Martin Luther King Jr. believed that, "unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality." If correct, then no stronger love or enduring truth can personify his dream than between a caring parent and their needful child.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering legislation to reform the state charter school law. This legislation may include a "parent trigger" to convert failing schools into charter schools.
The 2011-12 state PSSA results show declines across the board, and fewer districts and schools making Adequate Year Progress. Here are some key facts concerning this latest development, and what lawmakers can do to help children in the worst-performing schools.
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Hannah and Alyssa will tell you that the freedom to choose a school that works for them was essential to their academic success. They are just two of the 32,000 students across the nation enrolled in cyber schools. But you don’t have to take their word for it. Now, there is new research backing the academic benefits of school choice, specifically voucher programs.
A new report from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found that children and families who utilize school vouchers achieve better educational outcomes. According to "A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice," 11 out of 12 "gold standard" studies showed that students excel with school choice vouchers, and none suffer when they chose educational options outside of the public school realm.
The report also found that 22 out of 23 studies on how school choice impacts public education showed that competition actually improved public school performance. No research concluded that school choice harms public schools.
The Friedman Foundation also reviewed empirical research related to the impact school choice has on taxpayers, diversity and civic values. Research consistently supports school choice in those areas.
Despite decades of carping by skeptics, vouchers and school choice in any form are a win-win for children—whether they attend private school or remain in a public school affected by school choice, said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Competition works in all segments of our society, and it certainly helps children when they’re permitted to attend a school that fits their needs.
Pennsylvanians don't have to look far to see school choice at work. Last week, kids and parents celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program. The program has allowed hundreds of thousands of children to escape failing schools while saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
In the past two years, five new states have adopted private school choice, and other states have expanded their school choice options, including the Pennsylvania's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit—a lifeline for kids trapped in violent and failing schools.
posted by AMY CLINGENSMITH MONGIOVI | 10:44 AM | Comments
A new national school standard known as "Common Core" is fast becoming known for superseding state and local authority over public education curricula. Using cutting edge data collection and analysis techniques, the program is designed to streamline K-12 education and raise our world standing in education.
But a comprehensive study by the American Principles Project warns of increased costs and privacy concerns as the main reasons Common Core may do more harm than good. Why did 45 states sign up for a program that requires them to, "relinquish their autonomy over public education?" Money, of course.
The federal government offered a $4 billion incentive in the form of "Race to the Top" education grants contingent on accepting Common Core standards. All but four states complied, ignoring unanswered questions of cost and quality in favor of a quick money grab.
A growing number of states have begun rethinking their commitment to the curriculum as full implementation approaches later this year, while a coalition of grassroots activists are pushing back here in Pennsylvania.
When it comes to improving public education, there's one proven solution: school choice. Giving parents the freedom to choose the best education for their child is fundamental to boosting student achievement.
That's why the worst feature of Common Core is its one-size-fits-all approach to standards—transferring authority over to bureaucrats and test design consultants rather than families.
StudentsFirst, a bipartisan education reform group, released report cards for all 50 states evaluating individual state education laws and policies—and the news wasn't good for Pennsylvania, which received a "D+" overall. Although 31 states did worse, and the state scored higher on some measures—such as a "B" in comprehensive evaluation of teachers—Pennsylvania is still lagging on important fronts.
On empowering parents with information, for example, Pennsylvania scored an "F." If parents don't have a simple way to assess the performance of local schools, which Pennsylvania currently lacks, how will they know if they need to seek alternative education options for their children? One reform would be to require that each school receive an annual report, which would provide a letter grade (A-F) based on student achievement.
StudentsFirst further recommends that the state be required to notify parents on teacher effectiveness. Another policy factoring into weak parental empowerment: Pennsylvania lacks a parent trigger law that would allow a majority of parents to turn around failing and poorly managed schools.
Pennsylvania also received a "D" on school choice. Although the state has made progress in this area, there is no comprehensive opportunity scholarship program available to all students to escape failing public schools.
Another problem in providing school choice is how we treat charter schools. Only school districts are permitted to authorize charter schools (which, as we've mentioned, is like asking McDonald's to authorize the opening of a new Wendy's next door). This limits charter school growth because districts are reluctant to give up funds to the newly authorized schools. The state should also establish clearer rules for closing down failing charter schools and rewarding good ones, and make funding more equitable across all types of public school options.
To grade states, StudentsFirst used three policy pillars—elevating teaching, empowering parents and using resources wisely—with multiple categories under each pillar. As such, the states ranked 1 and 2 respectively, Florida and Louisiana, have done much to reform public education. Explaining the dismal results for most states, StudentsFirst CEO Michelle Rhee wrote:
Our schools are supposed to be America's great equalizers, ensuring every kid a shot at success. We know, given the right tools, that every student can achieve at high levels. Maybe sending our state education systems home with an "F" or a "D" is the strong jolt lawmakers need to remember that student-centered education policies are the foundations on which strong schools are built.
Who are We?
The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.
Critics of liquor store privatization claim that a CDC study suggests liquor privatization would result in greater social harms. The problem: The flawed study doesn't support that claim, and the Task Force admits that they can't find a link between privatization of liquor sales and social harms. Here ...