• Climate Debate Will Burn Public Schools
    In the case of education, that means moving away from a system of schooling controlled by government, and towards parental choice and educator freedom. It means enabling all to access a curriculum that’s coherent because it’s not a compromise. It means making ideas compete, and giving no one special access to children’s minds. People on all sides of the global-warming debate will take issue with this, insisting that it would be wrong not to make all children learn their, often biased, “truth.” But climate change isn’t scientifically settled, and even if it were, most public schools still wouldn’t touch it. Only school choice overcomes these myriad, treacherous problems.
  • New Milwaukee Choice Results
    Perhaps the most interesting part of the new Milwaukee results is the report on special education rates in the choice program.  As it turns out, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction grossly under-stated the percentage of students in the choice program who have disabilities.  Some reporters and policymakers act as if the Department of Public Instruction’s reports are reliable and insightful because they are a government agency, while the reports of university professors are distorted and misleading.  Read this report on special education rates and I think you’ll learn a lot about how politically biased government agencies like the Department of Public Instruction can be.
  • SC Gov Nikki Haley Backs Bill to Block Common Core Standards
    South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has written a public letter to Senator Mike Fair, backing his proposal to block the Common Core, which South Carolina’s education board adopted in July 2010 following approval by the Education Oversight Committee.
  • Baptist Autonomy Versus Catholic Hierarchy: Or Why We Must Abandon Education’s Expert-Driven Model
    One of the most- fascinating aspects of the latest discussions over releasing teacher performance data — especially the release of Value-Added data on some 18,000 teachers released by last week by New York City’s Department of Education — is that education traditionalists, education commentators, and even many school reformers essentially think that families can’t possibly use thoughtful judgement in reading results and don’t even have the ability to master it. From where they sit, such data should be restricted to experts such as themselves, who have the higher education credentials and other expertise as education players to think things through. In short, they look at parents as being  no different than their children: Infantile and incapable of smart decision-making even when given good guidance. Instead, families are supposed to trust the experts because they have some secret knowledge about education that parents can’t learn. It is one reason why Zip Code Education practices such as zoned schooling remain in place, why ability tracking and the comprehensive high school model remain popular among so-called experts, and why teachers and guidance counselors (using such tools as IQ tests) are the gatekeepers to gifted-and-talented programs. It is also a key reason why so many school leaders and teachers’ unions oppose all forms of school choice (except in the form of magnet schools which are mostly-geared toward satisfying desegregation orders and thus, choice is still restricted).
    This expertise conceit can be seen every day in the way families –especially those from poor and minority backgrounds — are treated in schools. From inconveniently-scheduled parent-teacher conferences, to the lack of meaningful communication about student progress until it is far too late to help kids succeed, to the battling between families and gatekeepers over whether kids can take A.P. courses needed to prepare for success in college, far too many teachers and school leaders do so much to disengage families from playing active roles in education (even as they complain about a lack of “parental involvement”). As grassroots school reformers such as Gwen Samuel of the Connecticut Parents Union, AJ Kern in Minnesota, and the legendary Virginia Walden Ford can attest, this disdain becomes hostile opposition once parents step up and advocate on behalf of their child.
    Such condescending thinking fails to consider the reality that the “experts” really don’t know what they are doing.
  • Education Notebook: Department of Education Gets Defensive on National Standards
    If the Common Core standards are truly state-led, it is curious that the Department of Education (DOE) would be weighing in on an issue related to the education standards South Carolina will use. That Duncan has chosen to issue a public statement on South Carolina’s uneasiness about the Common Core push is an indication of just how heavily involved with the effort the federal government is—and the amount of control it stands to gain once states surrender standard-setting authority to Washington. Federal involvement in the Common Core national standards push is not some figment of the imagination. Billions in federal funding, strings-attached NCLB waivers, and significant rhetorical support clearly point to a nationalization of the content taught in local schools.
  • New Study Shows Higher Graduation, Achievement Rates for Milwaukee Voucher Students
    Students enrolled in the Milwaukee voucher program are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college than their public school counterparts, boast significantly improved reading scores, represent a more diverse cross-section of the city, and are improving the results of traditional public school students, according to a comprehensive evaluation of the program released today.

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