• Democracy – Whatever That Is – and Education
    Democracy is inherently good, and since public schools are democratically controlled they, too, are inherently good. Right? But why don’t we want pure democracy? Ultimately, it comes down to concentrated benefits and diffuse costs: The people who get the greatest benefit from a policy will be the most motivated to participate in the politics of that policy, while the costs are usually highly diffuse, giving the people paying for it relatively little incentive to politick. In education, the greatest benefit is accrued by the school employees — the people whose very livelihoods come from the system — hence they exert hugely disproportionate power. They are also much easier to organize than parents or taxpayers.
  • Corbett pushes vouchers during Philly school visit
    PHILADELPHIA — Gov. Tom Corbett visited a Philadelphia charter school to rally support for his education reform initiative. Speaking to several hundred students and their teachers, Corbett said Wednesday that Pennsylvania needs to improve its public schools through competition and reduce dropout rates.
  • Who has a problem with democracy?
    In short, teachers unions and their defenders give us lectures about how “the people have spoken” quite economically, i.e. when it suits them. They’re all for honoring the voice of the people, except when they’re not.
  • Education Association Pays $3,000 to Poll Teachers
    The Knox County Education Association (KCEA) is paying $3,200 dollars to begin collaborative conferencing, the process that replaces collective bargaining in Tennessee. The money covers the cost of creating an online survey for Knox County teachers.
  • Higher Test Standards Reveal Michigan Education Deficiency
    Michigan’s department of education recently raised the scores required for students to rank “proficient” on state tests, revealing at least two-thirds fewer Michigan students can read and write at grade level than previously reported. In Detroit, no grade level in the district has more than 15 percent of students proficient in math. Starting this school year, Michigan has raised the “cut scores” that mark a student as advanced, proficient, partially proficient, or not proficient. Students previously had to get just 39 percent of questions right on state tests to pass; they now must get at least 65 percent correct to do so.
  • Headed to the Principal’s Office
    The Knox County principal leadership program is a partnership between the university and the school system. Instructors include both professors and Knox County administrators. It still takes aspiring principals a full year to earn a degree, but they attend classes one-and-a-half school days a week and receive full scholarships. In exchange, they work their current jobs and sign a binding three-year-contract with Knox County schools.
  • New evaluation system a hot-button issue at education forum
    FRANKLIN Tennessee legislators and Department of Education representatives said the new teacher evaluation system is not perfect, but necessary. Questions about the controversial performance evaluations for teachers surfaced time and again during a legislative forum Tuesday sponsored by the Rho Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society held at Liberty Elementary School. On the hot seat were State Sen. Jack Johnson and Reps. Glen Casada, Phillip Johnson and Charles Sargent, along with Sara Heyburn and Stephen Smith, who work with the state department of education. In the audience listening intently were nearly 100 teachers and administrators, sometimes nodding their heads in agreement and other times in dissent.
  • Free Public Online Schools Create Stir in Tennessee
    A new state law this year allows districts to set up virtual schools, making a free education available online to any student in Tennessee. More than 2-thousand students have signed up for Tennessee Virtual Academy run by K-12, a company based in Virginia. The academy is statewide, paid for by tax dollars, and free to residents of Tennessee. A few local districts also have online programs for their students, like Nashville-Davidson County’s Virtual School—which has about 135 high school students enrolled.
  • Teacher Feedback On Evaluations Sought
    Tennessee’s education commissioner says it’s unjustified for critics of the new teacher evaluation system to suggest the department is favoring principals’ feedback over teachers’.
  • We “ain’t” smart, says new survey
    Shelbyville places dead last among mid-sized Tennessee cities (populations between 10,000 and 49,999) in terms of how educated its residents are, according to an analysis of Census data by the web site The Business Journals On Numbers.
  • Forget Wall Street, Go Occupy Your School District
    But when it comes to giving Americans equal opportunity, our schools are demonstrably failing at their task. Today zip codes remain a better predictor of school quality and subsequent opportunities than smarts or hard work. What do I mean by educational inequality? We’re all familiar with achievement gaps between white kids and minorities. But here’s the income-based gap: just 8% of low-income students get a college-degree by the time they are 24 while three-quarters of affluent students do. So why are our schools, which should be an engine of opportunity, barely sputtering along?
  • Will There Be Lawsuits to Stop Arne’s and Obama’s No Child Waiver Gambit?
    But what if Parent Power groups, school choice activists, conservative legal organizations, and civil rights outfits push for a court injunction of the waiver effort? Such a move would once again shine light on one of the most-fervent reasons why so many have objected to the effort. It would also force Obama and Duncan to finally begin working with Congress on a revamp of No Child that will continue to spur systemic reform.
  • Tennessee considers changes to teacher evaluations
    Changes could come to Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system over the summer, Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman told the state legislature’s Joint Operations Committee on Wednesday. But Huffman told lawmakers to expect changes once the Department of Education gathers teacher surveys and measures data to see whether high observation scores mirror high scores for student learning gains. The state also will weigh evidence comparing four evaluation models now used in the state with Memphis City Schools and Hamilton County, which are trying alternative evaluation models.
  • NCES 2008-2009 Finance Data on Public Education at School District Level
    A new NCES report finds that for regular school districts, median current expenditures per pupil were $9,791 in Fiscal Year 09. This First Look report, released by the National Center for Education Statistics, also presents district-level data on revenues by source and expenditures by function for public elementary and secondary education for school year 2008-2009. Other findings include:
    • Adjusting for inflation, for regular school districts median per pupil current expenditures decreased by 1 percent or more in 6 states and increased by 1 percent or more in 38 states from FY 08 to FY 09.
    • In a comparison of median current expenditures for the regular noncharter school districts (i.e., districts which do not contain any charter schools) and independent charter school districts in the 25 states that have such districts, median current expenditures per pupil ranged from $6,906 in Utah to $16,408 in the District of Columbia for regular noncharter school districts in FY 09. Median current expenditures per pupil ranged from $4,492 in South Carolina to $14,767 in the District of Columbia for independent charter school districts in the same set of states.
  • Nashville Public Schools Put More “Choice” in School Choice
    This year, Davidson County Public Schools added six magnet schools for a total of more than 30 theme-based or academic options for students. In Nashville, students must apply to attend these public schools– a process that began November 7 and runs through December 2.

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