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- For Strong Education and Economy, Legislators Must Strengthen Marriage
Marriage-absence, whether from divorce or a family that failed to form in the first place, is a key structural problem driving education failure today. Too many children lack the parental guidance necessary for school readiness. Statistically, children raised in intact families have more social and economic advantages. Most teachers love teaching and are happy to help when called upon, but requiring them to parent half their students before beginning to teach is an impossible task.
- Victory for School Choice in Indiana-Court Rejects Challenge to Indiana Choice Scholarship Program
Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is perfectly constitutional. That, in a nutshell, was the ruling issued by Marion County Superior Court Judge Michael Keele today in Meredith v. Daniels. The trial court rejected every legal claim brought by the plaintiffs—who are supported by both state and national teachers’ unions—against the program, and it ruled in favor of both the state and two parents who have intervened in the lawsuit in defense of the program.
- In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise
For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains. Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments.
- Race to the Top First-Year Progress Reports Released
The U.S. Department of Education has released state reports that outline the first-year progress of education reform under Race to the Top. The reports document the reform efforts made by the 12 grantees that secured Race to the Top funding in 2010 through the competition’s first two phases. The winners are Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee.
- An Arizona Scholarship Student Lets Legislators See Why School Choice Is So Important
Arizona: Ashton, who is blind, told senators about some of his amazing accomplishments, most of which wouldn’t have been possible had it not for the opportunities he had at Brophy Prep.
- TN again raises bar on math, reading
Next year, the lessons will get even harder as the state attempts to catapult from the bottom 10 in math and reading to the level of educational achievers such as Massachusetts, or even neighboring Kentucky. The new Common Core Standards being adopted by 48 states will cost Tennessee at least $2.95 million in federal grant money to implement. It means throwing out content that is no longer vital for college readiness to focus more heavily on lessons that are. For the first time, Tennessee will be tested on the same standards as much of the nation — tests that require students to apply what they’ve learned to real-life situations. Under a teacher evaluation system introduced this year, their scores will determine whether their teachers get or keep tenure.
- Parents Rebel Against California School – WSJ.com
Fed-up parents of students attending a low-performing school in Southern California aim to use the power given to them by the state to take an unusual step: fire the school. This power, called a Parent Trigger, was passed into law in California in 2010, but parents are attempting for only the second time to use it at Desert Trails Elementary outside Los Angeles. Their effort to force Adelanto Elementary School District to overhaul the school, or turn it into a charter school run by the parents themselves, is expected to be closely watched across the nation. Similar legislation passed in Texas and Mississippi last year and is under consideration in Florida, Pennsylvania and Indiana this year. The parents group has gathered the signatures of 70% of the parents at the school and plans to deliver a petition to school district officials on Thursday. Desert Trails, which sits in an arid stretch of land about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is a mainly Latino, low-income school that has burned through three principals in five years. Last year, two-thirds of students failed the state language arts exam, 56% failed math and 80% failed science. Parents said they complained to administrators for years about bullying; poor classroom instruction; a lack of arts, music or science courses; and uncommunicative teachers. Frustrated by inaction, they reached out to Parent Revolution last summer. A core of about a dozen parents, mostly moms, spent the summer staging meetings in their homes and in nearby parks to craft a list of demands. They asked for more control over which teachers get hired and fired, smaller class sizes, the power to control the school budget and after-school programs. They presented the list to district officials in October, who declined to adopt them. “They told us that if they agreed to all our demands, they’d be hurting the other schools,” said Cynthia Ramirez, who has a second-grade daughter at the school and joined the parents’ group. “We don’t want to be selfish, but we have a kids-first agenda and that’s what they should be focused on.” The district has 45 days to come up with a plan to fix the school that satisfies parents, close the school or convert it into a charter school.
- As school enrollment swells, backlog of MNPS capital projects also grows
The school board Tuesday signed off on a six-year capital master plan outlining capital needs from 2012-2018, a dollar figure that totals $184 million for the next fiscal year. There’s an important footnote, however: The school board’s approval did not actually award funds for these projects. In reality, the master plan amounts to a wish list, not unlike versions the school board approves every year. Capital investments in Metro schools require funding authorization from Mayor Karl Dean and the Metro Council. For the ongoing 2011-12 fiscal year, Dean opted against allocating money for capital projects across all Metro departments, creating what some call a backlog in school infrastructure needs. In effect, projects are piling up.