Tag Archives: potential

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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Calling Colorado Parents to Participate in Study of Core Knowledge Charters

From the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Commissioner Dwight Jones is urging parents to get involved in a research study of Core Knowledge charter schools: The study is being led by David W. Grissmer and Thomas G. White, researchers at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. They have received a $4.9 million grant to evaluate the effectiveness of Core Knowledge charter schools in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Education is participating as a full partner. The five-year grant is being funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education. Grissmer, a principal research scientist, and White, a senior scientist, work at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, a national center that focuses on the quality of teaching and students’ learning. “This study holds tremendous potential as a definitive work that will analyze the key ingredients of these successful schools,” said Commissioner Jones. “Because the study design requires participation from parents who win lottery-based enrollment to Core Knowledge charter schools—and those who don’t win those lotteries—I am strongly encouraging parents to participate in the study to help us all better understand the elements that make these schools effective.” [link added]

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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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Terry Moe Touts Power of Technology to Transform Politics of Education

Whether you’re an education policy junkie or a concerned parent or citizen who is new to the reform debate or anyone in between, you will find some insightful and provocative arguments in the new book co-authored by Drs. Terry Moe and John Chubb titled Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education. What’s most interesting about the book is that Moe and Chubb go beyond highlighting how technology can transform the delivery of instruction in schools. They argue that technology also holds the potential to transform the politics of education by weakening the ability most especially of teachers unions to block promising, student-friendly reforms. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow got the opportunity this week to interview Dr. Moe about his new book for an iVoices podcast (click on the play button to listen): The interview is almost 20 minutes long, but I think it will give you a good taste for what the book is about. Enjoy! In case you wondered, I have written before about the work of Terry Moe here and here (eerily, written exactly one year ago today).

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All Eyes (Including Mine) on Radical Westminster School Innovation

I’ve told you before about Westminster School District’s program to move from seat time to standards — re-thinking the whole traditional grade system that has dominated American education for decades — and the Doogie Howser-like potential such a system could offer me. Well, earlier this week, Rebecca Jones at Ed News Colorado chronicled the fact that the moment of truth has arrived for Westminster (aka Adams 50): It’s the last day of the 2008-09 school year in the district. The last day of life as most students and teachers there have always known it. The last day that categories like “third grade” or “sixth grade” – or A or B+ or C- — will exist in most of Westminster. The district is scrapping traditional notions of grade level and doing away with letter grades. Students will instead progress through academic levels 1-10 based on their mastery of subjects, not on the length of time they’ve been in school. This concept, known as standards-based education, has been tried in individual schools and in some small districts in Alaska, but never before in a large, urban district such as Westminster. The bold step is bringing national attention to the district.

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A Parent's Voice: Terrific Source of Information for Colorado Moms & Dads

Rather than dwell on the latest anti-D.C. scholarship program developments that have me burning angry again (I hope this group stands up and does something about it), I decided to focus on the positive this Monday morning. Colorado’s charter school parents and other school choice supporters have another great resource at their disposal. If you haven’t checked out the new website A Parent’s Voice, you’re missing out on a terrific resource – one that complements our own School Choice for Kids site. Recently, my Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno sat down with A Parent’s Voice creator and charter school mom Donnell Rosenberg to discuss the background and features of the site. You can listen to their iVoices podcast conversation here: Right now, Colorado is relatively blessed by our political situation as it pertains to school choice. But none of it — whether it’s open enrollment, charter schools, or online education — should be taken for granted. To ward off potential anti-choice political attacks like what’s transpiring in Washington D.C., as well as to enhance your child’s educational opportunities (both present and future), it is very important to arm yourself with the best information tools possible. A Parent’s Voice is […]

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