Tag Archives: information

N'Orleans Research Highlights the Importance of Smart Choice Programs

There are days when I think I’ve found the single, universal answer to all of my five-year-old problems. Like the time I used chewing gum to stick a loose sole back to my shoe. When I figured the same approach would also help me hang a cool Spiderman posted on my bedroom wall, I got in big trouble. Then there was the time I discovered that I could use the microwave to create nachos. It worked less spectacularly when I used it as a towel drier. I think I finally understand what my dad means when he pats me on the head and says, “Son, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet.” As it turns out, the same thing holds true in education reform. I love school choice, but that doesn’t mean that just any choice policy will fix all of our woes automatically. It has to be done right, and one has to remember that no system (and especially not the current school system) is perfect. Yet perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good when we’re talking about school choice programs. That’s why I get a little sad when I read stories like this one from KUNC […]

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A Glimpse at New Schools: Math and Science Leadership Academy

After the Colorado Independent brought attention to Denver’s Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) on Friday, I decided it was turn to shine the light on a brick-and-mortar school that is unique for one reason: no principal. No principal, you say? That has to be good, right? When I throw spit wads at the kid next to me, whose office are they going to send me to? Right? Okay, okay, I can stop being goofy for a few minutes. MSLA is not a charter school but an innovation school. The school’s founders had to ask for waivers from state law that would allow it to operate with two “lead teachers” instead of a principal. Teachers evaluate each other through a peer review system. Located in southwest Denver, it’s a K-5 elementary school with a “primary focus” on “science, technology, and mathematics.” MSLA opened its doors this year to students in kindergarten through second grade. Parents who are interested can go to the school’s website for more information on admissions.

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Georgia Parents of Special-Needs Students Love Their School Choice, Too

The proof keeps pouring in: Give parents private school choice opportunities, and they overwhelmingly love it. A couple weeks ago I highlighted a new survey of Florida parents whose children use the corporate scholarship tax credit to attend a non-public school: Satisfaction was off the charts. Not to be outdone by its neighbor to the south, the Center for Educated Georgia also decided to measure feedback from parents who use a voucher to send their special-needs children to a private school. No surprises here, the two-year-old scholarship program is a big hit! Here are some of the key findings (PDF):

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A Glimpse at New Schools: Thomas MacLaren School (Colorado Springs)

Update, 8/18: Denise at Colorado Charters offers more information on the new Thomas MacLaren School, as well as an account of the ribbon cutting ceremony. If you live in the Colorado Springs area and have a student heading into the middle school years, you may want to take a look at the new Thomas MacLaren School. The tuition-free public charter school opens this month with classes from 6th to 9th grade. Eventually the school will serve students all the way up through high school. Many things set MacLaren apart from traditional public schools, but most prominent are: A classical education curriculum that builds from the basics of grammar (6th-8th grade) to the logic of finding “implications and relationships that exist among the ideas already learned” (9th-10th grade) to the higher-level rhetoric (11th-12th grade) “wherein students begin to synthesize and relate concepts already learned” — all students will be required to take four years of Latin Student uniforms Single-sex classrooms (that’s right: No yucky girls! I may have to look into this school….), except the fine arts classes (including choir, drama, etc.) and lunchtimes will be co-ed

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A Glimpse at New Schools: Animas High

Guess what? It’s that time again — time to highlight some of the exciting new educational options opening up for Colorado students and parents this fall. Last year we were able to give readers a glimpse at 10 new schools. My goal is to do at least that many for 2009. First on the list, we start at the far end of the state in Durango for the opening of a new public charter school for 9th graders. Authorized by the Charter School Institute, Animas High School. Animas, which is intentionally modeled after San Diego’s innovative High Tech High, is slated to add grades each year so the first class will graduate in 2013.

