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'Superman' debate: Waiting for the teachers’ unions
From Sign on San Diego

Among the recent rash of education reform movies to hit our nation’s Cineplexes – “The Cartel,” “The Lottery” and most recently “Waiting for Superman” – a common thread has been the demonization of the teachers’ unions. They have been portrayed as the key stumbling block to badly needed education reform.

The unions seem to be shocked and furious that they are portrayed in such a dismal way and have issued statements and news releases that the films are inaccurate, unfair and out of touch with what really goes on in schools and that the filmmakers are engaging in “teacher bashing” and should “talk to real teachers.”

Obama's school choice: Poor kids should be able to escape failed schools, too
From NewJersey.com

President Obama caused a stir in Washington this week by saying that the city’s public schools lag far behind the private Sidwell Friends School where he sends his two daughters.

Brace yourself for the predictable pot shots at Obama for being an elitist. That misses the point. Any good parent does what’s best for the kids.

The real knock on Obama is that he opposes voucher programs that would allow low-income families to escape failing schools as well. Their kids remain trapped in the same classrooms that he didn’t want for his daughters.

In 2004, the Bush administration established a pilot program to provide low-income students in Washington with vouchers worth up to $7,500 to help pay tuition at private schools.

Morning Bell: Half-Billion Dollar Schools Can't Fix American Education
From The Heritage Foundation

At $578 million, the Robert F. Kennedy School in Los Angeles is the most expensive public school ever built in America. It features a high-tech swimming pool, a chic auditorium, vaulted ceilings, luxury amenities and a design aesthetic worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest. ABC News reports that the school is more expensive than the “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing, China, built for the 2008 Olympics, and the Wall Street Journal notes that it cost more than L.A.’s Staples sports center.

And while a half-billion dollar public school complex would be jarring enough to taxpayers during plush budget times, this public school was constructed at a time when the district faces a $640 million deficit. It’s a red carpet reminder of why California – and so many other states – face severe budget shortfalls.

Secretary Duncan’s Race to Waste Your Education Dollars
From The Heritage Foundation

A study published by the Department of Education (DOE) in June, “The Evaluation of Charter School Impacts,” highlights the many benefits of charter schools. The results show unambiguously that parents are substantially more satisfied with charter schools and the academic and social development of their children who attend compared to public school parents.

What Are Charter Schools?

Charter schools are a controversial innovation in education policy—controversial in many circles, but not with parents. Typically founded and run by non-profit community organizations, charter schools receive public funding but are allowed to operate without the regulatory burden faced by ordinary public schools.

Charters have more leeway to experiment with different teaching methods, curriculum content, disciplinary procedures, and levels of parental involvement. Often overwhelmed with many more applicants than available places, many charter schools must use an annual lottery to select new students.

Secretary Duncan’s Race to Waste Your Education Dollars
From The Heritage Foundation

When Education Secretary Arne Duncan first unveiled his Race to the Top (RttT) program in July of last year, he admitted that “when I was superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, I did not always welcome calls from the U.S. Department of Education. That’s because the department, from its inception in 1980, has traditionally been a compliance-driven agency.” But, he continued, that was all about to change because his RttT program, funded by $4.35 billion of economic stimulus cash, would be a “competition” that scrutinized “state applications for a coordinated and deep-seated commitment to reform.” He later added: “As I have said many times before, this isn’t just about the money — this is about working together and putting the needs of children ahead of everyone else.”

School choice proves effective in Florida
From One News Now

An education reform expert is touting Florida's scholarship program for students in foster care as a cost-effective model for other states to improve overall academic achievement in public schools.

Dr. Vicki Murray is the associate director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute (PJI) and director of the Women for School Choice project at the Independent Women's Forum (IWF). She reports that reading levels for fourth-graders in the Sunshine State were close to the bottom of the barrel a little over a decade ago, but one of the changes made during that time was to give parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their children.

Educational Whack-A-Mole a losing game for Kentucky kids
From George Town News

It became obvious at this week’s Interim Joint Education Committee meeting on charter schools in Frankfort that school-choice opponents hope to keep charter schools out of Kentucky by luring its supporters into a game of Educational Whack-A-Mole.

Charter supporters pop up and argue their case, using research that shows kids who stay in charters for at least three years usually do better than their peers in traditional schools. Opponents, led by the labor bosses of the state’s teachers unions, whack the charter supporters back, disputing the data and deceptively claiming that charter schools will destroy public schools.

The noise from this arcade-style back and forth drowns out the most important reason for considering charters: Kentucky’s failing schools need competition.

Both sides argue about “research,” but history isn’t as fuzzy.

It’s difficult, for instance, to rebuff the impact of Michigan charters on traditional public schools. Test results show that Michigan school districts losing more than 6 percent of their students to charter schools have responded to the competition by improving math and reading scores of their fourth- and seventh-graders. Comparable results also occur in other places.

Sen. Anthony Williams: School Choice
From One News Now

If a child is attending a failing school should parents have the right to send their student to a different school?

State Senator Anthony Williams believes parents should have a choice. Williams explained on "Good Day," 20,000 students enter the Philadelphia Public School system every year. Only ten percent of students who enter Kindergarten in Philadelphia will graduate from high school and go to college. Williams calls the statistic "a dramatically small number." He said there are a variety of reason why students don't make it through the system. "Some relates to money, some relates to professionalism, and some relates to parents' responsibility."

Williams believe parents should be allowed to switch their children to better performing schools even if it costs taxpayer's more money. "Pennsylvania is required to provide public education of a certain standard." Williams said "our responsibility is to the child, not to the system, not to the adults." He believes parents in Philadelphia need more options. "We've already left children behind for a long time."

Williams said he supports Superindent Arlene Ackerman's effort to improve city schools. But Williams wants parents to have more options and control over their student's education.

School choice vs. gov't control
From One News Now

While President Obama continues to praise his Race to the Top education initiative, one public policy expert believes the $4.35 billion program will make things worse for America's students.

Speaking last week to the National Urban League, the president pledged to fight for Race to the Top, saying he will not tolerate a status quo where the U.S. lags behind other countries in education achievements.

But Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, contends that the president's policies are contributing to the problem.

Candidate for governor supports school choice
From The Nashua Telegraph

Jack Kimball is running for governor of New Hampshire, and he supports school vouchers.

Some children do better within the discipline of a private school, and others thrive in a home school environment. With a voucher, parents could exercise better control of their child’s education.

Jack Kimball was impressed by the positive results of the change that took place in New Zealand about a decade ago, when it decided money for secondary education should be controlled by the parents rather than by the teacher’s union.

MacIver Educational Choice Census for City of Milwaukee
From The MacIver Institute

New figures suggest that over 75 percent of Milwaukee’s K-12 population attend a school other than their traditional public neighborhood school, according to the MacIver Institute’s Educational Choice Census.

Thanks to the expanding presence of school options, including the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, charter schools, homeschooling, and magnet/specialty schools, over 87,000 of the city’s students are able to choose an educational option that fits them best. This number far exceeds the Wisconsin’s average, which sees approximately 25% of students taking advantage of public or private school choice programs.

A Department Only Washington Could Love
From The Heritage Foundation

The results are in: The Department of Education (DOE) is the least popular of all federal departments. Considering the stagnate state of U.S. students’ test scores despite ever increasing federal education spending, this should come as no surprise. What should be surprising—and troubling—however, is that some Members of Congress want to allocate even more taxpayer money to this “bureaucratic boondoggle,” as termed by President Ronald Reagan.

Currently, Congress is considering pumping $10 billion more into the DOE, adding to the recent $80 billion already allocated via the stimulus package. After decades of increased funding for the DOE, created just 30 years ago, its budget now ranks as the third largest of all government agencies. Nonetheless, American students’ achievement has flatlined, and they continue to lag behind their peers internationally.

