Tag Archives: Public Education

Confederate Corner with George Neat June 4th – Liberals just cannot learn

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When: Tuesday, June 4th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Confederate Corner with George Neat on Blog Talk Radio

What: Yes there are Confederates north of the Mason-Dixon line, and George Neat is one of them. And we’re happy to bring his views to you in the “Confederate Corner” radio show.

For more information on George and his political views, please drop by the Confederate Corner at GoldwaterGal.com. (http://goldwatergal.com/goldwater-gal-media/confederate-corner/)

Tonight: George will be talking about public education, guns, freedom of speech, and sharia law. Of course there will also be a Soldier Salute, and a “nearly-infamous” Crack Pipe Moment.

Listen to internet radio with CDNews Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Middle schoolers learn lesbian kissing, slut identification

Middle schoolers learn lesbian kissing, slut identification

There appears to be some fierce competition among school districts to offer the most morally offensive, age-inappropriate lessons imaginable.
A presentation, ostensibly focused on bullying, at Linden Avenue Middle School in New York included some unbelievable instruction that understandably outraged many parents.
With boys and girls in separate classes, the program revolved around gender and sexual identification. Some of the more egregious examples found in the curriculum included prompting girls to ask each other for same-sex kisses and instructing boys in the art of spotting sluts.
“I am her parent,” one concerned parent said. “Where does anyone get the right to tell her that it’s okay for her to have sex?”
Furthermore, she said college students who “were not licensed” taught the class and wondered why they were allowed to handle such delicate subjects with the impressionable middle schoolers.
District superintendent Paul Finch said the course and others like it are part of the school’s adherence to New York’s Dignity for All Students Act. Still, many individuals are shocked they were not made aware of the potentially disturbing subject matter being presented.
“The school is overstepping its bounds in not notifying parents first and giving us the choice,” another parent added. “I thought it was very inappropriate. That kind of instruction is best left up to the parents.”
Yet another parent said her 13-year-old son was advised by the class’ instructor to always keep a condom in his wallet and to identify women as sluts by, among other factors, their wardrobe.
“We don’t judge people like that in our family,” she said.
In their zeal to wage war on student bullying, instructors and administrators themselves become de facto bullies. Their targets are those young people being raised by traditional parents trying to instill in them a morality the left finds reprehensible and hopelessly outdated.
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Research Consistently Shows School Choice a “Win” for Kids, Public Education

INDIANAPOLIS, April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As school choice continues to blossom nationwide, a new report finds that of all the “gold standard” research on children who utilize vouchers, 11 of 12 studies conclude all or some of those students achieve better educational outcomes. No study found choice participants were worse off than those remaining in traditional public schools.

The report also found that of the 23 empirical studies on how school choice impacts public education, 22 show the resulting competition improved public school performance. No research concluded school choice harms public schools.

“A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice”—released by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice—also reviewed empirical research related to school choice’s impact on taxpayers, diversity, and civic values. That research consistently supports school choice in those areas.

“A Win-Win Solution” examines studies on school choice conducted by scholars at research institutions including the University of Arkansas, Harvard University, the Federal Reserve Bank, Stanford University, and Cornell University.

“Despite decades of carping by skeptics, vouchers and school choice in any form are a win-win for children—whether they attend private school or remain in a public school affected by school choice,” saidRobert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “Competition works in all segments of our society, and it certainly helps children when they’re permitted to attend a school that fits their needs.”

According to the Friedman Foundation report, seven of the eight existing studies on racial segregation found giving parents educational freedom moves students into more integrated schools. All six of the studies on how school choice affects public finances conclude it saves taxpayers money.

In addition, the report cites the seven empirical studies on civic values, five of which show that school choice strengthens students’ commitment to democratic principles, while two found no visible impact. No research found school choice adversely impacts diversity, taxpayers, or civic values.

“This research on school choice far exceeds the research on any other education reform,” said Greg Forster, author of the report and senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation. “School choice has a strong track record in how it affects students, public schools, taxpayers, diversity, and civic values. Seeing its impressive record with small programs, there is good reason to believe broader school choice programs would produce better results, and on a much larger scale.”

