• Revenge of the ‘Burbs
    The suburban votes have not yet been taken, but the road map is pretty clear. Barring court intervention, Germantown, Bartlett, Arlington, and Collierville aim to have their own municipal school systems in place by 2013 and will stake a claim on their current buildings and sports facilities at no charge.
  • Superior Court Upholds Education Savings Accounts
    PHOENIX — Education-reform advocates won a key victory today, with a judge upholding the constitutionality of Arizona’s first-in-the-nation education savings accounts.
  • Reform is good, choice is better
    Americans have come to expect choices in virtually every aspect of life. But for some reason the education establishment has convinced many of us that in education, power and resources should be concentrated, not distributed. If multiple providers competed to deliver that one service, they tell us, it would divert money away from the poor, struggling neighborhood schools, leaving those piteous, benighted children sad and dejected. At the risk of invoking common sense, ask yourself: Do FedEx and UPS drain money from the Postal Service? Would the Post Office be better if it could be freed of the nasty competition from the evil, corporate privatizers of FedEx and UPS? Do FedEx and UPS “drain money” that the Post Office needs to improve? If you honestly believe your package service would be better without competition, then perhaps you should oppose vouchers, charters and the whole lot of school choice options.
  • One D.C. Student’s Chance for a Better Life
    After switching to a private school with the help of the OSP, Rashawn caught up to his grade level within two years. His father said teachers were welcoming and receptive to him attending his son’s classes. Rashawn graduated high school and is excited for the start of his college career. His eyes shine when he talks about one day running his own business. “Nothing has changed in the public schools in the last 12 years,” he said. He doesn’t understand why the public schools of the nation’s capital are so broken, or why the extremely popular scholarship program was almost shut down due to political pressure in 2010.
  • How School Choice Benefits Students
    With a growing number of school choice programs comes a growing body of research on how educational opportunity benefits students. These benefits manifest themselves in outcomes such as higher graduation rates, increased academic achievement, and higher levels of parent satisfaction with their children’s schools. Students in school choice programs graduate at significantly higher rates than their public school peers.
  • House Committee Releases Next NCLB Bill Draft
    Revising NCLB’s Accountability Provisions-The “accountability” rewrite of provisions such as AYP and highly qualified teachers has been long anticipated. AYP was widely despised as an artificial and unrealistic set of requirements leading towards 100 percent student proficiency by 2014 or risking federal sanctions. The proposal eliminates AYP but still requires states to implement statewide accountability systems and identify public school performance.
  • Under education reform, school principals swamped by teacher evaluations
    Tennessee and Florida, both of which are receiving federal funds through Race to the Top, are fully implementing their new evaluation systems this year, and Delaware and North Carolina have most of their models in place.“It’s safe to say that when you change people’s work routines in serious ways, they stress,” says Mr. Jupp. “You’re never going to plan something to perfection,” Jupp says. “Spending time trying to plan things elaborately and building internal support is nowhere near as important as getting things running.” In Tennessee, the biggest complaint from many principals is simply the amount of time required from them for the new observation system. Veteran teachers, who in the past only needed to be evaluated every five years, now get four observations a year. Untenured teachers need six.
  • Can Computers Replace Teachers?
    Let’s slow down. Textbooks or tools that look a lot like textbooks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And since high quality educational material isn’t cheap to generate, simply tearing down distribution barriers will only go so far in reducing the costs of producing good content. Lost in the heated claims, however, is a more fundamental question: what have educational technology efforts accomplished to date and what should we expect?
  • School Choice Yearbook
    The School Choice Yearbook 2011-12—the annual award-winning publication offering the most comprehensive data on the nation’s 27 private school choice programs—released by the Alliance for School Choice. Among the groundbreaking findings:
    -More than 210,000 students are enrolled in school choice programs in the United States, a growth of nearly 25 percent since 2007.
    -Seven new programs were enacted last year, including a new program in Indiana that boasted the highest first-year enrollment ever for a voucher plan. Of the new programs, there are four voucher programs, one scholarship tax credit program, one individual tuition tax credit, and one education savings account program—a new program that lets parents use education dollars on a variety of educational tools.
    -Ten of the 27 school choice programs are specifically tailored to serve children with special needs, benefiting almost 30,000 students nationwide.
    -Nearly all of the children participating in America’s school choice programs come from low- or middle-income families or are students with special needs.
    -Florida is home to the greatest number of students who benefit from school choice, with 65,000 students participants in the state’s two existing programs. Two states—Ohio and Arizona—have four school choice programs each.
