• Profits Are for People
    When’s the last time we’ve heard widespread complaints about our clothing stores, supermarkets, computer stores or appliance stores? We are far likelier to hear people complaining about services they receive from the post office, motor vehicle and police departments, boards of education and other government agencies. The fundamental difference between the areas of general satisfaction and dissatisfaction is the pursuit of profits is present in one and not the other. The pursuit of profits forces producers to be attentive to the will of their customers, simply because the customer of, say, a supermarket can fire it on the spot by taking his business elsewhere. If a state motor vehicle department or post office provides unsatisfactory services, it’s not so easy for dissatisfied customers to take action against it. If a private business had as many dissatisfied customers as our government schools have, it would have long ago been out of business.
  • MUST READ: School Competition Rescues Kids
    Do vouchers work? You bet they do. Just ask the low-income kids in Washington, D.C., who have participated in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The U.S. Department of Education found that the voucher kids read better than their government-school counterparts. So what did the politicians do? Expand the program? No. Two years ago, President Obama killed it. The Opportunity Scholarship didn’t offer the full $20,000 that the district squanders on its public schools. It was worth just $7,000, but that was enough to get Ronald into a Catholic school. Despite the data showing that voucher kids are ahead in reading, the biggest teachers union, the NEA claims: “The D.C. voucher program has been a failure. It’s yielded no evidence of positive impact on student achievement.” Why would the union call that a failure? Because vouchers allow parents to make choices, and many parents would chose non-union, non-government-run schools. The school establishment can’t abide this. Too much money and power are at stake.
  • Charter school proposals meet tough sell before unified board
    A dozen companies that planned to open charter schools in the coming year missed the first hurdle Tuesday, including the W.E.B. Du Bois Consortium, led by former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton. Out of 22 applications to the unified schools board, only two KIPP applications were approved. KIPP, a charter firm with a name that stands for Knowledge Is Power Program, intends to open an elementary school and a second middle school in Memphis next fall. The other groups now have until Nov. 9 to correct problems in their applications and resubmit.
  • Teachers’ Union Fat Cats
    As with the celebrities, there’s something rather hilarious about the appearance of the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions at a protest against allegedly pampered fat cats. Few organizations have managed to become so influential — and build such vast coffers — at the expense of taxpayers and their children.
  • Bullying add-ons make No Child reform less certain
    Democrats plan to introduce two anti-bullying amendments when a major education reform proposal hits the Senate floor later this year – but the measures could put bipartisan support for the bill in serious jeopardy.
  • Legislative Brief Examines Tennessee’s Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs
    Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability released a legislative brief, A Review of Tennessee’s Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs, which addresses those efforts. The legislative brief reviews the Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs (the report card), which is annually prepared by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to evaluate teacher preparation programs in Tennessee. The legislative brief may be downloaded from:
  • Haslam talks to South Side High teachers, students about issues
    Gov. Bill Haslam spoke with some South Side High School students and teachers Tuesday morning as part of a regional visit to West Tennessee. The governor met with teachers in the school library and asked them to raise issues or concerns about education. Many teachers and administrators were willing to ask Haslam about everything from the new evaluation system to how to get parents more involved.
  • Nashville alters school lottery name
    Metro Nashville Public Schools will no longer use the word “lottery” as it opens up its newly renamed “Fall Application Process” to parents Nov. 7 to apply for their children to attend 31 schools out of their zones for the 2012-13 school year. Applications will be released Nov. 7, with a return deadline by Dec. 2. Parents can apply to their current school, central office or in most cases online at www.mnps.org. A selection day will be held Jan. 7 at the Martin Professional Development Center for parents to find out if they get in. Metro school board members Tuesday also passed a resolution opposing a bill before the Tennessee General Assembly to offer parents $4,050 in state funding as “vouchers” to use toward private school tuition.
  • Haslam doesn’t support charter school moratorium
    MEMPHIS — Gov. Bill Haslam says he does not support a two-year moratorium on new charter schools after the recently unified school board in Shelby County said it is considering asking state legislators to stop charter school expansion.
  • City Schools extends Gilbert’s contract four years
    Linda Gilbert will lead Murfreesboro City Schools for another four years, the city’s Board of Education decided Tuesday night.
  • McFadden, Thurman Francis open to all
    Rutherford County families wishing to enroll their children in one of the county school system’s two magnet schools serving grades K-8 can do so regardless of their address beginning in January.
  • County schools offer 2 rezoning options to Collierville parents
    Shelby County Schools parents got their first look Monday night at two rezoning options that would at the most transfer 49 students from Schilling Farms Middle School to a new Collierville Middle campus next school year.
  • Memphis: School Board Acts On Charter Schools – School Closings
    The countywide school board approved two of 22 charter school applications Tuesday, Oct. 25. The two KIPP Academies approved are for the Memphis City Schools system. None of the five applicants for charter schools in the Shelby County Schools system were approved by the board which governs the two school systems. The board followed the recommendation of an MCS evaluation team which used a set of rigorous standards to score the applications on a matrix in which an 86 percent score was the threshold for accepting an application. Anything less than that was recommended for denial.
  • Government, Education, and Freedom
    If financial assistance for the poor comes from scholarship programs, isn’t there a risk that those programs will impose restrictions on how the scholarships can be used, thereby curtailing poor families’ educational options? Minimizing that problem is actually one of the many reasons to prefer education tax credits over vouchers.
  • Nearly Half of States Link Teacher Evaluations to Tests
    Nearly two-thirds of states have overhauled policies in the last two years to tighten oversight of teachers, using techniques including tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, linking their pay to performance or making it tougher to earn tenure, according to a report issued Wednesday. At least 23 states and the District of Columbia now evaluate public-school teachers in part by student standardized tests, while 14 allow districts to use this data to dismiss ineffective teachers, according to the report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, an advocacy group. Eleven of these states use the test-score evaluations to decide if teachers get tenure, the report said. “We’ve seen a major policy shift away from [teacher] evaluations that tell us little about whether kids in a particular teacher’s classroom are learning, to evaluations designed to actually identify our most outstanding teachers and those who consistently underperform,” said Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the council, which advocates judging teachers based on performance. For decades, teachers were judged only sporadically, based mainly on brief classroom visits by principals. Pay was awarded by seniority and advanced degrees, and tenure was virtually automatic. Student performance rarely was taken into account. That has shifted as evidence mounts that teacher quality plays a pivotal role in student achievement and people across the political spectrum have pushed for new approaches. In Florida, tenure was eliminated. In Colorado, teachers now must get three positive ratings to earn tenure and can lose it after two bad ones. Several states, including Indiana and Michigan, did away with “last in, first out” union rules that resulted in districts laying off effective new teachers instead of ineffective tenured ones. Indiana and Tennessee passed merit-pay laws that base teacher pay primarily on classroom performance. The report said, however, that continued implementation of the new policies could be derailed.
  • Metro school board votes to urge rejection of state voucher bill
    The Metro Nashville Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to oppose voucher legislation like the one state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has vowed to reintroduce, which would create what he calls “Equal Opportunity Scholarships.” “I’m very disappointed that no one from the state legislature reached out to anybody in Nashville –– I haven’t heard if they have in Memphis, Knoxville or Chattanooga –– to explain why this is necessary,” Hayes said.

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