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Legislative Memo

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A Message from Don Nielsen

During the summer I completed a revision to my book, Every School. The revision brings all the information up to date and also adds an important new chapter—a detailed “Game Plan” for a state. I believe the only way we will transform our schools is to change the governing state laws and this chapter gives state legislators and Governors a game plan on how to start and accomplish the transformation of their schools. The highlight of the last few months was the hiring of a new program coordinator, Bailey Takacs. Bailey comes to us with a lot of experience in legislative matters and with a passion for education. He is already making a huge difference in our ability to do 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 ›

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 ›

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 ›