Home » Newswire Weekly » Newswire: March 13, 2012

Newswire: March 13, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 11

SHOOTING DOWN THE TRIGGER…. Florida lawmakers lost their nerve to pull the parent-trigger, ending potential for this path-breaking reform on a 20-20 vote. Fear mongering came into play as opponents directed their attack as a takeover of public education by private enterprise. Parents are private enterprises? Hmm. The bill would have given three options to fix their schools. The failure is not a surprise given the torrent of anti-parent choice sentiment led by the education establishment as they lose power and control of a system that has failed millions. Weak-kneed legislators should know this proposal – and their advocates — will be back.

…BUT ONLINE GETS BOOST. Florida lawmakers did vote to modestly expand access to online learning for students attending public schools. The new bill allows K-5 students to enroll part-time in the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) and expands the part-time option for students in grades K-8. And, for all those potential Tebows out there, it allows full-time students to participate in interscholastic extra-curriculars. For a good look at the possibilities of on-line learning, read the Center of the American Experiment’s latest publication: Online Learning: A Literal New World of Possibilities for Minnesota K-12 Education.

FOX IN HENHOUSE ON CHARTERS… Georgia’s attempt to pass a constitutional amendment to advance charter schools hit FOX News this week, but instead of covering it for what it is — a story about making good on a promise of better public education for all kids — it somehow made the story one about losing local control, which no doubt leaves the school boards dancing in the streets. Here’s what the reporters had to say: “The legislation to amend the state constitution would allow the Peach State to create its own parallel K-12 system to local boards, drawing on the same limited pool of Georgia’s taxpayer funds — a decision that the Georgia Supreme Court said was illegal just one year ago.” Parallel? No, it’s just to give charters other ways to be authorized than by making them victims of school board jealousy. Where was the editor’s note about school boards spending taxpayer money to close down excellent public school options, like the Ivy Preparatory Academy charter for girls in downtown Atlanta . Note to news pundits — charters ARE public schools and all money allocated for public education should be — and is in most states — directed to public school kids no matter where they go to school. Disappointment, to say the least, in FOX’s uneducated portrayal of charter schools.

…BUT WASHINGTON TIMES HITS JACKPOT. Deborah Simmons offers pure gold when she poignantly asks about the high dropout rate nationwide: “As officials march to various drumbeats of the school reform movement, who carries the heavier burden? Our youths, or teachers and principals who implement zero-tolerance policies targeting students?” Simmons points to the acceptance “of an erosion in teacher accountability, whether it relates to students’ academic performance and test scores or teachers’ behavior.” A unique take on what’s needed to holistically improve schools.

APPALLING. Simmons should read what Virginia’s Senator Barker wrote in his bill on virtual learning that restricts students to attend a district’s online learning program, not any other, should they choose to take online classes. That’s bad enough in itself because it denies parent choice. But, here’s the clincher. Barker adds that a school division rightfully should engage in “retaining OWNERSHIP of the students.” No one “owns” children, nor decides what is right or wrong for them, except parents. How Neanderthal to make such a suggestion. Goes right along with Simmons’ calling into question how teachers and schools are not held accountable for treating students with dignity. Let Senator Barker know that people don’t own people anymore. Write to him and other Virginia lawmakers to let them know that such rhetoric is dead wrong and that they should support a parents right to choose the best public education for t heir children.

FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITY. The reform-focused Boston think-tank, the Pioneer Institute, pays tribute to its esteemed founder, the late Lovett C. Peters, who was a man ahead of his time in so many ways. The new graduate school Fellowship in education policy will be able to develop broad research and policy skills, as well as design and complete a “Lead” project. Visit the Pioneer Institute to learn more.

TEACHED. Friday was the East Coast premiere of TEACHED, an innovative series of short films about the state of American education that already has won awards for its compelling depiction of the challenges facing US Schools. Follow the developments here.