The Bottom Line

cockpit Flight Deck sunset
airplane cockpit Flight Deck in sunset
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 ›

Father and son at home
Boy hiding behind the back bad test result.
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Nation’s Report Card Shows Decline

The National Assessment of Educational Progress sent home a disappointing report card for our nation’s students. According to the NAEP announcement on October 30th, “Average reading scores for the nation in 2019 were lower for students in both fourth and eighth grade than in 2017, while average mathematics scores were higher by 1 point for fourth graders and lower by 1 point for eighth graders.” It gets worse: “In mathematics and reading for both grades, a little more than one-third of students nationally scored at or above the NAEP Proficient level in 2019.” Not all was lost however. Fortunately two states, Idaho and Mississippi (who we at the ACTE work closely with) bucked the trend and showed upward trajectory. As Read More ›

Protesting demonstration holding signs in Barcelona
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Back to Betraying Children

When lightning strikes, typically the surface it strikes is the underdog. Well, the same is to be said when teacher unions’ strike. In Chicago, the teachers strike and the surface they hit are the children. Chicago has the third largest public school system in the United States and its teachers went on strike for salary increases (15 percent to be exact), enforceable caps on class sizes, and a written commitment for more nurses, social workers, and librarians. They also struck for more affordable housing, which is far outside the parameters of collective bargaining on a teacher’s contract. But hey, why limit yourself to educational issues? Even more of a head scratcher? The mayor, Lori Lightfoot, a progressive Democrat, had put Read More ›

NO SCHOOL
Hand drawing text
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Warren’s Plan to Ban Effective Schools

Democrat presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, seeks to ruin education if elected president. In a recent announcement she pledges to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on traditional public schools while stripping any federal funding of new charter PUBLIC schools. This is coming from someone who has previously strongly supported public charter schools. Is it possible that she’s not aware that charter schools are, in-fact, public? Like other public schools, charter schools are open to all students, tuition free, publicly funded, staffed by certified teachers, and held accountable to state and national standards. The big difference between traditional public schools and charter public schools is that charter schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. This accountability is “traded” Read More ›

boarding
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Mandatory Busing Has Never Been Resolved

The customer of a school is the parent. Not the child. Nor a labor union. Nor the government. That’s the focus of David Armor’s CATO Institute policy analysis, “The Problems with Economic Integration and Controlled Choice.” Economic integration refers to a top down policy to equalize the proportion of low-income students in each school within a district. The idea of “controlled choice” is “a method of assigning students to schools by giving parents some degree of “choice” among the public schools in their district.” However, “choice” is a misnomer. The policy is more about control than choice. Armor states that the plans are “more like race-based mandatory busing.” Proponents of the economic integration models argue that there is evidence that Read More ›