Alan Bonsteel: School choice is the key to improving education
From Daily News

ON June 15, the state of California missed the constitutional deadline to pass a budget. The next weeks will see the ugliest and most heart-wrenchingly painful budget negotiations in the history of the state as we deal with a $20 billion deficit after having already cut to the bone last year.

The cause of our recession was the funny-money mortgages that precipitated a meltdown in our housing market. But we all recognize what made this recession far more painful than in other states: the meltdown of our public schools and the stratospheric rate of dropouts who have jammed our prisons.

We're not only paying through the nose for those bulging prisons, but every young person who could have been somebody, and instead became a convicted nobody, vaporizes income tax receipts forever.

The time to think ahead to where we want to be in 20 years is now. We desperately need a public education system that graduates well-educated young people at 98 percent rates, not the 62.7 percent California graduation rate revealed in the latest issue of "Education Week."

A Proposal for School Choice
From Education Week

It's time to acknowledge that parental choice of schools is the wave of the future. Its foes can continue to try to stall its growth through a series of rear guard actions, but they will not succeed in derailing the movement. It is too powerful. The only question, therefore, is the form that parental choice will ultimately take. There is an urgency to the issue, however, that is not fully appreciated.

I say that because the education of children is time-sensitive. Education Department data show that children from disadvantaged backgrounds enter kindergarten already three months behind the national average in reading and math skills, and never catch up. But children from other families are no less entitled to a quality education in their days at school. In other words, there is a narrow window of opportunity to educate the young, regardless of the backgrounds of those involved.

The Anti-Educational Effects of Public Schools
From Mises Econ Blog

[An MP3 audio file of this article, read by the author, is available for download.]

With so many state governments' budgets now under severe strain, there are serious discussions throughout the country about whether or not to cut state funding to public education — an expenditure that, in some states, consumes more than half the budget. Unfortunately, because of extensive resistance by teachers' unions and other parties with a vested interest in the status quo, fundamental changes to the system will be fought every step of the way. At the same time, however, it is useful to acknowledge that public schools do not just do a suboptimal job at educating the young: much in the environment of the public school is directly contrary to genuine education.

Research: School Vouchers Boost Graduation Rates for Disadvantaged Children
From Earth Times

WASHINGTON - (Business Wire) School voucher programs help disadvantaged children achieve high school diplomas, according to a growing body of research regarding publicly-funded private school choice programs. These findings come at a crucial time, as President Obama and Members of Congress have called for a national discussion on improving graduation rates.

According to the American Federation for Children, a leading school choice advocacy organization, studies repeatedly demonstrate that students in school choice programs graduate at higher rates than students in traditional public schools.

Study: Phila. parents want more school-choice options
From Philadelphia.com

Despite the explosive growth of charter schools in Philadelphia in the last decade, city parents say they still do not have enough good choices when it comes to picking a school, Pew Charitable Trusts says in a study released Tuesday.

White parents whose children attend district schools give higher marks to the system and individual schools than do African American parents. Parents younger than 30 are among the district's "most dissatisfied customers." Nearly eight out of 10 district parents under 30 say they have considered transferring their children to Catholic, charter, or private schools.

Those are just some of the findings contained in an examination of kindergarten-through-12th-grade education in the city by Pew Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative.

The report, which features a poll of 802 city parents with school-age children, found that school safety was a major concern and accounts for the largest differences in how parents view their schools.

School Choice Leaders to Congress: Renew D.C. Voucher Program
From PR News Wire

Students in D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program Post Strong Graduation Rates

WASHINGTON, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congress should take immediate action and reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in light of a new report demonstrating that the school voucher program boosts student graduation rates by 21 percentage points, according to the American Federation for Children (www.FederationForChildren.org), a leading school choice advocacy organization.

School choices can be good for everyone
From The Orlando Sentinel

Skepticism surrounding a new study that finds Florida public schools have improved as a result of a private learning option for poor children speaks more to psychology than methodology. For too long, some have erroneously thought more learning options for students hurt neighborhood schools.

What this study shows is that education improvement is not a zero-sum game. School-choice programs that help some students can also help students who don't choose them.

The report has attracted considerable attention in the research community because of the reputation of its author, Northwestern University economics and social-policy professor David Figlio, and its subject, the effects of competition from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Figlio is known for rigorous techniques and careful conclusions, and he found the creation of the statewide scholarship to be an ideal laboratory.

Standardizing Mediocrity in America’s Public Schools
From The Heritage Foundation

The Obama administration’s Race to the Top program presents states with a choice: adopt national standards for academic performance, or refuse desperately-needed federal dollars. The problem? National standards only standardize mediocrity, while taking power over educational choices out of the hands of parents and local school boards and transferring it to the cumbersome and often misled bureaucracy of Washington.  Recent scandal over the corrupt and ineffectual Head Start program goes to show how ill-equipped the federal government is at directly administering a national school program; while the Obama administration’s shameless torpedoing of the wildly successful and popular DC Opportunity Scholarship Program is an example of how Washington power politics can blast sensible and much-needed reform fostered by local communities.

Competitive marketplace needed for public schools
From The Huffington Post

The United States is rapidly losing ground to competitive countries in many facets of our economy, and it's time to drill down to the defining source of the problem.

Many experts (including the most qualified: parents) agree our educational system is simply failing to deliver the quality education our children need to keep the U.S. forefront in the world today.

According to a 2009 GreatSchools and Harris Interactive poll, nearly one in four parents are rethinking the type of school their children should attend moving forward, whether currently attending a public or private school.

Choice, however, is the real issue and unfortunately is often limited by the financial capability of the family.

In order to ensure parents are able to make the educational choice they wish for their children, we must remove the financial constraints from the process.

High Court to Consider Arizona School Choice Program
From The Yeshiva World

The United States Supreme Court, it was announced today, will be hearing an appeal of a U. S. Court of Appeals decision that declared an Arizona school choice program unconstitutional. Agudath Israel of America welcomed the news.

The Supreme Court declared in 2002 that school voucher programs are constitutional, and a number of states and localities have instituted such programs, providing qualifying parents with government vouchers to use for their children’s education. Another popular way of helping encourage school choice has been the enactment in several states of tax credit programs, which permit taxpayers to receive a tax credit for funds they donate to organizations that furnish scholarships to needy students. One such initiative, the Arizona School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Program, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and ruled unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Charter debate: Parents have long fought for better school alternatives
From NY Daily News

The tide of battle in New York's school wars tipped unmistakably in favor of choice, charters and new work rules long before Education Secretary Arne Duncan's visit Tuesday to several inner-city schools.

What often looks like an intractable standoff - the teachers union and Democratic pols on one side, the city Education Department and rich private-sector supporters of charters on the other - is being settled by parents.

By the tens of thousands, parents have been voting with their feet, searching for alternatives to low-performing schools.

"It's hard to argue with the thousands of parents who want to explore the option of charters for their children," said Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn, sponsor of a bill that would more than double the number of charters in New York State.

Don’t Let School Choice Lose Ground in Oregon!
From Oregon Catalyst

During its February special session, the Oregon legislature passed a bill instructing the Oregon State Board of Education to make recommendations to the legislature this fall regarding the governance of virtual charter schools. Last month, the Board met to discuss the future of virtual education in Oregon.

The Board recognizes the importance of virtual charter schools in meeting children’s diverse learning needs and in providing wider access to quality public education throughout the state. However, the Board is considering adopting an approval process that will destroy the power of parents to effectively choose a virtual charter school for their children.

School Choice: What Parents Want
From Heritage Foundation

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) is a comprehensive school choice program that serves some of the lowest performing students in the nation. Now two decades old, MPCP has allowed mostly poor and black parents to choose any school—public or private, religious or secular—for their children to attend.

The most recent evaluation report of MPCP shows parents of voucher students continue to report high levels of satisfaction with their children’s education, a common finding in the school choice literature. MPCP has had minimal effect, however, on test scores. When researchers followed the progress of elementary and middle school students over a three year period, they found that voucher students perform at about the same level on academic tests as non-voucher students in Milwaukee.

