• Pay More To Get Less?
    Research projects by the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey, Ohio University economist Richard Vedder, and the Manhattan Institute’s Jay Greene and Marcus Winters all found teachers’ hourly earnings exceed significantly those of architects, mechanical engineers, biological and life scientists, and other professionals. Greene and Winters found that the average public school teacher earned $34.06 per-hour in 2005, some 11% more than the average professional specialty and technical worker. Instead of pampering the already pampered, it’s time to stop subsidizing the ongoing failure of public education and let private schools compete with public schools through vouchers and similar ideas. Poor kids would consequently get access to the quality education of private, non-bureaucratic institutions. And public schools would be forced to shape up or flunk out.
  • National standards won’t help, won’t work
    The decentralized nature of our education system is the least of our problems. We should focus on better teaching methods and better training of teachers, as well as school structures that help educators work more as teams. Those teachers could then employ whatever methods and standards make sense.
  • What can teachers learn from chefs? [An excellent insightful must read opinion]
    Few professions have undergone as dramatic a transformation in a 25-year time span as chefs have since the ~1970s. The story of public education’s evolution over the last century is in many ways the story of an ongoing struggle to professionalize teaching. This nuance to the “media as catalyst for professionalism” story suggests a number of implications for teaching.
  • Andy Berke, online school operator trading barbs
    Kwitowski writes, the Chattanooga lawmaker “packs his piece with factual errors, ad hominem [personal] attacks, and wild accusations. It’s an old debate trick used when one is unwilling or unable to argue the merits for or against an issue.” “Of course,” Kwitowski writes, “it’s nonsense,” saying Milken “was never an employee with K12, never served on K12’s board, or held any management or leadership position.”
  • Charter school backers push for independent approval
    Proponents of charter schools in Tennessee will ask lawmakers next session to back an independent board with authority to approve new schools, saying they can no longer sit back and watch local school boards act on anti-charter prejudices. Local school boards in the state have sole authority to approve charter schools. Without an independent board, Throckmorton and other charter advocates say, local politics plays too large a role in where charters are permitted to open.
  • Houston Schools Look to Charters for Guide
    In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular public schools. Houston officials last year embraced five key tenets of such charters at nine district secondary schools; this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A similar effort is beginning in Denver. “We can’t sit idly by and let parents think that only the quality charter schools can educate poor kids well,” said Terry Grier, Houston’s hard-charging superintendent. “If you see something good, why not try to replicate it?”
  • Metro middle schools get on block scheduling
    Metro Nashville middle school students are getting a small taste of life in high school this year. The district’s 34 middle schools adopted block scheduling for the first time. It’s aimed at getting students ready for the structure they will use in grades 9-12 and giving them more time in reading and math. Block scheduling shrinks the number of courses students take per day, often from six or seven to four or five, and increases those classes from 45 to 90 minutes. Metro middle school students now take hour-and-a-half-long classes in math and literacy and take social studies and science every other day. The district built in an hour of daily intervention, for students falling behind, or enrichment for high achievers.
  • Local organizations offer financial literacy courses to high schoolers
    Tennessee will become one of the first states in the country next year to require financial education classes in order for high school students to graduate. But that isn’t stopping schools and organizations in Hamilton County from getting a jump start on giving students a game plan for making smart financial decisions upon entering the adult world.
  • State’s answer to failing schools — led by newcomer — relies heavily on outside charters
    In short, the state’s ASD approach seems two-pronged: Take over some schools. Tap charter groups to lead others. All the while, Barbic said he’s engaged in a constant “listening and learning tour” to find out what has and hasn’t worked in Tennessee. In addition to the request for charter qualifications, Barbic’s office is overseeing the distribution of a hefty $6.8 million federal Investment in Innovation (i3) grant, designed as start-up charter funding.
  • Obama to Call for Washington-Built Schools in ‘Jobs Speech’
    President Obama will likely call for more education spending in his jobs speech scheduled for Thursday, and it’s anticipated that he will make a pitch specifically for new federal funding for school construction. But federally financed school construction is problematic on constitutional and practical grounds. Practically speaking, the federal government is also the most inefficient mechanism for financing school construction. If Washington funds school construction, it must pay prevailing wages, which increase costs, on average, by 22 percent. Because of Davis–Bacon labor laws, schools that receive federal funding for school construction would typically have to hire union workers, increasing costs and preventing non-union construction companies from having a seat at the bidding table.
  • Public invited to peruse textbooks under review
    The Tennessee Department of Education is in the process of selecting textbooks for the 2012-13 school year. Textbook subjects under review include visual arts, music, theater arts, dance, spelling, literature, driver’s education, computer science, health sciences education, business technology, marketing education, technology engineering, education and trade/industrial education. The books are on display at 10 district collection sites throughout the state, including the library at Jackson State Community College, at 2046 North Parkway in Jackson.
  • Collaboration essential to unification of Memphis, Shelby County school systems, officials say
    With all the moving parts involved in merging Shelby County’s two school systems — two superintendents and their staffs, 21 members of a transition commission, 23 members of a unified countywide school board — there is one certainty: the operations of Memphis City Schools must be combined with Shelby County Schools in time for the the 2013-14 school year.

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