• Charter Schools and Applications Up in Tennessee
    One of Nashville’s newest charter schools opened in early August with 88 students, all kindergarteners who are preparing– not for first grade– but  for college. That’s the main objective at East End Preparatory. The school will have a longer school year and school day than other public schools; the homerooms are named after colleges with college pennants lining the hallways; students are called “scholars” and are constantly learning whether in the classroom, at play, or even enroute to the bathroom. Students who fall behind in school work are assigned to after-school tutoring. The expectations are also high for parents, who during summer orientations, were told that student attendance must be priority– even in the face of challenges related to transportation or work schedules.
  • What Makes A School Good: Not The Finger Painting
    “A lot more is required of parents now,” says Tyre, author of The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids The Education They Deserve.
  • Think You’re An Auditory Or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It’s Unlikely
    When he reviewed studies of learning styles, he found no scientific evidence backing up the idea. “We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these,” he says, “and until such evidence exists we don’t recommend that they be used.”
  • Local officials should not have say in Virtual School funding
    I have been working with the K-12 program and my local board of education since Aug. 8. I have enrolled my daughter in the Tennessee Virtual School program which, indeed, has caused a lot of controversy since Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill authorizing online schools July 1. I have provided all documents needed for enrollment, and application is pending for local district approval. This week, our superintendent of schools informed me he would not allow Union County, where Tennessee Virtual School is located, to receive funding for my child — that the money instead will stay here in Marshall County. The superintendent was asked for something in writing, and he refused to establish this. This is a state-funded opportunity for my child’s education, and my local district can stop this because of the funding the state allows for my child? I have lived in the Marshall County area all my life and paid my taxes. I think if we are taxpayers and the state has approved the program, local officials should not have the right to deny them.
  • Schools offering rewards to keep students in class
    The reasons students cut class include unsafe routes to and from school, fear of being bullied, not having the proper clothing or lacking Metro fare to get there, the report says. City officials are considering a reward program along with outreach efforts geared toward truant students and their families. While reward systems can play a role, analysts believe it’s more important to address the root cause of truancy and find out why students aren’t showing up.
  • School choice in Colorado
    The judge ruled against Douglas County at the behest of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is indiscriminately opposed to any public money reaching any religious institution in any way. Others opposing Douglas County include persons eager to protect public schools from competition. School choice usually is sought by poor parents victimized by failing schools in inner cities. Douglas County’s embrace of choice is notable because the median household income here is $99,522 and only 1.9 percent of families are below the poverty line. The county opted for choice because a few years ago conservatives were elected to the school board, and conservatives are pro-choice about most things — owning guns, driving SUVs, using incandescent light bulbs, etc.
  • Give principals more options on teachers
    Recent pressures on the Memphis City Schools district to limit the talent pool and restrict principals’ hiring choices raise a fundamental question: Are we giving our school leadership the ability to make smart decisions about who will teach our children? It seems that the defense of the status quo focuses more on protecting adults than the interests of our city’s most vulnerable children. Whether school leaders decide on a current MCS teacher or a high-potential candidate from pathways such as Teach For America, the Memphis Teaching Fellows, the Memphis Teacher Residency or traditional teacher certification programs, they should have the opportunity to choose the best teacher for their school and their individual students. Let’s make sure that when it comes time to decide who their teachers will be, principals are getting more options, not fewer.
  • Not Just Cutting Checks for Schools, Businesses Are Writing New Lessons
    A look at such collaborations around the country finds IBM helping to open an inner-city public high school in September. The school will prepare graduates for entry-level technology jobs, possibly at IBM. In Nashville, Tenn., a high school joined with a local credit union to open a student-run branch in the cafeteria, open during lunch periods to students and staff. According to the New York group, while companies reined in donations between 2007 and 2009, noncash giving surged. Coady said it signals that corporations still want to give back in the economic downturn and that nonprofits are more comfortable now with corporate involvement.
  • Haslam: COMPASS partnerships battle state’s education challenges
    The governor encouraged more individuals and organizations to follow the lead of Sumner COMPASS (Community Outreach Making Partnerships at Sumner Schools), which focuses on forming lasting partnerships between local schools and organizations to ultimately improve learning and students’ success. “The answer involves raising the standards and raising the expectations, and seeing what ‘I can do,’” Haslam said. “College has to be for more Tennesseans than it has been in the past. One of the best things we can do is make college available to families where college hasn’t been available before, and that’s the opportunity COMPASS is giving.”
