Tag: Charter Schools

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara celebrate the 30th anniversary of charter schools with Nina Rees, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. They discuss recent research showing that African-American and low-income students in charter public schools outpace their peers in traditional district schools. Stanford’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) and other sources have shown that Boston’s charter public schools lead all the nation’s urban public schools in terms of academic performance and bridging achievement gaps. Yet, special interests and policymakers have been calling for stringent limitations and regulations on these schools and their growth. Nina offers insights on where the right-left charter school coalition stands and how to bridge recent partisan divisions. She shares thoughts on how the sector can grow despite the rising influence of teacher unions in states with some of the highest-performing charters. Nina also describes efforts charter schools have made to become leaders in increasing teacher diversity, and they explore how teacher- and school-driven improvements in charters such as KIPP may hold the key to the future of K-12 education reform.

Stories of the Week: In Maine, a state scholarship program that assists families with tuition for public or private schools – but not religious schools – may become the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case. President Biden’s American Families Plan includes $9 billion to address the nation’s teacher shortage, providing funding for teacher preparation, professional development, and retention programs, as well as initiatives to increase teacher diversity.

Covid Debacle Should Spur Education Reform

 

The Arizona legislature failed this year to pass a bill that would have required third-grade students to be held back if they failed to learn to read adequately. The unsuccessful bill uncovered some unhappy truths about the state of education.

Third grade is recognized as a critical progression point for reading proficiency. Students through third grade are taught to read, after which they are expected to read to learn. Those unable to do so suffer a lifelong handicap in today’s knowledge economy with enormous economic and social consequences.

In 2019, 60 percent of Arizona’s third-graders failed to meet our own reading standards. Unfortunately, nothing really new here.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Jay Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post and author of the recent book, An Optimist’s Guide to American Public Education. Jay describes the three key trends in K-12 schooling that he views as cause for hope. They also discuss the tensions between high-profile, college prep-centered school reformers and the dominant pedagogical outlook found across many of the major schools of education. They explore teacher-driven school reforms, whether led by legendary figures such as Jaime Escalante in traditional public schools, or in charter networks such as KIPP, which have established high-caliber teacher preparation programs. Drawing on his decades spent covering K-12 education for The Washington Post, he shares observations about the quality and success of the U.S. Department of Education’s policymaking, and the strengths and weaknesses of federal education efforts in contrast to what he has observed in states, districts, and schools. They also talk about the most effective ways to spend the massive infusion of federal money school districts are receiving through COVID relief. Next, he offers insights on American journalism, print media’s struggles to adapt to a digital world, the impact on K-12 education coverage, and suggestions for improvement. As someone whose education background and early career focused on Asia, he offers thoughts on U.S.-China relations and the wider implications for America’s global competitiveness in K-12 school reform. He concludes with a reading from his new book.

Stories of the Week: Are unnecessarily severe middle school discipline policies and practices that disproportionately target students of color exacerbating the school-to-prison pipeline? Writing in The Wall Street JournalEducation Next‘s Ira Stoll explores the debate in Boston about changing admissions policies at exam schools, and whether outside organizations, such as the Red Sox baseball team, should weigh in on the issue.

Corey DeAngelis is the director of School Choice at Reason Foundation and the Executive Director at Educational Freedom Institute. Corey and Bridget discuss school choice, which would mean allowing a tax payer’s education dollars to follow their child to wherever they’re getting their education – public school, private school, or charter school – rather than automatically being paid to their local school district. They delve into the effects of Covid and how families are seeing their school system leaving them high and dry while still getting their children’s education dollars, why school choice would be good for individual teachers, and where the money being poured into the school system is actually going. They also cover why this shouldn’t be a partisan issue since it’s a market-based reform in education and an equalizer in society, and they explore some of the arguments against school choice. Don’t miss Corey’s book School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Education Freedom.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Paul Peterson, the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. They discuss his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed analyzing NAEP results from 2005-17 to show that charter schools are helping underprivileged students improve at faster rates than their peers in traditional district schools, especially among African-American students. Professor Peterson shares thoughts on the implications of this evidence for charter school expansion, and the challenges from opponents, predominantly in the Northeast, who seek to over-regulate charter schools. They also delve into lessons from COVID-19 with regard to the long overdue embrace of online education, options such as micro-schools and pods that are unfortunately often only available to affluent families, and the effects of school closures on children.

Stories of the Week: In Boston, attending a charter school dramatically narrows achievement gaps between special-education students and English learners, and their traditional public school counterparts, according to new analysis from Tufts Professor Elizabeth Setren. In Kansas, the Education Commissioner stated that both remote and hybrid learning models are not effective and sustainable through the academic year.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Jack McCarthy, president and CEO of AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation and board chair of AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School. Jack shares what animated him to establish this highly innovative early childhood charter public school network that serves the most vulnerable children in Washington, D.C. He discusses AppleTree’s unique early childhood focus, the challenges of educating mostly disadvantaged students, and the innovative partnership they have developed with Nickelodeon to continue educating students during the COVID-19 crisis. Jack offers thoughts on the politics of school reform in Washington, D.C. and the surprising proliferation of school choice options there, as well as ongoing barriers to change that he has navigated to deliver excellent results for poor and minority students.

