Home » Newswire Weekly » NEWSWIRE: February 11, 2014

NEWSWIRE: February 11, 2014

Vol. 16, No. 6

SCAPEGOATING PARENTS. In a weak attempt to find key problems and solutions to public education, The New York Times framed a discussion on its opinion page with the misguided question, “Do Parents Care Enough About School?” Yes, after decades of stagnation and failure in traditional public schools, the Times thought to ask whether parents, who want the best for their children, are obstacles to quality education. Even AEI’s Rick Hess, of all people, is claiming parents and reformers are impeding progress by being too forceful in the push for publicly supported accountability. Framing a discussion that diverts attention away from schools allows people to ignore the trend that education improves in states where parents are given power and options. This is exactly the type of discussion that emboldens the status quo.

THERE’S SOMETHING STRANGE, IN THE NEIGHBROHOOD. Last week on his show, John Stossel showed a clip from the 1984 classic “Ghostbusters.”  In the clip, Dan Akroyd’s character says to Bill Murray’s: “Personally, I like the university. They gave us money and facilities. We didn’t have to produce anything. You’ve never been out of college. You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.” Had Akroyd replaced the word ‘university’ with ‘traditional public school’ and ‘private sector’ with ‘school choice environment,’ he would have effectively summarized the state of public education in the U.S. For too long, lawmakers at every level have given money and facilities to traditional public schools without proper accountability, and now we’re plagued with an unacceptable achievement rate at 34 percent. Charter schools that have strong, independent authorizers demand results and don’t take funding and facilities for granted. Lawmakers should take a cue from “Ghostbusters” and demand accountability rather than continue the blind distribution of tax dollars.

NEW KIND OF SNOW DAY. This winter has yielded noticeably higher snowfalls, leading to ‘snow days’ across the country much to the joy of students who get the day off and much to the chagrin of educators who have to play catch-up once the snow subsides. But thanks to online learning and expanded use of technology in education, a snow day no longer translates to a day off. Using so-called ‘E-Days,’  teachers in states with anticipated snowstorms can assign online learning assignments to students while they’re at home. In states such as Ohio where schools receive pre-approval to provide online coursework, teachers post assignments and are ‘on-call’ to answer questions. Many parents enjoyed the coursework, praising the benefits of seeing their child’s schoolwork first-hand, and reinforcing the popularity of increased parental engagement in education. The role of technology is spurring innovation both inside and outside of the classroom, and with proper engagement in the media, positive stories about online learning will be showing up a lot more often.

CULTURE OF SUCCESS. Last week, we toured the highly regarded Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA), a charter school in Southeast Washington, D.C. aimed at preparing students for college. That type of learning model is put to good use, seeing as 100 percent of graduating seniors are accepted into college. And no, that’s not a typo. Every TMA senior class has had a 100 percent college acceptance rate since 2005. The culture of success at TMA is exemplified by educators, and equally enforced by the student body. Students serve as hall monitors and peer tutors, run the writing center, and overall do not take the opportunity afforded to them for granted. And thanks to having access to such a positive learning environment, they never have to ask where they would be without access to a better opportunity.

DID YOU HEAR? The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and Marvin Sapp officially launched the School of Choice Tour, a ten-day, eleven-city tour that began this week in Indianapolis and will conclude February 20 in Memphis, TN. These FREE events will feature community discussions on how the current state of education is affecting black students, and what families can do to explore education choices available to them. Click here for more information and follow the hashtag #SchoolofChoiceTour on Twitter.