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...
The U.S. economy has shed more than eight million jobs since 2008, and has created only two million new jobs in that same period of time, resulting in not only a high number of unemployed people, but also a high number of job vacancies. A recent report by The Hamilton Project attributes this contradictory statistic to the nation’s schools doing a poor job of graduating students who are career-ready. With a lack of qualified applicants, employers are settling for the cheapest employees rather than the most qualified employees, or worse, leaving jobs vacant all together. Or, as in the case of Apple and other great companies, moving the jobs to China where the labor force is ready, willing, and able to do the work.
In order to provide students with skills necessary to obtain decent jobs that pay a middle class wage, the author argues that students need career counseling in high school that does not simply herd students toward bachelor’s degrees, but directs them to career certificates or associate’s degrees, as well. College dropout rates could be lessened if students were...
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.
Since the first charter school opened its doors in Minnesota
in 1991, over 6,700 charter schools have set up shop in 40 states and DC.
Unfortunately, not all of these schools have been successful and a number of
them have since closed, in fact charter schools have experienced a 15 percent
closure rate since their inception.
A recent report
by the Center for Education Reform takes a look at why charter schools close
and shows that the number one reason (over 40 percent) for charter closure is
fiscal mismanagement and financial problems driven by low enrollment numbers. Other
issues such as ethical violations make up 24 percent of charter closures.
Furthermore, academic failure makes up 19 percent of all closures. While
academic performance is extremely important, schools tend to close for money problems
rather than academic ones. Ohio is no stranger to the challenges of ensuring
charter schools deliver results while ensuring they function well as
businesses. This report is a useful read for Ohioans interested in better
Americans have generally embraced the premise that choice is good in education, but we are engaged in a long-lasting war over how to deliver it. This war has many fronts: We fight over the expansion of charter schools and talk past each other on questions of their freedom and funding; we enhance the growth of online education while doing little to change a model of public school governance that remains rooted in the 19th century; we linger over the political divide that insists on drawing lines separating “public” and “private,” even as those words have become less relevant in evolving education systems that defy traditional labels.
How do we categorize, or properly finance, the smorgasbord of options available to today’s student?
How do we categorize, or properly finance, the smorgasbord of options available to today’s student? And how do we enhance the debate to rethink how we administer a public education? The resistance to customized forms of schooling is not new. Many a well-meaning principal and superintendent fought back-to-basics schools and International Baccalaureate programs and gifted education for fear they would...
Michael Podgusrky, Stuart Buck, and Renita Thukral
January 23, 2012
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, hundreds of public schools were put out of commission and their staff placed on leave. Many charters schools expanded to absorb the displaced students, and these charter schools hired teachers from traditional schools to meet the enrollment demand. A glitch, fixed by state legislation, was to allow the displaced teachers to remain in the state teacher pension plan since some of the charter schools did not participate in the state plan. In 2010 this temporary law expired. Many of these transplanted teachers remain employed in charter schools and wished to continue to participate in the state teacher plan. Legislation was passed to allow these transplanted teachers to remain permanently in the state retirement plan, if—and this is a very big if—the Treasury Department approved.
Are charter schools sufficiently “governmental” that they can participate in state and local pension plans?
The Treasury Department held off ruling on the Louisiana case while it worked on regulations that would provide new guidance on what it meant for a plan to be a "governmental plan." In November, the Treasury Department...
School choice was a big theme, with Fordham announcing the new editor of the Choice Words blog, Adam Emerson, who explained the importance of “subsidiarity” in education. On Flypaper, Mike argued that charter schools should approach district collaboration with caution and from a position of strength, while Terry noted that Ohio has prime examples of getting charter-district relationships wrong on the Ohio Gadfly Daily blog.