- Charter-School Bill Expected to Pass House
The House is expected to pass a bill next week that would expand the number and quality of charter schools nationwide. But the legislation’s prospects in the Senate are uncertain at best.
- Quality Homework – A Smart Idea
Do American students have too much homework or too little? Neither, I’d say. We ought to be asking a different question altogether. What should matter to parents and educators is this: How effectively do children’s after-school assignments advance learning? The quantity of students’ homework is a lot less important than its quality. And evidence suggests that as of now, homework isn’t making the grade.
- Will Third Government School Bailout Improve Student Achievement?
Is there any proof that any of the money spent so far has done anything for student achievement? I mean, even raised it one single, solitary point on a standardized test? And now, on the eve of an election year – and fresh off an endorsement from the National Education Association – the White House has proposed spending another $35 billion to “rehire laid-off teachers.” The White House estimates up to 285,000 teaching jobs could be saved. Whether lay-offs were prudent due to declining enrollment is irrelevant, of course. This is further proof our government schools are little more than a public works project for adults than places of learning for students. Otherwise, why would the focus continuously be on “jobs” and not “student achievement?”
- Incomplete Report Is Incomplete
The report offers no action items and no conclusions of substance beyond “a second phase of education reform focused on middle-class schools can’t begin soon enough.” A focus on the black/white, urban/suburban achievement gap doesn’t translate to mo-money for them any more, because they’ve gotten mo-money for that for decades and have squat to show for it. Is the mo-money line going to start migrating to other issues now? Perhpas they’ve discovered a perpetual motion machine. You spend decades complaining that we need to increase spending in the inner city because we spend less there than in the suburbs, then once you can’t say we spend less in the inner city any more, you start saying we need to increase spending in the suburbs – because, of course, we spend less there than in the inner city! Rinse and repeat in perpetuity.
- “Teachers Don’t Do It For The Money” So…
Compensation isn’t just about today’s teachers, it also matters in terms of recruiting tomorrow’s. And to paint teachers as just do-gooders who are immune to the choices and incentives that drive all of us is just another way we infantilize rather than elevate teachers in our society.
- President Proposes Another Jobs Stimulus, $60 Billion for Education
The president’s proposal includes $30 billion to stem teacher layoffs and increase school hiring, $25 billion for K-12 school construction, and$5 billion for community college renovations.
- Sumner County teachers’ union sues school district
HENDERSONVILLE: The Sumner County Education Association is suing the county’s Board of Education, claiming the First Amendment rights of the teachers’ union were violated. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Nashville this week says the local chapter of the Tennessee Education Association has been denied use of school facilities, email and the ability to represent teachers being reprimanded, warned or disciplined.
- American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice
- Blount County School Board denies Hope Academy a second time
The Blount County School Board on Thursday night denied the amended application to start a charter school STEM academy in Blount County. This is the second time the board has denied an application by the partnership. Britt said there are still significant concerns about student enrollment, instructional programming, including the delivery of special education services and fiscal planning. Board member Dr. Don McNelly made the motion to deny the request, and board member Brad Long seconded it. McNelly, Long and board members Rob Webb, Mike Treadway and Charles Finley voted to deny the application. Board member Chris Cantrell was absent. Mary Bogart, president of the board of Innovative Educational Partnership, said, “We will be submitting a letter to the state board of education to appeal.” My biggest concern was where we are financially,” he [Treadway] said. “I felt like this was going to create a lot of unnecessary stress on our system.” “We will get the written objections from the school board, and then we will file an appeal with the Tennessee Department of Education,” he [Tab Burkhalter] said. “From there, it is in their hands.”
- Middle-Class Schools Fail to Make the Grade
The report, “Incomplete: How Middle-Class Schools Aren’t Making the Grade,” also found middle-class schools are underachieving. It pointed to their national and international test scores and noted that 28% of their graduates earn a college degree by age 26, compared to 17% for lower-income students and 47% for upper-income students. Michele Rhee, the former chief of Washington, D.C., schools who heads the advocacy group Students First, said the country must focus on fixing fundamental flaws in public education, such as how teachers are paid, hired and laid off. “But for this movement to really gain hold, we need to engage the middle-class parents who think their schools are doing just fine,” she said. The average salary of teachers in middle-class schools is $48,432, compared with $54,035 for upper-income schools and $50,035 for lower-income schools, according to the report. Schools in the middle have an average student-to-teacher ratio of 17.5, compared with 14.6 for upper-income schools and 17 for lower-income ones. Middle-class districts spend $10,349 per student, compared with $11,925 for upper-class schools and $11,799 for low-income schools, the report says. According to the report, less than a third of students who attend middle-class schools score proficient on national 4th- and 8th-grade reading and 8th-grade math exams. About 36% are proficient in 4th-grade math. In upper-income schools, more than half the students are proficient on the 4th- and 8th-grade reading and 4th-grade math, while 46% are proficient in 8th-grade reading. In low-income schools, less than 20% of students are proficient on all of those exams. “When we talk about closing the achievement gaps, we need to bring the low-income kids up, but we also need to raise scores of the other kids,” said Amy Wilkins, Vice President of Government Affairs for Education Trust, a non-profit that focuses on poor and minority families. “Just chasing mediocrity isn’t enough.”
- Williamson County schools set sights on developing bilingual kids
Kindergartners in Williamson County could soon be on their way to becoming fluent in a second language. It’s only a goal for now, but school officials in the district are working toward the idea and have narrowed down the language choice to Mandarin Chinese, German, Spanish or French. Ultimately, whatever is selected would be taught to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, much like students around the world are taught English as a second language. Anderson said there is a committee researching all the options, and Looney says it wouldn’t start until the 2013-14 school year.
- Schools can’t prove taxpayer-funded tutoring helps
Private tutoring, funded by taxpayers and free to public school students, is a multimillion-dollar business in Nashville. There are nearly 50 companies jockeying for 17,000 eligible Metro students. But after years of offering tutoring required by the federal No Child Left Behind law, the local school district and other districts nationwide can’t prove that it has helped schools. While parents and tutors say individual students demonstrate big gains, only three of the 19 Nashville schools offering the program last year met federal learning benchmarks. Tennessee and two other states are asking the federal Department of Education to let them use the tutoring money for other measures to help students, such as longer school days and years.
- Tensions high amid Memphis-Shelby County schools merger process
Memphians protested last winter about the new Norris-Todd state law giving control of the schools merger transition commission largely to elected officials with suburban Republican voting bases. Picks to the transition team were completed last week, pending expected approval Monday of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s five picks. Including non-voting members Luttrell, Martavius Jones (Memphis City Schools board president) and David Pickler (chairman of suburban Shelby County Schools), it breaks down like this — 11 suburbanites to 10 Memphians, 15 men to six women, 14 white members to seven black members. Also of note: None of the 21 members currently has a child attending an MCS or SCS school. The team is charged with creating a plan to merge the approximately 103,000-student MCS together with the 47,000-student SCS system. The state and 23-member unified school board must approve the plan. Members are grouped below by appointment: