• F is for Failure: Solving the Latino Educational Crisis
    America is headed on a collision course of epic proportions unless dramatic action is taken to change the educational status quo. This challenge cannot be dismissed as hysteria when two things are considered: One is the fact that America is an increasingly more diverse country with a distinctly Latino hue. The other is the disproportionately high number of Latino students are failing to receive a high-school diploma.
  • Black History Month ad campaign argues school choice is the civil rights issue of our time
    “I remember thinking … we do as a nation have so much to celebrate … but honestly, what would Thurgood Marshall think to himself if he looked at our public education system today?” Bernard, who is herself African-American, said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “It’s still segregated,” she said. Schools are “still fundamental separate” and “still fundamentally unequal, except it’s no longer on the basis of race, it’s on the basis of zip code.” “All parents,” Bernard argues, “regardless of where they live, regardless of race or ethnicity or religious background should have a legal right to put their child in any school that they feel best meets their child’s need.”
  • Is parental choice really the enemy?
    Back in December, some of the top elected and appointed officials in Seminole County schools used a public meeting covered by the Orlando Sentinel to blame Florida’s tax credit scholarship for low-income children for their financial woes. They called the program a “travesty” and “part of an agenda” to weaken public schools. The school board chairwoman also claimed “there is no accountability in the program.” It saddened me to see officials of a quality school system such as Seminole making such factually incorrect and inflammatory remarks, but they weren’t finished. Please allow me to lay out some facts.
  • Haslam hears teachers’ fears
    If there’s one notion Gov. Bill Haslam can take away from his discussion with Scales Elementary School teachers Wednesday, it’s their concerns about Senate Bill 2210. The proposed legislation that would allow school districts to redesign teacher salary schedules and use maximum class sizes rather than average pupil-teacher ratios in school district funding formulas was called the “gorilla in the room” by the school’s principal, Rick West.
  • Memphis, Shelby County schools plead case why state should decline charter plans
    City and county school leaders filed a response to the state Wednesday explaining how the districts will suffer if forced to approve 17 new charter schools. The response comes four weeks after state Treasurer David Lillard requested data from the charter applicants and both school superintendents, telling them in a Jan. 10 letter to respond “as expeditiously as possible.” The school board denied the charter applications Nov. 23, citing a state law passed last spring that allows boards to deny charters if they can prove the new schools would fiscally harm the traditional public school system. Lillard has 30 days after receipt of the documentation — including follow-up questions — to determine whether the school board’s argument is valid.
  • Waiving Goodbye to the Constitution
    Aside from desegregation — which it has Constitutional authority to compel — the federal government has done no meaningful good in education. Why? Because the special interest-driven reality of politics ensures it can’t do any good. Yet we not only let it continue to trample the Constitution by meddling in education, we are allowing it to shred the Constitution into ever-smaller bits in order to “fix” the destruction it has wrought. And for this, all who turn a blind eye to the Constitution in the name of “the children” are to blame.
  • States May Get Waivers From the No Child Left Behind Law
    The Obama administration is expected to announce Friday it is granting 10 states waivers from the No Child Left Behind law, according to people familiar with the decision, in what would be the strongest move yet to undermine the decade-old education initiative. Eleven states had applied for waivers from key tenets of the law, but the people familiar with the decision wouldn’t say which states were selected. But while the law has become a target of criticism from both political parties, it has also sown the seeds for school changes spreading nationwide. By requiring schools to test students annually in math and reading, it has provided a rich data trove revealing wide variation in teacher effectiveness within individual schools, energizing a push to evaluate, to pay and to grant tenure on the basis of student test scores. Eric Hanushek, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institution, said that 40 years ago he toiled in school districts gathering test data. By the mid-2000s, research on teacher effectiveness trickled out, but No Child Left Behind opened the floodgates. What became most clear in the data, said Jane Hannaway, director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, a federally funded nonpartisan research center, is that the variation in teacher quality is as wide within a school as across schools. “This made very evident the shortcomings of No Child Left Behind, which focused all the attention at the school level as opposed to within a school.” Late in the past decade, several urban school districts, including New York, began using the data to analyze which teachers were most effective. Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, said the focus on “punishing” teachers is simply a “continuation of a failed sanctions-based strategy.” Kaela Brown, a ninth-grade English teacher at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C., faced possible dismissal after being labeled “minimally effective” two years ago, in part because her students had low reading scores. She got coaching and by the end of last school year her rating improved to “effective.” “Sometimes you just need that kick,” she said.

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