Tag Archives: programs

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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Online Elementary Teacher of the Year Gives Cyberschool Sneak Peek

If my mom and dad were to sign me up for one of Colorado’s many public online education programs, what would my school experience look like? Would I be chained to the computer all day, blogging for the Independence Institute? Okay, I’m teasing. Of course not. But you may be really surprised to find out what it’s like. If you or someone you know are considering the cyberschool option, you really ought to listen to our latest iVoices podcast. Click the play button below to hear Colorado’s online elementary teacher of the year Christina Narayan explain how she teaches reading and math to students all over the state while building a sense of community and cooperation: Mrs. Narayan, a teacher for Branson School Online, really seems like a remarkable lady. But what’s even more noteworthy is how her passion and excitement for what she does reflects the bright future for this increasingly popular education option. That, and the fact she got to throw out the first pitch last month at a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game. I’m so jealous!

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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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New Denver KIPP School Performance Pay Plan Latest Charter Innovation

With a variety of programs and greater flexibility from state laws and district policies, public charter schools can provide a great alternative for parents and students looking for something different. Because of that same flexibility, charter schools can serve as great laboratories of innovation for different practices that work. A couple months ago, while school was still in session, my Education Policy Center friends visited KIPP-Sunshine Peak Academy, a charter middle school located in west Denver. The national KIPP network of 82 charter schools has been made famous recently by the book Work Hard Be Nice, written by Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews.

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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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School Choice, Hoosier Style: Hope for Needy Indiana Kids & the Movement?

I’m a little slow to report on this great news to you, but here goes … Kudos to Indiana for joining the ranks of states to offer private school choice to its needy students. From the June 30 Friedman Foundation announcement: Indiana lawmakers today approved a $2.5 million scholarship tax credit program in the home state of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. The new scholarship program was inserted into the state’s budget and won approval in the late hours of the special legislative session. The bill, which passed the Senate 34-16 and the House 61-36, was signed by the governor a couple hours later. “The state of Indiana today joined a growing number of states that are putting the educational needs of children before partisan politics by adopting school choice programs,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation…. The victory is especially sweet for national school choice champion Friedman, because the Foundation calls the Hoosier State home. So my Education Policy Center friend Pam Benigno was delighted to be able to interview Robert Enlow about the Indiana school choice victory on this new iVoices podcast (click the play button to listen):

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Are More Teacher Licensure Alternatives on Their Way to Colorado?

Every student in Colorado deserves to have a top-notch teacher in the classroom — especially those kids who are “at-risk” because of poverty and related issues. We shouldn’t put unnecessary obstacles in the way of getting skilled and caring new teachers licensed and ready to go. Instead, we should be looking for high-quality alternative programs that serve the needs of those college-educated adults who want to change careers without going back to get an education degree. We need more content experts, especially in math and science, who have a firm footing in the basics of pedagogy and classroom management. This year Colorado passed Senate Bill 160 (PDF). By giving the state board of education greater flexibility to approve alternative licensure programs, this new law may enable the recruitment and preparation of more highly-qualified teachers to help fill needs in Colorado schools. This week David Saba, president of the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence (ABCTE), talked more about these issues on an iVoices podcast, which you can listen to by clicking the play button below:

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Sneaky Anti-School Choice Empire Strikes Back at Milwaukee

When it comes to school choice, have no fear: if given a chance, the Empire will strike back. Most recently they have honed their targets on Milwaukee, the granddaddy of modern voucher programs. The threat looms large. As the editors of the Wall Street Journal explain, Wisconsin lawmakers have hit participating private schools with a double whammy: funding cuts (they already receive less than half as much per student as do traditional public schools) and new bureaucratic mandates. The best news that can be said, at least according to the Education Gadfly, is that the regulations could have been worse. Those nasty Wisconsin lawmakers must have figured that if it’s too risky to try to cut back vouchers outright, they might as well play around with the money and the rules. Very sneaky of them.

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Arizona Lawmakers' Quick, Creative Work Makes Me So Happy for Lexie

Sometimes even shameful things can work out for good, with good people working hard to make sure kids can keep the quality education options they have received through school choice. In Arizona, thankfully they worked very quickly. Things went awry on March 25, when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on a shameful lawsuit by shutting down two voucher programs that served special-needs and foster care kids. Even then, though, as my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow reported for School Reform News, there was a ray of light: [Executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice Tim] Keller said that remains a possibility in Arizona, where it could be accomplished by popular vote either through a legislatively initiated referendum or a citizens’ petition drive. “Right now, every conceivable legal option is still on the table,” he said. Fast forward 65 days to this monumental press release from the Alliance for School Choice:

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Virginia Walden Ford: D.C. Scholarship Program Under Attack by Congress

I’ve written about it a lot: the attack by Congress against students in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, that is. But I’m not ready to give up yet. And you shouldn’t be, either. If you need some inspiration – or maybe you’re just learning about this attack on school choice that benefits low-income kids in our nation’s capital – you really ought to listen to Virginia Walden Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, explain the situation in this 10-minute iVoices podcast: Is it really true that the best we can hope for is saving the scholarships of the 1,700 kids who currently receive them, and leaving out in the cold the thousands more on waiting lists to escape some terrible D.C. public schools? Maybe that is the best we can hope for on behalf of Washington D.C. students for now, but don’t give up. After all, it’s important to note – as Adam Schaeffer does on the Cato-at-Liberty blog – that voucher and tax credit programs across the country are growing and growing in bipartisan political support. Keep your chin up. Stay in the fight.

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