Whenever a legislative measure is aimed at the imbalance of power between parents and public school interests, it’s often the poorest families who suffer the greatest indignity in the debate.
After Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed a sweeping voucher program for low-income students, the head of the state’s teachers union, Michael Walker Jones, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that parents living just out of poverty’s reach would have neither the time nor the knowledge to make the right educational decisions. In another case, an Orlando Sentinel editorial panned a proposed “parent trigger” bill working its way through the Florida legislature by asserting that parents in the worst performing schools would be unable “to face a steep and brief learning curve in making such a game-changing call.”
Are we doing enough to ensure that the charter schools we open today won’t be the ones we’ll be closing later? Some may argue, as Andy Rotherham did in the fall, that we need to embrace risk-taking and consider that establishing great charter schools means occasionally creating bad ones. Taking the safe route too often welcomes mediocrity. But that might make greater sense if charter school authorizers were adopting best practices in the first place.
Taking the safe route too often welcomes mediocrity.
Just 6.2 percent of the nation’s charter schools up for renewal in 2010-11 were closed, down from 8.8 percent the year before and 12.6 percent in 2008-09, according to the report. While the association attributes the decline to any number of factors – stronger policies regulating charter oversight, better quality among charters, or...
In a recent New York Times column about Steve Brill’s Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools, Joe Nocera, says
“[Y]ou simply cannot fix America’s schools by `scaling’ charter schools. It won’t work. Charters schools offer proof of the concept that great teaching is a huge difference-maker, but charters can only absorb a tiny fraction of the nation’s 50 million public schoolchildren. Real reform has to go beyond charters – and it has to include the unions. That’s what Brill figured out.”
Nocera makes the mistake of confusing pedagogy and governance.
Wrong. Like many education establishmentarians, Nocera makes the mistake of confusing pedagogy and governance. The former—e.g. great teaching—is a hard nut to crack and Nocera is right to suggest, as does Brill, that there perhaps aren’t enough great teachers in the pipeline (or in charter schools) to educate all 50 million public school students.
But there is certainly no such impediment to `scaling’ charters. Every public school in America could be a charter school tomorrow if policymakers would allow it. Would that “fix” America’s schools? Not necessarily. But it...
When the Wall Street Journal blessed 2011 as the Year of School Choice, few advocates for public and private school options passed up the chance to celebrate the benediction. But the American Legislative Exchange Council knows that rhapsody will take the education reformer only so far. ALEC’s latest annual report card on American K-12 education, released this week, doubles as guidebook for the reformer who prefers “broad, rather than incremental, reform,” as authors Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips write. It’s a brazen assignment, but the Journal was right. It’s been a brazen year.
Moves to enhance tenure reform, merit pay, and transparency in public school performance all receive praise from ALEC, but it’s the “roaring comeback of parental choice” that signals the promise for academic gains. When Ladner and Lips note that low-income students in Washington, D.C., have made outsized leaps on the fourth- and eighth-grade NAEP reading and math exams, they point to an expanded public and private school market, combined with an audacious array of policy changes that...
As you are likely well aware, we are in the midst of School Choice Week, not only here in Ohio but nationwide. Numerous events have been going on all throughout the Buckeye State to help commemorate. One such event that I had the privilege to attend was a luncheon, hosted on Tuesday by School Choice Ohio and Forum for Educational Options at the Statehouse to celebrate the myriad of choice options that youngsters have here . The event was a way to not only a way to talk about school choice options, but also highlight a number of choice schools that are doing great things in the type of education they are providing, whether that be digital learning, special needs, or college prep.
The immense diversity in Ohio’s school landscape speaks to the fact that one size fit all doesn’t always work for children and their families. Ohio’s school choice options include the following:
When it comes to low-performing schools, we seem to be witnessing the same thing over and over—not unlike the classic movie, Groundhog Day.Ground Hog Day
A recent study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute tracked about 2,000 low-performing schools and found that the vast majority of them remained open and remained low-performing after five years. Very few were significantly improved. So, are failing schools fixable?
Join the Thomas B. Fordham Institute for a lively and provocative debate about that question. Fordham VP Mike Petrilli will moderate, and the discussion will be informed, in part, by Fordham's study, Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and District Sectors.
Those engaged in National School Choice Week (which
started Monday, in case you somehow failed to notice) have much to celebrate.
In 2011, eleven states added or expanded their choice programs (vouchers,
tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts), bringing the total
number of such programs up to thirty-four. This Friedman Foundation primer
documents the what, where, and how of each such initiative, including student
and school participation data, eligibility criteria, and voucher-value
information. As state legislatures and school-choice advocates return to work
after the holidays, those in the choice camp must remain diligent. (The
lawsuits—like that against the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program in July
2011—documented in this primer prove that need.) 2011 saw exciting gains on
this front. Let’s make Milton proud and keep that wheel spinning in 2012 and
A Virginia state legislator is proposing that any parent have the right to observe his or her child’s classroom, given reasonable notice. Gadfly objects…to having to give reasonable notice. Let’s welcome parental involvement in education, not lock the school doors.
Chicago’s longer school day has only been implemented in a few schools, but is already stressing the district budget. Meanwhile, the teacher union has submitted demands for its new contract, including rejecting Emanuel’s proposed 2 percent raise for the longer hours. Budgets may get tight in the Windy City, but this is a cause worth finding the cash for..
It’s hard to miss Dick Morris. The former presidential aide and Fox News contributor has raised the volume on his rhetoric during the last couple of days to promote National School Choice Week, and Education Sector’s Kevin Carey was right to note that Morris does more harm to his cause when he harangues the interests and performance of public schools so viciously. But in an otherwise enjoyable essay for The Atlantic, Carey misses an opportunity to further explore how the choice movement evolved to become, as he says, so ideologically “ghettoized.” Along the way, he succeeds in guiding us only to familiar territory.
As many do, Carey traces the movement’s roots to Milton Friedman’s 1955 essay, “The Role of Government in Education,” but he dispatches the left turn that school choice made in the 1970s as if it was a political afterthought. In reality, the means-tested policies that facilitate public and private school choice today more closely resemble the proposals from the political left and center that surfaced between the Johnson and Reagan administrations than anything that Milton Friedman sought...
Ohio is unique in its ability to turn the best of charter school theory and practice on its head. The most recent example comes from an Ohio school district that set up a charter school to offload test scores of low-performing students while making money for the district. According to the Columbus Dispatch the London City School District “will collect 80 percent of the $1.9 million in state dollars the charter will draw this year as payment for its services. It expects $700,000 of that to be profit.” The treasurer for both the charter school and the district told the paper that “district officials plan to continue the ‘revenue sharing’ method” despite the fact the school received an academic rating of F on its 2010-11 report card.