• American Federation for Children Fact Sheets Toolbox
    A reminder to everyone out there looking for short, to-the-point primers on all aspects of school choice: download our fact sheets! You can find the full slate of them here, a place that we hope will become a valuable resource for you in spreading the word about why school choice works, how it saves money, and why it’s so important that we continue to fight for it. We have information specific to voucher programs, scholarship tax credit programs, as well as special needs programs. You can find down-to-the-student numbers on how many participants there were last year, as well as put this year’s substantial growth into perspective. We think they’ll be as useful to you as they’ve been to us, so be sure to take a look, spread the word, and download our fact sheets today!
    But while some folks are standing up for kids, elsewhere across the country, it’s kids who are being pushed around. In Arizona, just a few weeks into the launch of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for children with special needs, a tandem of special interests are ganging up on families to protect their own self-interests. The Arizona Education Association and the Arizona School Boards Association are suing to revoke ESAs, which give parents unprecedented control over how money for their child’s education is used. More than 100 families have already signed up for the program. It’s one thing to oppose a policy—everyone is entitled to their opinion—but when that opposition begins to leave families confused and fearful about whether their child can continue in the school they chose, things have crossed a clearly-marked line. There’s almost a sad irony involved in watching two organizations that (rightly) spoke out forcefully against bullying earlier in the year, only to engage in that very tactic against the most defenseless of victims. Lawsuits should never trump the well-being of children, and to disrupt their environment months into the school year is only to set them up for failure. Do you agree? If so, sign our petition to let the special interests know that, once and for all, they need to Put Kids First!
  • Republicans target health, education for cuts
    House Republicans on Thursday released their draft 2012 budget for labor, health and education programs, a giant $153.4 billion measure that moves toward the Democrats in total dollars but still challenges President Barack Obama almost across the board on labor rules and his prized education and healthcare reforms. Public school Title 1 and special education assistance emerge with significant funding increases above 2011. Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative would be wiped out entirely; deep cuts would be made in aid to Hispanic education institutions.
  • Eight Practices Set the Best Expanded Learning Schools Apart – Beyond School
    Eight strategies set apart high-performing expanded learning time schools from their peers, says a new report from the National Center on Time & Learning. All the schools examined in the report have used various expanded-time models and seen improvements in students, staff, and the schools overall. These schools, some of which are charters, shared similar characteristics in how they used the increased time, summarized in eight practices:
  • Schools host town hall to discuss ACLU suit
    Sumner County Schools will host a town hall meeting Monday, Oct. 3 in response to recent backlash over the district’s decision to bar district employees from praying at school events. The meeting will be from 6-7:30 p.m. in the gym at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. The purpose of the informational meeting will be to discuss and answer questions about ongoing litigation with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which filed a lawsuit in May accusing the Board of Education of promoting Christianity.
  • Community gets involved in students’ education
    When it comes to students in the Tennessee Valley, one city’s business leaders decided to step out of the office and into the classroom. The Albertville Chamber of Commerce funds the CHOICES program. Going on the sixth year, they’ll bring business leaders into the classroom to talk about real world issues.
  • Momentum Builds for Teacher Education Overhaul
    Momentum appears to be gathering behind a U.S. Department of Education plan to hold teacher education programs accountable for the achievement of students taught by their graduates. Through a negotiated rulemaking process, the Education Department wants to streamline and rewrite the reporting requirements contained in Title II of the Higher Education Act. Colleges of education participating in student financial aid currently must report information on candidates’ pass rates on licensure exams and identify low-performing programs. Among other steps, the Education Department would require education schools to report on three new measures:
  • State education commissioner announces strategic plan
    Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman released his strategic plan Friday, outlining the department of education’s four strategies for supporting districts in reaching their ambitious academic goals. The plan calls for expand kids’ access to effective teachers and leaders, families’ access to good schools, educators’ access to resources and best practices and public access to information and data. Undergirding each of the priorities is the commitment to structure an effective state agency that serves as a support system to school districts, rather than a regulator, while allowing for policies that remove bureaucracy and unleash innovation. In every priority, the department will focus on improvement in rural schools and reducing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. The full plan can be found at www.tn.gov/education.
  • Hamilton County moves on STEM school
    Hamilton County will move forward with the grant application to open a new science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, school. But school board members caution that more details need to be ironed out before committing to the project.
  • Best High Schools for Math and Science
    U.S. News STEM Education Center…looked at the nearly 600 schools that qualified for the Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention lists of the U.S. News Best High Schools and then evaluated their students’ participation rates and performances on AP® exams in math and science. The following are the 208 high schools that performed the best in those subjects.
  • BOE not accountable for evaluation
    he Cumberland County Board of Education continues to look for ways to better evaluate the director of schools.
  • Application for ASD charter school in Hamilton County rejected
    Hamilton County will have to wait until next year for another shot at the potential addition of a new charter school backed by the Tennessee Achievement School District. Tennessee law prohibits for profit entities from running charter schools, even if they have nonprofit boards. That meant the application of Mosaica Education, Inc., a “global leader in education reform,” was immediately rejected—despite the company’s operation of more than 90 charter schools serving 15,000 students across the country.
