Tag Archives: findings

Let's Make Vocational Programs a Bigger Slice of School Choice Menu

You probably assume a prolific blogging prodigy like myself eventually will head to a prestigious 4-year university — maybe even with Doogie Howser-like potential. But what if when I turn 16 some day my heart is set on a career as a plumber or a chef? You wouldn’t deny me that, would you? Writing for the America’s Future Foundation, Liam Julian of the Hoover Institution says we could take a big bite out of our high school dropout problem by engaging more students in vocational education programs — particularly those that integrate academics directly with students’ career aspirations, providing greater relevance to many teens (H/T Heritage Insider): Imagine a 17-year-old who does not want to attend college (or at least not right away); who finds parsing Macbeth maddeningly immaterial; who yearns to learn a practical skill and put it to use; who feels his personal strengths are being ignored and wasted; who is annoyed by his school’s lackluster teachers, classroom chaos, and general atmosphere of indifference. Too often, such a pupil has no other options. He has no educational choice.

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Overhaul Detroit Schools without Giving Health Insurance to Dead People

It’s Friday. What better time to kick an institution that’s down, and deservedly so? If anyone is taking nominees for an American school district to tear down and start over the education system from scratch, I vote for the Detroit Public Schools. Anyone with me? The district’s well-documented failures and financial deficits are exacerbated by the latest findings of far-reaching corruption. The Detroit Free Press reports today about what was found in a pair of audits of Detroit Public Schools (H/T Intercepts): Among the findings: 160 outdated BlackBerrys, 11 motorcycles, 97 two-way phones and 50 handheld radios sat unused. One audit also showed that 411 people — including some who are dead — were receiving health insurance even though they weren’t eligible. Ending those benefits will save the district an immediate $2.1 million, [emergency financial manager Robert] Bobb said. Health insurance for dead people? To cover future embalming needs? Protection money from grave robbers? If we take away their benefits, will they be added to the rolls of Americans without health insurance? Unbelievable stuff. Do you see what I mean?

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Poll: 3 in 4 D.C. Residents Support Voucher Program; Wake Up, Congress

I’ve told you how many politicians have been attacking the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps some of the poorest kids in the nation’s capital. Not only does the D.C. City Council support the private school choice program, but a new poll conducted by Braun Research shows that the people who benefit directly from it — D.C. residents, and especially parents of school-age children — overwhelmingly support it: 74% have a favorable view of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program; and 79% of parents of school-age children oppose ending the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The survey also contains additional findings about residents’ views on the public school system, charter schools, merit pay, and related issues. But it’s their opinions about the successful voucher program under assault by Congress that carries the most immediate relevance. It only makes the situation sadder that the people who are affected the most strongly support the program while politicians put powerful lobbying groups and ideology ahead of kids such as these:

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Milwaukee School Choice Research Yields a Lot of Interesting Results

School choice doesn’t provide all the answers to our education challenges, but it’s becoming very hard to deny that choice in itself yields some positive results. Look at the new results (PDF) from the University of Arkansas’s School Choice Demonstration Project for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Milwaukee isn’t just famous for that show about two women who work as brewery bottlecappers. The Wisconsin city is the granddaddy of school choice programs, and probably the best place for in-depth studies of all sorts of issues surrounding choice. And the School Choice Demonstration Project has brought together some of the best and most experienced education researchers – including Patrick Wolf, John Witte, and Jay Greene – to do just that. The series of studies released this week focus on everything from fiscal impacts to parental satisfaction to academic growth and real estate prices. Some of the more interesting findings:

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Frivolous Attacks on Pension Reform Draw Attention (For Me, Detention?)

Yesterday morning some of my Education Policy Center friends were down at the State Capitol (now, like me, they can hardly get out of their driveways… snow day!). They joined Dr. Michael Mannino, author of the Independence Institute report Deferred Retirement Compensation for Career K-12 Employees: Understanding the Need for Reform (PDF), for his informational presentation to the joint House and Senate Education Committee. New Ed News Colorado reporter Nancy Mitchell provided some colorful coverage of yesterday’s unusually well-attended proceedings (hey, I don’t even want to get out of bed at 7:30 AM): Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, drew applause from a standing-room only crowd when he closely questioned Michael Mannino, a University of Colorado professor who helped write the report. “Is it possible that your phrases like drastic tax increases and meltdowns could be fear-mongering on your part … in support of your political agenda?” Merrifield asked, an apparent reference to the report’s sponsor, the Independence Institute, which bills itself as a “free market” think tank based in Golden. “Could it be that you’re making an assumption to support your personal views that teachers shouldn’t have a defined benefit plan?” Merrifield asked at another point. “I want people to […]

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Independence Institute Highlights Rural Colorado School Performance

There are plenty of kids in Colorado who live out in the country or in remote small towns. I don’t know many of them myself. Yet while I’m sure they have their own challenges in learning and education, they don’t get as much attention as those of us who live in and around the big city of Denver. That’s part of the reason why my friends in the Education Policy Center put together a project looking at the academic performance of Colorado’s rural school districts, compared with the numbers of poor and non-white students they serve. The author of the newly-released Assessing Colorado Rural Public School Performance (PDF) is Paul Mueller, who spent the summer working in our offices. (Just in case you were wondering, I didn’t see much of Paul, because I spent much of my summer months off school playing outdoors rather than visiting the Independence Institute.) Anyway, for those of you who don’t have the time to read Paul’s paper, you can listen to him and Pam Benigno talk about the findings of the report – including a couple school districts that succeeded at “beating the odds” despite high-poverty or high-minority student populations – on an iVoices […]

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