House to vote on school choice
From Examiner.com

In the next few days, the Illinois House will vote on a measure (SB 2494) to give parents in Chicago the choice to send their children to schools that aren't total disasters (i.e., private schools).

As it currently stands (thanks to Democrats), inner-city students and families are denied any right to choose and abandoned to Chicago's appallingly dysfunctional public system...which is designed to work for left-wing teachers' unions at everyone else's expense.

School Choice adopted for coming school year
From Wicked Local

MATTAPOISETT —The Old Rochester Regional School Committee once again opted in to the Commonwealth’s School Choice program for the 2010-2011 school year (see sidebar). The high school will have 22 seats, of which 10 are already filled. The junior high school will have five seats in grade seven, and five seats in grade eight. Two of the grade eight seats are already occupied.

The committee also approved a new policy on School Choice, under the Interdistrict School Choice Law (M.G.L. Chapter 76, Section 12B), which provides that by May 1 of each year, the District will determine the number of seats to be available to School Choice students. The policy also provides that if the District is considering opting out of School Choice, that each year by June 1, it will hold a public meeting regarding such decision. The policy provides that when the number of requests from out-of-district students exceeds the number of available seats, selection will be by two random drawings, one during the last week of the school year, but no later than July 1, and the other in the week immediately preceding the opening of the new school year, based on the possibility of unexpected additional seats.

Mayor Menino presses for more school
From Boston Herald

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday he wants longer school days citywide, saying he’d like kids in the classroom for up to eight hours a day - even as the city clashes with teachers about looming layoffs, school closures and underperforming schools.

“We have to have longer school days,” the mayor told the Herald yesterday. “We’re only going 5 to 6 hours. Most school systems go 7 or 8 hours.”

Some students at Hub pilot schools already spend more than eight hours a day in school - with state grants for extended hours - and Menino said he’d like to see hours extended across the city.

Menino didn’t address how he might fund additional school hours. A union source said teachers would not oppose longer days but would seek increased pay - a tall task given current fiscal woes. The schools are already bracing for nearly 300 layoffs, including 11 teachers, as plummeting state and federal aid, coupled with escalating costs, hammered the budget.

School Choice adopted in Holbrook
From Wicked Local

Holbrook —The Holbrook public schools will be opening their doors to students from other communities come September.

The school committee unanimously voted on March 24 to join the state School Choice program where students from other communities could attend classes in Holbrook.

Following a nearly 45 minute discussion, the committee backed the recommendation of Superintendent of Schools Joseph Baeta to join the program that he said would give the district much needed viability.

Under the School Choice program, students can attend another participating school system of their choice.

In a separate 4 to 1 vote, the committee set specifics about the program relative to the grade levels and number of open seats that would be set aside for School Choice students.

Chairman Barbara Davis cast the dissenting vote, saying that she wanted to limit the program to the junior/senior high school grades.

Charter schools: an antidote to one-size-fits-all education
From Los Angeles Times

Education historian Diane Ravitch is half right.

In his March 14 Times Op-Ed article, "The Big Idea — it’s bad education policy," Ravitch warns that there is no silver-bullet solution to our education problems.

She is correct.

School Choice is First Casualty of Obama Education Overhaul
From The Heritage Foundation

Certainly one of the most unfortunate provisions in the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization “blueprint” is the elimination of school choice and supplemental education services for students trapped in failing schools. The school choice provisions contained within NCLB, while limited, provide an opportunity for children to escape persistently low-performing public schools. The Obama administration’s decision to cut that lifeline for families is symbolic of its educational philosophy in general. Theirs is a philosophy which refuses to acknowledge the virtue of educational choice and continues to see the federal government as the key to raising academic achievement. Education Week reports:

Parents and students win with charter school boost
From The Examiner

School choice is getting a boost in Virginia with recent passage of school choice legislation by the General Assembly for charter, lab and virtual school options.

The legislation began as a compromise for school choice advocates and opponents with Gov. Bob McDonnell’s initiative that would have allowed charter school applications review first by the state, then localities.

The intent was to boost possibility of local school board approval via state backing.

But local approval is preferred by school choice advocates from the start, because doing so empowers communities to decide how their tax dollars are spent on public education.

The Death of Public School Choice
From Huffington Post

By Charles Taylor Kerchner and Dominic J. Brewer

The Los Angeles Unified School District board, which in August voted 6-1 for a competition between internal and external education providers, did its best to kill it off on last week. A different policy for change is needed. Here's why.

The board's Public School Choice resolution subjected 24 new schools and 12 chronically underperforming ones to a request-for-proposal process. This was thought of as a spirited but fair competition that invited participation from a wide swath of organizations.

States Make Strides in School Choice While D.C. Gets Left Behind
From Heritage Foundation

School districts and legislatures in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Virginia are demonstrating a commitment to greater educational opportunities for students and families by challenging the status quo of mediocre and failing public schools.

While many East Coast states spent the weekend focused on snow removal, the town of Central Falls, Rhode Island focused on the removal of almost 100 teachers from one of the state’s worst performing schools. Superintendent Frances Gallo will fire all Central Falls High School teachers after union leaders refused proposed reforms that included increasing the school day by 25 minutes, requiring teachers to eat lunch with students once a week, and mandatory teacher training and planning sessions outside of school hours.

Education Show Tonight: Killing School Choice in DC
From Stossel Fox Business

In “Imprisioning Kids”, airing on FBN at 8 and 11pm, I’ll cover the fight over the DC voucher schools. They succeed, but the government will shut them down anyway.

DC has thrown tons of money at public education. The capitol now spends more than 26 thousand dollars per student. With so much money, you could do a great job, but they don't. DC has lower test scores than any state. So the Bush administration tried an experiment: vouchers for some poor kids.

Just some. Over the last six years, a few thousand public school kids got a $7,500 voucher that they could take to a private school. The average school the kids chose -- about half were Catholic -- charged less than that: $6,600.

Yet despite spending just a quarter of what the public schools did, a Department of Education study found that the kids who got the vouchers did better.

Give Students More Choices

A bill that would create a public school choice program, allowing students from one school district to enroll in schools in other districts participating in the program, is expected to be considered by an Assembly panel Thursday. It would be a good stepping-off point for the next state education commissioner to revamp how education is delivered in New Jersey.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywomen Mila Jasey, D-Essex, and Joan Voss, D-Bergen, would expand and make permanent an interdistrict public school choice pilot program that expired in 2005. The pilot program allowed only a fixed number of schools districts to accept out-of-district students. The new measure wouldn't limit the number of "choice districts" permitted.

The Milwaukee story: School choice works

Here's a report to make school choice critics reach for the Pepto: More low-income students in Milwaukee's 20-year-old voucher program -- 18 percent more -- graduate from high school than their traditional public school peers.

In fact, if Milwaukee's public school graduation rate matched that of students using school vouchers from 2003 to 2008, 3,352 additional students would have received diplomas, according to the study by University of Minnesota professor John Robert Warren.

Charter school limit withdrawn

ALBANY -- After nearly four hours of debate, city lawmakers on Monday night withdrew a controversial resolution calling on the state to limit the number of students that can enroll in charter schools in Albany.

The move to pull the resolution was made by its sponsor, 7th Ward Common Councilwoman Cathy Fahey, as it appeared headed toward failure -- or at least a tight vote that she and others feared would send a mixed message to the state Legislature.

88,000 Ohio Children Eligible for School Vouchers Next Year; Enrollment for Program Starts Today

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 88,000 children in 205 underperforming public schools across Ohio are eligible to receive school vouchers to attend private schools next year--and, beginning today, parents can apply to receive the vouchers.

Enrollment for the Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) for the 2010-2011 school year, begins today (Monday, February 1, 2010). The EdChoice Scholarship – which provides a state-funded scholarship for use at a private school – is available to students in the state's lowest-rated public schools. Schools are considered low-rated if they have been in academic watch or academic emergency for at least two of the past three years.