There are 41 school choice programs in 22 states and Washington, D.C. Among those programs, the most prominent are vouchers and tax-credit scholarships, which are serving more than 250,000 students. School choice has exhibited continual growth since 1990, when the nation’s first modern voucher program launched in Milwaukee. In the past two years, five new states have adopted private school choice while other states, most notably Indiana and Louisiana, expanded existing programs.

Altruism versus the Individual in Public Education

The long wait for summer is almost over as school years are beginning to wind down. And that of course means graduations- a celebration of scholastic success and new beginnings, a time when young people begin to discover themselves and start the attainment of their dreams. But amidst the proms, barbeques and recognition of achievement, is there something darker? Could it be that the public educators are using the opportunity to implant a dark seed in the minds of graduates to undermine personal achievement? An idea that the investments made in them are not truly for the sake of their individual success?

It was with horror that I sat through my local high school’s graduation and senior awards ceremony and noted the subtle emphasis placed not on personal achievement, but altruisim. Senior project awards were given out based on the project’s altruistic efforts. Speakers praised the hard work of the graduates as being for the good of the collective student body. With alarming frequency, altruism is spoken of in glowing societal terms. And if someone, say a trusting and impressionable young high school graduate, does not know what altruism is, they would probably accept its goodness without question.

But what is altruism really? It is inherently statist- individuals are taught they have no worth in themselves. In fact, as an individual, they are a burden to the collective. They drain the collective’s resources and weaken it with their selfish needs and interests. The only value they have to society is through charity to other unfortunates, charity that comes to their own personal detriment.

In its true context, altruism is not desirable. It is extremely detrimental to the power of the individual, which this country was built on. Controversial though it may be, the question must be asked- is public education purposely undermining the self-worth of our young people? And for what reason? The fact that the public education system is teaching our students, the future of this country, that they have no self worth, is disturbing indeed.

 

 

Obama Has Not Been a Friend to Poor School Children

One of the most important issues facing our country for our long term future is education. Since we are busy enslaving our children for the next century, we had better make sure they learn how to think. Currently, we have an ever increasing indoctrination system which is failing our children miserably.

If President Obama were truly concerned with the education of our youth, why did he fail to support the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program?

In 2004 the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program came into being. It provided $7,500.00 scholarships to 3300 impoverished students in the DC area so they could attend private schools. This highly effective program increased graduation rates among its students by at least 21%. When the program came up for re-authorization in 2009, it passed the Congress but was defeated in the Senate along mostly partisan lines. The Washington Examiner said of Mr. Obama’s opposition to the program;

“Many parents of children in troubled schools have already chosen the same option that Obama chose for his own children. They’ve enrolled them in the best private schools in the country.

Not every American parent, though, has the financial resources that the President and members of Congress have. And in places like the District of Columbia, where less than half of public school students ever graduate, the need for immediate assistance and a radically new paradigm is urgent. Yet, many D.C. parents and their children have grown disillusioned by the President’s refusal to honor promises already made.

In the spring of 2009, 216 students received letters stating they had been selected to receive the opportunity scholarship. Within weeks, however, the administration rescinded those offers. Republicans tried to allow for the ongoing enrollment of new students.

Democrats, however, opposed the measure and established an effective sunset for the program once the existing awards ran out. And this despite overwhelming evidence of the scholarship’s success.”

So much for “Racing to the Top”. Obama’s strong support for the National Education Association would not allow him to support a highly successful school choice program, and instead forced the children he claims to want to help back into the hell holes of the DC school system. If it is so good, why don’t his children go there?

This is the same NEA that voted down merit pay for teachers on July 6th of 2011. What we hear from the NEA and from the Democrats in Washington is that what is needed to fix education is more money, less sugary desserts and no chocolate milk. Hogwash! Utah, one of the few states in the union with a real school choice program, has above average scores in math, science and reading, even though they spend less per student than any other state in the country, $6,612.00 in 2009. Washington DC third only to New York and New Jersey, spends $16,582.00 per student and has scores well below the national average in all categories. Money alone is not the answer. (figures from the National Center for Educational Statistics)

Who then, shall we choose to lead on educational issues in 2012? We need a person who can think outside the big national education union box when it comes to teaching our children. We need someone who knows the value of education, and who knows that the best opportunities come when control is local and incentive is provided to educators. Our next President must understand how absolutely VITAL it is for our future as a country, that our children learn to read, write, understand mathematics and science!

