Tag Archives: Heritage Foundation

Dangers in D.C. Public Schools Strengthen Case to Save Vouchers

I like feeling safe. My parents like knowing I’m reasonably safe from all kinds of violence when I go to school, too. A lot of times where we live, we can take that kind of school safety for granted. But as a new report co-produced by the Heritage Foundation and the Lexington Institute (PDF) chronicles the dangers many students face in D.C. Public Schools and the need for greater choice: In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 11.3 percent of D.C. high school students reported being “threatened or injured” with a weapon while on school property during the previous year—a rate well above the national average…. The data reveal that during the 2007–2008 school year, police responded to more than 900 calls to 911 reporting violent incidents at the addresses of D.C. public schools and more than 1,300 events concerning property crimes. The data reveal a wide variance in the locations of these reported incidents. Some public schools with high rates of 911 calls are located within high-crime neighborhoods. In addition, while one should use these data with care when comparing the relative safety of public, charter, and private schools, this data set shows that a drastically higher […]

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Politicians Attacking Successful, Locally-Supported DC Choice Program

I may get the occasional snarky comment from people who don’t like school choice, but don’t feel bad for me. Instead, get angry about the kids in Washington DC who are in the middle of a political tug-of-war over their Opportunity Scholarships and educational futures. Why get angry? [Illinois Democrat] Senator [Dick] Durbin was busy introducing new, onerous regulations on the program in an appropriations bill last week. In particular, his measures would require participating private schools to take the DC public school test rather than a nationally-normed standardized test, even though they may not have the same curriculum as DCPS. His measures would also require the Secretary of Education to prohibit voucher students from attending any private school that was not deemed “superior” to DC public schools.

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Please Don't Let Unions Play Hide-and-Seek with Teachers' Money

Hide-and-seek can be a lot of fun, but not when someone else — especially some big group — is playing it with your money. That’s why my friends at the Independence Institute make such a big deal about government spending transparency. But what about transparency for teachers who belong to, or have to pay fees to, a union? Following the story of the Indiana state teachers union that lost millions of dollars of members’ money through gross mismanagement, James Sherk and Dan Lips from the Heritage Foundation wrote a great piece for yesterday’s National Review Online called “Shady Dealings”. They explain how teachers unions have fought having to shine light on their financial activities:

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Universal Preschool Promises Like Harold Hill's Shiny New Trombones

I was never really big into the whole preschool thing. My parents decided not to enroll me anywhere before kindergarten. So maybe I’m biased a little bit, but the piece “Does Universal Preschool Improve Learning? Lessons from Georgia and Oklahoma” by Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation really shoots holes in many of the arguments for expanding early childhood education. Apparently, the idea that universal preschool gives kids an accelerated start into improved learning just doesn’t bear out on any large scale. Especially when you look at the Sooner State (and I think you ought to look at it sooner rather than later): More than a decade after offering students uni­versal preschool, neither Oklahoma nor Georgia has shown impressive progress in students’ academic achievement, as measured by the National Assess­ment of Educational Progress. In fact, in Oklahoma, fourth-grade reading test scores have declined since 1998 when the state first implemented universal preschool. Say what? Well, I guess you shouldn’t be too surprised — if you’ve been following what I say for any length of time. Like several months ago, when I pointed out what the brilliant Krista Kafer said about the overblown promises of government preschool pushers. They may not […]

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Who in Congress Opts for Private Schools But Denies Choice to Others?

The clever folks at the Heritage Foundation have done it again, coming up with a new version of a classic survey (H/T Core Knowledge Blog): The new survey revealed that 38 percent of Members of the 111th Congress sent a child to private school at one time. (See Appendix Table A-1.) Of these respondents, 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives had at one time sent their children to private school; 23 percent of House Education and Labor Committee Members and nearly 40 percent of Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Members have ever sent their children to private school; 38 percent of House Appropriations Committee Members and 35 percent of Senate Finance Committee Members have ever sent their children to private school; and 35 percent of Congressional Black Caucus Members and 31 percent of Congressional HispanicCaucus Members exercised private-school choice.[6](See Chart 1.) It’s the perfect example of “School Choice for Me, But Not for Thee”. The report is great, but I have a couple questions for the author Lindsey Burke — in search of more detail: Senator Dick Durbin is mentioned as a leading opponent of the D.C. voucher program who sends his own children to […]

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Keep Spreading the Message to Help D.C. Kids Keep Their Scholarships

The fight isn’t over yet, but things aren’t looking good for the 1,700 poor Washington D.C. kids who benefit from the federally-funded voucher program – kids like those featured in this compelling Heritage Foundation video (H/T Flypaper): Are you listening, Congress? Are you paying attention, President Obama?