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A Few "Irrational" Parents Better Than Bureaucrats in Charge of All Kids

Updated for clarity Over at the Britannica blog, Dan Willingham wonders aloud if school choice might be a bad policy not effect positive change in the system through competition because many parents won’t make the “rational” decision: The logic of school choice seems obvious. If parents selected their children’s schools, they would not choose bad ones, so bad schools would not be able to survive. Schools would have to improve or close, just as a store that offers poor service will lose business to a store that offers better service. Here’s my problem with that logic: I think it’s highly likely that many parents will choose bad schools. (H/T Core Knowledge blog) You’re welcome to go ahead and read Mr. Willingham’s entire entry. But I think Jay Greene has done the best job of providing a rational objection:

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New CDE Report Offers Valuable Digest of Information on Colorado Charters

Update: The good people of Ed News Colorado have also written about The State of Charter Schools in Colorado (PDF), breaking down some of the key information if you don’t have time to dig through the whole report. Do you need a good reference digest of important information on charter schools in Colorado? Well, my friend and Education Policy Center senior fellow Krista Kafer has done it again, joining Dr. Dick Carpenter to co-author another valuable report for the Colorado Department of Education. The brand new report is called The State of Charter Schools in Colorado (PDF). Skim through it, and you’ll see there really is no such thing as an average charter school. As the movement has grown in our state over the last 15 years, both the number and the diversity of charters has increased.

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Research Shows Information Changes Public Opinion on School Funding

One of the main things my friends here at the Education Policy Center do is to shed light on the public debate with information. It’s good to see in scientific terms that information makes a difference with people’s opinions about important policy issues related to education. The new issue of Education Next highlights the research of University of Chicago Professor William Howell and Brown University Professor Martin West — who tested this idea in the area of whether schools should receive more funding. Here’s a sample of what they learned: The average per-pupil spending estimate from respondents to the 2008 Education Next/PEPG survey was $4,231, and the median response was just $2,000; but for these respondents, local average spending per pupil at the time exceeded $10,000. When told how much the local schools were spending, support for increased spending dropped by 10 percentage points, from 61 percent to a bare majority of 51 percent. Howell and West find that these differences in opinion based on exposure to key information are consistent across a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, views about the local public schools, and political ideologies. “It’s clear that the American public is quite willing to update its views […]

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Kansas Teacher Explains Why His Colleagues Broke Away from NEA

Recently, a group of public school teachers in rural Kansas were tired of being represented by the nation’s largest teachers union and decided to do something about it. From Education Week: Teachers in Riley County have voted to decertify from the Kansas National Education Association and the National Education Association. The approximately 58 teachers in the district voted earlier this month to have Riley County Educators serve as their negotiating agent. Riley County High School industrial arts teacher and track coach Garry Sigle, who also serves as spokesman for the Riley County Educators, was kind enough to record an iVoices podcast explaining why he and the other teachers chose this course of action and what the process is like: The Association of American Educators (AAE), which has provided assistance to the teachers in Riley, explains that these teachers in the Kansas district are not the first local to decertify from NEA in recent years. It has happened in several other states, though not yet in Colorado. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow tells me he is working to get more information on the decertification option to put up on the Independent Teachers website. I’ll keep you updated.

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A Big School Choice Week Down at the Colorado State Capitol

This week brings a couple of big days for supporters of school choice. First of all, bet you didn’t know that it’s 2009 Colorado Charter Schools Week, celebrating the 15th anniversary of charter schools in Colorado. The big day to commemorate the occasion is this Thursday, April 2 – as charter school families and supporters rally at 11:30 am at the State Capitol. Public charter schools represent an important educational option that has established itself in our state. If you want to keep track of charter school issues here, you absolutely have to bookmark two sites: the Colorado Charters blog and the new A Parent’s Voice. The very next day – Friday, April 3 – is the annual Homeschool Day at the Capitol, with a chance to meet elected state representatives and senators, to participate in two workshops, and to join in a noon rally. And younger homeschooled kids can participate in the Future Statesmen Program, which sounds pretty neat to me. Show up at the Homeschool Day at the Capitol, and you might just meet one of my Education Policy Center friends there with information on the new, exciting paper Colorado’s Homeschool Law Turns Twenty (PDF) – a real […]

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