For the long term, for the future of our country, and for the future of our children, we need a leader who knows what it takes to provide a world class education for our youth, to once again bring our nation to the forefront of science, technology and the arts, and to once again have the best educated high school and college graduates in the world!

Obama: We Need More Teachers – Romney: Not So Fast

Last week was difficult for President Obama: Jobs numbers worse than expected; news of high-level administrative leaks; and President Clinton praising Mitt Romney on his business experience. Many were surprised when on Friday morning Team Obama hastily called for a press conference.

But some days things just go from bad to worse. President Obama had to backtrack his comment that the private sector was doing fine and reemphasize he push for more jobs in the public sector.

President Obama 6/8/2012: “The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.”

Is the private sector doing just fine?

The press conference and subsequent clarification may have raised even more questions than the week had already wrought. At 8.2% few would argue that the private sector is indeed not doing fine. At its worst under the previous administration unemployment was less than 6.5%.

Then, is the problem that the public sector is in dire shape?

Obama Campaign Advisor, David Axelrod on ABC’s “This Week” 6/10/2012: “The president is out of touch — out of touch? We have lost 250,000 teachers in the last couple of years.”

Not according to the Romney camp.

The Huffington Post 6/8/2012 headlined an article, “Mitt Romney Mocks Obama For Wanting More Firemen, Policemen, Teachers”.  For some, adding firefighters, police and teachers to the equation invokes a sympathy response.

Mitt Romney 6/8/2012: “He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers,” Romney said at a press conference. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

So, who is right? What are the real numbers?

From the Washington Post 6/11/2012: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for government workers last month was just 4.2 percent (up slightly from 3.9 percent a year ago). Compare that to private-sector industries such as construction (14.2 percent unemployment), leisure and hospitality services (9.7 percent), agriculture (9.5 percent), professional and business services (8.5 percent) and wholesale and retail trade (8.1 percent).

While looking at numbers, how about the effectiveness of our education program?

Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute analyzed education employment numbers compared to enrollment along with education dollars spent compared to student test scores. The graphs lead little to the imagination. From 1970 to 2011 student enrollment increased a modest 8.5% while employment increased dramatically over 92%.  During that same time period student test scores remained relatively stable but cost increased from an average $50,000 per student K-12 education to over $150,000 adjusting for inflation.

At a point where nearly fifty percent of the population does not pay income tax and our debt continues to spiral out of control it seems only prudent that all government programs are closely reviewed. This study from the Cato Institute should give us all cause to pause.

What do you think?

Is it possible that this president feels beholden to the teachers’ union? Is he trying to strike a chord with sympathetic American voters? It is entirely conceivable that we do not need more teachers right now. Perhaps the public sector, as a whole, needs reform.

Stossel on Freedom in Education

“It shows how horrible things were, that it took this long for this eminently sensible thing to happen”

Stossel made a speech at Reason Weekend 2012, Reason Foundation’s annual donor event, about the successes of freedom in education. He talked about trying to update his 20/20 special, “Stupid in America,” and not being able to do it, visiting Harlem schools full of kids ready to learn and why libertarians oppose a single payer system in health-care but cheer it in education.

Mother Government

As government continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the government exercises more control upon the populace both on the national and state level. A level of control more evident in schools around the nation as they shut out parental influence and claim ownership of the students.

Government schools are promoting the myth that parents no longer have exclusive rights concerning the education of their children. When parents fight back against schools which expose their children to inappropriate sexually explicit material, the parents are surprised to discover the school often believes they have more control over the children than the parents. Courts often side with the schools, stating, as one court did, “parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.”  That should make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, if you are a parent. If you are a good parent, it should burn you up.

On the other hand, look at the flip side. Government schools are just laying claim to their “deserved” parental authority. Take note of how many children today are supported by government. Since government pays for their pre-natal care, birth, medical insurance, food, etc., why wouldn’t government be considered their mother? Government, through it’s many and varied give-away welfare programs, is the parent of millions of children in this country. It is only natural that government, through its educational arm would assert its parental authority.

Mother government began conceiving children back in the days of FDR and has remained fertile to the present. We are well into over 70 years of a government dependent mentality. People think the government is supposed to handle their retirement through Social Security, additional retirement benefits through Medicaid, provide their daily bread through food stamp programs, supply insurance through Medicare, and now Obamacare, provide housing through government subsidies, and that’s just naming some of the more well known programs.

