The Bottom Line

Welcome to Mississippi sign
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Mississippi Should Take Education Head On

Mississippi’s 2020 legislative session, which started on January 7, will have plenty of bills for lawmakers to sort through.  Let’s hope education is at the top of their priorities. According to a U.S. news report, Mississippi ranks 46th out of 50 in K-12 education standards. Clearly a lot of room for improvement, which is why ACTE is partnering with Empower Mississippi – an independent, nonprofit advocacy organization with the vision for Mississippians to have opportunities to make choices that improve their lives through education – to begin shifting the conversation toward a fundamental transformation of their education system. Don Nielsen, a twenty-five-year school activist and program chair to ACTE, offers innovative solutions to the educational challenges facing our country. He Read More ›

charter. Wooden letters on the office desk, informative and communication background
charter. Wooden letters on the office desk, informative and communication background
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Democratic Presidential Hopeful Michael Bloomberg Supports Charters

Mike Bloomberg steps away from the rest of the crowd with one simple and sound approach to educational reform: he supports charter schools. Stu Loeser, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman, confirms that “Mike’s education plan will absolutely promote charter schools.”  Finally a candidate that does not fall into herd mentality on one issue!  Other candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in particular, have promised to eradicate all federal funding for charter schools. On at least this one issue, Bloomberg’s move can differentiate him from the rest of field. The promise to expand charter schools is positive for a several reasons. Charter schools are broadly sought out, especially by low-income families who feel left behind by their government run school. They also provide Read More ›

Jackson, Mississippi, USA downtown Cityscape
Jackson, Mississippi, USA downtown cityscape at the capitol.
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Magnolia State Has Opportunity to Soar to the Top

Empower Mississippi, a nonprofit advocacy organization with a focus on education and employability, is helping elevate the state of Mississippi’s education standards. Their emphasis is on freedom and choice, paramount to transforming the education system. Elyse Marcellino, the Vice President of Empower Mississippi writes: “All in all, Mississippians have more opportunities than ever to find the educational program, services, staff, curriculum, and environment their children need.” This is due to their concerted effort on promoting choice in both private and public education. There are more than 4,500 students enrolled in a school choice program in the state of Mississippi and the numbers are increasing due to the passage of new legislation. As Marcellino notes, “after four years of inaction by Read More ›

Over Regulation concept
3D illustration of
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Education Must Be Run Locally

The word education does not occur in the U.S. Constitution—a clear indication that the federal government has no business meddling with education policy. Furthermore, though often ignored, the Tenth Amendment clearly limits the scope of federal power: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Listening to the current crop of presidential candidates, however, one would draw the conclusion that the federal government, and not the states, bear the primary educational responsibility.  In addition, one notes that 70% of the participants attended private schools or sent their own kids to private schools even as they fight against school choice for Read More ›

cockpit Flight Deck sunset
airplane cockpit Flight Deck in sunset
Licensed from Adobe Stock

The Cockpits of our Economy

In 1952, the United States Air Force came to a realization. Even though good pilots were flying even better fighter jets, they could not figure out why split second decisions were lagging. Pilots were blamed, the technology was blamed, and flight instructors were blamed. The source of the problem though, was the cockpit. They found that that every cockpit was built for the “average” pilot, yet when each pilot was measured, there was no such thing as an average sized pilot.   Director of Harvard’s Mind, Brain, and Education program, Todd Rose, likens the state of our education system to that of United States Air Force fighter pilots. In his 2013 speech for TEDx “The Myth of the Average”, he Read More ›

follow the leader
Licensed from Adobe Stock

We Will Tell You How to be Innovative

A recent EducationWeek article, provocatively titled “These Shop Teachers Told Their Students to Form a Union,” focuses on Aviation High School in Long Island, New York, where students were encouraged to create a classroom much like the workplace of a union. Teachers José Vaz and Antonio Pepenella mention that students have more control over their education. This includes students electing officers (including foremen and a union representative) who are in charge of enforcing the class contract and ensuring student rights are protected and mediating conflicts between their classmates. Although a novel concept, which allows children out of their seats and away from the Pythagorean theorem, the approach is actually anti-innovation in that it builds a follow-the-leader mentality. At the core Read More ›

The idiom or the figure of speech “look for a needle in a haystack” is used to describe something elusive in a large space or a sisyphean task. Magnifying glass on the needle is isolated on white
The idiom or the figure of speech “look for a needle in a haystack” is used to describe something elusive in a large space or a sisyphean task. Magnifying glass on the needle is isolated on white
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Needle in a Haystack: School Innovation

According to Chelsea White of the Christensen Institute, there’s a dearth of information about innovation in schools across the country. In short, the “innovations schools are pursuing never makes it beyond the district office—and when it does, it’s not reliably or consistently documented, shared, or promoted.” In a project they call the Canopy, the institute is doing something about that. As stated in A VIEW FROM THE CANOPY: Building Collective Knowledge on School Innovation, “The Canopy is a collaborative effort to surface a more diverse set of innovative schools, and develop an index of approaches linked to student-centered learning.”  Encouragingly, they found that traditional public schools which represents 67% of their dataset are “work[ing] towards student-centered learning regardless of governance Read More ›

Lonely chair at the empty room
Lonely chair in the spot of light on black background at empty room
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Innovative Leadership: An Emptiness In Public Education

One of the largest cities in the country once applied corporate solutions to the public education problems. The time frame was 2003-2017, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg worked with Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, in bringing about a training academy for school principals, a concept we at ACTE have been promoting. The NYC Leadership Academy was in search of a change agent, an educational entrepreneur who thinks of doing school differently—a leader who is not satisfied with the status quo. With a limited supply of innovative leaders in public education, Bloomberg invited Jack Welch, former GE executive, to chair the Academy. Welch linked educational leadership to that of the corporate world: “We used to say in the Read More ›

Scholarship concept
Young man passes from a peak to another on a book. The concept of scholarship and
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Why Only One Type of School?

A fascinating new micro school has been making significant strides in Arizona. Prenda is like the Splenda of schooling. An alternative to the traditional government-run school. What’s different about this new method of schooling? For starters it is placed in the homes, offices, or studios of the coaches or mentors. This not only shifts the old classroom setting, desks lined up facing the front of the classroom. It also eliminates the need for specific degrees or credentials for those who are willing to connect with young people. There is a valid concern about the qualifications of those doing the teaching. Not everyone is qualified to teach. However, the elimination of certifications opens the door for very skilled workers in fields Read More ›

Law concept - Open law book with a wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or law enforcement office
Law concept - Open law book with a wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or law enforcement office. Copy space for text

Knowledge and Civics: A Guide to a Responsible Citizenry

In a recent article, Classroom Content: A Conservative Conundrum, Robert Pondiscio argues that conservatives have placed all their faith in school choice while retreating in the battle over curriculum in K-12 classrooms. He urges conservatives to stay engaged in this battleground and not abandon educational content to the Left. Using E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s 1987 landmark book, Cultural Literacy, as his main point of reference, he notes that Hirsch concluded that a “student’s ability to comprehend a text is largely determined by the student’s background knowledge.” That is, speakers and writers make assumptions about what readers and listeners know, and “rely on them to understand references and allusions, and to make correct assumptions about word meanings and context.” But Hirsch Read More ›