• Changes to Nashville school employee handbook draw complaints
    Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Jesse Register says he’s spending Valentines Day fighting off rumors that the district plans to lay off or outsource school secretaries, bus drivers or other service employees in June, and that new work policies were made to make their jobs unbearable.
  • “Excessive Tardiness” Criminalized Virginia
    A front page story in the Washington Post this Sunday called attention to the Denicores, who have brought their three children late to school on dozens of occasions since September.  Loudoun County concluded that parents who too often bring their children to school late – who engage in “excessive tardiness” as the school calls it – should be charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor under Virginia law and should be subject to a $500 criminal fine.  Other reports from Loudoun County say that Maureen Blake was arrested and released on a $3,000 bail bond after her arraignment for a Class 1 Misdemeanor for “contributing to the delinquency of her minor children by causing them to be habitually late to school,” according to court documents.  This was the second time the county has taken such legal action against Ms. Blake.  She now faces up to a year in jail.
  • Obama Approves Electric Car Subsidies, Denies School Choice
    Want a clear indication of President Barack Obama’s priorities? Take a look at the spending decisions emerging from his Administration today. In the battle between $40,000 dollar-electric-car-buying yuppies and at-risk kids in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, rich people won, and they have President Obama to thank for it.
  • DCOSP: Obama Lets D.C. Families Down
    Yesterday, I received notice that the Obama Administration’s 2013 budget cancels out the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program(DCOSP). The advocate in me is angry, the mother in me is disheartened, and the citizen in me is saddened that once again this Administration has chosen to stand with special interests groups and not with the children who need him to stand for them. We have seen children thrive in the schools their parents have chosen through the DCOSP. We know that the children who participate have a better chance of graduating from high school, and we know that their lives will change in wonderful ways.
  • Duncan, the Bizarro Ed Secretary
    Obama and Duncan yanked funding from the DC voucher program despite the fact that the random-assignment evaluation sponsored by their own Department of Education found that the program increased high school graduation rates by 21 percentage points for students who used vouchers to attend a private school.  Duncan must be the Bizarro Secretary of Education because he is doing the exact opposite of what the evidence says. Instead, Obama and Duncan are pursuing a reform strategy that could be best described as Evidence-Free Top-Down Righteousness.  Rick Hess did such an excellent job of articulating his disgust with this approach that it is worth quoting him at length:
  • New Hampshire Legislators Propose Tuition Tax Credits
    New Hampshire legislators have introduced companion bills to offer tax credits to businesses for donating to private-school scholarship funds with an average scholarship at or below $2,500.
  • E.L.L. Graduates Don’t Always Count
    According to the Tennessee Department of Education Report Card 2011, English-language learners or E.L.L. students have one of the lowestgraduation rates in Nashville public schools at 64%, surpassing only homeless students (61%) and special education students (55%). Even so, Nashville schools had been making progress toward improving the graduation rate for ALL students through a variety of approaches like freshman academies and the Newcomer Academy for E.L.L. students. Then last year, the Tennessee Department of Education changed how graduation rates are calculated— to meet federal guidelines. That lowered the time allowed to graduate from 5 years, and up to age 22, to 4 years, up to age 18. In the first year under the new rules– the class of 2011—Nashville’s graduation rate dropped from more than 82% to 76%.
  • What other nations are telling us about educational diversity
    America favors technocratic uniformity, while most other liberal democracies prefer a diverse ecosystem. Here are a few examples of diverse educational ecosystems from other countries.
  • VA House Votes To End Tenure
    Virginia House of Delegates voted Monday to end tenure-related job protections for public school teachers, a measure Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has pushed this year as part of his agenda to improve public education.
  • New House K-12 Acts Restructure Federal Role in Education
    John Kline, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman, has confirmed that the House has introduced two new pieces of K-12 legislation that aim to restructure the federal role in elementary and secondary education by encouraging more state and local control, enhance flexibility and choice and support effective teachers. The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act are set to replace the Adequate Yearly Progress, by bringing in state-developed accountability systems and grant state and local leaders enhanced flexibility in the use of federal funds. Chairman Kline said:
  • J.C. Bowman: Gov’t Liability Insurance a Bad Idea for TN
    This proposed $5.6 million dollar legislation, a recurring expenditure, may serve the state, but ultimately will not serve the interests of classroom teachers when they experience conflict with the state. When a conflict of interest occurs, and they will occur, the interest of the state will likely prevail. This will mean settlements will be reached, even when teachers may be innocent.
  • Free our children
    Tough luck, kids. That’s the attitude of a highly-paid New Jersey teachers’ union boss, when asked why poor students shouldn’t have school choice and the vouchers to let them escape failing schools. “Life’s not always fair, and I’m sorry about that,” he shrugged. This, from New Jersey Education Association Executive Director Vincent Giordano, who pulls down hundreds of thousands a year to say such things. The arrogance and dismissiveness are breathtaking. This overlord’s disgusting let-them-eat-cake disdain for the children of low-income Americans illustrates the narcissistic nature of today’s teachers’ unions – and why school choice is the civil rights movement of the early 21st century. It’s not enough for this one man to get out of the way. It’s time that low-income Americans – indeed, all Americans – received an Emancipation Proclamation for their education.
  • Parental school choice: The civil rights issue of the 21st century
    Georgia’s [Tennessee’s] public school system is broken and our children are suffering because of it. Simply put, this is not only a very serious issue, it is unacceptable. Educational choice, giving parents the power and freedom to choose the best education for their children, has proven results in improving the quality of education our children receive.
  • Proposal to expand charter school authorizing elicits mixed reviews
    Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to expand significantly the number and type of groups that can approve new charter schools in the state has prompted mixed responses among charter researchers and experts across the country. Opening up charter-school creation — or “authorizing,” as it is known — to nonprofits, community groups, and universities would likely cause charters to spring up rapidly across the state, not just in the urban areas where they are now concentrated.
  • Nashville Tennessee Teacher Evaluation Feedback
    State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is hosting roundtable discussions around the state, open to the public, to gather feedback on what you think is and isn’t working with the new teacher evaluation system. Date: Thursday, February 23rd Time: 4:30 – 6:30 pm Place: John Seigenthaler Center Address: 1207 18th Ave. S. Nashville, TN 37212 Parking Information: Parking in Vanderbilt Lot #77 RSVP to this important event by submitting your information:
  • Growing disparity in Advanced Placement success in schools draws School Board attention
    Nonetheless, the sheer disparity in AP success, an achievement gap that seems to be widening, has caught the attention of members of the Metro Nashville Board of Education, who pressed school officials on the matter in January. Concerns come at a critical time for AP in Nashville, as Metro school officials ramp up a college dual-enrollment option, which they say will take the place of AP for many students.
  • Metro plans to double Teach For America hires in its schools
    Three years after Teach For America arrived in Nashville, Metro school officials are planning to double down on the national organization that builds instructors out of young, idealistic college graduates who lack traditional teaching certificates. “We’ve found that they’re performing at a very high level,” Keel said. “They’re making real differences in the learning of our students. When you have a group that is making that kind of a difference, we want more of them. That’s the bottom line.” Keel cited a 2011 Tennessee Department of Education report on the effectiveness of teaching programs that found Nashville’s TFA chapter is one of three programs statewide “with higher student achievement gains than veteran teachers.” Lipscomb University and TFA’s Memphis branch are the other two programs, according to the study.

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