The parental government has become a mainstream part of society. Even some law abiding, tax soaked citizens who work and play by the rules, will try to siphon into government programs to “get back” all they have paid in; after all it’s their money. This type of thinking, at least in part, is derived from the parental government philosophy. However, the government does not owe social services to we the people. Two generations have had an umbilical connection for so long, they cannot begin to live and think independently. Remember, all of these programs are provided by our taxes, and when more money is needed, new taxes are created by innovative politicians. However, the teat has dried up. Adding more taxes is like putting extra udders on a milk cow’s bag; you may be able to get the milk faster, but the amount of milk in the bag does not increase.

So don’t be surprised when government institutions try to usurp parental authority. Mother government has been playing parent for so long, it is natural for her to lay claim to that in which she has invested.

Joseph Harris has been a college professor and pastor since 1987 and his writings have appeared on WorldNetdaily, Sword of the Lord, Intellectual Conservative, Conservative Daily News, and Land of the Free. [email protected]

When Public Education Misses The Mark

The day had been planned for more than a week. My husband was taking the day off so we could spend it together. It was our 9-year Anniversary. For some strange reason, the day we planned went nothing like we had hoped.

It started off with me being sick. The day before I had awaken to the beginnings of a cold. By the next day, it had turned into more. Lovely. Nothing like being sick on a special day. My husband joked with me that it was my turn this year, the day we got married was his turn. We somewhat laughed, remembering how he stood at the alter with 101 degree fever. Not exactly funny, but we knew we would get through this too! Not the most romantic thing in the world, let me tell ya!

We made the best of things- on our wedding day, nor Wednesday of this week, our anniversary.

He went out and bought me my sinful addiction- Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino. The warmth of the liquid was heavenly on my sore throat. We snuggled with the 3-year-old and watched some TV together.

A bit later, we went to lunch, and had what would be our only anniversary celebration to speak of, this year…. at least on the actual day.

After lunch, we headed home to wait for the older kids to come home. Once again, we snuggled on the couch, just enjoying the day as best we could with me being sick.

It was time for the kids to come home. I made the usual afternoon preparations. Water was poured for all of the children; afternoon medication was put out for the two on medication; overhead light turned on for homework time; a glass of water for me as I sort through paperwork, sign folders and listen to reading fluency; and one last stop by the restroom before our afternoon became the loving chaos of a home with 5 children.

But something wasn’t right.

The kids were not coming through the door when they should be. I started pacing, watching the clock.  It was already 3 minutes past usual time for them to be home. (Yes, I know… 3 minutes is not really a long time, but in a mommy’s mind, 3 minutes is an eternity.)

My husband is not as familiar with the routine, and asked what time they usually got in. I told him they were late. So he decided to walk out to look for them. They were not walking down the street, but, strangely enough, neither were any other children.

Usually by this time, our entire neighborhood is teaming with children of all ages walking home from school. We live in the neighborhood right next to the school, so most of the children in the neighborhood walk home in the afternoon. Our children were allowed to start walking home last year, after much fretting on mommy’s side of things. I realize I have to let them grow up, but it is not easy!

My husband and I quickly got the 3-year-old and jumped in the car to see what was going on. It was obvious when we turned the corner that things were not the norm. Cars were backed up down the street, we still saw no children, and parents were getting out of their cars, talking to one another, gesturing in frustration. Several parents were walking back down the hill from the front of the school, and talked to other parents along the way. I quickly called on a phone appointment I was supposed to have at 3:00 and explained that I would have to reschedule. It did not look like this was going to be over “in just a few minutes”.

When we left, it never occurred to me I was still in my nightclothes. When we got in from lunch, I changed back into my comfy clothes to be comfortable. Being sick is bad enough, why not be comfortable?

It also did not occur to me that I was not the most presentable, until I am standing in the middle of the sidewalk talking to another parent, trying to find out what is going on. All she knew was that the school was locked down, they were not giving any information to parents, and they were not allowing anyone to leave.

I had my cell phone, and had already been trying to call the school. All I got was voice mail. I tried to look up the district number, but in my frustration I couldn’t find the phone number. We turned around and headed back home so I could get dressed, and to see if we could find something online about what was going on.

Once back at home, I finally found the school district phone number, and immediately started calling. I never got an answer, just more voice mail. I called back several times, trying different extensions. Once again, not a single answer. I again tried to call the school several times, but still no answer.

