August 25, 2009
Dale Erquiaga, president and owner of Get Consensus in Phoenix, would make between $81,528 and $109,116 annually if the School Board approves his hire as executive director for government affairs, public policy and strategy on Thursday.
Erquiaga conducted "Emergenetics" sessions for trustees, assessesing and describing their thinking patterns in colors of blue, red, green and yellow as a "team-building" exercise.
August 20, 2009
Districts Facing Declines in Enrollment Use Marketing Campaigns to Win Back Students -- and the State Funding They Bring
By Stephanie Simon
Wall Street Journal
Public schools in the U.S. have added professional marketing to their back-to-school shopping lists.
Financially struggling urban districts are trying to win back students fleeing to charter schools, private schools and suburban districts that offer open enrollment. Administrators say they are working hard to improve academics -- but it can't hurt to burnish their image as well. Read more
Posted for An American Patriot
August 19, 2009
Despite his knowledge and experience with racism and segregation, he didn’t blame racism or capitalism for why blacks were still struggling as late as the mid 1980s — he blamed the government. To Dr. Williams, it was the good intentions behind government programs that produced very bad results, and especially for minorities. Sadly, what was true then still appears to be true today.
In 1985 Dr. Williams made “Good Intentions,” a PBS Documentary about the harmful effects of well-intentioned government programs on Americans, especially minorities.
Part I - Education
August 11, 2009
Some education-reform videos from CNBC show that this holds true even in India. While much poorer than Nevada, India still faces a very similar problem: ineffective and unaccountable government schools. So, even in India, private schools exist, the vast bulk of them serving some of the poorest people in the country. Despite having the government’s “free” alternatives available, even impoverished parents will scrimp and save to ensure their kids receive better education than that offered at the public school.
Appearing in this three-part series (about 25 minutes long) is Dr. James Tooley, author of “The Beautiful Tree.” Private schools are serving some of the poorest people in the world with quality education superior to that of the “free” government schools, and his book documents it.
August 10, 2009
Schools Need Teachers Like Me,
But I Just Can't Stay.
By Sarah Fine
My National Book Festival posters are gone, leaving behind tack marks and shreds of tape on the yellowing walls of Room 108 of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School on Capitol Hill, where I spent the past four years teaching. The bookshelf where I kept my collection of young-adult novels holds nothing but a few outdated textbooks. The poems that my students added to our 10th-grade "slam wall" fill the trash can in the corner.
This will be the first time since I trooped off to kindergarten two decades ago that I will not celebrate the new year in September, and I find that hard to imagine. Somebody else will cover the holes in the classroom's walls with posters. Somebody else will pore over class rosters on a Metro commute from Dupont to Southeast. Somebody else will stand at the door and greet the students -- my students -- on the first day. Continue reading
Posted for An American Patriot
August 5, 2009
Writer Catherine Gewertz a couple of weeks ago did a double-take when she saw that Valley High School in Las Vegas was being honored by the state of Nevada as a "high-achieving exemplary turnaround" school -- even though its graduation rate is reported as only 55 percent. Although she noted that the school also reported "impressive gains in its test scores," she wondered what other people thought. That first column is here.
Then another blogger, a friend, took her to task for not applauding more loudly for the teachers at the school. Gewertz used that as the basis of her next blog.
Now this week, she was finally able to tell readers about a recent interview with Valley's principal, Ron Montoya, who says a), that the official grad rate numbers are "bogus," and b), even if they weren't it would be unfair to the school staff to make the graduation rate a bigger factor in grading a school.
The debate -- especially in the comments sections below Gewertz's blogging -- is classic. Some folks seem most concerned about being "fair" to people working for public schools. Others seem most concerned about the quality of education that the students who attend those schools are receiving.
What do you think?
* 10 minute video by Reason.tv on universal preschool
"The Poverty of Preschool Promises” is a new report released by the Cato Institute. According to report author Adam Schaeffer, more than 1 million children in 38 states attend government-run preschools. The results continue to show statistically significant gains in early grades which all but disappear by middle school. Typically, even those temporary gains appear significant only for low-income students. Essentially, we’ve spent billions and in the end there is no gain.
