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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)

School Choice Rally in Florida Draws Over 10,000

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“Thousands of parents and children came together in Florida’s capital in an effort to persuade the largest teacher’s union in the state to drop a lawsuit against an education voucher program that benefits low-income families. Martin Luther King III led the rally, along with religious and community leaders, arguing that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship offers opportunities to families who may not otherwise be able to have them, and urging the Florida Education Association to cease the lawsuit they have brought against the program, reports Jim Rosica for Florida Politics. The FEA, along with other critics of the program, believe the scholarships are taking money away from the public school system in Florida.”(more)

China cuts tax to boost innovation

China Daily- XINHUA

“BEIJING — China cuts more than 300 billion yuan ($46.15 billion) of taxes in 2015 to boost mass entrepreneurship and innovation, according to official data.
Among this, tax exemptions and breaks on small enterprises reached 100 billion yuan and tax cuts designed to encourage high technology development totaled 140 billion yuan, according to the State Administration of Taxation.”(more)

House Republicans want to give teachers a break

The Washington Post – Lyndsey Layton

“Teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies — most of the nation’s nearly 4 million K-12 teachers — would be eligible for a permanent tax credit of up to $250 annually for unreimbursed expenses, under a bill passed by the House Ways and Means committee on Thursday…Teachers had already been eligible for a $250 tax credit but that provision had expired in January and had not been indexed for inflation. “This tax deduction is timely, permanent, and will go a long way toward making sure educators continue to provide what students need to succeed,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association…”(more)

Play Hard, Live Free: Where Wild Play Still Rules

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“There are only a handful of these “wild playgrounds” in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose. “It’s really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them,” says Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play. Children need an environment with “the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they’re allowed to self-organize,” he adds. “It’s really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood.” Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it’s essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared. Some educators advocate “dangerous play,” which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.”(more)

Schools can — and should — teach more than discipline

The Seattle Times – Jerry Large

“Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline doesn’t require more information or analysis. It requires a will to change strong enough to produce sustained, effective action. Someone said that the other night at a meeting about the pipeline. And a lot of people said what a lot of people have been saying for a very long time, the gist being don’t criminalize kids, educate them. Well, maybe it takes repetition to sink in deep enough to matter. Here’s a definition of the pipeline: “ … the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” That’s from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of numerous organizations working nationally to fix what’s wrong. Schools went along with the tough-on-crime, no-tolerance attitude that swept politics and the criminal-justice system in the 1980s. The result has been a huge increase in the number of children suspended or expelled, often for classroom behavior that could be dealt with productively if it were treated as a teaching opportunity.”(more)