The Bottom Line

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Transparency is a Must with Taxpayers Money

Education Week recently posed a pivotal question: “Where, exactly, do those billions of dollars taxpayers annually spend for schools go?” Those in charge of the funds sometimes don’t even know.  For example, in Mississippi the state education department “miscalculated” the exact dollar amount it would take to contribute a “$1,500 bonus” to teachers. Lawmakers with inquiries about the mistake were directed to the antiquated 20-year-old student-information system which the Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, referred to as being “held up by a Band-Aid”. As we’ve reported on before, taxpayers need to know where revenues from their taxes are being spent—especially the annual per student education spending. Instead, antiquated systems track billions of dollars of educational spending with little transparency from lawmakers Read More ›

Help Wanted
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WANTED: New-fashioned Way of Producing Teachers

One article in a recent Education Week popped out of the page: “After Career Overhauling Ed. Schools, Levine to Step Down, Foundation head known for lambasting teacher training.” The article refers to Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, who will now remain at the foundation in a senior fellow role. The strong title is well deserved. Levine came to the position with the intention of either fixing the existing model of teacher preparation or “reinvent[ing] it.” He has been recognized for “spearhead[ing] several initiatives designed to improve the preparation of educators.” In 2006 he stated teacher-prep programs were “unruly and disordered, they’re treated as a cash cow by universities.” His views parallel those of Don Nielsen, Read More ›

We the People.
Constitution of America, We the People withAmerican flag.
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Double Down on Civics Education

How do we expect children to be productive citizens if they do not understand the reason, the importance, and the necessity of a properly-functioning republic? My experience is a case in point. When I was going through the K-12 public school system, I took one, yes one, course on the American Government. It was not required; I had to choose it as an elective. Don Nielsen, program chair to the American Center for Transforming Education, highlights one of the root causes of this deficiency in his book Every School: “Unfortunately, many believe our schools will improve with the more rigorous standards and that was one of the drivers for the development of the Common Core. But, poor performing schools, like Read More ›

Teaching A Student
Teaching a student education concept as an adult teacher educating a young child as crumpled paper shaped as a head and jigsaw puzzle piece as a learning solution in a 3D illustration style.
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Cultivating Familial Culture: From Parents to School Staff

“Adolescents can be challenging for educators to keep engaged,” reported author Sarah D. Sparks on Education Week, citing a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracking over 14,000 middle and high school students over 20 years. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health asked students, grades 7 through 12, about their feelings towards school. For example, one question was, “[Do] you feel that your teachers care about you?” Once the students had reached their 20’s and 30’s they were then asked by the CDC “whether they had emotional problems…victims of physical violence…used illicit drugs…practiced safe sex.” The research found that, “students who had felt strongly connected to school as teenagers grew up to have Read More ›

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Make Teaching Eye-catching

“How many of you can recall one teacher who made a positive difference in your education and, perhaps, in the person you have become? Almost every hand in the room would go up. I would then ask, how many of you can remember two teachers who made a positive difference in your life? About half the hands would go up. I would then ask, how many of you can recall three such teacher? About 10 percent of the hands go up.” That’s a question Don Nielsen, program chair to the American Center for Transforming Education of Discovery Institute and author of Every School, poses in many of his speeches on education. The response should make us question why, as a Read More ›

疑問を持つ人々
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Taxpayers Should Question the K-12 System

The K-12 education system requests more money from state budgets every year. Yet student performance has flatlined. Commenting on the issue in an article on Edweek.org entitled, “Public Torn Between Support for School Spending and Actually Paying the Tab,” the author notes that  “K-12 spending in recent years has eaten up a larger and larger share of states’ tax revenue. On average, K-12 spending takes up more than a quarter of states’ budgets. And while recent polls show swelling support for more money going toward schools, there remains sentiment among the general public that taxes are too high” So the question regarding school funding is “how to do it in a fair, equitable, and effective way that won’t create a Read More ›

Donald Nielsen Published on Idaho Ed News

Education system not getting better, only more expensive Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on June 17, 2019 As Ben Franklin was leaving Independence Hall after the adoption of our Constitution, a lady asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?” He replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Ben Franklin knew that the new country would last only as long as the electorate adhered to the guidelines delineated in the newly adopted Constitution. It was an experiment in self-government and it would not last unless properly protected. Donald P. Nielsen The signors of the Constitution also knew that an educated electorate was an essential element. In fact, they initially limited voting to property owners on Read More ›

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Confusion Over Student Spending

Does anyone really know how much we spend on our public schools? A state-finance map on per-pupil spending from Education Week shows Washington State, where we are based, spends $11,125 per student, accounting for “factors such as teacher and staff salaries, classroom spending, and administration, but not construction or other capital spending.” Confusing! The frustrating issue with this report is it creates controversies about which state “could” be spending more in comparison to other states, which does not matter as much as the actual spending figures importantly, the figure seems to only include the state revenue portion (of course, this is not highlighted in the report). What is missing is the significant portion of school funding from local levies, federal Read More ›

math problems
math problems on graph paper with pencil
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What is Missing in the Equation of “Reinventing” Schools?

“Change occurs in schools, often for the better, but it’s almost always gradual and incomplete.” So concludes Chester E. Finn, Jr., Senior Fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in a recent essay on the difficulties of “reinventing” schools. Finn focuses on “break the mold” schools of the “America 2000” plan of the late President George H.W. Bush. Finn brings to light the fact that the “break the mold” schools concentrated solely on creating brand new schools while other programs focused entirely on transforming existing schools. He notes the deficiency of this approach: “In the former situation, ‘it ain’t broke,’ so why change it? In the latter situation, it’s tantamount to taking an education sow’s ear and striving to turn Read More ›

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Vintage microphone and headphones with signboard on air. Broadcasting radio station concept. 3d illustration
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Michael Medved Interview: Donald Nielsen on Education Transformation

Introduction A guest this week on the Michael Medved show, our program chair, Don Nielsen, is a graduate from Harvard Business School and a former Seattle School Board President. A successful business entrepreneur, Nielsen is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute, based here in Seattle. Nielsen recently finished the updated version of his book: Every School: One Citizens Guide to Transforming Education. The State Michael Medved: “In the new addition you came up with a new insight and that new insight is?” Donald Nielsen: “The state, its not the school, its not the district, its not the federal government, it’s the state” Nielsen: “They control the vast majority of money, who’s allowed to teach, lead, curriculum, testing, compensation, and graduation, Read More ›