• Transparency in education — how the U.S. leads
    While the United States lags behind most of Europe in recognizing the right of parents to choose schools that reflect their religious convictions without thereby sacrificing the right to publicly funded education enjoyed by their fellow citizens, the IPPE study shows that we are ahead in some other ways. One way in which the U.S. is clearly ahead of most of the countries studied is in the transparency of information about the academic results of local systems, schools and even, in some cases, of individual teachers. While this is quite a new development in the U.S., it is still barely on the horizon in many countries in Europe and elsewhere, largely because of the resistance of the teacher unions.
  • Virtual school program lacking applicants
    In an effort to bring virtual schooling to the Robertson County School System, the school board last month agreed to offer a pilot program this year, but so far, no students have applied for it. Locke said when his department gathers a sufficient number of people signed up, Robertson County can begin with its virtual program, which will be administered by the company Connection Learning. Locke said there may be some reluctance because of the online program being offered in the middle of the school year.
  • Loss of federal start-up funding ‘a significant strain’ to Tennessee charter schools
    Until now, new charter schools in Tennessee got between $600,000 and $700,000 in federal grants to cover startup costs in their first three years, including big-ticket items such as building leases. The money has dried up, a factor of the rapid rise of charter schools in Tennessee. For years, Tennessee charter operators got $225,000 to use the year before the school opened, followed by another $250,000 to cover operational costs before state per-pupil tax money began flowing to the schools, said Rich Haglund, director of charter schools at the state Department of Education. The shortfall is one of two hurdles facing operators who planned to open in the fall of 2012. The other is the appeal process after the unified school board rejected 17 applications in late November, citing a new state law that says charters can be rejected if their opening would financially harm the traditional public school system or community at large. State treasurer David Lillard will decide if the board was justified. Tuesday, he sent applicants and both Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools a list of data he still needs.
  • Haslam targets teacher salaries: Governor wants more flexibility for each district
    Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he wants to give districts the option of ditching a state-mandated salary scale and creating pay plans that address their own needs, plus reward high performers. In Tennessee some extra money to fund raises or bonuses would come from removing the mandate on schoolwide average class sizes. Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said too many state mandates suppress district-level innovation.
  • Schools Transition Committee Hears Few Hopes In Collierville
    The first public hearing in the schools consolidation process Tuesday, Jan. 10, drew more than 600 people to Collierville United Methodist Church. Hosted by the schools consolidation transition planning commission, the forum featured lots of opposition to the coming schools consolidation and concerns about student achievement and the movement of students and teachers among schools. The dominant concern expressed was that a merger between Shelby County’s two public school systems would bring down achievement is what is for the time being the Shelby County Schools system in the county outside the city rather than improve achievement in the Memphis City Schools system.
  • Arizona-based charter group plans 5 to 10 Nashville schools over several years
    An Arizona-based charter school network called Great Hearts Academies announced plans Tuesday to open five to 10 Nashville charter schools over several years, with hopes of locating its first school near Vanderbilt University. Great Hearts Academies’ first open house is at the Cohn Adult Learning Center at 4805 Park Ave., Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 6:30 p.m. The second community meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Martin Professional Development Center at 2400 Fairfax Ave.
  • January 10, 2012
    A weekly report on education news and commentary, spiced with a dash of irreverence, from the Center for Education Reform. A look forward to 2012:

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