  • Someone will choose your child’s education; why not you?
    It struck me that the best way to have schools serve children, rather than just hold them in place, is to give parents their choice of schools. If parents choose mediocrity, so be it. At least it would be their choice, rather than what the system chose for them.
  • Mandating school until 18 has pitfalls
    “We have to understand that keeping these kids in school until they are 18 should involve more than just ‘doing time.’ They would need a whole host of services, both academic, social and emotional,” said Kristen Stephens, an assistant professor of education at Duke University. Data also show that the compulsory school age has little to do with a state’s high school graduation numbers. Of the 14 states with the lowest dropout rates, only five require that all students stay in school until they turn 18, according to a 2009 study by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, a Massachusetts-based think tank.
  • Obama Wades Into Issue of Raising Dropout Age
    President Obama’s State of the Union call for every state to require students to stay in school until they turn 18 is Washington’s first direct involvement in an issue that many governors and state legislators have found tough to address. “Efforts to raise the age usually come up against the argument that requiring students to stay in school when they no longer want to be there is disruptive to other students and not fair to the teacher,” said Sunny Deye, a senior policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • ‘Group Learning’ Epic Failure
    During my 4 years of schooling, group learning was pushed, praised, and even required as we entered the field as student teachers. Educators dress it up, and give it a fancy name like ‘collaborative learning’ or ‘cooperative learning’. Entire courses are dedicated to teaching educators how to group children and ‘teach’ them. So I’m not surprised ‘group’ learning is showing up in classrooms more and more. It’s no secret we have a broken school system; so group learning is a tool that educators use to keep afloat. There are many reasons educators use group learning as a crutch, but one I saw the most was to have the advanced learners peer-tutor the kiddos who had fallen behind: in other words, using children to teach children. Why? Because there is no time to spend one-on-one with each child and give them what they so desperately need. It’s not even a great idea in theory, but can you imagine how much work actually gets accomplished? Instead of allowing our advanced learners to excel at work on their level, they are stuck being the secondary, un-paid educators in the classroom. Really, it’s very ironic if you ask me – I had to go to college for 4 years to be able to be a teacher, yet we find it adequate to release that responsibility to 8 year olds.
  • Education reform based on school choice
    For a moment, try to envision an America where, regardless of how much money you make or where you live, the government empowered you – even encouraged you – to send your children to better schools. I’m talking about schools that inspire your children, challenge them to excel, and encourage them to dream big and plan for their futures, all while teaching them to love learning. Sounds impossible. Sounds impractical. Sounds expensive. But it isn’t. It’s called school choice, and it’s the notion that across the country, families should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children – public schools, public charter schools, private schools, virtual schools and even home schooling.
  • Teacher Choice Spotlight: Virtual School Teacher
    This week is National School Choice Week – a national movement of grassroots organizations calling for more educational options. Here at AAE, we support National School Choice Week because we support educators in all settings and encourage teachers to pursue the school and setting best suited to their needs and interest. As part of National School Choice Week, AAE has profiled teachers throughout the country to showcase their own unique setting and choice. Today we are profiling Mrs. Crystal Van Ausdal, a virtual school teacher in Utah.
  • Teacher Choice Spotlight: Traditional Public School Educator
    This week is National School Choice Week – a national movement of grassroots organizations calling for more educational options. Here at AAE, we support National School Choice Week because we support educators in all settings and encourage teachers to pursue the school and setting best suited to their needs and interest.
  • No Common Schools, No Peace?
    Today is the mid-point of National School Choice Week, and we’re once again rockin’ to the oldies of prognostication. This time we’re going all the way back to the Mann. That’s Horace Mann, the “Father of the Common School” himself. It is Mann who, among many things, is probably most responsible for introducing one of the deepest underlying sentiments supporting government schooling: that public schools will unify us and give us peace. How wrong Mann was.
  • Tennessee Charter School Incubator Helps Recruit National Leader
    The Tennessee Charter School Incubator and Mayor Karl Dean announced today that national charter school leader Todd Dickson has been recruited to Nashville to start a network of high-performing charter schools in 2014. The Incubator will host Dickson as its senior fellow for two years while he finalizes his plans to create a charter management organization of eight to 10 college-preparatory public charter schools focused on measurable outcomes. The schools would be located in Nashville, and Dickson intends to submit a charter application to Metro Nashville Public Schools to open at least one school in 2014.

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