  • TN teachers use ‘creative’ strategies with ADHD students
    Tennessee teachers are not trained to deal with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but with 11 percent of their students diagnosed with it, they’re learning strategies to cope. The state — and the rest of the South — is near the top of the nation for ADHD diagnoses, and the numbers are growing. How teachers challenged…
  • Meetings at schools designed to help Latino parents, students
    Latino parents of middle school and high school students in Nashville are invited to a series of meetings aimed at improving their children’s learning experience. The events will be presented in Spanish and care will be available for children age 3 and up. Meetings and topics…
  • Memphis-Shelby County schools transition team names Prescott its chairwoman » The Commercial Appeal
    [Memphis-Shelby County schools transition team worked at]…creating a meetings calendar; preparing requests for proposals from consultants; establishing an aggressive timeline for developing a plan; identifying subcommittees to start the work; and, establishing the vision, values and goals for the schools merger process. The team also heard presentations from leaders of the two merging systems, Memphis City Schools and suburban Shelby County Schools, on the successes and challenges facing their students, teachers and administrators.
  • Bartlett urged to study creating separate schools
    Bartlett Board of Mayor and Aldermen…aldermen voted 5-1 to enter into a $72,000 contract with Southern Educational Strategies, LLC for a feasibility study on starting a municipal school district in Bartlett. Arlington, Collierville and Germantown previously hired Southern Educational Strategies for similar studies. Lakeland’s Board of Commissioners will consider a contract with the consulting firm at its Oct. 6 meeting.
  • School Choice Data Yields Degrees, Determination
    Alliance For School Choice: The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted an expansive study on school choice in North Carolina and the long-term effects it has on students. The results? Not only are choice students more likely to graduate from high school, attend a four-year college, and earn a bachelor’s degree, but they’re also more likely to earn a degree from a so-called “elite” university. Far beyond the positive results of yearly test scores, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the existence of educational options can change the trajectory of a child’s life entirely. And it’s especially important for combating the ever-growing achievement gap: access to choice can erase 75 percent of the existing achievement gap between black and white children (not to mention 25 percent of the gap in bachelor’s degree completion). The stories and the passions behind school choice supporters are great, but a little bit of data doesn’t hurt, either! And on the heels of the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll from the summer showing rising school choice support across ideological lines, this is reinforcing the fact that school choice is poised to spread.
  • NCES Releases Report on Dropout Prevention Services and Programs in Public School Districts: 2010–11
    Dropout Prevention Services and Programs in Public School Districts: 2010–11, a First Look report from the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) provides national data about how public school districts identify students at risk of dropping out, programs used specifically to address the needs of students at risk of dropping out of school, the use of mentors for at-risk students, and efforts to encourage dropouts to return to school. Key findings include:
    • Eighty-eight percent of districts with high school grades reported offering to students at risk of dropping credit recovery courses or programs, 72 percent reported offering smaller class size, 63percent early graduation options, and 55 percent self-paced courses for purposes other than credit recovery.
    • Eighty-four percent of districts reported regularly providing information to the receiving schools about the unique needs of individual at-risk students when students transition to a school at a higher instructional level (e.g., from middle school to high school).
    • Districts reported working with various entities to address the needs of students at risk of dropping out. Among those were child protective services (85 percent), community mental health agencies (73 percent), state or local government agencies that provide financial assistance to needy families (68 percent), churches or community organizations (54 percent), and health clinics or hospitals (50 percent).
  • Saving Catholic Education
    Catholic education in the United States is in dire straits. A report from Loyola Marymount University in June found that Catholic schools continue to close even though they graduate 98% of their high school students and send almost all of them onto college. In the early 1960s, the U.S. had over 13,000 Catholic schools with 5.5 million students. Today there are 6,900 schools with two million students. This trend is due not to lack of demand, but to the inability of parents to pay tuition. The urban poor are more desperate than ever for Catholic education. Urban public schools have failed these families, graduating approximately 30% of Los Angeles high school students in four years. Catholic schools are their best hope—something I know from personal experience. So why are Catholic schools the answer to our urban education woes? Aren’t charter schools beginning to help this underserved population? But not everyone will be able to attend charter schools because the capacity isn’t there. Charter schools are public schools that receive the same dollars as other public schools. By contrast, Catholic schools rely on private contributions and tuition from some of our poorest families. Many students in Catholic schools are not Catholic. As Catholic school teachers often say, “We provide this education not because the students are Catholic but because we are.” Our faith calls us to it. In the years that I was mayor of Los Angeles, I was interested to find that some of the best people who worked for me had Catholic school experience. Each of us, no matter what career we have followed, has an obligation to educate the next generation. The education needed for success in our world necessarily includes the basics of reading, writing and math. It must also include the ability to reason, to make good judgments, and to be responsible for our planet and all its peoples. These have been the fundamentals of our Catholic schools for over a century. We must guarantee they are here for generations to come.

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