  • Oak Ridge parents to be surveyed on year-round school option
    OAK RIDGE — Surveys will go out soon to parents of Oak Ridge School System students, asking their opinions about possibly converting to more of a year-round school calendar.
  • Charter Schools Under Pressure to Perform
    Both Huffman and Gov. Bill Haslam, who made charter-school expansion a key facet of his education reform agenda last legislative session, laid out what they’re expecting of the publicly funded alternative learning centers going forward as they take on more responsibility for improving student performances — and are awarded greater shares of taxpayer-support education funding. The state is also giving charter schools the go-ahead to try and turn around some of the state’s lowest performing schools. The state’s “Achievement School District” will decide in November which of 13 chronically substandard Tennessee public schools it’ll allow to be run by charter school educators.
  • ‘Back to the Future,’ or: ‘The Math of Khan’
    Kids are not all identical widgets who learn every subject at the same rate. Individual children even learn different subjects at different rates. So the idea that all children should be grouped by age and, by default, moved through every subject at the same pace is ludicrous on its face. More than that, it is a retrogression from the pedagogy of the early 1800s.
  • State proposes new grading scale for schools
    EVANSVILLE Indiana Department of Education on Monday will release its most recent school accountability data, and it will have a different look. Schools and school districts in the past have been lumped into one of five categories — Exemplary Progress being the best and Academic Probation being the worst. Now, though, the state will give a report card that the parent of any child in school can easily understand, with letter grades of A, B, C, D and F. “Accountability will drive education reform in this nation,” Bennett said. “As human beings … we’re all going to stay the same until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. That’s not criticism. It’s human nature.”
  • 8 ways to handle the new school year
    Parents who are new to a school or whose child is starting pre-kindergarten or kindergarten may have no idea what to expect. Here are answers to eight typical questions from those of us who wonder how to make it a good school year.
  • Parent involvement is best boost to student success
    There is a host of reasons for parents and communities to be invested in our schools’ success. Our kindergartners are not just 5- and 6-year-olds; they are our future workforce. The fate of our state’s economy rests on the success of our students, and family engagement is the most accurate predictor of student success. So, parents and community members, this year it’s not just back to school for Tennessee students, it should be back to school for all of us.
  • The Case for School Vouchers
    But what would happen to learning if children stopped being assigned to schools based on where they live or how much their family earns? My contention, which is supported by evidence and common sense, is that education would dramatically improve. Unless you are wealthy enough to move or can afford tuition in a private school, your children are assigned to a school based on their address and taught the same way as 150 years ago. That is, after all, the purpose of a monopoly: to sell an inferior product at high price while resisting innovation. Just because this particular monopoly happens to be owned and managed by government does not change this dynamic. The best way to transform the education monopoly is to create competition. And the only route to competition is to offer parents a choice of schools through vouchers.When parents have more choice, kids benefit, taxpayers come out ahead, and the best teachers are freed to teach. Parents win because they can pick a school that meets their child’s needs. Taxpayers win because vouchers cost far less than government schools, leaving more capacity and funding for the children who choose to remain in government schools. And teachers win because under a voucher system, a market evolves for the hard-working and talented teachers.
  • Williamson students can bring own technology to school
    It’s this love of technology among youths that Williamson County educators are hoping to tap into with their new Bring Your Own Technology, or BYOT, program. Beginning Thursday, four high schools — Brentwood, Page, Summit and Middle College — will pilot a program that will allow students to bring a smartphone, iPad or laptop to school. The electronic devices will be used as tools, an expanded resource, said Belinda Moss, the district’s instructional technology coordinator overseeing the transition. Students might use the devices to take notes, perform on-the-spot research, or work collaboratively with other students as Taylor’s class did.
  • Five big education ideas headed TN’s way
    Across the nation and around the corner, there are more big ideas in education. And while it’s too early to say whether the state will adopt all these ideas, Tennessee has become known for testing the latest trends and doesn’t intend to back off, Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday.
  • Political experience not enough for unified school board, County Commission says
    On Monday, the county commission will adopt new district lines drawn from throughout the county for the unified school board and OK the process for how the seven will apply and be appointed. (The other members of the unified board will include the current nine members of the Memphis school board and the seven members of the county board.)The seven appointees — in office until the August 2012 election — will serve while the bedrock of the district is presumably being laid. They will also be incumbents if they chose to run for one of the seven permanent school board positions.

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