Stories of the Week: In 15 states around the country, including Massachusetts, districts were authorized to pilot voluntary, in-person schooling over the summer for small groups of students. But can they safely bring to scale the best practices they have learned about health and safety protocols, logistics, and transportation? With uncertainty around school reopening plans, “pods” and microschools are growing in popularity among families seeking other options – will these alternatives foster long-term entrepreneurial thinking in education, and what challenges and opportunities do they raise with regard to school funding?

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Dr. Charles Glenn, Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Boston University. Dr. Glenn shares his early experiences as an inner city minister involved in the Civil Rights movement in Massachusetts and the South, the METCO voluntary desegregation program, and the expansion of school choice in several districts beyond Boston. He also discusses his support in the 1990s for bringing the charter school concept to Massachusetts. His work was cited in Justice Alito’s concurring opinion in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case, and he shares thoughts on the recent decision’s potential impact on racial justice and religious liberty. He discusses findings from his decades of research on international education systems, where there is no controversy about government support for faith-based schools, and the lessons for America, where a legacy of anti-Catholicism has impeded school choice. Dr. Glenn concludes with analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of schools of education in preparing effective teachers.

Stories of the Week: Some states such as Florida are grappling with a surge in COVID cases, leaving plans for an August reopening in flux. How should school leaders address questions about virtual learning, outdoor classrooms, and mask and quarantine protocols? Gerard and Cara talked about Dr. Thomas Sowell, the noted Hoover Institution economist, and his recent book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies, on the success and challenges faced by New York City’s charter schools.

The Curious Case of ‘Gary B’

 

In Gary B. v. Whitmer, a divided panel of the Sixth Circuit last week held that the state of Michigan owed a constitutional duty to ensure that students in the worst-performing public and charter schools in Detroit receive “a basic minimum education, meaning one that provides a chance at foundational literacy.” The logic behind this theory is straightforward enough. Illiterate young people have no ability to participate in democratic deliberations and no skills to support themselves or their families. And society overall is made worse off with fewer able participants to join a well-functioning economy.

In the majority opinion, Judge Eric Clay detailed the bankruptcy of Detroit’s public school system, whose dismal educational performance, he wrote, was driven by “the absence of qualified teachers, crumbling facilities, and insufficient materials.” He then correctly concluded that the state has general oversight and control over the educational system and is thus a proper constitutional target to remedy the bankrupt and derelict Detroit school system. The case was decided on the pleadings, which let the majority define its right to a minimum education without getting into the details of how best to implement the right in practice. One major problem with the decision is its inability to define the content of this positive right to government support. Full disclosure: Judge Eric Murphy, who dissented on these grounds, is my friend and former student.

Gary B. relies on Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, which enables federal courts to provide a remedy against any Governor or other state officials who have brought about “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.” That Section covers violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that no person should be deprived of the protection of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor denied the equal protection of the laws.

This week, Cara and Gerard talk with Margaret “Macke” Raymond, President of Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Macke describes CREDO’s unique role and methodology in analyzing a wealth of data from state education departments to quantify the effect of charter schools on the amount of learning a student receives in a year’s time. They discuss charter performance on average, as well as in pockets of excellence; the performance of urban charters, including Boston; the types of charters that are succeeding consistently and replicating; and the formula for quality both in instruction and policymaking. They also delve into the waning policy support for charters despite favorable public opinion; what the data show about whether charters select or “counsel out” students; “diverse-by-design” charter schools; and the federal role in the charter movement.

Stories of the WeekThe New York Times highlights renewed interest in teaching phonics, a long-debated approach, especially in the wake of recent NAEP results showing only a third of American students are reading at proficiency. In Maryland, to address students’ declining academic performance and teacher retention issues, a state commission is proposing sweeping reforms – but the billion-dollar price tag is raising concerns about accountability for results.

Happy New Year! Co-hosts Cara and Bob talk with Lance Izumi, Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute. He discusses his new book, Choosing Diversity, and the wide range of both the student populations served, and the variety of learning models offered, by the charter schools that he visited. Some schools were geared toward students suffering from autism, or homelessness; others focused on technology and using online platforms, foreign language immersion, and classical learning. They also explore some of the challenges facing charters across the nation, including accountability, parental engagement, California politics, and the fallout from the Los Angeles teacher union strike.

Stories of the Week: A New York Times feature presents what students themselves think about how to improve education – with some surprising insights. In Kentucky, a local school board rejected the state’s first charter school application. Is this approval model a conflict of interest, and a bad sign for charter expansion? An upcoming Los Angeles school board election with four open seats raises important questions about the politicization of education.

