• Teachers Union President Deems Education Too Complex for Tax-Paying Rubes
    It’s so reassuring to have the intellectual elites in our nation’s teachers unions, like Sandy Hughes of Tennessee, looking out for us rubes. Hughes, a local union president, is pitching the idea that school board membership be limited to people who “have worked in the education field,” because the issues at hand are “so complex” and too complicated for average citizens. In other words, all will be well if taxpayers just get out of the way and let the wise and wonderful union folks run our schools, no questions asked. All we have to do is keep paying the taxes, then mind our own business. There’s another issue at play here. Most communities throughout the nation elect school board members. Teachers unions throughout the nation provide millions of dollars in campaign contributions to get their hand-picked candidates elected, then lo and behold, they negotiate juicy, expensive contracts with their pet board members.
  • Elizabethton schools receive state grade card results
    The Elizabethton Board of Education received the results from the 2011 Tennessee Department of Education Report Card, which measures the system and the individual school’s progress in different areas of education.
  • Sen. Faulk proposes changes to teacher evaluations
    A local state senator has filed a bill to allow high value-added student test scores to count more in Tennessee teacher evaluations. The legislation also would lead to fewer classroom observation evaluations for teachers whose students do well on value-added, which measures how far a student progresses from one year to the next.
  • In education, focus on what we can control
    Putting it another way, many readers have contacted me in recent years asking why I don’t spend more time writing about the problem at the heart of high dropout rates and out-of-control schools: poor or absentee parenting. Schools, some say, can’t do anything if a student comes from a home in which they are not taught to value and respect education and educators.
  • The State of Charter Schools: What We Know – and What We Do Not – About Performance and Accountability
    State by state breakdown.
  • The State of Charter Schools: What We Know – and What We Do Not – About Performance and Accountability
    The Center for Education Reform released today an unprecedented analysis of and data documenting the high level of accountability that marks the nation’s charter schools. The report The State of Charter Schools: What We Know – and What We Do Not – About Performance and Accountability finds that charter schools historically have experienced a 15 percent closure rate. The report is the first-ever national analysis regarding the number of charter schools that have closed since 1992, the basis by which authorizers ensure performance-based accountability. “All too often, supporters and opponents of charter schools claim that bad charter schools don’t close,” said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. “The truth is charter schools that don’t measure up are closing at a rate of 15 percent. Regrettably, the same can’t be said for traditional public schools.” ADDITIONAL REPORT FINDINGS:
    • Of the approximately 6,700 charter schools that have ever opened across the United States, 1,036 have closed since 1992. There are 500 additional charter schools that have been consolidated back into the district or received a charter but were unable to open.
    • There are five primary reasons for charter closures – financial (41.7 percent), mismanagement (24 percent), academic (18.6 percent), district obstacles (6.3 percent) and facilities (4.6 percent).
    • Most charter schools that close for financial or operational deficiencies do so within the first five years, or within their first charter contract. Failing to produce audits, or conduct basic, required oversight is a sure sign that the charter school leaders are not capable of leading a strong organization. Academic closures usually take longer because it takes the whole charter term to gather enough sound data and make proper comparisons.
    • The correlation between strong charter school laws, accountability and effective charter schools cannot be emphasized enough. Independent authorizers have full control over how they evaluate charter schools and have their own staff and funding streams. This enables them to create streamlined, effective tools to manage their portfolio of charter schools and close those that are not living up to their contract.
    “The quality of charter schools in the U.S. is not as simple as saying ‘there are too many bad charters out there,'” said Allen. “The real story about charter school closures and accountability is that strong state charter laws and strong authorizers give schools a better chance at success because they hold them accountable and can offer them tools to succeed.”
  • We’re on the Verge of Protecting Kids into Incompetence
    Last spring, officials at New York State’s Department of Health decided that it was high time to regulate children’s games that pose a “significant risk of injury.” And who can blame them? Well, except that the games that sparked their regulatory urge were wiffleball, red rover, dodgeball, kickball, freeze tag, capture the flag, and tetherball. We’re not keeping the children safe, we’re killing off the joys of childhood. Oh, and it turns out that the only group that was vocally in support of the Health regulations were licensed camps. The new regs would give them a corner on red rover. Not only are parents, schools and lawyers trying to eliminate physical injury from childhood, many want to eliminate injured feelings as well.
  • Why My Daughters Go to Private School, Even Though I Can’t Afford it, Part 3
    I’m also confident that with proper moral support and character formation, they will develop enough confidence in their abilities to navigate and mitigate the harsh reality of the “real world.” Yes, that is definitely something that I’d be willing to pay for, even if it means sacrificing a new car, yearly vacations or fancy restaurants.
  • Colo. Judge Orders State to Spend $2 Billion More on Education
    Denver District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport declared the state’s school finance system was “not rationally related” to the Colorado constitution’s “thorough and uniform” Education Clause. Her ruling for the plaintiffs in Lobato v. State would require legislators to spend an additional $2 billion a year over its current $9 billion on K-12 education.
  • Charting School Choice
    This issue of The School Choice Advocate showcases the research — both polling and statistical — behind school choice. Also included are a farewell tribute to Foundation co-founder Gordon St. Angelo, a look ahead to the upcoming National School Choice Week (Jan 22-28,2012), a parent’s perspective from the DC voucher program, a special Two-Minute Talk with Dr. Vercena Stewart, and more.
  • 26 Amazing Facts About Finland’s Unorthodox Education System
    Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems. So how do they do it? It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.
  • PTA Wars
    School budgets are so strapped these days that parent groups are not only battling to keep basics in the classroom, but some parents are even fighting one another.

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