The enrollment period runs from February 1, 2010 through April 16, 2010.

Charting a course: Parents head for alternative schools

The fact that 14-year-old Jasmine Brooks spent five years on a waiting list for the Manchester Academic Charter School didn't discourage her mom.

"I wanted Jasmine in the charter school since fourth grade, because I wasn't satisfied with the public school system," said Joyce Brooks. "But I couldn't get Jasmine in (a charter school) until this year, when she was accepted to City Charter High School."

The good news for the Brooks family continued when 5-year-old Kennedy got a kindergarten slot at Manchester Academic, which has 195 students and a waiting list of about 400.

"The girls know that going to charter school will be a lot of hard work, but we think it's worth it," Brooks said.

Alonso plan would give Baltimore middle-school students school choice

Baltimore would begin giving students a choice of where they attend middle school next fall under a plan expected to be presented to the city school board tonight.

City schools CEO Andrés Alonso's proposal also calls for the closing or revamping of 12 schools, primarily middle schools, that are some of the lowest-performing in the city and often have declining enrollments.

In his latest move to restructure the district, Alonso is attempting to create more competition among schools and more opportunities for parents.

H is for: Hypocrisy, one thing at which anti-charter school legislators excel

By killing a charter school expansion last week, the state Legislature blew New York's shot at $700 million in federal aid and denied thousands of parents the ability to choose better schools for their kids.

One and all, the lawmakers claimed to be keeping faith with traditional public schools. Oh, really? So why did so many of them get their educations elsewhere?

Christie arrival buoys Montclair charter school advocates

When Gov. Chris Christie discussed school choice in his Inaugural Address in Trenton this past Tuesday, his words had special resonance in Montclair.

Organizers of a proposed charter high school in Montclair said they are encouraged and reassured by the comments made by Christie before an audience in Trenton’s War Memorial auditorium that came just moments after he was sworn in as New Jersey’s 53rd elected governor.

"Together, we can build better schools that train our students for a brighter future," Christie told the crowd.

New chapter in education

Gov-elect Chris Christie proved he was dead-serious about promised education reform with his nomination last week of former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler as education commissioner.

In the 1990s, when Schundler was championing charter schools and other forms of school choice, he was considered radically out of step with trends in education. It turns out he was ahead of the curve. Many of his ideas, particularly his advocacy for charter schools, have reached the mainstream.

Pick for education chief favors school choice

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell today will name Gerard Robinson, an advocate for charter schools and school choice, as secretary of education.

Robinson is president of the Atlanta-based Black Alliance for Educational Options.

A spokesman for McDonnell would not confirm the choice yesterday but did not dispute it. McDonnell scheduled a news conference for today to announce his choice for secretary of education and agency heads.

When running for governor, McDonnell made school choice and increasing the number of charter schools a major part of his education platform. He noted that it is an issue on which he and President Barack Obama agree.

Virginia has one of the lowest numbers of charter schools in the nation — three, with a fourth set to open in South Richmond this summer.

Assembly OKs bills to change California schools

Reporting from Los Angeles and Sacramento - Despite strong objections from teachers unions, the state Assembly on Tuesday night approved changes to California schools that would give parents more power to transfer their children from badly performing campuses and petition for fixes that could include removing principals.

The changes are intended to help California win a share of $4.3 billion in new federal funds that will be available through the Race to the Top program. The Obama administration is using the promise of that money to push states into adopting education reforms the president and his aides favor.

Parents Push for Open Enrollment, Wanting Ability to Choose Schools for Kids

The School Choice Movement wants Missouri parents to have more choices for their childrens' education. They're pushing for open enrollment, which, they say, would force public schools to improve in order to keep students.

Missouri's School Choice Movement is pushing for open enrollment which would allow students to attend school across their district boundaries. And while it has the support of many parents, administrators aren't convinced.

Bring Parental Choice to Detroit Public Schools

There's little left to argue; Detroit is home to the nation's worst school system. Having recently uncovered loads of corruption and facing bankruptcy, the district just scored historic lows on a national test. Time's up, Detroit Public Schools. Give the kids trapped in failed schools a chance. It's time to unleash the power of school choice.

Not all schools in Detroit are failing, but it's hard to see a legitimate reason for defending the status quo - less than 5 percent of fourth- and eighth-graders were deemed proficient in math on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress test. And while we might not be able to predict the exact impact that empowering parental choice would have, evidence suggests it would likely raise overall student achievement and reduce costs.

D.C. vouchers on life support

IT IS DISTRESSINGLY clear that congressional leaders never really meant it when they said there would be a fair hearing to determine the future of the District's federally funded school voucher program. How else to explain language tucked away in the mammoth omnibus spending bill that would effectively kill the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program?

Deep in the folds of the thousand-page 2010 spending bill, which wraps together six bills, is language that (thankfully) would continue funding for students currently in the program but close it down for new students. Also included are onerous requirements about testing and site visits.

School choice: Expand N.J.'s existing programs

A program that allows children in failing public schools to transfer to better ones that are willing to take them is drawing support from Gov.-elect Chris Christie, who wants to see it expanded.

We hope he can make that happen so it can benefit more students now trapped in inferior schools.

Under the Interdistrict School Choice Program, students who are accepted at schools outside their home districts can attend tuition-free. Tax dollars follow them to the new school. Students also receive reimbursement for transportation.

School Choice and the Common Good of All Children

The United States justifiably celebrates its pluralism. The mandate to find unity in diversity—e pluribus unum—is predicated not on the premise that all peculiarities of creed or color must be washed away; instead, it insists that all such cultural and social differences must be respected. Part and parcel of this freedom is the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit. Like all rights, this one carries with it a duty: to prepare the child adequately for participation in society by being attentive to technical and life skills as well as moral formation.

The Black Divide on School Choice

I’ve been reading the debate between our own Andrew Coulson and Rev. Joseph Darby with interest, not least because it is an extreme rarity to find an opponent of school choice with the courage and good faith to engage in such a public debate on the topic. That said, something Rev. Darby wrote in his response caught my attention because of its parallels with the modern fight over school choice:

The first schools established for African-Americans following the Civil War were private schools. They sometimes, however, exclusively accepted the children of the black upper and middle economic classes while excluding the children of former slaves who struggled economically to survive. Public schools for African-Americans were decidedly and intentionally inferior, and the irony is that the opponents of quality public education in Charleston, South Carolina in that era included affluent African-Americans who saw good public schools as a threat to their private schools.

Too little is said about an uncomfortable contemporary truth: the irony is that the opponents of school choice across this country include affluent African-Americans who see good private schools as a threat to their public schools, their livelihoods, and their political and economic power.

School Tax Credit Can Help Kids and the State

New Jersey is in deep financial trouble, and government estimates keep get ting worse. The most recent budget deficit prediction tripled the last one, concluding that the state might be $1.2 billion in the hole.

The bad news doesn't end there. The economic slowdown is prompting many families who can no longer afford both taxes and private school tuition to move their children into public schools. Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Camden, for instance, have lost almost 1,000 students, about 10 percent of their enrollment from last year.

The accelerating closure of private schools in urban areas will only add to the pressure. Public schools will suddenly need to spend more -- even as tax revenues drop. With this kind of budget problem, lawmakers need to take a look at an important benefit of programs that make it easier for families to choose private schools: School choice means huge savings for state and local governments.

Tax Credits, Not Vouchers, Are Keeping School Choice a Viable Option

Many school choice supporters are discouraged after having suffered a series of setbacks on the voucher front, ranging from the loss of Utah's nascent voucher program last year to the recent death sentence handed to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. A rambling and inaccurate article in the normally supportive City Journal got the chorus of naysayers rolling more than a year ago with the cry "school choice isn't enough."

The bright spot for vouchers in recent years has been the success of special-needs programs. Yet the Arizona Supreme Court ruled recently that school vouchers for disabled and foster children violate the state constitution, which forbids public money from aiding private schools.