The only thing we could find out was this blurb on the local news website, which has now been updated to say the lockdown is over.

So the first information we received was from the local news media. It would still be almost half an hour before we would be able to find out any “official” information from the school.

The lockdown was officially lifted, and we were able to get our kids at approximately 3:25 pm, almost a full hour from normal release time. Thankfully, one of my dearest teacher friends at the school was at the door, and knew that I was very emotional. My words to her, as I fought to stay calm and rational were, “I know it is not your fault, but not a single phone call! We could not get through to anyone to find out what was going on! This is unacceptable!” I knew she would understand where I was coming from and not take it that I was blaming her. She was my soft landing place as I fought back panic. Mrs. T, you truly are an angel! It wasn’t long before another angel appeared with the first of my four school-aged children. Mrs. Hudson, you too were an angel that will never know how truly grateful I was to see you! My appreciation did not show, as I was angry and emotional, but again, I knew she would know where I was coming from.

We finally had all 4 kids, with the 3-year-old in tow, and headed towards the car. My husband said, as we were walking back to the car, “There will be no homework tonight!” He would receive no argument from me!

When we got home, we saw that we finally had a call from the school district. 3:28pm, just 2 minutes before I’m walking in the door with my children. The real question is this: Where were all the school officials at the district office during this lockdown?

We showered the children, and sat down to talk. We asked them if they knew what had happened, why they were locked down, if they had any questions or concerns, which of course, there were many. We talked through everything, answered questions, but still they did not understand why they were not going to do homework. They know what is expected of them, and I am sure they wondered what had happened to mommy!

We popped popcorn and put a movie on.  They asked once again if I was sure they were not going to do homework. I told them that after the stress of the day we were just going to relax and enjoy each other as a family.

We ordered in pizza, and after they ate, it was off to bed for them. After the eventful day, we decided to eat the left over pizza. While it was not the romantic day we had planned, it was definitely a blessing in disguise! Had my husband not taken the day off, I would have been home by myself, sick, trying to deal with the crisis and getting no answers. God knew I needed him home with me!

Thursday morning after I took the kids to school, I sat down and wrote emails to all four teachers, explaining my very terse note in each folder from the evening before telling them that my children were not doing homework and would not be made to make it up. I received prompt responses, stating they completely understood.

It wasn’t long before my phone was ringing. It was the principal calling to tell me that one of the teachers had forwarded my email to him and he wanted to make sure I was ok. I assured him I was not ok, and welcomed our conversation.

He walked me through the entire event, and I found out he did not even know the details of what was going on until the lockdown was almost over. While I understand that his job is to keep all the children and staff safe, and I am VERY grateful that he takes that as seriously as he does, there should be someone who is available to communicate with the parents. Maybe it is someone from the district who can walk among the parents who are asking so many questions. Maybe it is a robo-call saying there is a lockdown, everything is under control, we will give you information as soon as we can. Maybe it’s a skywriter. The point is, with no communication at all, people start to panic- as much as we try (at least most of us) to stay calm, these are our children! OUR CHILDREN! 

Seeing my beloved country disintegrate before my very eyes, no matter how hard I fight to save her, does not make the situation any better. While trying to stay calm and sane in a situation where I’ve been given no information is a challenge. All kinds of images go through your mind- from “another Columbine”, to an irate parent, to a terrorist attack. We’ve all seen it in the news- Primary Schools and Kindergarten Schools that have seen violence across the world are numerous, and many are in the United States. September 1, 2004, in Russia is the most devastating!

On top of not knowing what was going on, no one was allowed to remove their children. So now we have the inner battle against the nanny state setting in. I am tired of the Public Education System thinking they know better than me what to do with my child!

After a very lengthy conversation with the principal, he told me that with what I had told him, it was obvious that something had to be done regarding communication with parents in a situation like this. He told me he would start working on getting that taken care of. Public Education missed the mark yesterday. Yes, all children were safe, which is the most important thing. However, Judson Independent School District (JISD) missed the marked by not communicating with parents until the event was over. This is totally unacceptable!

In my conversation with the principal, I told him that I was already working on this article, and his phone call had made all the difference in the world. Had he not called, this article would have had a completely different tone. While I am still not happy with what happened yesterday, to know that Mr. Large actually listened to me, and took it upon himself to hear and understand that things MUST be different in a future situation like this, makes a world of difference.

