Archive for the 'School Choice' Category

March
4th 2015
Give Me Serious Charter Policy Debate over Silly Anti-Charter Deception

Posted under Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Urban Schools

When it comes to education policy, there are serious discussions and there are — ahem — less serious discussions. Recently, we’ve seen this truth play out regarding public charter schools.

First, and most interestingly, the serious discussion. Education Next hosted a point-counterpoint between the chairman and executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Boardvs. New Schools for New Orleans CEO Neerav Kingsland.

At issue: “How large a share of urban schools should be charters?”

Kingsland vouches for the success of New Orleans’ unprecedented all-charter approach. He would like to see a number of other cities transition to all-charter school districts in the coming years. The positive results achieved in The Big Easy at least give credence to his case.

Kingsland’s formula to make it happen: Continue Reading »

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March
3rd 2015
Another Victory For Choice: Alabama’s STC Program Wins the Day

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & School Choice & Tax Credits

I love to see choice win. In fact, I’m hoping that we will have a favorable ruling on the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program from the Colorado Supreme Court any day now. In the meantime, I’ll have to make due with another victory for scholarship tax credits down south.

Just this week, the Alabama Supreme Court handed down a ruling upholding the state’s scholarship tax credit program. Edu-nerds can read the full decision here, but be warned: It’s 200 pages long. Bring snacks. For everyone else, here’s the short version from Tuscaloosa News story linked above:

The justices said the law does not violate restrictions on giving public funds to private, religious schools because the tax credits go to parents and to scholarship program donors, not to the schools. They also said Republican lawmakers acted legally when they passed the bill the same night that it was introduced in a conference committee.

If you’ve heard similar language in legal decisions on scholarship tax credits before, that’s because it is one of the most important lines of defense for these programs. Money doesn’t flow from the state to private—and possibly religious—schools as it does in voucher programs. Instead, private donors receive tax credits for donating to private scholarship granting organizations that give private scholarships to kids to attend private schools. World record for use of “private” in a single sentence? Perhaps. But it serves to illustrate an important point: No money passes through the state. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons scholarship tax credit programs are so difficult for choice opponents to beat in court. Continue Reading »

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February
26th 2015
Reading New ETS Report on Millennials Not Likely to Cheer You Up

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

A few weeks ago I raised the question: Should I get my hopes up about Colorado course choice again? Today, it seems more appropriate to ask whether I should get my hopes up at all.

Yeah, you might think that sounds kind of depressing. But dare I say you haven’t yet had the chance to drink deep the dose of melancholy that flows through Robert Pondiscio’s new Flypaper post “America’s Millennials: Overeducated and Underprepared.” To his credit, he tries to soften the blow with some lighthearted old sports announcer allusion, but the damage cannot be escaped.

What’s the big downer? Pondiscio points readers like you and me to a new Educational Testing Service (ETS) report America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future. The bottom line? While American Millennials are on track to reach the highest level of educational attainment EVER, they are less literate and numerate than both prior U.S. generations and to their international peers. There are also apparent implications about growing inequality in skills between the privileged and the less privileged.

Yikes! I feel Pondiscio’s pain. Even though trailing behind the Millennials in vaguely defined Generation Z, my fellow kids and I will reap some of the consequences. So yes, I do care. Continue Reading »

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February
12th 2015
Keeping the Conversation Going: Independence Institute’s New National School Choice Week Video

Posted under School Choice & State Legislature

I’ve spent a lot of time at the Colorado State Capitol over the last month or so. Committee hearings, meetings, awkward hallway loitering—you name it, this little guy has done it. But by far the most fun I’ve had under the golden dome was the National School Choice Week rally last month. I hope you were there too, because I made a list. Did you really think those bright yellow scarves that your favorite ruggedly handsome policy analysts handed out were just for show?

But just in case you weren’t around to be counted with the hoard of yellow-clad school choice supporters, my friends at the Independence Institute put together a fun little video on the rally. Specifically, Damon Sasso and Justin Longo deserve a huge shout out for their great work filming, editing, and polishing the video. They even managed to make Ross Izard sound good, and believe me when I tell you that’s tough to do.

Ben DeGrow conducted the interviews, and he did so well that I’ve heard he’s been nominated to replace now-disgraced NBC anchor Brian Williams.

Without further ado, here’s the video:

Continue Reading »

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February
10th 2015
New ESA Momentum Could Make 2015 “Year of School Choice: Part II”

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice & State Legislature

One bit of wisdom I’ve gleaned in my young life is that when it comes to movies, the sequel is most often not as good as the original. There are exceptions, yes, but it’s a good rule of thumb. When it comes to education policy, though, I fully hope and expect the trend to be bucked.

