Tag: school choice

Will New Data Nudge Democrats to Change Their Minds on Universal Pre-K?


twenty20_2550bff8-ceb5-404b-b988-0db7b62e480e_Preschool-e1445890691432I sense Ezra Klein did not enjoy writing this piece about new pre-K research:

Perhaps preschool doesn’t help children as much as we thought — or hoped. A new study by Mark Lipsey, Dale Farran, and Kerry Hofer finds that children who were admitted to Tennessee’s pre-K program were worse off by the end of first grade than children who didn’t make the cut.

The study is beautifully designed — it takes advantage of areas in Tennessee where demand for the program outstripped supply, so entrance to the program was decided randomly. That means researchers could compare outcomes for kids who randomly got in with outcomes for those who randomly didn’t, and isolate the effects of the program. What they found should worry advocates of universal pre-K.

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As news broke of Oregon allowing 15-year-olds to receive tax-payer funded sex change surgery without parental notification, school choice still remains a controversial issue in the state. Some states in the forefront of educational reform have charters, ESAs, tax credits, and even vouchers for the needy.  Neither ESA nor tax credit legislation has ever made it to […]

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Rand’s Reforms: The Ricochet Survey


RandHere’s a protip for the approaching presidential campaign season: when the candidates take to the stump, always read the transcript rather than watching the speech. I adopted this technique during the 2008 presidential campaign, when it simply became too arduous to sit through 75 minutes of mass hysteria (and at least one audience member fainting) to get through 15 minutes worth of Barack Obama’s cotton candy remarks.

The transcripts are clarifying. You’re not distracted by the delivery or the audience dynamics. You’re essentially alone with the candidate and his thoughts. And, nine times out of ten, you’re going to be disappointed — because the vast majority of these guys don’t have much to say.

Now, I don’t especially blame them for this. Running for the presidency in the modern era often dictates hiding the ball (the 2008 Obama campaign is a textbook example of this). But it does make mining the transcripts an interesting exercise. You’ll often discover that dozens of paragraphs worth of rhetoric only yield two or three concrete proposals.

Alabama Giving School Choice a Try


Alabama’s education system has struggled for years. This August, the state was ranked 48th in the nation in a study evaluating math and reading scores, dropout rates, and student-to-teacher ratio.

This week, Alabama’s leadership took a big step in correcting this seemingly intractable problem. Instead of building elaborate new facilities, handing out iPads, or pumping more money into the broken system, the state is giving choice a chance.

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I recently participated in a lengthy round table on race at my church, and the subject of white privilege cropped up. Repeatedly. I think the common definition of “white privilege” is WAY off-base. From Wikipedia: White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people beyond what is commonly […]

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School Choice: Do We Dare Make It Federal?


It has often been pointed out that the Federal Government does not run an elementary or high school, or directly educate a single student. And so, when the national Republican platform includes charter schools, vouchers, or school choice, it often looks like an irrelevant cheap shot — not dissimilar to observations about Hollywood marriages.

But there is a way we could force states to adopt school choice: we could do precisely what the government already does when it shares highway money, or student loans, or a host of other packages for states. We could tie federal grants to conformance with federal policy on school choice.

The Importance of Learning at Home


Rewards BookNearly all children are “home schooled” during their first four or five years before being enrolled in a formal school. Growing numbers of students – approximately 1.7 million to 2.1 million – continue to be schooled at home after they are old enough to attend conventional schools, but in some capacity all students continue to be, or should be, substantially “home schooled” for their entire K-12 careers. This is because in their first 18 years, only about 12 percent of children’s time (when they’re not sleeping) is spent in school.

Some parents do all they can to ensure their children rank first in all their academic classes in school. Best-selling author Amy Chua, for example, described herself as a “Tiger Mother” and was much ridiculed for her impressive and successful efforts to gain her daughters’ entrance to Ivy League universities and for one to even make a solo performance at Carnegie Hall. Her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, noted that rigorous family emphasis on achievement is common in Asian cultures. It sparked a national debate about parents’ roles in educating and pushing children to achieve.

Research shows children with devoted parents are likely to learn far more than others. Parents can create a learning environment at home by having on hand age-appropriate personal or library-borrowed books and if they can afford it, art supplies, musical instruments, and electronic devices such as personal computers and tablets, which continue to fall in price. Many of these items can be purchased inexpensively at second-hand stores, such as Goodwill. Since children quickly outgrow many of these learning aids, it is a good idea to get in the habit of buying them used and then donating them when finished.

The Hillsdale Conspiracy


I’ve been reluctant to write about Hillsdale’s conspiracy to educate our K-12 children, for fear of betraying one of the most effective schemes to restore the Republic ever devised by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

But, since public education is a perpetual topic of debate here among the center-right (see here, here, and here), I thought readers might like to know about my kids’ public charter school, which teaches a classical curriculum provided by Hillsdale College. Yes, that Hillsdale. The Hillsdale of Ricochet’s own Paul Rahe, the online courses on The Constitution and The Great Books, Imprimis, and the most excellent Hillsdale Dialogue interviews by Hugh Hewitt of President Larry Arnn and other members of the faculty.

Half of All School District Employees Aren’t Teachers


Whenever parents are unhappy with America’s education system, politicians and professionals have one answer. Whether the complaint is dropping test scores, overcrowded classrooms, or the gelatinous sludge passed off as meatloaf, sophisticates promoting the status quo all say the same thing: “Give us more money.”

Every election cycle, the usual suspects beg voters to support new borrowing and/or raise taxes. Campaign signs show frowning kids and concerned teachers, beseeching civic-minded passers-by to dig a little deeper. If elections required truth in advertising, the signs instead might feature palatial school district office buildings and bleachers filled with bureaucrats and overpaid contractors.

Teachers Union Sues to End Scholarships for Special Needs Kids


Julie Kleffel is a Florida mom who only wants what’s best for her daughter. Like most seven-year-olds, Faith has learned to read, write and do basic math. She’s also on a swim team and enjoys long-distance running. These accomplishments are all the more impressive since Faith was born with Down syndrome.

After a local preschool didn’t offer the special attention Faith required, her mom decided to homeschool. Her education is now specialized to ensure she gets the one-on-one teaching and speech therapy required.

Progressive Education Panel Offers No Solutions, Only Outrage


While at the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit last week, I attended a few panels on public education. I’ve kept up to date on the school choice movement for the past few years, but hadn’t witnessed an anti-choice meeting for quite some time.

Compared to the education reformers’ message of optimism, enterprise and fresh thinking, the Netroots discussions seemed like an alternate universe — and a grim one at that.

Former Obama Staffers See the Light


bio_gibbsThis is to be encouraged, from Politico:

Teachers unions are girding for a tough fight to defend tenure laws against a coming blitz of lawsuits — and an all-out public relations campaign led by former aides to President Barack Obama.

The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. LaBolt and another former Obama aide, Jon Jones — the first digital strategist of the 2008 campaign — will take the lead in the public relations initiative.

The Best Public Schools Embrace School Choice


All kids are weird — but especially mine. I can usually identify their personality traits as coming from me or my wife, but they’re all jumbled up. It’s like we’re the original track and our kids are the dance remixes.

My eldest is analytical and conscientious when work needs to be done, but fearless and funny in her down time. Her younger sister will procrastinate and goof off, but will create her own elaborate, amazing projects just for fun. They are definitely related, but very different.