Tag Archives: interests

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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Why Effective Education Reform Often Is So Hard: Pueblo Edition

Yesterday’s Pueblo Chieftain featured a very telling story of why serious education reform cannot simply be entrusted to the good will of local school bureaucrats. Not that they aren’t necessarily trustworthy, because most of them certainly are. But the prevailing number of federal and state regulations, added on top of the provisions negotiated into the master union contract, have stacked incentives in favor of pleas for more money to help get them out. See what I mean: Local school administrators are well aware of the attempts by districts around the country to find ways to reward teachers and give them incentives to do better but it’s not something that can be done without also finding ways to pay for it. Kathy West, interim superintendent of Pueblo City Schools, said that there are indications that new federal programs will be coming soon to help cash-strapped districts like Pueblo’s do that. But for the time being the district remains with its narrowly worded contract and pay scale that bases salaries on years worked, degrees and training earned and on annual across-the-board pay increases. “It’s just too hard….” In other words, labor peace trumps teacher quality.

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iVoices: Ben DeGrow, Amy Oliver Talk about Teachers Union Priorities

Last week I helped bring your attention to the National Education Association’s open declaration about their priorities as a labor union first, and kids second — as well as the latest published criticism of NEA, this time coming from a traditional political ally on the Left. These are interesting times we live in, and my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow joined Amy Oliver on a new iVoices podcast to talk about these issues more in depth. I invite you to listen (click on the play button below): For those of you who have forgotten, here’s what retiring NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin told a crowd of 8,000 cheering union delegates:

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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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Detroit: Fire Teachers Who Don't Pay Union, Not Those Who Can't Teach

Detroit Public Schools is far from the model of educational success. In fact, it’s one of the worst-performing school systems in the country. For example, look no further than the abysmally low graduation rates. One of the problems that could be addressed would be the tremendous difficulty to remove ineffective classroom teachers. It is so difficult and costly to do that on the occasions when Detroit (and the problem isn’t isolated there by any stretch of the imagination) actually tries to remove poor performers, they have to resort to offering settlements worth many months of pay and promises not to reveal the reason for their terminated employment. That’s for teachers who show extensive evidence of not being cut out for the job — or in some cases, even worse. As the Education Action Group has uncovered (PDF), though, there is one sure way to ensure the removal of a Detroit Public Schools instructor. From a local union official’s own mouth, fire him or her for not paying union dues or fees:

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House Education Committee Kills Choice for Autistic Kids, Angers Cap'n

I love rollercoasters, but not when my emotions are riding on them. This morning is the bottom of the hill, and the ride has been fast. I just found out that the House Education Committee has killed (though not “double-super-killed” this time) a chance to expand educational opportunity for Colorado’s autistic students. Colorado Senate News has the sad details: Senate Bill 130, authored by Senate GOP Whip Nancy Spence, was a groundbreaking proposal to create the state’s first charter school specifically serving children with autism. Spence, of Centennial, the GOP’s ranking member on the Senate Education Committee, won support for her bill on both sides of the aisle, including from Senate President Peter Groff. Groff, a Denver Democrat, has often made headlines with his advocacy of wide-ranging school reforms and is leaving his post at the end of the 2009 legislative session to help guide education policy in the Obama administration. Yet, Spence says, it ironically was some of Groff’s fellow Democrats in the House who killed the bill this afternoon in the House Education Committe. Spence said she had been told earlier that if she didn’t agree to water her bill down, it likely couldn’t pass the House. “This […]

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Are Education Lobbyists Handing Out Cue Cards at the Colorado Capitol?

Jay Greene’s blog has a humorous – but sad – story of how New York City teachers union operatives were caught red-handed passing out cue cards (including one with a misspelled word) to City Council members. Because we really need school boards and other policy makers to do the thoughtless bidding of adult interest groups rather than stand up for the interests of children and taxpaying citizens, right? I’m obviously being sarcastic there. But seeing that funny post made me wonder whether cue cards recently may have been passed out at the Colorado State Capitol: What cue cards were given to legislative opponents who slapped down school choice twice in the same day? Who wrote the script for the lawmaker who needed help from Grover to distinguish public from private (another legislator raised the same question on another bill at another hearing)? Who authored the cue cards for the education committee chair to ignore critical findings about school employee pensions so he could grandstand with frivolous attacks? What lobbying interest group told the same committee chair to thwart the will of the people and double-super kill school spending transparency? Or perhaps these lawmakers came up with these bad, silly, arrogant, […]

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