Naturally, the pessimists and opponents of choice are forecasting the death of the voucher movement. They're wrong, because there never was a voucher movement to begin with. It has always been movement for educational freedom, and it is still going strong.

In New Statewide Survey, Virginians Speak Out on Education Reform Topics
From PR Web

Survey results find strong support for school choice policies

Richmond, VA (PRWEB) November 19, 2009 -- While a majority of Virginia’s voters believe the state’s public school system is good or excellent, similar numbers favor school choice reforms such as tax-credit scholarships, school vouchers, and charter schools. Fifty-five percent of likely voters would opt for schools other than regular public schools, according to the results of a public opinion survey released today by a diverse group of twenty one state and national education, business, religious and policy organizations.

School Choice in America 2009: What it Means for Children's Futures
From The Heritage Foundation

Abstract: School choice -- what does it mean for American's daily lives? It means that more and more parents are able to send their children to safer, better schools. It means that low-income and special-needs children across the country are attending a public or private school of their parents' choice. It means that students need not remain trapped in failing and dangerous schools -- though too many students still are. Congress, as well as state and local policymakers, must enact policies that give all American children the opportunity to learn and achieve. This Heritage Foundation report details the latest school-choice facts and figures for the 2009-2010 school year.

As The Dems Turn (To School Choice)
From The CATO Institute

We’ve been writing a fair amount over the last several months about increasing support for school choice among members of the Democratic Party. The focus has typically been on legislators, but a new report from the Center for Education Reform give a glimpse into possible widespread support among private-schooling Dems and Dem donors in Washington, DC.

Voters Elect School Choice Governors in NJ, VA
From Reuters Business Wire

WASHINGTON--(Business Wire)-- Voters in New Jersey and Virginia elected two new governors who back school choice, Gov.-Elect Chris Christie in New Jersey and Gov.-Elect Bob McDonnell in Virginia. Throughout both of their respective campaigns, Christie and McDonnell stressed the importance of school choice and education reform.

No Child Left Behind
From The Wall Street Journal

Opponents of school choice are running out of excuses as evidence continues to roll in about the positive impact of charter schools.

Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby recently found that poor urban children who attend a charter school from kindergarten through 8th grade can close the learning gap with affluent suburban kids by 86% in reading and 66% in math. And now Marcus Winters, who follows education for the Manhattan Institute, has released a paper showing that even students who don't attend a charter school benefit academically when their public school is exposed to charter competition.

Denver school choice a hit with students
From The Denver Post

The chaos begins in the Black household on weekday mornings around 6 a.m., when the family's three children prepare to head off to three different Denver high schools.

Keenan, a senior, attends George Washington High School. Griffin the sophomore, goes to nearby Thomas Jefferson. And Addie, a freshman, is enrolled at South.

A mother’s story sends message for school choice
From The Times Tribune

Kentucky’s public education system does a solid, if not spectacular, job — with about 25 percent of its students.

But what consolation do you draw from that if your child falls among the other 75 percent? And remember, a majority of that three-quarters remains either stuck in an inner-city, failing school or in the hinterlands without alternatives to a mediocre education.

Some of those students — graced with well-to-do parents — can move to a better school district or pay for a private school.

Silencing Voices for School Choice
From The Weekly Standard

President Obama isn't taking kindly to a television ad that criticizes his opposition to a popular scholarship program for poor children, and his administration wants the ad pulled.

Former D.C. Councilmember Kevin Chavous of D.C. Children First said October 16 that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had recently approached him and told him to kill the ad.

The 30-second ad, which has been airing on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and News Channel 8 to viewers in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, urges the president to reauthorize the federally-funded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides vouchers of up to $7,500 for D.C. students to attend private schools.

Vouchers give kids a chance
From Miami Herald

Amid its expanding array of public-education learning options, Florida offers only one that focuses exclusively on children of poverty. And predictably this is the one learning option that politicians demagogue when searching for votes.

Consider the facts: Last year the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship served 24,871 low-income K-12 students in 1,002 private schools at a third the per-student cost of traditional public schools.

National school choice conference set for Oct. 25-27 at Vanderbilt
From Vanderbilt University

School choice experts from across the nation will convene at Vanderbilt University Oct. 25-27 to discuss the latest research surrounding high-profile education issues such as charter schools, magnet schools, vouchers, student achievement, teacher qualifications, funding and more.

The conference, “School Choice and School Improvement: Research in State, District and Community Contexts,” is being hosted by the National Center on School Choice at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development. Registration is required and is available online at www.vanderbilt.edu/schoolchoice/conference.

Charter school extended five years in McKeesport
From Post Gazette

Five years ago, the McKeesport Area School District fought to keep the proposed charter school Propel McKeesport out of the district, pushing the issue all the way to Commonwealth Court, where a ruling forced the district to grant the charter.

But two weeks ago, when the school's charter was up for a vote again, there was hardly a discussion and the board unanimously voted to keep the school in the district for another five years.

Longer days won't fix education
From Pittsburgh Live

President Obama's latest lesson plan -- better student learning through a longer school calendar -- fails to account for some elementary considerations in its application.

Namely, the unintended consequences, which are significant.

How Teachers Unions Lost the Media
From the Wall Street Journal

Quick: Which newspaper in recent editorials called teachers unions "indefensible" and a barrier to reform? You'd be excused for guessing one of the conservative outlets, but it was that bastion of liberalism, the New York Times. A month ago, The New Yorker—yes, The New Yorker—published a scathing piece on the problems with New York City's "rubber room," a union-negotiated arrangement that lets incompetent teachers while away the day at full salary while doing nothing. The piece quoted a principal saying that union leader Randi Weingarten "would protect a dead body in the classroom."

School Choice Gets a Boost From Capitol Rally
From Townhall.com

A rally to promote school choice shook D.C.’s Upper Senate Park on Wednesday after President Obama and the U.S. Congress announced plans to axe the program for the upcoming school year. That decision was made after 216 students received letters that said they would be able to participate in the program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program provided the chance at attending a private school for 3,300 students since 2004, was widely recognized as one of the most effective government programs ever run. Critics said the reason the program was axed was because of teachers unions, party politics, and bad decision-making.

School choice would reshape U.S. education
From The Philadelphia Inquirer

Tomorrow in Philadelphia, two of politics' most interesting personalities - the Rev. Al Sharpton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - are expected to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan in kicking off a tour of America's urban public schools. Sharpton and Gingrich have said they intend to draw attention to persistent problems and promising remedies in education.

Garfield High among 12 schools available to outside bidders
From LA Times

Garfield High, which became nationally known as the real-life setting for the film “Stand and Deliver,” will be among the first group of local schools eligible for takeover because of persistent academic failure, a high-level district source has told The Times.

Garfield’s selection means that the nation’s second-largest school system will invite bidders — from inside and outside the district — to run the East Los Angeles campus of 4,600 students. This “request-for-proposal” process could apply to more than 250 schools under a Board of Education resolution passed in August, but the initial set of schools will number 12, sources said.

Do Charters 'Cream' the Best?
From The Wall Street Journal

'Creaming" is the word critics of charter schools think ends the debate over education choice. The charge has long been that charters get better results by cherry-picking the best students from standard public schools. Caroline Hoxby, a Stanford economist, found a way to reliably examine this alleged bias, and the results are breakthrough news for charter advocates.

Charter Schools Pass Key Test in Study
From The Wall Street Journal

New York City students who win a lottery to enroll in charter schools outperform those who don't win spots and go on to attend traditional schools, according to new research to be released Tuesday.

The study, led by Stanford University economics Prof. Caroline Hoxby, is likely to fire up the movement to push states and school districts to expand charter schools -- one of the centerpieces of President Barack Obama's education strategy.

Survey: School options gain favor
from Omaha.com

A majority of Nebraskans are open to school choice reforms such as school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships, according to a survey released today by a national school-choice group.

