhood school to take classes at these centers.
  • Book Review: Special Interest | Class Warfare
    Though Mr. Brill believes that reform can lead to dramatically better results, he is by no means an ideologue and devotes lots of real estate to the arguments of the traditionalists…He cautions reformers to avoid excessive zeal, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to strip teachers of collective-bargaining rights. He thinks that the unions have to be part of the solution, though he doesn’t explain what will motivate them to get onboard. Most interestingly, perhaps, he suggests that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg appoint Ms. Weingarten as the next schools chancellor. Mr. Moe’s thesis is that the unions’ ability to protect the interests of their members is virtually unmatched in American society. For example, the teachers unions make sure that school-board elections are scheduled when there will be low voter turnout, making it easy to control the outcome with the votes and resources the union can supply. School-board members elected with union support, in turn, are just the kind of “management” that unions like on the other side of the bargaining table when contract negotiations begin. In Mr. Moe’s view, this kind of rigged process helps to embed anti-student policies, such as teacher tenure, seniority preferences and lock-step pay. Unlike Mr. Brill—who is still hoping that Ms. Weingarten can pull off a “Nixon-to-China” move—Mr. Moe concludes: “Reform unionism is among the most influential and seductive forces in American education. It is also one of the most misleading.” Many reformers, especially Democrats, want to believe that the teachers unions will change significantly so that powerful unions and meaningful reform can co-exist. Mr. Moe compellingly argues that the underlying dynamics—reinforced by a long history of lots of talk and little change—make this belief naïve. For things to really change, though, parents must become more engaged and enraged. When they are no longer willing to accept bad schools and teachers—and when the poor start insisting on choice just like the middle class and affluent do—the political dynamics will shift accordingly. The unions can’t beat the parents. Meanwhile, the reformers need to enlist the support of a new generation of educators, as Mr. Brill argues, by persuading them that teaching is less a trade-union job than a true profession, deserving better compensation and greater status but also delivering a higher level of classroom competence. Last, the public must be persuaded to favor an aggressive reform agenda and support politicians who will make it happen. That’s the hard work of democracy, never more needed than now.
  • Bradley County & Cleveland, Tenn., schools racing to the top
    Race to the Top is a four-year program to enable school districts to better measure and improve teacher performance and prepare students for success in college and the workplace. The funding — amounting to nearly $1.4 million for Cleveland City Schools and $1.46 million for Bradley County Schools — allows the systems to jump-start educational standards through data-driven reporting. The student-, class- and school-level reporting helps teachers better evaluate individual student knowledge and needs…
  • Eucation Notebook: Little Rock and the Legacy of Educational Opportunity for All Students
    The struggle for educational opportunity that took place in Little Rock was not about getting into buildings, says Heritage Visiting Fellow Virginia Walden Ford, who attended Central High in the 1960s. Rather, it was about getting a quality education. And while the events in Arkansas took place decades ago, today too many American children—particularly African-American and other minority students—remain trapped in failing and often violent public schools.
  • Nashville charter school met goals, but some say it didn’t deliver
    New Vision Academy’s charter application promised students smaller classes, mandatory summer school and a place to become “more active, creative and self-motivated” learners. But a year after it opened, one of the school’s co-founders and a majority of its original teachers are gone, complaining that New Vision didn’t deliver. One teacher won a lawsuit demanding back wages. And the school was cited last month for owing thousands to Metro Nashville Public Schools. But the local and state education boards said the school is meeting the financial and academic obligations outlined in its charter application. New Vision Executive Director Tim Malone insists the first year was a success and points to students’ benchmark-meeting scores on Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests.
  • Mediation talks continue in Memphis-Shelby County Schools merger case
    Mays issued an order on Aug. 8 clarifying most of the legal disagreements in the case, but he chose not to impose a ruling on the parties when it came to perhaps the most critical issue – how and when to reconstitute the currently all-suburban Shelby County Board of Education into one countywide school board with ultimate authority over implementing consolidation of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools.
  • Virtual school a real headache as enrollment delays plague Tennessee applicants
    More than 2,000 Tennessee students, including many in Memphis, have applied to attend a new online academy in East Tennessee run by a for-profit contractor. But more than one-third of the applicants are not enrolled yet due to paperwork issues and other headaches that are frustrating parents. By Friday, 1,030 students statewide had been cleared to enroll in the virtual academy. Nearly 850 more met the July 24 transfer deadline, but because of incomplete applications, missing documentation or other difficulties, have not not been approved to start.
