• Obama Cites Importance of School Choice in Twitter Town Hall
    Moments ago in his Twitter Town Hall chat, President Barack Obama said he “wouldn’t be president if someone hadn’t helped provide some scholarships for my school.” Sadly, the President has done little to bring this life-changing opportunity to more children.
  • Union County to launch K-8 online school
    Union County Public Schools has announced plans to open an innovative new online school program. Director of Schools Wayne Goforth announced the Tennessee Virtual Academy will serve students in Kindergarten through eighth grade starting in the next school year.
  • State Consortium Scales Back Common-Test Design
    A student-achievement test under consideration by nearly half the states has been redesigned to ease their concerns that it would cost too much, shape curriculum, and eat up too much instructional time.
  • Haslam may seek ‘No Child Left Behind’ waiver
    Acknowledging the “very real possibility” that most Tennessee schools would fail federal “No Child Left Behind” standards when they are raised, Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that his administration may seek a waiver from federal officials.
  • Poverty Matters. But So Does School Reform
    Nations like India and China are producing more highly qualified workers than in the U.S. About 1 in 5 children, or 15 million kids, in the U.S. are living in poverty. This is a crisis that we need to address immediately. If, like me, you feel education is the best tool to bring people out of poverty, join the movement to put students first in education reform. If you believe hunger, health care, or a steady home and income can better alleviate poverty, then organize and mobilize around those issues.
  • Seniority Rules Lead Districts to Increase Teacher Layoffs and Undermine Teaching Quality
    Most school districts devote well over half of all spending to teacher compensation, and strained budgets are forcing layoffs of teachers.  In a new study, researchers find that seniority-based layoff policies — the norm in public schools — lead to higher numbers of teacher layoffs than would be necessary if administrators were allowed to make effectiveness the determining factor in issuing layoff notices, rather than length of service.  If districts instead adopted effectiveness-based layoff policies, they would be likely to lay off fewer teachers, achieve the same budgetary savings, and have a higher quality teacher workforce.
  • NEA Adopts Resolution Criticizing Ed Secretary Arne Duncan
    At the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly this past week, a new amendment entitled “New Business Item C” (“13 Things We Hate About Arne Duncan”) was passed resoundingly.
  • NCLB Is a Failure. It’s Nothing Personal.
    Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman concluded from his exhaustive statistical study of the subject that NCLB appears to have fostered further cheating with graduation rates—what he calls “strategic behavior” by states and districts to present inflated graduation rate figures in order to avoid NCLB penalties.
  • Tennessee Voucher Proposal Waits for Fall
    A bill working through the Tennessee legislature would offer more than 200,000 low-income students in the state’s urban areas a voucher to attend the school of their choice. Tennesee Center for Policy Research is coordinating the House’s study committee, hoping to send legislators on a fact-finding trip to Florida to let them examine the state’s successful voucher program. Recent data from the Department of Education places Florida at the top of all 50 states in its ability to deliver education opportunities to minority and low-income students. The Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act passed the state Senate in April, but its companion bill (HB 388) stalled in the House.

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