• TVA donates $100,000 to Knox County Schools’ Teacher Advancement Program
    The Great Schools Partnership’s Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP, has a successful record of improving teachers through mentorship and collaboration. It just got some extra assistance. The Tennessee Valley Authority presented Knox County Schools with a $100,000 check benefiting the TAP program…
  • Schools celebrate report card findings
    CROSSVILLE — Three Cumberland County Schools have earned recognition from the Tennessee Department of Education based on Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program scores from tests given last spring.
  • The Paradox of Merit Pay
    But, as Briggs recently noted in a C-SPAN appearance, in similar policy situations, promises have been made to accompany pay raises with reforms.  While the pay raises materialize, he notes, reform often does not. Briggs is right to be skeptical of promised reforms.  Change cannot be effected in teacher preparation because of the deep entrenchment of the educational establishment. Given that the ideologies and practices which derive from the educational establishment are the root cause of our educational woes, it hardly makes sense to rely on administrators, who are themselves merely products of the educational establishment, to become change agents and reformers. In their evaluations to determine teachers’ merit, they will be judging from the prism of dogmatic “progressive” ideas which represent the status quo. Hence, the very notion of merit pay as a solution to teacher quality is quite a paradox.
  • States expand ‘disadvantaged’ category to address racial gap
    A number of states struggling with vast racial achievement gaps in schools may have found a way around the problem: Lump blacks and Hispanics with handicapped and poor children. The states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee — would still track racial achievement gaps on an annual basis, but that information would no longer be used for the same accountability purposes. Under current federal law, schools can be labeled failing if they fail to make progress in closing the gulf between white and black students, for example.
  • Charter schools must succeed or close
    Unlike their traditional counterparts, charter schools aren’t guaranteed an endless existence. And that, supporters say, is a good thing. Of the 6,700 charters that have opened across the country since 1992, at least 1,036 have closed, according to a new report from the Center for Education Reform, a pro-charters D.C.-based education think tank.
  • Small-Scale Voucher Effort in India Could Be Model to Transform Education System
    We here at School Choice Now! have tried to give you a look at issues broadly related to school choice, and while our name might indicated otherwise, we’re interested in how successful models of educational options abroad can help shape sound policy here at home. And it looks like we’re not the only ones.
  • ‘Nasty, Rotty Stuff’
    That’s the verdict from student Mayra Gutierrez on the new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District. And she’s not alone, according to the L.A. Times. “At Van Nuys High School,” reports the paper, “complaints about the food were so widespread that Principal Judith Vanderbok wrote to [food services director Dennis] Barrett with the plea: ‘Please help! Bring back better food!'” Readers might wonder how, with all of the challenges in reading, writing and arithmetic, school administrators decided that reducing fat and sodium at the cafeteria was a top priority for L.A. schools. And it turns out that the city’s decision to ban chocolate milk and chicken nuggets in favor of quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles has created a full-blown crisis. “Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students,” reports the Times. “Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.” No one is against healthy eating, and obesity is a growing youth problem, but L.A.’s education whizzes forgot the law of unintended health-food consequences. You can’t make a child eat vegetables without a little dessert to wash it down.
  • 2012 January School Reform News
    The January 2012 issue of School Reform News reports on the defeat of proposed education tax hikes across the country, including a 64–36 “drubbing” in Colorado. That state’s voters simply didn’t believe a tax hike was necessary or that any funds raised would be effectively “earmarked” for schools. Also in this issue:
    Public school teachers make one-and-a-half times the salary and benefits of comparable professionals, according to a new study.
    Public school teachers in half of Illinois districts contribute nothing to their pensions.
    Ohio voters rejected union curbs and tax increases as school districts face shortfalls of $7.6 billion.
    Louisiana, a Race to the Top frontrunner, has declined to reapply for a grant, citing “federal red tape.”
    Three Wisconsin school districts are working together to cut costs while increasing student achievement.
    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon proposes performance-based higher education funding to boost graduation rates and accountability.
    Current pension structures rely on coercion instead of passion and excellence to attract and retain teachers, writes Bill Tucker.
  • Investigators find cheating in second Georgia system
    A total of 49 educators in the south Georgia school district were involved in testing misconduct and 18 confessed to cheating in what is the second widespread test-tampering scandal uncovered in Georgia this year. In July, another stinging report revealed almost 180 educators in Atlanta Public Schools participated in cheating at 44 schools.
  • SCORE to Score TN Teacher Evaluation Process
    The State Collaborative on Reforming Education has agreed to independently grade the state’s new evaluation process and report back by this summer with feedback and recommendations to be used going into the 2012-13 school year.
  • Haslam Asks SCORE to Review State’s New Teacher Evaluation Processes
    Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that there will be both an external and internal review of the new teacher evaluation system. He has charged the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) with conducting an independent, third-party evaluation and is asking the state Department of Education to formalize a review process, which the department has already begun.
  • Haslam: Let’s ‘Catch Our Breath’ on Education Reform in ’12
    Gov. Bill Haslam says he put the brakes on a proposal to further open up school choice in Tennessee because the concept of vouchers has “too many unanswered questions” and the timing was off. The issue is now being passed off to a task force made up of education experts and some legislators who are expected to report back next fall — not far from the November election. A spokesman for the governor said his office does not yet know when the task force’s inital meeting will be.
  • Releasing the Power of Choice: More on Fulton County’s Efforts Against a High-Achieving Charter School
    The best solution is for states to take over responsibility for authorizing charters and even expand the number of authorizers to include state university systems and nonprofit operators. This is already the reality in some states, including New York and Indiana. Essentially making charters local education agencies in the same manner as districts would also help; Georgia should move to do this during its next legislative session.

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