  • Crocodile Tears for Texas from the Department of Education
    This culture of mediocrity has emerged during a half-century of federal intervention into schools that has left parents and taxpayers with less ownership of their local schools. Duncan should feel “very, very badly” for children across the country who are trapped in schools that don’t meet their needs.
  • Picking Cherries, Making Pies: Improving Data Flow
    For data to be useful in increasing teacher effectiveness, teachers need to have access to it. That may seem obvious, but providing teachers with useful data for improving instruction in the classroom is rarer than we might think. In the past, data have only flowed upwards: from classrooms, to districts, to states, and to the feds, all to comply with state and federal regulations. To learn even more about the importance of data to improve teacher effectiveness — and thereby student learning — check out our upcoming event, Maximizing Data to Improve Teacher Effectiveness.
  • School accountability is still a good idea
    This basic reality – that people cannot accurately evaluate their own work – is key to understanding the recent battles over school accountability. No Child Left Behind revolutionized public education by emphasizing data and transparency. Public schools now measure and report student achievement by subgroup: ethnicity, disability, English-language proficiency, and income. Those failing to educate any group are labeled as “needing improvement” – which no school administrator wants on his resumé. NCLB has its problems. The unrealistic requirement that all students reach proficiency encourages states to lower standards. Schools making great progress get no credit if students are falling short of proficiency. Still, NCLB has done far more good than harm
  • Poll: Nation’s schools stink, but own OK
    Seventy-one percent of respondents in the annual poll said they have “trust and confidence” in the men and women teaching today’s students. Nearly 70 percent said they would encourage their own children to become teachers, and 76 percent said the brightest high school graduates should be recruited aggressively to lead in the classroom.
  • Rhee and Ravitch, leading schools figures, square off in Martha’s Vineyard
    Michelle A. Rhee, the former D.C. schools chancellor whose take-no-prisoners stance shook up the city and transformed her into a leader of the school reform movement, parried with Diane Ravitch, an education historian whose criticisms of charter schools and high stakes testing has made her a hero to teachers’ unions and many defenders of traditional public education.
  • Surveys Reveal Divergence among Teachers, Public on School Choice
    Recent surveys of teacher and public opinion on education policies and reform reveal a growing divide between teachers and the general public on topics like merit pay and vouchers.
  • Indoctrination Fridays: ‘Global Warming’ Activist Teacher Takes Her Agenda to ‘Truck Country’
    Not only has Dean crossed the line that separates teaching from propagandizing, but she spent almost a month’s worth of class time on her global warming unit, with the grand result being a few recycling bins placed around the school and a “climate of concern” among the students. It is doubtful that Washington state’s standardized test asks students to explain how owning a truck helps contributes to global warming. That means in a nine-month school year, Dean only has eight months to teach the rest of the 8th grade science curriculum – the stuff that kids will actually be tested on. Parents and taxpayers want kids to leave school with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to succeed in life.
  • Teachers concerned about tougher evaluations that include student test scores
    Tennessee education officials say they’re taking steps to address teachers’ concerns about a new evaluation system that for the first time will use students’ standardized test scores as part of the process. Most of the questions provided by the Tennessee Education Association center around the growth portion that is comprised of students’ value-added test scores, which many educators say is an unfair measurement because students test differently. The achievement component will be determined by the principal and teachers at each school.
  • Sizing Up Classrooms
    Much of the rhetoric supporting small classes is demagogic and runs afoul of the research. Let’s begin with the oft-heard union claim that classes are getting larger. Not quite. The result is that since the mid-1950s, the U.S. student population has increased by 60 percent, while the number of public education workers, including teachers, administrators, and other non-certificated staff, has exploded by 300 percent. What’s more, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, teacher-pupil ratios across the nation have diminished steadily since 1955, when the ratio of public school teachers to students was 26.9 to one. By 1970, the ratio was 22.3 to one. And by 2007, the last year for which federal government statistics are available, the ratio came down to 15.5 to one. s it possible that larger classes and fewer teachers might even be preferable? Yes, if the teachers let go are the weaker performers. If we accept Hanushek’s numbers and dismiss the lowest-performing 5 percent of teachers without hiring replacements, a class of 20 would then increase by just one student. With only a finite amount of money available for education, fewer working teachers would free up funds for increased salaries, books, computers, or whatever the individual school district chooses.

Pin It on Pinterest