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Choice Causes Anxiety? Puhlease!

I just read a piece in the New York Times by someone who actually writes for a living, and who lives in DC, say that she’d rather have bad neighborhood schools remain open, than have a choice to send her child to a public school that might actually be working. She is angry with people who have run her city and her school system, who had the nerve to “shutter” their failing, poorly enrolled, neighborhood school. And these same leaders even had the audacity to suggest students be provided the options of a new community school to attend (which she didn’t like), while at the same time this same journalist says she only considers high quality private or charter schools, but apparently believes the charters perform poorly and rarely close, while the data shows the complete opposite. In fact, DC’s charter schools make more and faster gains for all children, retain their students longer, and are boasting higher graduation rates. Those that don’t work do close — at a rate of 15% percent, a practice that still rarely happens in traditional public schools, even in this city where she believes officials are school closure crazy.

Why does Natalie Hopkinson want parents consigned to substandard schools, while she herself admittedly enjoys a choice of public OR private education? She has anxiety over making choices, she says. In her own world, white parents have public schools in their neighborhood that work and black parents of whatever means have to exercise choice of schools outside their neighborhoods to find the best fit for their child, as if that’s a bad thing. The person who wrote this drivel has most assuredly never stepped foot in the schools outside of her middle class

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Fighting NJ Virtual Charters with False Facts

Public money for private interest? That’s what’s being used to fuel outrage and frenzy among unsuspecting Teaneck, NJ residents, by the school leadership that fears a loss of power and control should the Garden State Virtual Charter School be approved by the State in January. Turns out the GSVCS is actually a statewide school proposal, so Teaneck would pay for no more than the students who choose to use that new charter who reside in Teaneck. Such a fact has not stopped the superintendent from claiming she would have to cut dozens of teaching positions this winter, or suffer a $15 million budget cut, a number that came in error from the State education department when it notified districts where charters are pending of potential impact of the costs that they must “prepare” for. The reality is that 1,000 kids from around the state won’t cost anyone $15 million.

But facts are irrelevant apparently. So in this little NJ hamlet barely 15 miles out of NYC, school district list serves and emails are financing a private war over a very public school proposal.

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Taking on Education Reform with The Philly Inquirer

This weekend The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board posted an article on their blog, “Say What”, criticizing Governor Corbett and his education reform plans. The Inquirer’s editorial board suggests that Corbett should “stop acting like ‘competition’ from charters and vouchers will be enough to fix bad schools.” We of course responded, but The Inquirer has yet to post it. So we’ve continued the debate here on Edspresso. Check it out…

This post by The Inquirer’s Editorial Board is misleading. Yes, governors do have a responsibility for schools, and yes, the issue of public education has become extremely politicized in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in recent months as both Governors Corbett and Christie look for ways to take responsibility for the failing public education systems in their respective states. But rather than demonize their approach to try something new, by offering parents and students school choice, we should be commending them for trying to get it right.

Technically speaking, according to Article III, Section 14, in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” It does not prescribe one system or another, but technically gives the General Assembly absolute power over education. Governor Corbett and his colleagues in the General Assembly recognize that Pennsylvania’s current system is neither “thorough” nor “efficient” and is not “serving the needs of the Commonwealth.”

Consider that only 33 percent of Pennsylvania’s 4th graders and 36 percent of 8th graders can read at a basic proficiency. Eighth grade math scores are not much better with only 38 percent of students proficient. Yet, on average, public school districts in the Commonwealth spend nearly $13,000 per student (among the highest in the nation). This

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Strong Governors Play Vital Role

Race to the Top remains overrated in terms of impact. While there was a flurry of multi-state activity caused, it didn’t result in any real snow.

A cap lift for charters here, a teacher evaluation bill with little teeth there. Many smart people disagree about this. But, the fact is if you look around the country today, there is activity on teacher evaluations, meaningful charter law changes (not just cap lifts), expanded accountability, parent triggers and more without any carrot or stick from Washington.

So, is Washington becoming irrelevant to state policy?

The answer is yes – only when you have strong governors who push and get passage of education policy.

Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels made education a top priority this past legislative session and with it came an avalanche of education reforms, including school choice and an expansion on charter schools. Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal tied student achievement to teacher evaluations, as many states have as of late, and has applied a whatever-works-as-long-as-children-succeed attitude. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is succeeding in pushing multiple reforms such as charter expansions and teacher evaluations, not in response to Race to the Top, but because of the poor state of the status quo. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has become a vocal proponent of education reform including the need for multiple authorizers and the introduction of an opportunity scholarship program.

And just this week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled a new education reform package that promises greater flexibility for parents and teachers in the education of the state’s children, and accountability at all levels for substantially greater results.

No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top filled voids left by state policy leaders who neglected their state’s education systems, which wallowed in the status quo. Districts and states spent time complaining about needing to comply with new

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Review: The Good School, How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve

I have often said — normally out of frustration — that someday I am going to start a new national advocacy effort to get parents to talk to their children. The idea first occurred to me on a Washington, DC metro ride. I sat across from a parent with her little boy, who was no more than 5, and watched — first with curiosity, and then increasingly with concern — as the clearly inattentive parent ignored the questions of her bright, intuitive child who was peppering her with questions about his surroundings and how to say words he was clearly trying to read. She never answered, never focused, and as I watched with increasing horror and concern, the boy eventually stopped and looked dejected. I’ve seen this too many times to count.

I quipped, to my family, many of those times that I wanted to print and distribute small business size cards in the event of similar situations in the future, saying “Talk to your child – it will help him learn!”

