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After freedom, what?

The Economist – Staff Writer

“AS THE new school year approaches, most pupils in Detroit and New Orleans are preparing to return to desks in charter schools. First permitted by Minnesota in 1991, charter schools are found in 43 states; in a few cities they have become mainstream. Their equivalents in England, academies, were set up later but have grown faster. Just 14 years after the first one opened in London, a quarter of all English state schools, and two-thirds of secondaries, are now academies (see chart). These schools remain the great hope of education reformers in both countries—and beyond. Though charters and academies differ in many ways, they were both conceived as an alternative to schools run directly by local government. They are publicly funded but operated by charities or, in some American states, by companies. This model of public-private partnership has inspired several other countries including India, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa and Uganda.”(more)

Ten-year Trends in Public Opinion From the EdNext Poll

Education Next – Paul E. Peterson, Michael B. Henderson, Martin R. West and Samuel Barrows

“In its 10th annual survey of American public opinion, conducted in May and June of 2016, Education Next finds that the demise of school reform has been greatly exaggerated. Public support remains as high as ever for federally mandated testing, charter schools, tax credits to support private school choice, merit pay for teachers, and teacher tenure reform. However, backing for the Common Core State Standards and school vouchers fell to new lows in 2016. As in previous polls, Democrats are more supportive of Common Core than Republicans are, and we find polarization along party lines on several other issues. Surprisingly, more Democrats than Republicans support vouchers targeted to low-income students, tax credits, and vouchers for all families (universal vouchers).”(more)

Get rid of the education bureaucracy and kids’ hearts will sing

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing. – Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Steve Jobs made highly technical machines user-friendly and beautiful by blending mathematics, science, and art. More importantly, he started a wave of innovation that made products that were once only accessible to scientists and engineers readily available to the general public.

During this period of innovation, the education sector was stuck in a time warp. Most primary and secondary students today are educated in about the same way that they were in the 1980s.

Counselors continue to place students into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), humanities, and trade tracks rather than encourage a broad education. Teaching credentials are still more important than an amazing understanding of the subject and schools are still accredited by personnel from other schools rather than by the market. Also, the majority of U.S. students attend schools run by the government.

Regulations and peer review accreditations may have been necessary in the middle of the 20th Century. However, the same regulations and accrediting bodies that protected our kids then are forcing schools to operate in ways that are inconsistent with 21st Century realities. In short, this means kids are wasting years of their lives on things that no longer matter.

For education to keep pace with the times, there must be a complete paradigm shift. Instead of regulating and delaying change, we need to encourage the education sector to innovate.

To make sure new ideas make it into the education system we need to encourage more private schooling options. Then we need to urge these schools to try radical concepts and provide concrete information on what students are learning. Finally, we need to make sure all students have access to these innovative schools.

The easiest way to make all this happen is to issue education vouchers that can be used at any school and require schools to publish third party test results each year.

With this type of competition, all schools should become better. When the schools become better, our kids will be better prepared. When our kids are better prepared, the country will be more vibrant. When the country is more vibrant, the economy will be better. When the economy is stronger, everyone will be better off.

It is time to get rid of the bureaucracy and allow our schools to innovate so our kids’ hearts can sing.

 

School Choice Boosts Test Scores

Education Next – Patrick J. Wolf

“Private school choice remains a controversial education reform. Choice programs, involving school vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, or Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), provide financial support to families who wish to access private schooling for their child…there are now 50 private school choice programs in 26 states plus the District of Columbia…But does it work?…The sum of the reliable evidence indicates that, on average, private school choice increases the reading scores of choice users by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by 0.15 standard deviations. These are highly statistically significant, educationally meaningful achievement gains of several months of additional learning from school choice.”(more)

Straw Men and Choice Regulation

Education Next – Jay P. Greene

“Neerav Kingsland is smart, honest, and, in a positive development for ed philanthropy, is now leading education efforts at the Arnold Foundation. I enjoyed his response to my series on the dangers of high regulation of school choice (it started here, and then had parts 1, 2, 3, and 4). But the bulk of the critical response from Neerav and others seemed to focus on defeating a straw man rather than what I actually wrote. They depict me as arguing against any regulation when my post was explicitly against “high-regulation” of school choice.”(more)

Nevada’s Voucher Program: The Next Legal Battle in the War for Parental Choice

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“There is widespread public support for Nevada’s landmark statewide Education Savings Accounts, a public opinion poll finds, as the controversial proposal prepares for its journey through the state court system. According to a survey of about 600 residents, 61 percent of Nevadans support the ESA, which was described as a program that “uses state funds to create a personal account to fund education expenses, including tutoring, testing fees and books.” There was majority support among respondents of all political affiliations and among union households. The Nevada survey was conducted just prior to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filing suit two weeks ago to block the program on the grounds that it violates provisions in the state constitution banning state support of religious activities and requiring a “uniform system of common schools.” The American Federation for Children, which recently sponsored The Seventy Four’s New Hampshire Education Summit, commissioned the poll. It was conducted by The Tarrance Group, a Republican-aligned polling firm.”(more)