- Lawmakers debate plan giving school buildings to Memphis suburbs
Suburban lawmakers plan to introduce bills this session that would force the unified school board to turn over extra buildings to municipalities pushing to run their own school systems. If a bill to the effect passes, Shelby County unified school board member Martavius Jones says he will seek class-action status as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit. There are no figures yet on how much a municipality would increase property taxes to run a school system. A key factor is the cost of acquiring existing school buildings in the suburbs. Each of the six outlying suburban cities — Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland and Millington — have hired Southern Educational Strategies LLC to do feasibility studies on forming their own school districts. The reports are due by Jan. 16. Lollar expects the bills could be filed soon after.
- House to Release Teacher, Accountability Bills This Week
The House education committee will put out draft bills this week that address the issues at the heart of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act—teacher quality and accountability, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said this morning on Bill Bennett’s radio show “Morning in America.”
- NCLB Lessons
The federal government can set broad goals, but the secretary of education should not become a national school board chairman instructing 100,000 public schools how to achieve those goals or deciding whether each of those schools and its teachers are succeeding or failing. The Tennessee education commissioner is in a much better position than someone in Washington to help turn around failing schools and close achievement gaps in Memphis or Nashville. The No Child Left Behind Act has been a noble experiment. It has made an important contribution to the national effort to improve the quality of our schools. But there is a difference between a national concern, which education is, and a federal government solution driven by Washington. The lesson of the last 10 years is that it is time to move most decisions about whether teachers and schools are succeeding or failing out of Washington and back to states and communities. The valuable new school-by-school reports produced by No Child Left Behind can provide material for more accurate and useful school report cards devised by parents, school boards, governors, and the secretary of education. But the real job of creating better schools remains where it always has been, with parents and teachers and citizens in their own communities.
- Accountability 2.0 requires balance between regulations and consumer choice
School boards and teacher unions are resisting this transformation and arguing that overregulated district schools are unfairly having to compete with less regulated choice schools. But their solution — to require that all publicly funded schools adhere to the same regulations — ignores the consumer choice component of accountability. Choice schools should be less regulated than non-choice schools, just as telecommunications companies today are less regulated that AT&T was in 1980. If school districts want to reduce the regulatory burdens on their schools and level the regulatory playing field, they should convert them to charter schools.
- Startlingly sensible achievement gap fix
When Smith took over Arlington schools, I thought he was headed for an embarrassing failure. He did it anyway and made me look bad:
- Chicago Public Schools Report: CPS fraud, employee misconduct includes $1.13 million in improper benefits
CHICAGO—Video: A scathing 38 page report released by the CPS inspector general Wednesday contains everything from improper benefits paid to retired teachers, systemic abuse of the federal free lunch program and even a teacher using the school districts computer to look for sex on Craigslist.
- Chicago Mayor Emanuel pursuing aggressive strategy to fix a broken public school system
The problem for students in Chicago Public Schools was summed up by the first line of a recent newspaper article: “Chicago Public Schools officials said they had no choice but to leave a majority of failing schools open because there are no good schools nearby to send students or any that could absorb more students.” Thank goodness Mayor Rahm Emanuel is on the job.