Communication is the key to any problem. Without it, we will get nothing accomplished. With it, we will conquer the world’s largest problems. We must get involved. We’ve sat silent for too long. While things are not solved at this point, I know I have been heard. However, I will not be placated. I am fighting for my children, for my beloved country… the country I know and love. I miss the beautiful shine of my beloved country. She has become so sullied with political correctness and big government. This is not at all what our Founding Fathers intended our country to be! They warned us with their words of wisdom.  One way or another, I will win this fight- for my country, and for my children, so help me God!

__________

A special thank you goes out to Jennifer Lloyd with MySA.com/Express News. Your ongoing communication is greatly appreciated!

__________

Sources:
MySA.com 
WOAI.com 

Governor Scott Signs Legislation to Strengthen, Expand Charter and Virtual Schools

Orlando, Fla. – Keeping his promise to make Florida the state with the best-educated workforce, Governor Rick Scott today visited Hope Charter School in Ocoee to highlight education reforms that expand and strengthen charter and virtual schools and increase scholarship opportunities that empower parents to choose schools best suited to student needs. Later today, Governor Scott will visit St. Petersburg Christian School and charter school North Broward Academy of Excellence.

While visiting, Governor Scott discussed how parents best understand their children’s needs and should have the right to choose the schools that meet those needs.

“One of the critical components of creating jobs and turning Florida’s economy around is to make sure our state has the best educated workforce, ready to work in our 21st century economy,” Governor Scott said. “The legislation I sign today moves our state closer to having world-class schools that graduate students ready for those jobs.”

Earlier this year, the first bill Governor Scott signed into law was the Student Success Act. It empowers principals to keep the best teachers and use merit pay to compensate them more, while also replacing low-performing teachers.

“Florida will now be able to recruit and retain the best educators for our schools,” Governor Scott said. “Children should not be locked into going to a failing school just because of where they live, and families should have the right to choose an education best suited to their children.”

The bills Governor Scott highlighted today are as follows:

  • · Senate Bill 1546, Charter Schools – Charter schools will now have the opportunity to duplicate their success and grow to serve more students. Charter schools that earn an “A” twice in three years have the opportunity to earn a “high-performing” status, so they can increase enrollment and open more schools.
  • · House Bill 7197. Virtual Education – Expands the Florida Virtual School to offer full-time instruction to K-12 students and part-time for grades 4-12. District virtual schools will be able to offer part-time instruction in grades 9-12 to more students. Charter schools can also now offer online instruction, either as a virtual charter school, or combined with traditional classroom learning.
  • · House Bill 1331, Opportunity Scholarships – This bill empowers parents to choose a better school for their students assigned to chronically low-performing schools. It expands the definition of a failing school from those that earn an “F” two years in a row, to those that earn two “Fs” in the past four years.
  • · House Bill 1329, McKay Scholarships – Students with special learning needs will be eligible for McKay Scholarships to attend private schools. Parents with children who receive specialized instructional plans must be notified every year of each student’s options, including the McKay Scholarship.
  • · House Bill 965, Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program –The tax credit scholarship program is updated to help encourage more businesses to participate in the program, thereby helping more students attend the school best suited to them.

Michigan Education Reform- Did They Go Too Far, or Not Far Enough?

