• Parents know best how to fix schools
    As moms and dads across America enter the education reform arena by the thousands through parent unions, capitol demonstrations, and expanded school-choice measures, some defenders of the current system have piped up against “parent power.” Parents, by contrast, universally maintain a single motivation: their concern for their children. The same visceral concern that prompts Mommy to rise yet again for a squalling baby at 3 a.m. and pumps Dad’s adrenaline when he races to lift his spluttering son out of the pool also incites parents to (rightly) demand teachers’ heads when they find out Johnny can’t read, write or calculate. It’s a positive motivation that’s largely blunted in a nation where 90 percent of kids are stuck in a school assigned by geography and government fiat. Just as parents have for decades found their way around the system by spending extra money to live in districts with what they perceive to be better schools and asking principals to place their child with the better fifth-grade teacher, so, too, can and will their deep motivation inspire them to seek the best possible education in a system of real choice. They will do this for the same reasons they do everything else for their children.
  • Florida Tax Credit Analysis find Participant Gains
    A careful analysis of test score gains by David Figlio of Northwestern University has found a modest but statistically significant gains for Florida tax credit students. The data in this study are messy, and Dr. Figlio admirably goes about sorting through the various issues in an even-handed fashion.
  • What’s Your Single Best Idea For Reforming K-12 Education?
    But while plenty of wealthy businesspeople agree the education system needs their support, there is little consensus on what to do. What do you think the problem is in America’s public schools? How can we keep up with other countries? What would you change first? Your thoughts will be included along with those of America’s wealthiest as part of a section to be published in the annual Forbes 400 issue coming out in just a few weeks.
  • Teacher Collaboration Gives Schools Better Results
    A large body of research shows that mandatory teacher collaboration, sometimes called “professional learning communities,” gets results. The world’s best school systems foster a culture of sharing what works and what doesn’t. In the high-scoring schools of Finland, South Korea and Shanghai, studies show, teachers are not like private emperors in their classrooms; they make their practice public, becoming the “learners of their own teaching.”
  • Vouchers help create a supporting system at home, aiding students
    Indiana: Every study on vouchers finds that participating parents are more satisfied with their children’s education and more involved in their children’s schools. Because a child’s home plays such a pivotal role in his or her education, the fact that vouchers encourage greater parental involvement is encouraging. Research into the savings generated by voucher programs is just as compelling. Despite the rhetoric, voucher programs save states millions of dollars that they can use to reinvest in public schools. Of the 22 studies examining how vouchers affect academic achievement in public schools, 21 concluded that vouchers improved public schools, and one found no visible impact.We also know that, despite what opponents say, students who use vouchers graduate at higher rates and do better, albeit marginally, on standardized tests than their public school peers. Of the 10 “random assignment” studies, the “gold standard” of social science research, conducted on voucher participants, nine found that vouchers improve student outcomes. Six found that all students improve, and three found that some students improved while some did not. One study reported no visible impact, and no study has ever showed that vouchers have a negative impact on test scores.
  • School’s out forever for ‘unschoolers’
    Unschooling has been around for several decades, but advocates say there has been an uptick as more families turn to home-schooling overall. Reliable data is hard to come by, but estimates of children and teens home-schooled in the U.S. range from 1.5 million to 2 million. Unschoolers operate under state laws governing home-schooling, which is legal in all 50 states. Such regulations vary tremendously by state, with some requiring standardized tests or adherence to a set curriculum and others nothing more than a letter from parents describing what their kids are up to. Unschoolers said they have no trouble meeting their states’ requirements. Unschoolers have their own publications, message boards and websites, like Theunschoolersemporium.com.
  • Board debates policy for pay
    The Rutherford County Board of Education will have to decide how much oversight it wants when it comes to supplemental pay being issued to school employees. Board members are faced with the question of having all supplemental requests come before it for teachers performing work outside of their normal classroom or coaching duties. Items would be voted on during the board’s consent agenda, meaning they’d be accepted in one vote, unless someone requested to pull a specific item out for discussion.
  • Memphis suburbs seek advice for creating municipal school districts
    With the pending merger of Memphis and Shelby County schools, the suburbs are looking at alternatives such as municipal schools, charter schools or special school districts to educate their children. If any of the suburbs decide to form its own school system, legal challenges are expected.
  • Teacher compensation plan for low-performing schools finalized
    The Metro Nashville Board of Education approved last week the criteria teachers must meet locally to land financial incentives courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education’s five-year, $36 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant, dollars sprinkled across 13 Tennessee school districts.

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