• GOP leaders face crucial test in Tennessee
    Republicans also showed tenacity in getting a school voucher bill through the Senate. The bill would have opened the door for poor students in the largest school districts in the state to use half of their allotted public funding at a private school instead, including church-sponsored schools. It would have put Tennessee among the leaders in the school choice movement, but it was stopped by a Republican in the House Education subcommittee.
  • Closing the Door on Innovation
    Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America
  • National Curriculum Battle Joined
    Remember several weeks ago, when the Albert Shanker Institute released a manifesto calling for the creation of detailed curriculum guides to go with the national standards and tests being pushed and pulled through the back doors of states across the country? Apparently, that was the last straw for a lot of education analysts and policymakers, especially folks like Williamson Evers of the Hoover Institution (and Bush II Education Department); one-time Fordham Institute state-standards evaluator Sandra Stotsky; and Foundation for Education Choice senior fellow Greg Forster. Those three, along with a few others, organized a counter-manifesto being released today, a 100-plus signatory reply which, according to the group’s press release, declares that:
  • Four-day school weeks may be worth a try
    The four-day school week has been around for decades, according to the National Council of State Legislatures, but it’s quietly spreading as a money-saving tactic. Here’s the surprise: There appear to be educational benefits as well. Absenteeism among students and teachers in these schools has fallen appreciably, the report said. (As a result, schools also paid less money for substitute teachers.) Students reported feeling more positive about school. Dropout rates fell, students behaved better and participation in extracurricular activities rose.
  • Do We Need Four Years of High School?
    One of the more interesting developments that Daniels highlighted is a new option for Indiana high school students to get their diplomas early. If they complete their graduation requirements in their junior year, they can take the state money that would have gone to their “fun-filled cruise through senior year” (Daniels’s words) and put it toward some kind of post-secondary education. Arizona is implementing a similar early high school diploma that will allow students to take college course for credit after their sophomore year if they pass the board exams.
  • Bipartisan Interest in Proposal to ‘Grade’ Parents
    arkinson’s bill, HB1887, would have teachers give parents grades on their involvement with their students’ education. The grade-range would include “excellent,” “satisfactory,” “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory.”
  • TN bill sets up high school fast track
    An estimated 4,000 Tennessee students qualify to leave high school early this year, but few know that or take the initiative, said state Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. He’s pushing a bill that would force school districts to offer and advertise an early graduation program, similar to ones in Georgia and Kentucky, and allow students to get a jump on higher education.To be eligible, students would need at least 18 core subject high school credits, at least two Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, a 3.2 or higher grade point average and a high ACT or SAT score — one the Tennessee Higher Education Commission would set later. Students also must be proficient in a foreign language and plan on going straight to college after high school.
  • Rutherford, Williamson struggle with hefty school debt
    Regardless of strategy, both counties carry a mountain of debt related to school construction.In Rutherford County,85 percent of the $385.9 million in total debt is tied to the schools. In Williamson, 70 percent of the$510 million owed was borrowed on behalf of education.Rutherford County paid $40 million toward its debt this year. Williamson is staring at an estimated $48 million payment next year.
  • Schools director could land three-year contract extension
    The Metro Nashville Board of Education is set to consider giving Director of Schools Jesse Register a three-year contract extension, which would make him the district’s superintendent through 2015.
  • Do Metro Nashville Public Schools’ ‘academies’ live up to promise?
    With more than 6,000 dotting the country, academies in schools are hardly unusual. The goal there was to break away from the traditional vocational education model, based on specific job skills and training, to expose students to the workplace while still offering academic challenges. In Nashville, academies date back to 2006, when a group of eight high school principals, recognizing the district’s inability to meet federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks, set forth to try something different. After researching practices in other cities and sitting down with groups like Alignment Nashville, a community schools organization, academies emerged as the favored model. Implementation began with the installment of Freshmen Academies five years ago, and through a five-year federal Small Learning Communities grant, the program took shape at all grade levels.

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