Recently, the State House in Michigan passed an education reform plan which would make it easier to fire under-performing teachers. In addition, it made the tenure process more difficult and reduced protections based on seniority. The bill is now headed to the senate, controlled by Republicans, and teachers’ unions are getting ready for a fight. “Those bills, frankly, are a travesty,” said Doug Pratt, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association “We are looking forward to working with the Senate to pass real tenure reform, not just attacks on educators and their bargaining rights and their ability to do their jobs.”
Those who support the bill see it differently, “We want to ensure that we have the best-quality teachers in the classroom to give our children the best opportunity for success,” said Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, who wrote one of the bills.
Both Republicans and Democrats agree that reform had to be undertaken, but disagreed on how far to go and what shape the reforms should take. Recently, Michigan school districts had been criticized for allowing bad teachers to move to other districts, or to buy them out, rather than fire them. Firing a teacher in Michigan had simply become too complicated or lengthy. For example, a firing could take over a year in some cases.
Although some Democrats voted for the legislation, many think the issue should be considered more delicately. They propose teacher evaluations and accountability by principals before tenure is addressed. They would also like more clarity in how an ineffective teacher is defined. I spoke with an educator in Michigan who had an interesting point on this. If the state uses test scores to determine the quality of a teacher, it would act as a disincentive for taking on the challenging students in a school. That is certainly something that needs to be considered.
She also suggested that another root cause of poor teachers isn’t being addressed, and that is teacher education at the college level. She suggested that teaching students need to have more classroom experience to ensure that they are going into the right field. As it is now, a teacher may graduate with such burdensome student loans that they have to be a teacher, even if they come to realize it’s not the right career path for him or her. If they’d learned this earlier on, it would make for a much easier transition into another field.
The lack of parental involvement is something else that needs to be considered. Due to a lack of involvement or family issues, many students are not performing as well as they could in school, and the teacher is not to blame for this. Parents must bear some responsibility for their child’s education.
We’ll be waiting with bated breath to see how the Michigan Senate votes!

Charter Schools: A First Impression

For the first four years of his schooling, my son has been in a traditional public schools. At first, we had considered private schools. We visited several and even applied to one, but we also took the time to interview the principal and tour the school.

Initial Experience With Traditional Public Schools

The principal during his first 3 years really ran the place as a student-focused, parent-friendly facility. Her door was always open, the faculty turn-over wasn’t an issue and we always felt welcome to come see our kids in their learning environment any time we liked.

We volunteered to help, my wife became the class Mom for both of our kids and I helped with events and such when I could. This school was more like the private schools we had visited than the public schools I remembered -until the principal changed.

When our School Turned Into a Real Traditional Public School

This last year, the school has been the proto-typical traditional public school. Parents are almost discouraged from being in the classroom, the principal is available by appointment only, faculty turn-over is nightmarish and it seems like little – if any – learning is happening in the classroom.

In the current school year, our son has had FOUR different teachers. His first two years he had one. Each new teacher brings a new style, different expectations and introduces instability into the classroom. Won’t the kids detach from the teacher if they think he or she will be somebody else in a few weeks or months?

We had become used to being the reinforcement mechanism in his first few years at that school. He would come home knowing a basic math or reading concept, have homework to do, and we’d help him with the tougher examples. This last year, he flat out told us that the teachers really didn’t explain how to do whatever the basic technique was so we had to first figure out what the teacher wanted him to learn by looking through the homework, then we would create a lesson, teach him, then help him with the homework. My wife and I are not educators and we may not be doing this as well as someone with all the right tools in their bag, but right now, those persons are doing a disservice to the children.

Our son gets great grades. It is expected of him. We help him whenever the need arises, that is expected of us. His current school is not living up to either his, nor our expectations and it became time to leave it behind – and we soon found that many other parents from this school were doing the exact same thing.

Getting Into a Charter School

During the year, we filed an application to a science-focused charter school. Our son loves math and science so between this or the performing arts charter school, this academy made the best sense.

We knew that if he didn’t get selected in the lottery (1,500 kids didn’t) we would be putting him in private school and cutting back some things at home to pay for it.

Last week we got the call – he’s in. We were invited to an introductory event at the school and we both attended leaving the kids with a baby sitter.

The first 5 minutes of the principals opening speech told us that this was the kind of learning experience we wanted for our children.

What is a Charter School

According to The Center for Education Reform a charter school is different that traditional schools in several ways:

  • Choice: Charter schools give families an opportunity to pick the school most suitable for their child’s educational well-being. Teachers choose to create and work at schools where they directly shape the best working and learning environment for their students and themselves. Likewise, charter sponsors choose to authorize schools that are likely to best serve the needs of the students in a particular community.
  • Accountability: Charter schools are judged on how well they meet the student achievement goals established by their charter contract. Charter schools must also show that they can perform according to rigorous fiscal and managerial standards. If a charter school cannot perform up to the established standards, it will be closed.
    Check out CER’s Accountability Report: Charter Schools for more.
  • Freedom: While charter schools must adhere to the same major laws and regulations as all other public schools, they are freed from the red tape that often diverts a school’s energy and resources away from educational excellence. Instead of constantly jumping through procedural hoops, charter school leaders can focus on setting and reaching high academic standards for their students.

