• School Choice Now!: Want to Reform Our Country’s Schools? Think Outside the Box.
    [Ok, this is just for fun] In the video below, a young boy reminds us that sometimes—even when others are resigned to failure—you must think outside the box to make a change.
  • The Hidden Costs of the National Standards Push
    Over the past 10 years, taxpayers have invested significant amounts of money in their states’ accountability systems. It could cost California taxpayers $1.6 billion to overhaul their existing high quality standards and tests for unproven national standards; in Texas, leaders estimate it would take $3 billion. There are many constitutional and pragmatic concerns with national standards and tests. But the expense to taxpayers should be near the top of the list.
  • Sumner County’s new schools chief deals with lawsuits, cuts
    Del Phillips, 39, walked into his job as Sumner County’s director of schools three months ago, and it’s already required him to furlough employees, close a night school, pick 91 positions to cut and work through lawsuits filed by the county’s teachers union over contract agreements and the ACLU over whether schools promote Christianity. Phillips…sat down with The Tennessean this week… to talk about the direction he hopes to move the rural, 27,000-student district.
  • TN tracks Race to the Top spending
    A new report from the state comptroller’s office has found that local school districts are spending their portion of Tennessee’s $500 million award of federal Race to the Top funds in a variety of ways. The report focused on 12 districts chosen to reflect a mix of rural, urban and suburban districts from around the state. Some examples of how they are spending Race to the Top funds include:
  • Bartlett businessman named as final appointee to school merger planning committee
    Larry Spiller, who owns a pest-control business in Bartlett, is the final appointee to the 21-member transition planning commission set up by state law to plan for the merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools. State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey announced his appointment today.
  • Obama Calls for $60 Billion to Save Teacher Jobs, Fix Schools
    President Barack Obama called for $30 billion in new money to stave off teacher layoffs—and $30 billion more to revamp facilities at the nation’s K-12 schools and community colleges—as he outlined his vision for spurring the sputtering economy in a speech to Congress Thursday night. However, details have emerged on what the education portion will look like.
  • TEAM Work
    So, what do I think about the new evaluation system? It can be, in a word, transformative. In the Knox County Schools, we have been fortunate to witness the TAP System in action in four of our schools for the past several years.  What we found was that the evaluation rubric (coupled with teacher leadership, teacher collaboration, and performance-based compensation) changed the nature of the professional conversations and activities in our schools.  With a common language, clear expectations, and a detailed blueprint of what good instruction looks like, the teachers in our TAP schools enthusiastically developed and embraced a culture of continuous instructional improvement.  We saw the results reflected in positive student academic outcomes.
  • Citizen’s Pledge to Support School Choice
    Sign the “Citizen’s Petition to Support School Choice” today and stand with the American Federation for Children (AFC). With your support, AFC will continue to lead the fight against anti-reform special interests that seek to turn back the clock on parental rights in education. When you provide your full address They’ll send you a free bumper sticker and information packet. Your information will not be shared with anyone outside of the American Federation for Children
  • Ohio reduces convictions in closely watched school choice case
    [Woo-hoo!] Ohio Governor John Kasich said on Wednesday that an Akron-area mother convicted of felony charges for lying about where she lived to enroll her children in a suburban school district deserves a second chance.
    Kelley Williams-Bolar, 41, attracted national attention and drew the support of school-choice advocates after she was convicted and jailed for using her father’s address to enroll her two daughters in the higher performing Copley Fairlawn School District instead of the Akron Public Schools. Kasich, a Republican, reduced Williams-Bolar’s two felony convictions to misdemeanors, overruling the state’s parole board, which last week rejected a pardon in the case.
  • Homeschool Co-ops Tap Pooled Resources
    Unlike most homeschooling, in which a child is primarily taught by his or her own parents, students in co-ops often share teachers and sometimes are taught in shared classrooms outside the home. In the case of San Francisco Schoolhouse, the families will share the cost of paying for two teachers and parents will serve as field-trip directors. One advantage of the co-ops, supporters say, is that families split the teaching costs while exposing their children to the social interaction that homeschooling critics say they miss out on by not attending traditional schools. And it is less pricey than San Francisco private-school tuition. This year, Ms. Dake and other parents involved in San Francisco Schoolhouse will spend $7,000 to $9,000, compared with upward of $20,000 a year for many private schools. Initially motivated largely for religious reasons but now including many people who are frustrated with the current education system, homeschooling has swelled across the country. There were 1.5 million students being homeschooled nationwide in 2007, the latest figures available, up from 850,000 students in 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The department doesn’t track co-ops. Under the co-op structure, the parents agreed to supervise students on Fridays, rotating turns to perform duties such as leading field trips to local museums. For the other four days of the week, they hired two veteran teachers…to perform the actual class instruction. The parents contracted with the teachers to pay them directly as tutors. They are also splitting other costs, such as for the rent of a converted storage room at a Richmond district synagogue, which the teachers were decorating with brightly colored pictures and papers one day last week.
  • More than 42,000 students enrolled in Hamilton County Schools
    Twenty days into the academic year, Hamilton County Schools report a total enrollment of 42,236 students—286 more than last year. Both elementary and middle schools account for the entirety of growth within the county, in which 209 and 267 students were added to enrollment rosters this year, respectively. Local high schools recorded a net loss of 190 students on the twentieth day of school compared to last year, bringing the system wide total down. “It’s not a secret, we’ve already started some talks about rezoning next year and what we’re going to have to do to alleviate crowding at several sites,” Evatt said. The next school board session is scheduled for Sept. 15 at the Department of Education board room on Hickory Valley Road.
  • Parent Power: Helping You Make Sense of Schooling Today
    Parent Power provides the tools for parents to become empowered and make the best decisions possible for their child’s future. Whether you have questions about charter schools, school choice, curriculum, evaluating your child’s school, digital learning, or even how to stay involved and informed with your child’s homework, the site will help you get the answers you need. Parent Power will help you navigate the system and take control over your child’s learning.
  • Detroit Schools Praised Despite Persistent Woes
    Two years after branding Detroit public schools “arguably the worst urban school district in the country,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered a more upbeat view on a visit here Thursday, expressing confidence that student performance could improve at the fastest rate in the U.S. Detroit still has dozens of substandard schools, sliding enrollment and a $327 million budget deficit that widened after the state took over the district in 2009 and put it under the control of an emergency financial manager. Under the first of those managers, Robert Bobb, the district pushed aggressively to stem the loss of students to suburban districts, root out corruption, open more charter schools and cut personnel costs. But by the end of Mr. Bobb’s term, many of his initiatives ran into legal challenges from the school board, while financial pressures grew. Roy Roberts, his successor…”The system is wrong,” he said. “Every day that we don’t make the right decision for Detroit public schools, we hurt a child. I’m not going to wait.”
  • Dyersburg: County School Board hears teacher evaluations explained, votes on school name change
    The Dyer County School Board held its monthly meeting at the Dyer County School Board Central Office located at 159 Everett Ave. on Tuesday evening. In a fact-filled meeting, the school board listened to presentations regarding the state’s new evaluation system for apprentice and professional teachers, debated the pros and cons of changing the Fifth Consolidated Elementary name and evaluated the merits of three requested Dyer County High School trips.

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