"It really appears Nebraska is ready to start talking about school choice reform options," said Paul DiPerna, director of partner services for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, which commissioned the study.

Reading, writing and rap sheets
from IndyStar.com

President Barack Obama has countless things to worry about, but at least he can be confident his children are safe. Whether the first family is vacationing in the Grand Canyon or hosting town halls in New Hampshire, Secret Service agents are always on the job.

This is true even when the Obama daughters are in about the safest place imaginable: the hallowed halls of the exclusive Sidwell Friends private school, where they attend classes along with the other children of Washington's privileged elite.

Of course, most Washington parents don't have the Secret Service, and most don't have Sidwell Friends, either. But they certainly want their children to be safe in the public schools they attend. Unfortunately, they have good reason to be concerned about school safety.

Beyond boundaries: Oklahoma kids have a lot of school choice
from News OK.

Oklahoma doesn’t have school vouchers. Nor does the state have a tax credit for scholarship donations to help low-income or disabled children attend private schools. Even without those, school choice is still alive and well. A campout in Bethany last weekend is proof of that. Featured Gallery

D.C. Mayor puts kids in public school and gets school choice at the same time
from DC Charter Schools Examiner

When D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty took over DCPS a couple of years ago he promised to move his two sons from private to public school. Turns out he stuck to his word although it proved difficult for the press to obtain this information. The reason? Mr. Fenty did what all arrogant politicians do and put his children not in the neighborhood school, West Elementary, at 14th and Farragut Streets that has failed to make AYP for a couple of years, but instead enrolled them at a much better institution, Lafayette Elementary, which is located in Chevy Chase, and whose students score over 90 percent proficient or above in both reading and math.

Audit Bureau continues project on School Choice Porgram
from Green Field Now

State law requires that the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) review test scores of pupils enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Privately funded researchers working on a five-year study of Choice and Milwaukee Public Schools supplied the data to the LAB.

The LAB reports, “The researchers have indicated that the project is the largest effort to date to compare the academic performance of pupils in voucher schools and public schools and that their sampling techniques are innovative and rigorous. Two of the principal researchers are nationally recognized, experienced researchers of voucher programs....”

The project is ongoing. Here is the LAB’s report that also provides comprehensive background on the Choice program

LAUSD board OK's controversial school choice plan
from the Contra Costa Times

After more than four hours of debate and often- heated public comment, the Los Angeles Unified school board approved a plan today that will allow private groups to submit bids to operate new school sites and under-performing campuses beginning next year.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of the "Public School Choice" measure, with board members Marguerite LaMotte casting the dissenting vote.

Group Challenging Tougher School Voucher Rules
By Marge Pitrof August 20, 2009 | WUWM | Milwaukee, WI

Earlier this summer, Wisconsin tightened the rules for its school choice or voucher program. The program allows thousands of low-income Milwaukee students to attend private schools at state expense. Now about a dozen people are filing suit against the new procedures that affect groups attempting to start schools. The coalition will ask a judge Thursday to halt the new rules until the courts determine whether they’re constitutional. WUWM’S Marge Pitrof has more.

Special-Education Stigmatization

Federal law first insisted in 1975 that public schools educate disabled students. Since then, the portion of students receiving special education services has increased 64%. Today, 13.5% of all public school students have been diagnosed with a disability. Special education, it turns out, is no longer particularly special at all.

Taxpayers pay a substantial price for the growth in special education. In New York state, for instance, in 2007, the average special education student cost $14,413 more to educate than a regular-enrollment student.

Rulffes presses for families "choice in school attendance"
Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes wants students to pick the schools they want to attend, provided there is space — a proposal that in other districts has led to more innovative programs as campuses compete to fill their seats.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa backs controversial schools plan
Backing a controversial plan that would allow parents to pick private operators and others to take over failing schools, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told a town hall meeting Tuesday that reforming Los Angeles Unified will be a long but necessary fight.

Rep. Lee Moves To Allow Greater School Choice Through Legislation
FRANKFORT, Ky.- Believing Kentucky students desperately need more options, State Rep. Stan Lee has prefiled Bill Request 115, which would authorize the establishment of charter schools in the Commonwealth.

In Honor of Milton Friedman, "Father of School Choice"
On Fri., July 31, groups of people gathered all across the nation to celebrate what would have been the 97th birthday of Dr. Milton Friedman. In Harrisburg, the REACH Foundation and the Commonwealth Foundation hosted a happy hour to celebrate Dr. Friedman’s legacy for liberty.

Senators Launch Bipartisan Effort to Save D.C. School Choice
Lieberman, along with Susan Collins (R-ME) and four other senators, introduced legislation this morning to reauthorize and strengthen the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) for five years. This move provides continued hope for thousands of low-income families in the District of Columbia who seek equal access to a quality education.

Michelle Rhee approval rating is up
Most D.C. voters agree with how D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is doing her job, according to a survey by Braun Research Inc.

Rhee has an approval rating of 62 percent, according to the poll of 1,000 registered voters in D.C., which is a 7 percent increase over a similar poll conducted in 2008.

District set for sixth year of school choice
The school district is entering its sixth year of allowing students at low-income schools that have failed to meet state testing standards to attend other schools in the city.

Last year, 97 students took advantage of the school choice option and Brian Cochrane, the district's director of accountability and assessment, said he expects about the same number of students to change schools this year.

NAACP Supporters Urged To Promote School Choice
Herb Glen, chairman of WeCare Partnership, and Israel Teitelbaum, cofounder of Parents for Free Choice in Education, greeted attendees of the NAACP Convention as they left the New York Hilton after the keynote address by President Barack Obama on July 16. They called on members and supporters of the NAACP to use their influence with the organization to urge them to be true to their mission and support parental choice in education...

Changed federal court order eases school choice for Rome parents
Rome City Schools students can attend any school within the system at the request of their parents or guardians, as long as there is space available.

Groups Rally For School Choice

“Just prior to Independence Day, people of a variety of races and ethnic groups came together in Newark, New Jersey, to rally under the banner “Parental Choice in Education—A Civil Right.” Rally participants came together on July 2 in front of the Essex County Courthouse from many parts of New Jersey, braving a series of downpours. "

School choice leads to more learning

“You are so right: Lawmakers' debates over public-school policies grow wearisome. Vending machines, prayer at graduation - examples are virtually endless. The making of policy for public schools is largely a political process whereby one group of advocates imposes its will on another..."

Do not dismiss achievements of charter schools

“...Parents have the option to examine their locally assigned school as well as the charter school option available to them and choose to place their child in a charter school if they believe it would be better for their child. The possibility of an option is not a threat for the local public school if the public school is doing the job; however, often the public school is not doing the job, and the cost of private school is beyond the resources of most parents..."

Charter schools in Indiana value choice as well as community

“During the current special session of the Indiana General Assembly, a great deal of discussion has centered on limiting charter school growth throughout the state. Much of the rationale for support of a moratorium is misleading and ill-conceived. The effects of caps would be devastating to children, all school districts and urban communities. "

Improving U.S. Competitiveness with K-12 STEM Education and Training

“...Reform the traditional public school system to encourage greater innovation and superior instruction. Legislation and old habits need to change so that funding can be allocated to where it has the biggest impact. School choice, charter schools, online classes, and online learning communities hold promise for encouraging innovation and better learning opportunities for American students and should be funded.... "

Should lawmakers dictate school choice?

“ As political debates across our nation brew about permitting charter schools and which kid should be eligible, I would like to know—whose choice is school choice?"

Indiana Considers School Choice Tax Credit

“ Hoosier State Governor Mitch Daniels included a $5 million school choice tax credit program in his budget, which will be considered in the state legislature’s special session. According to The Brazil Times:"

Choice for public schools

“ GROCERY shoppers can choose from rows of toilet tissue. An increasing number of homeowners can pick cable, satellite or broadband for their TV programs. Yet in almost every local city, parents cannot send their child to the public school of their choice.

