The Bottom Line

Fight, two fists hitting each other over dramatic sky
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Combating Union Power

Teacher unions carry a lot of fire power in their holsters, wielding greater influence on the public schools than any other group in American society, including voters. On first glance, one could say it is all “bottom up” influence due to their membership numbers (the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have a combined membership approaching 5 million). Unions drive collective bargaining activities which result in agreements so comprehensive that the organization of public schools is virtually dictated by the union. There is also “top-down” influence, in which politicians are lobbied to pass laws and regulations that are typically anti-reform and block or weaken any attempt to curb union power. In an article for New York Read More ›

Group of American activists is protesting
Group of American activists is protesting
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Civic Engagement has Led to Civic Miseducation

Students are being encouraged to oppose the government rather than to engage the established political process. The preference for protests and civil disobedience, driven by bitterness and resentment,  reflects their lack of sound knowledge about how our democratic republic operates. Bruce Chapman, Chairman of the Board to Discovery Institute, shares a shocking statistic in his book Politicians: The Worst Kind of People to Run the Government Except for All the Others: “In 2014, the US Department of Education reported (again) that all but 23 percent of eighth-graders are deficient in civics.” This is an impediment to maintaining our democratic society. As Americans we should be embarrassed. Chapman continues by summarizing how the deterioration in the study of history and civics Read More ›

The Bait
a carrot in the sky, like a bait

Merit Pay Obstructs High-Performance

Texas is smart to rid itself of incentive compensation for its teachers. Author Aliyya Swaby of the Texas Tribune writes “Huberty [a Representative and committee chair for the Texas Public Education Committee] removed that portion of [House Bill 3]  and instead included a section incentivizing school districts to pay teachers more to work at high-needs campuses, in rural districts or schools, or in subjects with a shortage of teachers.” They are keen to remove this from the bill because it does not provide the desired outcome. Rather,  it pulls away from having the faculty at schools work as intended, creating a damaging spiral to the academic success of school. Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Don Nielsen warns of a counter-intuitive result Read More ›

Tennessee State Capital Building
Facade of Tennessee State Capital Building in Nashville, Tennessee
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States Stepping Out to Transform Education

Dale Chu of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a national advocate for bettering education, breaks down the Education Commission of the States’ annual report, highlighting what state governors are saying about education in their State of the State addresses. The Education Commission of the States follows and evaluates the policy proposals by Governors from each state, looking for developing tendencies, and summarizing them in a way easy to follow for the reader. Examples of these emerging trends are school finance, workforce development, teaching quality, early learning, postsecondary financial aid, and school safety. The speeches of four governors are singled out for special recognition: Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Brad Little of Idaho, Ron DeSantis of Florida, and Tennessee’s new Governor, Bill Read More ›

Children having swimming lesson
Children having swimming lesson
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Group-Based Learning: Swim Lesson Vs Swim Meet

Senior Fellow Don Nielsen of Discovery Institute writes in his book Every School “A parent needs to have only two children to know how totally different children can be.”  That is why the “one-size-fits-all” system is no longer advantageous during the information age. ExcelinEd, a national non-profit organization focused on state education reform founded by former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, is pushing for more individualized learning. They propose “Next generation learning re-imagines learning for the 21st century by providing innovative educators flexibility and support to meet the needs of all students.” It is important to understand why group-based learning is highly antiquated. To explain this, one must look at the design of the bell-shaped curve and what role that plays Read More ›

Idaho US State Law Legal System Concept
Idaho US state law, legal system and justice concept with a 3D rendering of a gavel on the Idahoan flag on background.
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Idaho: Model Legislation for the Nation

Student-centered learning is being rolled out in Idaho. During the 2015 session, House Bill 110 passed the Idaho state legislature which mandated the Idaho State Department of Education transfer from the traditional group-based education to what they refer to as “mastery-based education.”  The Idaho State Department of Education website states, “This model will move students away from the current time-based system to a mastery-based system to allow for a more personalized and differentiated learning experience. Mastery Education (ME) requires focus on explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that will empower students and prepare them for the 21st Century.” This exciting news suggests that Idaho is ready to revamp the system. The state is implementing this legislation exactly the way it should Read More ›

Teacher woman in stress or depression at school classroom
Teacher woman in stress or depression at school classroom, children or students driving her crazy.
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Certified Is Not Qualified

In a guest blog for the Christensen Institute, Ben Kutylo, Co-Founder and President of Fremont Street, writes of the importance on teaching and rethinking the education system with teachers as the focal point.  Discussing a study done last September, Kutylo states, “authors interviewed teachers to discover what motivates them to adopt new approaches to instruction.” He notes that “teaching is the most important factor impacting student learning. Besides parents, educators know students best.” The American Center for Transforming Education shares Kutylo’s aim to improve the quality of our teaching corps. However, the blog neglects one of the biggest issues with our current teachers: the way we select and train our teachers. Kutylo argues that “change efforts [should] start with teachers—rather Read More ›

frustration
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Parental Choice Not School Choice

Jim and Fawn Spady, the creators of the Washington Charter School Resource Center (WCSRC), and the President and Family Council Leadership of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants are champions for parental choice. During a meeting with the both of them, we discussed the importance of parental choice and the misconstrued messages that come along with choice in education. First is the claim that charter schools rob funds and students from regular public schools. In reality, charter schools are public schools. Even written in Washington State law is the name charter public schools. Charter public schools are funded based on student enrollment, just like other government-run public schools. Charter public schools do not add any new costs to the state’s public education system. Read More ›

Jackson Mississippi Skyline
Jackson, Mississippi, USA skyline over the Capitol Building.
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Overworked, Underappreciated, and Underpaid?

In Mississippi, where public schools continue to struggle, the House of Representatives has raised teacher pay on average by $4,000, starting in 2020. However, the final approval reduced the increase to $1,500 in the first year of the raise. It is now up to the Governor to approve or veto the raise for the state’s public school teachers. In Jackson Free Press, author Ashton Pittman outlines the situation at hand: “Mississippi ranks near the bottom for teacher pay nationally, and the legislature consistently underfunds education. That has led to an exodus of teachers from the state, creating a growing teacher-shortage crisis.” Undoubtedly this is a significant issue and it surely is hurting Mississippi’s children. But what if there was a Read More ›

Washington State Capitol Building
Washington State Capitol Building
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Washington Legislator Champions for Most Vulnerable

Former Washington State Representative, Paul Graves, is a true hero for foster children within this state. Foster children are some of Washington’s most vulnerable and on any assumed night there are roughly 10,000 kids in foster care in Washington. When Paul was in the legislature in the 2017-18 biennium, he worked on House bill 3010, which would have created a foster student scholarship program for children and youth in foster care, this giving them the option to attend the public or private school of their caregiver’s choice. Unfortunately, the bill was introduced too late into session and had not been able to make it out of committee. However, in this legislative session, a new State Representative, Chris Corry (R-Yakima) has Read More ›