Schaeffer explains the failure: “[P]roponents often base their claims on studies of high intensity family intervention programs that look nothing like the preschool programs that have already passed and that are now being debated in legislatures around the country.” And even these high-intensity quality preschools have “generally been shown to improve the school readiness of only low-income children, and these effects usually fade quickly when the children enter the K–12 public education system.”
The report not only discusses why pre-k programs have failed and why the research supporting the programs has been suspect, at best. It also recommends an approach that offers much more promise: an early childhood education tax credit for students rather than an expensive government preschool monopoly. The tax credit will allow individuals and corporations to claim credits for direct payment of education expenses or for contribution to scholarship programs for low-income students.
The report is about 14 pages long and includes model legislation on how to enact the tax-credit program in the appendix.
August 4, 2009
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide “free appropriate public education” to students with disabilities.
The law ensures that parents get to work with the schools in the design of their child’s individualized education plan, and also lets them take legal action against school districts if the appropriate services are not provided to their children. Those include, if the public system is not providing appropriate services, education of the child in a private school.
In June 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parents of disabled students could be reimbursed for the cost of a private tuition if they can later prove that the public schools failed to identify their child as disabled and failed to provide the child with an appropriate education. The case — Forest Grove School District vs. T.A. — means that parents can have immediate access to a proper education for their child without having to wait through a lengthy court battle first.
Dissent, in the Supreme Court and the public both, has focused on the cost of reimbursing parents who send their child to a private school. Some assert this would cost public schools billions of dollars. Dr. Jay P. Greene, an education researcher at the University of Arkansas, and Marcus Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, estimate that “the total financial cost of private placement is less than a billion dollars and amounts to less than one-quarter of one percent of total public school spending.”
That cost is miniscule compared with the more than $500 billion spent each year on K-12 education in America. As it turns out, says Dr. Greene, special-needs children in private schools make up only 1.1 percent of the entire special-needs-student population and just 0.14 percent of the total student population. Given the level of parent dissatisfaction with the quality of special education in America’s public schools, it is a surprisingly low figure.
Some public schools seek to avoid the additional expenses required by federal law by failing to identify students with special needs, delaying their entry into programs or providing ineffective programs instead. Then, when parents have pulled their children out of the public school, the financial burden of the programs gets shifted to the parent.
Forcing school districts to pay private-school tuitions if the programs are ineffective means districts should be more likely to work to accurately identify students with disabilities and provide them with a proper education. Additionally, the greater certainty that districts will end up paying private tuition should discourage them from falsely classifying troubled or disturbed children as special-needs students to acquire additional federal subsidies.
Of course, taking school districts to court requires parents willing to endure legal battles that are often long and protracted. Fortunately, there is a better way.
Already several states have special-needs voucher programs. Florida, with its McKay Scholarship Program, is perhaps best known. Thus, while public schools complain about the burden placed upon them by special-needs students, private schools — given even a portion of the subsidies public schools receive — compete to provide a proper public education program.
Unfortunately, Nevada missed the opportunity earlier this year to make progress on this front. Once again the Nevada Legislature failed to take action on Sen. Barbara Cegavske’s special-education voucher bill — an opportunity that won’t return until 2011.
Perhaps by then Nevadans will agree that private options can productively play a larger part in public education.
*Edit: It now appears that parents could only be reimbursed after winning their court case, though they are now able to sue (and win) even if the school district never placed the child in a special education program.
August 1, 2009
Strembitsky, for those who don't know, is the father of empowerment schools, one of the most promising innovations in public K-12 education in the last 30 years. His story is told in bits and pieces in UCLA management professor Bill Ouchi's best-selling book, Making Schools Work. And that book was not just some mere puff piece for something Ouchi had gotten enthused over. Instead, Ouchi and a wide-ranging research team, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, had done a careful study of six big-city school districts, five of which were in the U.S. and one of which -- Strembitsky's -- was in Canada (Edmonton, Alberta).