That's because our public school system is bound by arcane rules about district boundaries and public-sector fiefdoms..."

Victory for School Choice: Arizona Court of Appeals Declares Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program Constitutional

Arlington, Va.—The Arizona Court of Appeals today declared that tax credit programs that fund tuition scholarships for low- and middle-income children to attend private schools “pass constitutional muster.” The decision follows the Arizona Supreme Court’s 1999 decision in Kotterman v. Killian, which upheld the constitutionality of Arizona’s Individual Tax Credit Scholarship Program from an identical legal attack.

Give school tax credits a try

Expanding school choice expands educational opportunities. So why limit school choice to the public education system?

The obvious answer: politics. The education establishment remains a powerful force influencing state legislatures - and Congress. It also remains steadfastly opposed to helping even small numbers of poor children transfer to private schools from public schools that are shortchanging them.

Converse Chellis: School choice makes financial sense

My goal as state treasurer is to safeguard our state's financial future and work toward making South Carolina a better place to live, raise a family and do business. Part of a better future for all South Carolinian's is the recruitment of higher paying jobs into our state. To accomplish this, we will need a better educated workforce. But, we must offer more educational choices for South Carolina families to ensure this happens.

This school or that school? Parents now have a choice

“ A controversial bill signed by Governor Sonny Perdue will change the way students are educated and give parents more choice in how they are. School zones are now out the door and parents can pick what school they want their children to attend. "

Our view on improving education: Despite success, school choice runs into new barriers

“ Few national images are more shameful than those of innocent, low-income kids milling through decrepit public schools, uncared for, unsafe and barely educated. In Washington, D.C., alone, 173 schools — 67% — fail to meet federal standards of learning.

So it was curious that when President Obama recently allowed 1,716 of Washington's neediest schoolchildren to keep, until graduation, the vouchers they use to escape their failed public schools for higher-quality private ones..."

New Jersey continues shortchanging charter school childreny

“The original New Jersey charter public school law mandated per pupil funding for each charter public school student equal to 90 percent of the amount allocated for a child in a traditional district school in the same school district. In fact, the actual result currently averages about 78 percent. In the new school-funding formula, some charter school students are getting funded at less than 65 percent per student. This is because charter school students get none of the so-called adjustment aid afforded by the state to districts under the School Funding Reform Act. In districts receiving high amounts of adjustment aid, the disparity is greatest for charter school students. This must be fixed."

School choice and a lesson in hypocrisy

“ A Heritage Foundation survey, updated every two years, recently found that 44 percent of senators and 36 percent of House members have sent a child to private school.

That's 38 percent of lawmakers using private schools at some point."

Open more doors to charter schools

“Legislation that would open charter school doors to more students in Tennessee should be approved.

The measure sponsored by state Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, would greatly increase the number of students eligible to attend a charter school. Currently, only students who are failing or who attend a school that the state recognizes as failing are eligible. The new rules would open charter schools to all "at risk" students, those getting free or low-cost lunches. The new rules would apply to school systems with more than 12,000 students."

School Choice Heats Up

“Parents in the Sagaponack School District have submitted petitions to place a referendum on the ballot on May 19 that would allow families a choice of which high school their children would attend, and the matter will be discussed at a board of education meeting at the school next Thursday..."

Indiana - on the brink of school choice

“ Jeff Brantley is the executive director of The School Choice Indiana Network. He says state lawmakers are considering the creation of a scholarship tax credit program for corporations and individual donors. Creation of the fund would allow parents to send their kids to the school of their choice."

School choice in limelight

“ One bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, would provide an average tax credit worth about $2,500 toward the cost of private school tuition for each child and nearly $5,000 for a student with special needs.

It also would create a scholarship fund to accept donations to help low income families cover more of the tuition costs.

Two dozen people spoke in favor of the bill, including representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston. About half that number testified about the harm they believe the tax credits would cause public schools by drawing needed resources away. "

School choice for me...but not for you

“...Burke, who is a former public school teacher, says she has no problem with school choice, but finds it ironic that so many members of Congress exercise that option while at the same time squashing a school-choice program in their own backyard -- the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program."

Educational Tax Credit Helps Promote School Choice In Pennsylvania

“ The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) provides companies with a 75 percent tax credit for donations to a nonprofit scholarship or educational improvement organization, according to the Reach Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring parental choice in education. The tax credit increases to 90 percent if the company commits to making the same donations for two consecutive years. REACH states that a business paying taxes in Pennsylvania can receive up to $300,000 in tax credits annually."

Outside Washington, Liberals Join School Choice Camp

“What do Bridgeport, Connecticut Mayor Bill Finch and South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford have in common? Both are Democrats and both are now supporting school vouchers.

In March, State Senator Ford, an African-American Democrat, joined conservative legislators in sponsoring a sweeping private school choice plan for kids in the Palmetto State..."

Critics ignore success of choice

“ The education establishment in South Carolina is running scared, because it’s running out of excuses.

Despite more money, more “accountability” and more government programs, South Carolina still has the nation’s worst graduation rate. Our SAT scores are still at the bottom of the barrel.”

9 Myths About School Choice

“ As school choice programs continue to grow exponentially, opposition to such programs by competitors and others has resulted in falsehoods about the positive effects of school choice. Below is a summary of the nine myths surrounding school choice according to the

Jeb Bush on School Reform

“...BUSH: Well, I think we're in an education arms race with the rest of the world because knowledge will drive job creation, high wage jobs are only going to be created by people that can acquire knowledge...”

School Choice

“...All of these arguments have some validity, all are readily rebutted, they come principally from people who benefit from a monopoly on public funding for education, and none of those who make them offer satisfactory answers to two fundamental questions: why shouldn´t parents have substantial say over where and how their children are educated, and why after all these years and all this money are so many of our inner city schools still so bad?...”

School choice bill stirs up debate in House Committee

“A bill allowing parents to send their children to public schools in other districts — and even private schools — with state funding stirred up a lively discussion on Wednesday.

Rep. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, presented HB 959 to the House Elections Committee, saying it would empower parents and provide options beyond failing school districts.”

Arizona School Choice Battle Gains Parent Support

“The atmosphere was electric,” Yarbrough said. ”The folks were there saying ‘thank you’ for supporting school choice. They were positive and supportive and were not protesting anything. It was different from the normal Capitol mall fare. It was a remarkable day for school choice in Arizona.”

Readers favor school choice by 65.8%

“Readers who responded to a two-day e-mail poll overwhelmingly said they were in favor of school choice in South Carolina.

Sensing a swell of opinion related to state Sen. Robert Ford’s comments and press conference Tuesday in favor of school choice, SC Biz News asked readers in Charleston, Columbia and statewide their opinions on the issue.”

Why We Must Fight for School Choice

“Across the District, parents recognize that their children deserve better. Some of these families are fortunate enough to have more options, thanks to charter schools and open enrollment. But too many continue to be denied the opportunity to choose a good school for their children. Just ask the parents of the thousands of kids on charter-school waiting lists, and those whose out-of-boundary placement requests were denied.”

 

Act swiftly to remove constitutional ban on vouchers

“The Arizona Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that school vouchers violate the state constitution clearly is a setback for the movement to give parents more control over educational options and to improve quality of instruction through competition.

But the best response from school-choice advocates would be to accept this outcome as a challenge to build the type of widespread public support that’s necessary to amend the constitution.”

School Choice Effort Gains Convert

“The issue of school choice and the state giving parents tax credits if they send their children to private schools is back at the Statehouse. But this year, supporters think they have a much better chance of getting it passed, after failing for the last five years.