The first bullet point, “choice”, I believe is the key. Because parents can choose to go to the charter school and also choose to leave it, the school can’t take a local population for granted. A charter school must be superior to surrounding traditional public schools to attract students – which is the only basis for the school’s funding.

Why We Chose a Charter School

The first few minutes of the principals speech told us almost everything we wanted to know.

  • Children are expected to exceed state requirements, not meet them
  • Students will be taught critical thinking skills so that they understand how to learn, not just what to learn
  • The curriculum is taught through projects. A goal-oriented approach to learning subject matter. A test is not the final objective of the learning experience.
  • Parents are expected to help out in the class room
    • as teacher’s assistant
    • as lunch monitors
    • on field trips
    • during events
  • The school does not take on costs that have nothing to do with learning
    • No buses
      • parents will have to work out their own transportation
    • No cafeteria
      • parents will have to make lunches for their kids (much different that those schools that won’t even allow homemade lunches)
  • The dress code reflects the real-world, professional work environment
    • No denim, sweats or athletic wear in the classroom
    • Shirts with collars are required
    • No tight-fitting clothes

Then the teachers spoke. They genuinely seemed to love teaching in this atmosphere. They feel supported by the parents, respected by the kids, and free to teach instead of jumping through bureaucratic hoops. We were also surprised to learn that the school actually had competitive athletics – championship caliber competitive athletics. Why wouldn’t we put our kids into this school?

The Compromises

Charter schools may not be for everyone. Having no taxpayer-supported busing system helps the school contain non-classroom costs, but working parents will have to figure out how to drop-off and pick-up their children or pay for before and after-school care provided by the school or another facility. The lack of a cafeteria may be an issue for some families as lunches will have to come from home. These and other expenses are distractions from actual learning and expenses that all schools don’t need to take on.  For some families it will be too much of a burden, for us, it’s a time cost that is well worth an education-focused learning facility. This also might explain why charter schools spend $4,000 per student less than traditional schools.

Summary

As we go through our first year, I’ll write from time-to-time to let you know how the experience has lived (or not) up to the expectations set by the staff.

We know why the NEA and teacher’s unions fight against these kinds of schools, now I hope to present the case for why we should each be fighting for them – by going into the system personally.

Governor Scott Vetoes $615 Million in Earmarks- Directs it Back into Education

Signs $69.1 Billion Budget; Calls on Legislature to Put Children First; Redirect Earmarks to K-12 Education

The Villages, Fla. – In keeping his campaign promise to make the tough choices needed to turn Florida’s economy around and get Floridians back to work, Governor Rick Scott today vetoed $615 million in special-interest earmarks and signed the 2011-12 state budget. Governor Scott called on House and Senate leaders to redirect the vetoed special-interest dollars into K-12 classrooms and schools so that state spending can remain at last year’s levels.

After vetoes, the $69.1-billion budget meets government’s three fundamental obligations of protecting public health and safety, creating a business friendly environment and preparing Florida ’s students to compete in the 21st century global economy.

“I commend the Legislature for sending me a budget that reduces the size and cost of government and provides tax relief to individuals and business,” said Governor Scott. “Special interests probably aren’t happy with the tough choices I made, but I am confident everyone can agree that funding for our children and students is more important than pleasing Tallahassee ’s special interests.”

U.S.D.A. Bans Wake County From Using School Lunch Data for ‘Diversity Busing’

The controversial policy of using socio-economic information to place students into schools in North Carolina ran into a brick wall last week when the U.S.D.A. blocked Wake County from using its data.

Department of Agriculture officials had informed Wake Country School District that it can not use confidential and private information from school lunch programs to re-assign students to other schools.

Without that data Wake County would either have to ask for parents to volunteer their income information or abandon the idea of forcing kids into schools outside of their neighborhoods solely based on how much money their parents make.

Wake County is one of the few remaining school districts to hold on to this backwards and ineffective policy, but the NAACP is going to do what it can to keep it in place. In a news release, the President of the North Carolina NAACP, Rev. Barber, announced that the NAACP has filed a federal complaint over the U.S.D.A. decision.

“The N.C. NAACP believes the USDA’s position regarding the use of Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) data in school assignment is a misinterpretation of the law,”

Barber has been a highly-visible personality at the forefront of the anti-neighborhood schools movement within the state.

 

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