• Why My Daughters Go To Private School, Even Though I Can’t Afford It – Part 1
    Sure, the most common perception is that a private school education is only for the rich and privileged. And while that opinion might have some historical truth, I’d like to suggest a slight amendment to that statement that would make it more accurate: Private school education is not only for the rich and privileged, but also for any parent who is willing to go into debt, those willing to fundraise, those willing borrow from family, those willing to volunteer time, and especially ONLY for those willing make massive sacrifices to their lifestyles, all for the sake of their kids.
  • Why My Daughters Go to Private School, Even Though I Can’t Afford It — Part 2
    In the public school system, it’s a commonly accepted notion that everyone in grade school (junior kindergarten to grade eight) passes. Sure, some students may get C’s in their report card, on a rare occasion a D, but never an “F.” No matter how incompetent or how unprepared a child is to move to the next grade, they still get passed. Like an assembly line, no discrimination, no quality control — from one teacher to the next. My point is that the grades reported to parents in the term report cards may not truly reflect actual achievements and abilities. As a parent trying to prepare my kids for the real world, that’s truly a concern for me, as it would be for any CEO of a company trying to make decisions based on skewed or made up performance reports.
  • The AFT’s Full Disclosure: $34 Million to Preserve Its Influence
    he nation’s second-largest teachers’ union spent $34 million on political activities (including lobbying) and contributions to what (in theory) should be like-minded groups. As for the AFT’s leadership: They were well paid this year.
  • DPS teacher-pay system likely boosting student achievement, study finds
    Researchers have completed a three-year study of Denver Public Schools’ pay-for-performance system, finding that at least two bonuses available to teachers correlate to improved student test scores. One of the measures linked to improved test scores needs — and deserves — improvement, the researchers said.
  • In Defense of “Achievement Gap Mania”
    The focus on the achievement gap is important because it cuts to the heart of American ideals. We believe in equality of opportunity. We believe in meritocracy. We believe in class mobility and self-determination. Call it the triumph of hope over experience if you wish, but we believe that public education can help achieve all of this and we refuse to give up on the notion. The terrible truth of course is that our public education system is pervasively classist to an extent that goes far deeper than the naive equity funding attorneys ever seemed to grasp. If we auctioned the limited supply of high quality public school seats on Ebay rather than covertly through mortgages, perhaps all of this would more transparent.
  • Hamilton County set to open online institution
    An online-only Hamilton County Virtual School will likely throw open its virtual doors in the next few months, offering services to more students while also saving them thousands in tuition. The Hamilton County Department of Education has applied to open its own virtual school, which would move its current courses from a district program to a state-approved individual online school.
  • Federal Budget Cuts Likely for Education
    Congress passed another Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government with $1 trillion through November 18. It trimmed federal education spending by $2.4 billion, or 3.5 percent of the $69 billion it allotted to education.
  • Specialists work to stem dropouts, improve student graduation rate
    School officials have been focused on student attendance and have stated that it has direct impact on student achievement and graduation rates. Liberty and Jackson Central-Merry once struggled with graduation rates under the federal guidelines for No Child Left Behind. With the combined efforts of teachers, counselors, attendance secretaries, Henning and Hill, those schools are no longer on the state’s list. Students with 10 unexcused absences, along with their families, must face the district’s truancy board, which consists of 20 members from the community.
  • Bad Teachers Have to Go
    Our leaders seem congenitally unable to lead a difficult but honest conversation about our nation’s teaching force that acknowledges that several things are all true at once — we have a teacher quality problem and a management problem, teachers are not to blame for all that ails our schools, we can’t fire our way to better schools, but removing some percentage of low-performers would be quite good for students. Instead we have a shallow debate dancing around the thing that matters most in schools: instructional quality. A landmark 2009 report by The New Teacher Project found that almost all — 99% — of teachers were given satisfactory evaluations even in the lowest performing schools. Unfortunately, to raise these issues is to invite the charge of “teacher bashing.” But these charges are not leveled to help teachers. Rather, they’re made to squelch debate. It’s basically intellectual McCarthyism intended to dissuade people from raising the hard questions.There are two key takeaways from this research. First, the lowest-performing teachers have a negative effect on student performance that is disproportionate to their numbers. Second, in practice this amounts to just one or two teachers per school on average. Most workplaces have similar problems.
  • Monroe schools agree to allow gay-straight alliance T-shirts after student claims harassment
    MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — The Monroe County Board of Education has agreed to allow students to wear T-shirts that support of the formation of a gay-straight alliance. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee earlier this month demanded the board revise its policies after Sequoyah High School student Chris Sigler said he was shoved and taunted by his principal for wearing a T-shirt that supported the club. The Monroe County School System disputed that claim. However, the schools agreed this week to review their dress code policy to ensure that it protects students’ rights to free speech.
  • Science behind new teacher evaluations
    Joseph Womack is president and founder of Schoolstation, a Murfreesboro-based software development firm specializing in applications for Tennessee’s public school systems. In light of new laws changing the way teachers are evaluated, Post reporter Jonathon Fagan sat down with Womack to get a handle on the new guidelines and how they will affect teachers. Q: You are intimately familiar with both the old and new evaluation process. How did the old process work and how does it differ from the new process?
  • Guess Who Voiced Support for Vouchers Almost a Decade and a Half Ago?
    One of the more disappointing educational developments we’ve seen since the current presidential administration took over was, of course, the ending of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program back in 2009. And though the program was reauthorized earlier this year, support and funding for the program is always perilous, and the political winds of the day often dictate whether it will be a target, despite its overwhelming success since it was enacted back in 2004. That’s in part why we’ve been so disappointed about the lack of response from the current crop of Republican presidential candidates to our school choice survey.
  • Ben Austin: Diane Ravitch: Proving Why Parents Need a Revolution
    Unfortunately, it has become clear over the past two years that those who currently hold power view parent empowerment as a threat and, therefore, will do whatever they can to stop it. So let’s debate. But let’s stick to the facts. Let’s cut the name calling and conspiracy theories. Let’s agree that it’s time for the adults to start acting like grown-ups. And most important, let’s hold ourselves accountable to making every single decision about school policy and union contracts as if that decision would directly impact our own children.
  • School change must come from outside
    For the last 43 years, I’ve served as a teacher, principal, and school district superintendent with the sole goal of helping all children receive a quality education. Much of my career has been spent working in urban districts where generations of low-income, minority children have been forced to attend violent, chronically failing schools. In many communities, our public-education system has returned to separate and unequal. Access to a quality education is the civil rights battle of our generation. Before my tenure as superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, I had always believed the best way to improve access to quality education for low-income families was to implement needed reforms from within the education system. Recently, I’ve come to a sad realization. Real reform will never come from within the system because too many powers that be (the teachers’ union, politicians, consultants, vendors, etc.) have a vested interested in maintaining the status quo that is failing our children.
  • Splitting Hairs on the Cadaver
    Bottom line: There’s little evidence that either spending money or “accountability” has worked. Why the futility? Because federal policy is ultimately driven by what makes politicians look best, which at first was spending dough to show they cared, then making unrealistic, inevitably gamed demands to show that they cared in kind of a tough-guy way. And whether any of these things eventually translated into academic success has meant nothing for the politicians who voted for them because few voters connect failure to individual pols.

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