Seth Barron talks with four City Journal contributors—Rafael MangualEric KoberRay Domanico, and Steven Malanga—about former New York City mayor and now presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s record on crime, education, economic development, and more.

After years of teasing a presidential run, Bloomberg has entered the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Just a week before his official announcement, he made headlines by reversing his long-standing support of controversial policing practices in New York—commonly known as “stop and frisk.” Bloomberg’s record on crime will factor heavily in his campaign, but his 12 years as mayor were eventful in numerous other policy areas.

Cara and Bob talk with the great Dr. Howard Fuller, Distinguished Professor of Education, in this week’s Newsmaker Interview, about his passionate activism on behalf of education reform, his concerns about the lack of support among Democratic presidential candidates for charter schools, the power of teacher unions, and recognition of the need to continue organizing and advocating for school choice programs that benefit so many poor and minority children.

Stories of the Week: A year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME ruling, the AFT, a major urban teachers union, is reporting a 4 percent loss in membership. Will the losses continue in coming years, and will this impact their influence? In Massachusetts, U.S. officials have found that the state education department has violated federal law by denying Catholic and Jewish schools $120 million in IDEA aid they were owed for special education services over the past 5 years (see Pioneer research). In Virginia, a high school is requiring students to reflect on their “privilege” in a course on combatting intolerance – but are they being too selective about which forms of “privilege” to include?

ChoiceMedia‘s Bob Bowdon and Pioneer Institute‘s Cara Candal talk about charter school authorizing in California and a recent bill that gives school districts rather than the state  the authority to approve  charter schools; good news for online learning programs in Oklahoma; and is there a shortage of teachers in American schools? Plus, Bob calls out Dale Russakoff for a selective New York Times  interpretation of Success Academies.

In their Newsmaker Interview, Bob & Cara talk with Erica Smith of the Institute for Justice, about the history and implications of the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue Supreme Court case, which could help low-income families access private and parochial schools in over 30 states.

Ray Domanico joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss charter schools in New York City, the growing protests by education workers across the country, and Democrats’ weakening support for charters.

In teachers’ unions protests from West Virginia to California, activists claim that the growth of charters has come at the expense of district schools.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America commend the Trump administration for reinstating sanctions on Iran after rescinding the failed nuclear deal, which the rogue regime did not follow. They also denounce Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth’s Warren’s far-left rhetoric about the criminal justice system and they blame the divisive discourse for the lack of meaningful reforms. And they are frustrated that President Donald Trump tweeted about LeBron James’ intelligence rather than thanking the NBA star for funding education and extolling the benefits of charter schools.

Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

 

For years we’ve been talking about the poor state of education. For conservatives, it’s even worse: our children are learning propaganda with a Progressive agenda; the government and teachers control the curriculum and textbooks to the detriment of the students; and there is no indication that anything will change soon.

It’s time that we took back education, and we can already see strategies that are beginning to support a balanced agenda for authentic learning.

To highlight one of my major concerns, school textbooks, I was alarmed to read an article by Joy Pullmann in The Federalist about a new textbook being considered for Advanced Placement courses in the 2019 edition. Pullmann reports on some of the content of By the People: A History of the United States:

A quarter of a century since the nation’s first charter school opened in Minnesota, a new administration in Washington speaks of “school choice.” Eric Hanushek, the Hoover Institution’s Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow, and Macke Raymond, a Hoover distinguished research fellow and director of the Stanford-based Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), discuss the health of the charter-school movement and what needs to be done at the federal, state and local levels to improve the nation’s classrooms.

On this episode of ‘Viewpoint,’ AEI’s Andy Smarick sits down with Juliet Squire from Bellweather Education Partners for a wide-ranging conversation on the needs of rural America and when chartering might be a good fit. Proponents of school choice generally champion charter schools as a way to expand the education options available to families. But, for a host of policy and practical reasons, charters may not always be the right reform for a rural community.

This interview originally aired on AEI’s YouTube channel on December 15, 2017.

In Banter’s fourth installment of the “Bridging the Dignity Divide” series, John Bailey and Andy Smarick joined the show to share insights from their podcast, the New Skills Marketplace. In addition to discussing the skills gap, CTE programming, and charter schools, they discussed Smarick’s latest report, The Evolving High School CTE: New Jersey’s Distinctive Approach to Career Education. In addition to his role as AEI Visiting Fellow, Bailey is also a fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. His work focuses on finding new ways to reskill individuals. Smarick, the AEI Morgridge Fellow in Education Studies, also serves as president of the Maryland State Board of Education. His work centers on education and related domestic and social policy issues.

About the “Bridging the Dignity Divide” Series

This week on Banter, Eva Moskowitz joined the show to discuss her new book, “The Education of Eva Moskowitz.” Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, the highest-performing public charter school network in New York City. Formerly, Moskowitz served as a New York City councilmember. She joined AEI resident scholar Rick Hess for a conversation at AEI about her new book and efforts to reform America’s education system. The link below will take you to the full event video.

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