• Poor measures? choice is the answer
    A lot of teeth are gnashing right now over the release of performance evaluations for roughly 18,000 city public-school teachers. And there should be: While it’s absolutely necessary to assess the people to whom we entrust our children, no single metric can capture nearly all that goes into education. But, then, this is what you get when you put government in charge.
  • Hard Times for the National Education Association
    Over the past year, several states – including Wisconsin, Tennessee and Idaho – have passed legislation freeing teachers from the shackles of compulsory union membership. Now that membership has become voluntary, a growing number of teachers are choosing to quit the union, which is causing hard times for the nation’s largest teachers union. A new report finds the National Education Association has revised its membership numbers downward – from 3.2 million to just over 3 million. According to Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency website, the hemorrhaging of members is contributing to the NEA’s $17 million deficit, which may force union leaders to lay off employees and cut aid to state affiliates.
  • Good job, now get back to work
    The Florida scholarship is a model for other states, Jensen said, because its per-student scholarship amount – $4,011 this school year – is enough to give low-income parents real options. (The average for other states with such programs, he said, is between $1,500 and $2,000.) It has financial and academic reporting requirements. And it is a verified money saver for state taxpayers, according to, among other reputable sources, OPPAGA – the Florida Legislature’s respected research arm.
  • State of Tennessee intervenes in operations of six Memphis City Schools
    The state of Tennessee will run three Memphis City Schools in Frayser next fall. Three more, mostly in North Memphis, will convert to or co-exist with charter schools as part of a strategic effort to concentrate on pockets of town where schools chronically under-perform.
  • Dade County students to evaluate their teachers
    Dade County students this week turn a critical eye on their teachers as the North Georgia school district pilots news ways to gauge teacher performance. For the rest of the school year, Dade will be among the Georgia school systems examining teacher evaluation measures. The current step for Dade falls to students as they fill out surveys on their teachers, according to Associate Superintendent Jody Goodroe, who is overseeing the pilot. “The pilot is going to look at student surveys from kindergarten through 12th grade,” Goodroe said.
  • Virtual school never closes for Union County students
    1,900 kids are enrolled in the district’s virtual school. The Tennessee Virtual Academy started this school year. It serves students in grades K-8.
  • School Voucher Use Increased College Attendance, Research Findings Show
    A school voucher program in Milwaukee increased the chances of students graduating from high school and going on to college, according to the School Choice Demonstration Project based at the University of Arkansas. Researchers will wrap up five years of evaluations of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program on Monday, Feb. 27, with two panel presentations and discussion of the demonstration project’s findings in Milwaukee.
  • Getting It Wrong On School Choice
    Two of the three, from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum (PPF), used deeply flawed methods to conclude that MPS students outperform those in the choice program.  Page one stories in the Journal Sentinel validated these erroneous reports.  The paper compounded the errors by wrongly suggesting that the DPI and PPF data allow individual schools to be evaluated. The third report comes from the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the University of Arkansas and is based on rigorous methods. Its reports, including several issued today, draw starkly different conclusions from those advanced by DPI, PPF, and Journal Sentinel news stories.
  • Counterpoint: No union represents children
    Teaching cannot be the soccer game where everyone gets a trophy. Some teachers are outstanding. Some need help to be outstanding. And some need a properly funded dislocated-worker program so they can thrive elsewhere.
  • Juan Williams: Will Business Boost School Reform?
    Elected officials from both parties are so fed up with the status quo of failing schools that they’re abandoning the politics of left-right polarization and challenging the entrenched power of teachers unions. Republicans like Mr. Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are fighting for school reform on parallel lines with Democrats like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On the other side are the teachers unions, which have proven to be formidable opponents willing to fight even modest efforts to alter the status quo. With one hand, they dangle a carrot before politicians in the form of campaign money from union dues, which are mandatory in many states. With the other, they threaten them with strikes, protests, negative ads and litigation that will make them—especially Republicans—look like enemies of public schools. As a result, politicians from both parties are too often cowed into accepting a status quo that produces one million high-school dropouts a year and a graduation rate of less than 50% for black and Hispanic students. But now, with Democrats and Republicans alike increasingly challenging the status quo, they need reinforcements. That’s why Mr. Jindal, Mr. Emanuel and other education reformers have begun to actively recruit business leaders. The logic of reaching out to the business community is simple. For decades the unions’ strategy has been to simply outlast any one mayor or governor. But the business community is not going away with the next election. This investment signals that some members of the business community are willing to wade into the political arena and support challenges to the power of teachers unions. But more needs to be done at the local and state level. It’s time for the business community to shake its fear of being branded anti-union and get into this fight.

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