Fifteen years later I’m still talking about it. Peg Tyre, meanwhile, has put words into action, and not just about the scientific value of words and engagement with children, but the value of knowing and influencing what it is education can be as your child moves into schooling at all levels.

In her incredibly brilliant and clearly written book, Tyre informs and leads us about how we can gauge and obtain “the good school” for our children. She reinforces a truism that is often lost in the intimidating world of schooling — that smart parents know how to get the best school for their kids — and oh, by the way we can all be smart!

It is her discussion on finding and

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New SAT analysis: We’re Dropping Back

“Learning is like rowing upstream – to not advance is to drop back.” – Chinese proverb.

Well, get ready to go backward … again. Today’s SAT Breakdown for college-bound seniors shows that student improvement is going nowhere and that Hispanics and African-American students continue to face a wide achievement gap.

When you take into account this year’s SAT analysis and recent ACT scores, which reveal that only 25 percent of the 2011 class could meet the benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects, it’s no surprise that we’re dropping back.

The United States has slipped from 12th to 16th globally in college education attainment, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report released this week.

How much more writing needs to be on the wall before we reach a consensus that how we continue to educate our kids is not working?

We’re not adequately preparing our K-12 students for college and therefore we’re falling behind other nations around the globe both educationally and economically. It’s time that we all step back, admit its not working and then work to reform our education system to emphasize student achievement.

We, and especially our kids, need a system that puts them first and rallies against the backward trends evident in our education system.

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New SAT analysis: We're Dropping Back

“Learning is like rowing upstream – to not advance is to drop back.” – Chinese proverb.

Well, get ready to go backward … again. Today’s SAT score analysis for college-bound seniors shows that student improvement is going nowhere and that Hispanics and African-American students continue to face a wide achievement gap.

When you take into account this year’s SAT analysis and recent ACT scores, which reveal that only 25 percent of the 2011 class could meet the benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects, it’s no surprise that we’re dropping back.

The United States has slipped from 12th to 16th globally in college education attainment, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report released this week.

How much more writing needs to be on the wall before we reach a consensus that how we continue to educate our kids is not working?

We’re not adequately preparing our K-12 students for college and therefore we’re falling behind other nations around the globe both educationally and economically. It’s time that we all step back, admit its not working and then work to reform our education system to emphasize student achievement.

We, and especially our kids, need a system that puts them first and rallies against the backward trends evident in our education system.

Comments(0)

Review: The Good School, How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve

I have often said — normally out of frustration — that someday I am going to start a new national advocacy effort to get parents to talk to their children. The idea first occurred to me on a Washington, DC metro ride. I sat across from a parent with her little boy, who was no more than 5, and watched — first with curiosity, and then increasingly with concern — as the clearly inattentive parent ignored the questions of her bright, intuitive child who was peppering her with questions about his surroundings and how to say words he was clearly trying to read. She never answered, never focused, and as I watched with increasing horror and concern, the boy eventually stopped and looked dejected. I’ve seen this too many times to count.

I quipped, to my family, many of those times that I wanted to print and distribute small business size cards in the event of similar situations in the future, saying “Talk to your child – it will help him learn!”

Fifteen years later I’m still talking about it. Peg Tyre, meanwhile, has put words into action, and not just about the scientific value of words and engagement with children, but the value of knowing and influencing what it is education can be as your child moves into schooling at all levels.

In her incredibly brilliant and clearly written book, Tyre informs and leads us about how we can gauge and obtain “the good school” for our children. She reinforces a truism that is often lost in the intimidating world of schooling — that smart parents know how to get the best school for their kids — and oh, by the way we can all be

Read More …

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Exercising Parent Power

It’s that time of year again – kids are heading back to school. For parents, this can be a reason to rejoice or panic.

Sure, you’re happy your child is going to begin another year of learning and growth. But, at the same time you may be worried about whether or not your child is in the right environment, if the teachers are properly preparing your child for the future or if there are better options available.

Well, the Center for Education Reform is available to help.

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.

Parents have more power over their child’s education than ever before. You just may not realize it. Parent Power will help you navigate the system and take control over your child’s learning.

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Lessons for US and Our Children From 9/11

Everyone has a story about what was happening ten years ago, on that originally beautiful morning that soon turned into the nightmare we now know as September 11, 2001. I was watching live coverage of then President George W. Bush, who sat in a public school classroom in Florida, as he sought to mobilize people behind a consensus that our school crisis needed a major national initiative to ensure accountability for results at an unprecedented level.

After the tap on the shoulder from his chief of staff, the news people interrupted and the rest, as they say, is history. Weeks later, Bush would begin anew with the late Senator Edward Kennedy, House education chair John Boehner, house education ranking member George Miller and others as they forged a new consensus that money without strings, and without a requirement for student results, would no longer be the way our government conducted business.

As No Child Left Behind took hold over many contentious days and nights of negotiation, eventually, and in large part owing to the new found camaraderie that sprang out of the tragedy of 9/11, a new law was born.

Despite its many detractors and some flaws, NCLB then, as now, continues to shine sun on an outrage that should upset the American public at its core, on a regular basis. That outrage — that fewer than half of ALL of U.S. children are not proficient in basic, needed elements of education, and that children of color lag by another 30 percent — is something that we should approach not much differently than as if a foreign power was attacking us right here on our own soil.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we were reminded that generations of students lack a fundamental understanding of history. Evil acts aside, most Americans did not understand

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