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School Choice Vital, But Only Part of, Effective Education Reform Package

I just wanted to leave you with a quick reading assignment before the weekend comes. Writing over at National Review, Dan Lips from the Heritage Foundation says conservatives can’t give up on fighting for school choice but also need to focus their agenda broadly on a range of effective changes to the education system: First, principled support for aggressive reforms like vouchers has cleared a space for the types of reform policies that leaders like [Washington DC schools chancellor Michelle] Rhee are advocating. And, second, when it comes to systemic reform, conservatives have a broad agenda of policies that strengthen public education — and the results to prove it. Education reformers from across the political spectrum should give thanks to those who have spent decades promoting school choice. These efforts have yielded only modest (but increasing) enactment of voucher programs. But they have created political breathing room for less aggressive reforms — such as public school choice and teacher merit pay. Fordham’s Eric Osberg praises Dan’s article, adding: Of course we’ve said for years that choice and accountability go hand-in-hand, but also that such reforms to the structure of schooling have to be accompanied by changes in how schools and […]

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Jeb Bush's Stellar Education Reform Record Worthy of Colorado Emulation

Probably the best state for Colorado or any other to look to as a model in education reform is Florida. Education reform was the primary focus of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during his eight-year tenure, and he was able to make progress on many fronts. The remarkable success yielded by years of systematic advances in school choice, accountability, standards, and teacher pay makes the Sunshine State worthy of emulation: Government-gathered data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that Florida has outpaced Colorado and the national average in nearly every measure of math and reading proficiency. In that light, it was important that Heritage Foundation education policy analyst Dan Lips was able to sit down and interview Jeb Bush (H/T Matt Ladner) at a recent education reform summit in Orlando. Here are a few key excerpts of Bush’s remarks from the interview transcribed at National Review Online: We need all schools — here in Florida and in 49 other states — to get better for our country’s future. The only way to improve student performance is through continual and perpetual reform of education. America needs a 21st century education system for a 21st century world…. Raising standards, […]

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Will Congress Really Rob 1,900 D.C. Kids of Educational Opportunity?

I recently found this disturbing story about a threat to school choice for needy kids way across the country in the District of Columbia: On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is in doubt. This program—which is currently helping 1,900 disadvantaged kids attend private schools—is set to expire next year if Congress doesn’t extend it. The Post reports that D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is championing an effort to kill the program. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program gives low-income students scholarships worth up to $7,500 to attend a private school in the nation’s capital. It has proven widely popular with parents. Since 2004, approximately 7,200 students have applied for scholarships through the program—about 4 applications for each scholarship. D.C. parent Maritza White tells what school choice has meant to her son This piece from Dan Lips at the Heritage Foundation documents the success of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, and offers recommendations for improving the program through expanded school choice. But the best proof that Congress should take its hands off D.C. parents’ educational opportunities comes from a terrific website that lets parents whose kids have benefited from the program tell their […]

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Florida Looks to Lead the Way in Ending Blaine's Education Bigotry

According to the Washington Post, voters in Florida have a chance to remove the bigoted Blaine Amendment from their state constitution. The Post points out that the Blaine Amendment has been used in different states to discriminate against certain kinds of educational opportunities: Patricia Levesque, the commission member who pushed to add the measure, said she acted because a 2004 appeals court decision cited the Blaine Amendment while striking down then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s effort to allow students in failing schools to enroll in parochial and other private schools at public expense. Independence Institute senior fellow Krista Kafer, while she still worked at the Heritage Foundation in 2003, noted the background that put the offensive Blaine Amendments in 37 states (including Colorado): Vestiges of an anti-Catholic movement, these provisions are named after Congressman James Blaine of Maine for his efforts to add such language to the U.S. Constitution. In the mid-nineteenth century, anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bigotry found expression in American institutions and politics. The emerging public schools were commonly Protestant in character, requiring, for example, the reading of the Protestant King James Version of the Bible in classrooms. Efforts to secure funding for Catholic schools were resisted. After the Civil War, […]

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