• The New Civil Rights Leaders
    Old-school civil rights activists are fading into the history books — making way for a new generation. Quick: Who are the nation’s most relevant civil rights leaders?
  • Democrats for Education Reform
    I concluded that the teachers and administrators in the high performing schools were determined to educate their students despite – or even in spite of – the lack of parental involvement and their socio-economic conditions. Are there people who are terrible parents, people who ought not be parents in the first place? Absolutely, and they don’t all reside in high poverty urban communities! But they are not the majority in any school. They are not the reason that more than 60% of fifth grade children at Hamilton Elementary School in Detroit are NOT proficient in reading and more than 80% are NOT proficient in math. If you stand outside Hamilton before and after school, you see happy children and caring parents, just like you see in the suburbs and at high performing schools anywhere.
  • Senators’ No Child Left Behind ‘Fix’ Is on Washington’s Terms
    Last Thursday, four Senators—Lamar Alexander (R–TN), Johnny Isakson (R–GA), Mark Kirk (R–IL), and Richard Burr (R–NC)—introduced a package of five bills that together comprise their proposal to “fix” No Child Left Behind (NCLB). While the Senators’ proposal may cut down the page-count of the current NCLB, it does so by replacing detailed legislative specifics with an increase in the Secretary of Education’s direct authority over state education accountability systems. States will submit to the Secretary their plan to overhaul their accountability systems in the absence of AYP. It must then be approved by a peer review board chosen by the Secretary of Education.
  • The Solyndra of Digital Learning
    Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, and Netflix CEO, Reed Hasting, have an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal that starts out great but then goes dramatically downhill. The last thing digital learning needs is a government funded outfit to develop it. The government is particularly bad at picking technological winners and losers. And if the government pours money into Digital Promise and signals to states and districts that they should adopt what Digital Promise endorses, they will stifle a developing vibrant marketplace that will experiment with different technologies and approaches to learn what work best.
  • What Banning Collective Bargaining Doesn’t Mean
    But on the education front, Walker, Kasich and others fail to consider the reality that ending collective bargaining won’t lead to meaningful school reform. Despite their weakened positions, the NEA and AFT still have the war chests and the bodies to influence state laws in order to achieve their goals. For the NEA and AFT, along with other public sector unions, focusing on lobbying and campaigns actually works better for their cause than collective bargaining. Why? Because they no longer have to slog through negotiations with hundreds of districts. They can bring lobbying heft to the table, and also bring paid research as well. Meanwhile it isn’t just the NEA and AFT that are opponents of efforts to overhaul teacher compensation and other school reforms. Suburban school districts have spent the past two decades opposing expansion of charter schools, and have been among the loudest foes of standards-and-accountability moves such as the No Child Left Behind Act. Many urban school districts have been unwilling to aggressively tackle their dysfunctional bureaucracies and embrace the kind of outsourcing efforts used to achieve efficiency in the private sector.
  • Middle Tennessee school systems view social media differently
    Middle Tennessee school districts are taking different approaches to social media. While one has halted their use for official school business, another is building a fan base.
  • Wanted: schools close to home
    How many kids walk and how many ride buses and cars is just one consequence of school placement decisions that Middle Tennessee schools have been making rapidly. The MPO asked schools to consider transportation impacts on quality of life. A survey found that pressure to build schools quickly doesn’t encourage municipal and school officials to work together and that upfront construction costs overshadow other factors.
  • Sen. Alexander proposes changes to No Child Left Behind
    Alexander and Isakson, as well as Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, talked about the bill they planned to introduce on Thursday, Sept. 15. “The principle effect of the bill will be for the nation’s 100,000 public schools to end federal mandates with the federal government deciding which schools are succeeding or failing,” Alexander said. “The reason we thought this needs to be done is that it is time to transfer responsibility back to the states and cities. As most of you know, 44 states have adopted common core academic standards. Our proposal would leave in place the principle contribution of No Child Left Behind — the report cards on schools.”
  • New ‘School Trigger’ Laws Take Parent Engagement to a New Level
    New legislation, called the parent trigger, which is being proposed in more than 20 states, including New York, is about to make your role as an engaged parent a lot more complicated. On a policy level, it’s an encouraging development. For years, well-heeled reformers, well-meaning politicians and education bureaucrats have imposed an agenda on public school children with almost no regard for the families of the children they claim to be serving. The trigger creates an opportunity for parents to be heard. University of Washington studied the school choice process in Hartford, they found that schools with the highest levels of parental satisfaction were often ones with the lowest levels of academic achievement.
  • Arne Duncan and Reed Hastings: A Digital Promise to Our Nation’s Children
    Student achievement and educational attainment have stagnated in the U.S., and a host of our leading economic competitors are now out-educating us. In a knowledge economy, such stagnation is a slow-acting recipe for obsolescence. Department of Education is launching a unique public-private partnership called Digital Promise. Digital Promise is a bipartisan initiative that will be sustained primarily by the private sector. Digital Promise’s aim is ambitious: to advance breakthrough technologies that transform teaching and learning in and out of the classroom, while creating a business environment that rewards innovation and entrepreneurship. Digital Promise can show leadership in areas such as helping build a more efficient market for education technology. It can also help ameliorate problems such as local school officials lacking access to good information about the effectiveness of various educational technology products, and prospective product developers’ difficulties reaching customers on an economically valuable scale. Digital Promise will also support new investments in research and development. To spur more R&D, Digital Promise can promote the rapid testing of new products modeled after Internet companies such as Netflix, which use low-cost experimentation to improve their products. Thankfully, educational technologies already have the potential to quickly identify what works to boost learning and refine tools that need improvement. Transforming the use of educational technology is vitally important to America’s continued success in the global economy. We are optimistic that with the right ideas the U.S. can become a leader in leveraging the power of technology to promote learning.
  • The Republicans’ NCLB Plan
    Even though national assessment standards would be repealed under his plan, Alexander says the rigorous testing requirements would remain in place, including the mandate that schools report disaggregated data. The other proposals in the Republican plan would eliminate a federal standard for highly qualified teachers (leaving those certifications for states), consolidate federal funding from 59 programs into two flexible block grants, and encourage the expansion of charter schools.
  • County Commission to consider returning PILOT funds to school system
    Hamilton County commissioners will reconsider a resolution that allowed the commission to keep business-related tax dollars originally intended for the county Board of Education. School officials wanted the PILOT funds for their general operating budget, which had a $17 million shortfall going into the fiscal year 2012. Commissioners wanted the money earmarked for new school construction, historically funded by the County Commission’s bond program. Commissioners backed up their action with a ruling from the Tennessee attorney general, who ruled in their favor. Commissioners approved the decision 8-1 but several commissioners said Friday they are willing to reconsider their positions.
  • Homeschool Gets Better Report Card Than Public Schools
    Homeschooled children, when following a structured education plan, tend to test higher than their publicly-schooled counterparts and fellow homeschoolers whose time is unstructured, research shows. “The evidence presented here is in line with the assumption that homeschooling offers benefits over and above those experienced in public school,” Chang said. A National Home Education Research Institute study found that home learners consistently scored higher than public school students in social development – especially girls and older children. “I’ve observed hundreds of homeschooled children of various ages in various places in two countries, so I’m confident that home-schooling children doesn’t harm them socially.”
  • Gov. Jindal To Campaign on Behalf of School Choice Candidates as Part of His Re-Election Effort
    Louisiana school board candidates who favor vouchers and oppose tenure are expected to receive a boost from Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is up for re-election this fall, and a new political action committee.

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