For those who don’t remember, back in 2011 when I was 5 years old (just like I am now) we had the fabulously successful “Year of School Choice,” with lots of new and expanded legislative programs across the nation. A Politico article last Friday caught my attention by strongly suggesting that history may repeat itself in 2015 — sort of: Continue Reading »

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February
6th 2015
Overcoming the Gloom, Focusing on the Sunshine of #SchoolChoice

Posted under Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Parents & Research & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools & Urban Schools

Well, the Brookings Institution this week released its latest edition of the Education Choice and Competition Index. Might I add the acronym ECCI (ecky?), awash in a sea of edu-acronyms through which yours truly has to doggy paddle day after day, is just a bit too much fun to say. And say. And say again. (Sorry, I’m getting a dirty stare from my Education Policy Center friends.)

Back to the point. I thought about writing a whole new blog post about the scoring system that strangely underrates Douglas County, arguably the most choice-friendly school district in America. Instead, I’m just going to send you back to last year’s soapbox on the same topic. Deja vu all over again, to quote a famous American.

The only difference is that this year Dougco’s C-plus was good enough for a 13th place tie with Pinellas County (Florida), San Francisco Unified, and next-door neighbor Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek?, you say. Yes, just go back and read last year’s edition. But it doesn’t all have to be naysaying and gloom. It’s Friday, so why not a video? Continue Reading »

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February
5th 2015
Today’s Policy Field Trip to Senate Ed and the Discussion to Come

Posted under Education Politics & Private Schools & School Choice & Tax Credits

As you all know, I love policy field trips. And I especially love those field trips when they are about something as fun as school choice. Maybe that’s why I had so much fun at today’s Senate Education hearing. Well, the very end of it, anyway; I showed up a little late. My little legs can only carry me so fast!

So what exactly happened in Senate Ed today? The committee heard Senator Kevin Lundberg‘s bill on tax credits for private school tuition, which is known to political nerds as SB 045. Feel free to read the bill if you’d like (it differs significantly from the tax credit scholarship programs we’ve talked about before), but here’s the quick and dirty version: The bill would allow taxpayers enroll their children in a private school (or who provide a scholarship for other children to do so) to receive a tax credit in return. It also would allow credits for parents who use home-based education for their children.

As one might expect, the bill drew its fair share of fire. Democratic senators Andy Kerr, Michael Merrifield, and Michael Johnston all offered amendments to the bill. These included a requirement that private school students take state tests, require private schools to scrap their admission requirements, and a proposal from Sen. Kerr to make the issue a statewide ballot question. All of these were defeated. Sen. Johnston then offered a tricky amendment that would allow the program to begin only after the “Negative Factor” has been eliminated—a move designed to force Republicans to choose between two untenable positions. This was also defeated. Continue Reading »

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January
28th 2015
After School Choice Week, How About Educate the Reporters Week?

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Parents & Private Schools & School Choice

Last Friday I was overflowing with enthusiasm at the kickoff of the 5th annual National School Choice Week.

I got even more excited Monday morning for the big Denver celebration at our own State Capitol, where hundreds of school kids and others came to wear their yellow scarves, show their support. There was even some singing and dancing!

I may get even more excited yet when my Independence Institute friends assemble and edit their footage of the rally for a sure-to-be-great video. Stay tuned for that! Continue Reading »

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January
23rd 2015
School Choice Week 2015 Has Officially Arrived

Posted under Edublogging & events & School Choice

It’s Friday again, my friends. As usual, that means your favorite little edublogger has spent his day trying to wrap things up for the week. That leaves me limited time for our conversation (try not to look so disappointed!), so today’s post will be a quick one.

Fortunately, we have something exciting to focus on during our brief time together: The kickoff of National School Choice Week in Jacksonville, Florida! If you missed the live stream, you can check out the full video below.

Continue Reading »

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January
22nd 2015
Survey Highlights Importance of Keeping State Tests off Private Schools

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Choice

Update: I should have looked at this post by Matt Ladner first. He largely makes the same point, but with a little more zing at Louisiana.

Though not so much this time of year, my Dad and I like to play catch in the backyard occasionally. It sounds kind of cliched, but my Dad starts talking about how he used to do the same thing with his dad. Then almost inevitably, he starts talking about this old movie called “Field of Dreams.” (After finally seeing this movie, I’m a little scared about wandering into cornfields, but that’s a different story.)

Anyway, there’s this famous line in “Field of Dreams”, where the guy keeps hearing the voice say: “If you build it, they will come.” People in the movie thought he was kind of crazy, sort of like some readers of this blog think I’m crazy.

But at least I’m here to tell you that when it comes to establishing private school choice in a state or community — and is there any doubt I’m a huge fan? — there’s a lot more to the matter than just building the program and expecting people to come. Hence, I encourage you to take a look at the American Enterprise Institute’s new study called “Views from Private Schools.” Continue Reading »

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