For one thing, former school choice opponent Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, is now a supporter. “When I started looking at it, when I started going to other states with these gentlemen and learning what other blacks are doing across the country to improve education, then I know that, even though Republicans might have some bad ideas, on this idea they’re right on time,“ Sen. Ford told reporters at a Statehouse news conference Tuesday afternoo”

D.C. School Children Take Back Seat to Politics

“For years, Republicans in Congress have supported increased local control of education, while advocating for expanded options that allow parents to choose the best educational environment for their child. In 2004, the Republican-controlled Congress focused on the educational challenges in the District of Columbia to assist low income students who were trapped in low performing schools and to prove that expanded school choice would lead to academic success.

But only last week, Democrats ended the successful D.C. school voucher system in an action applauded by the White House.”

Politicians Kill DC Voucher Program, Dash Students’ Hopes

“We cannot continue to condemn America’s children to dead-end schools that produce kids who will have dead-end jobs, if any jobs at all, or worse, they just end up dead on the streets.

Every member of Congress regardless of party who voted for the Omnibus Bill should be forced to go to a public meeting and explain to the the D.C. Scholarship students and their parents why they voted to kill their hopes and dreams. I doubt any of them have the guts to do so.

And President Obama, you most of all have a lot of explaining to do because you signed the order of execution.”

New Jersey plan could give students more school choice

“TRENTON The state Department of Education wants to make the school choice program available to every public school district in the state, potentially giving thousands of students more options for where they will attend school.

If approved, the expansion also could be a way for small or struggling school districts to generate more students and revenue.”

Congress vs. D.C. kids

“Congressional Democrats succeeded this week in crippling a school choice program operating in the nation's capital. For the last five years, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships have made private schooling affordable to 1,700 poor children. Rather than reauthorizing the program for another five-year term, Democrats have all but ensured it will die after next year.”

Vouchers Support Parental Choice

“Barry, what's wrong with giving parents a real choice about what school to send their children to? Parents are in a much better position than you or I to decide whether the public schools in their community are providing a solid education in a safe environment.”

Will Public Schools Suffer Under Vouchers? NO: Choice Forces Educators to Improve

Bold legislators in the Peach State are embracing this moment in history to make history themselves. This session, the Georgia General Assembly is considering one of the most ambitious education reforms ever proposed. New legislation would provide every single child with a voice in their education, building on the state’s successful corporate tax scholarship program and scholarship program for children with disabilities.

School Choice can 'free' education

“…I am not alone, and I think the time is right: Let’s have serious education reform that brings market-based incentives into the province of primary and secondary education by creating charter schools and voucher systems.

Before you say they won’t work, remember that these kind of free-market ideas work everywhere else.

We rely heavily on market incentives for so many goods and services. Yet, we rely so little on them in education…”

Power to the parents: Forget seats on political panels, give families more school choice

“I want power - real power. I want the power to decide where I send my kids to school. I don't want to be seen but not really "heard."

The best way my voice can be heard is if I get to choose where my child goes to school. I should have excellent choices in my own neighborhood, the kinds of choices my mother wasn't able to take advantage of. I don't want my girls to be assigned to a failing zone school, and then be told by so-called elected parent representatives that I should be happy with it.”

Undue expulsion for D.C. kids

““I told my mom not too long ago I would like to be president one day when I grow up,” writes Fransoir, a seventh grader and recipient of a scholarship to attend a private school in the District of Columbia. But if congressional Democrats have their way, his academic future could become another casualty in the war of educational politics.

Since 2004, thousands of children like Fransoir have had scholarships worth up to $7,500 to attend a private school of their choice as a part of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Currently, more than 1,700 low-income children are benefiting. However, language in the current $410 billion spending bill in Congress would eliminate the program. That would mean going back to D.C. public schools, a system with one of the lowest graduation rates in the country, despite spending more than $14,000 per student, well above the national average.”

Congress Could End Vouchers in D.C.

It's uncommon for the leader of a public school system to support a voucher program that diverts money from public schools to private schools. But the District of Columbia's schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, is not your typical public schools leader. She is the head of one of the worst-performing public school districts in the nation. And she supports vouchers if it means that children will attend better schools..

Let parents pick: Harlem proves moms and dads are clamoring for school choice

The parents of Harlem have been given the wonderful benefit of school choice - and they're taking full advantage of the ability to select the best educations for their children.

 
… We need to address the fact that all children are individuals and may need different ways and techniques to reach their full potential. The good Lord makes us all different. Let us embrace that fact and allow parents the options to make sure their children have access to the educational system that best fits their individual needs.

In other words, our goal must be to advance academic achievement by any means necessary, both inside and outside of the current public system. That means empowering parents to find the right school or methods, whether they be public or private schools…
 
 
While the $410 billion price tag on Congress’ omnibus spending bill gets all the media’s attention, low-income school children in Washington, DC are more concerned about what it may do to their education opportunities.
 

The past few weeks have been rough for many Obama cabinet appointees, but one appointment has garnered an impressive amount of bipartisan support. Arne Duncan, President Obama’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Education, has been lauded by Democrats and Republicans alike. The former Chicago Public Schools CEO comes to Washington with an impressive reputation for innovation and reform

Congressional Democrats Target D.C. School Choice Program for Elimination

School choice advocates are trying to save the District of Columbia voucher program, which is targeted for virtual elimination in Congress’ proposed $405-billion omnibus spending bill. The school choice supporters think the termination of the D.C. program could have national significance.

What Does the Future Hold for Education Policy?

The past few weeks have been rough for many Obama cabinet appointees, but one appointment has garnered an impressive amount of bipartisan support. Arne Duncan, President Obama’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Education, has been lauded by Democrats and Republicans alike

Education spending "too high" or "about right," say Vermonters in poll that shows strong support for school choice

A plurality of Vermonters believe their public schools are "good or excellent," but nearly nine out of ten would send their children to private, charter, or virtual schools, or educate their children in a home school setting. Nearly 70 percent of Vermonters believe public school funding is either "too high" or "about right."

Voucher Programs Grow by 8 Percent in 2008-09, National Report Shows

More than 171,000 children are benefiting from school voucher and scholarship tax credit programs this year, according to the national nonprofit Alliance for School Choice. The Alliance today released its School Choice Yearbook 2008-09, the school choice movement’s most-comprehensive digest of facts, trends, news, and research.

20,000 students now use vouchers

“…The number of Milwaukee children attending private schools using publicly funded vouchers has crossed 20,000 for the first time, according to data released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. At the same time, the number of students in the main roster of Milwaukee Public Schools elementary, middle and high schools has fallen below 80,000 for the first time in well over a decade and declined for at least the 10th year in a row.”

Sucking ‘Choice’ Out of Education

“…The State of Texas reports that it had 16,000 students on waiting lists last year for admission to “charter schools,” which are still public, but in theory at least, free of some of the union and bureaucratic nonsense of the traditional public schools. If there was good news out of the New Orleans hurricane disaster, it was that the monopoly of the hideous public schools was broken, with more than half of the public school students now in charter schools…”

Charter schools can help state solve dropout woes

Charter schools can be a solution to the horrific dropout crisis afflicting both Texas and America.
A student drops out of an American high school every 26 seconds, according to America’s Promise Alliance. In Texas, researchers at the Intercultural Development Research Association find that one out of every three school students fails to graduate. Last year, 185 Texas high schools were labeled “dropout factories” by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Lawmakers outraged at the staggering number of dropouts are looking for solutions. They should consider charter schools as a proven way to address the dropout crisis...
U.S. News and World Report’s list of “America’s Best 100 Public High Schools” included 18 charter schools. Two charter schools in Texas made the cut — IDEA Public Schools in the Rio Grande Valley (number 19) and YES Prep Public Schools in Houston (number 52).

Nearly nine of ten Oregonians would opt out of regular public schools

PORTLAND, OR (January 5, 2009) – Nearly nine out of ten Oregon residents would send their children to private, charter, or virtual schools, or educate their children in a home school setting if they had the decision-making authority, according to the results of a public opinion survey released today by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Cascade Public Policy Institute, and several other state and national organizations. Eighty-seven percent of residents polled would opt for schools other than regular public schools, according to the survey.