The Bottom Line | Page 22

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Florida is Taking Education Head On

A crucial education bill is brewing in the Florida Senate. As noted by Emily L. Mahoney in the Tampa Bay Times, the Senate intends to have the policy “filed as one, large package bill by the first week of the legislative session, which [began] March 5.” The bill is significant because it provides a framework for how to reform K-12 education to achieve greater effectiveness. Three key highlights outlined in the article are of great interest to Discovery: The Family Empowerment Scholarship creates a new school voucher intended to reduce the list of low-income children awaiting the existing tax credit scholarships. However, to make vouchers work, there needs to be excess capacity in the school system. In other words, high-quality Read More ›

first day at school. mother leads little child school girl in first grade
first day at school. mother leads a little child school girl in first grade
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Parental Choice

The American Center for Transforming Education believes the education of the child is a fundamental responsibility of the family. Although parental choice in education is widely available to those with financial resources, poorer families are left behind. School choice will allow all families to fulfill their responsibility as parents, regardless of socioeconomic status, by choosing the school that best meets their children’s needs. Empowering parents strengthens both schools and communities. However, school choice currently only applies  to a small percentage of students, as noted above. Don Nielsen, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute, points out that “innovation and creativity are much more likely to occur in a charter school than in a traditional public school…until we are able to deregulate our public Read More ›

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Pencil sharpener and pencil on line paper
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What We Do: Transforming Our Schools

Here at the Discovery Institute’s, American Center for Transforming Education (ACTE) we focus on system change rather than focusing on improving the present system.  We do that because, for decades we have tried dozens, if not hundreds, of reform ideas without any material improvement in student outcomes. We have also tried to improve schools by dramatically increasing the amount of money we spend on education.   Again, the results have not been forthcoming.  Basically, we have learned that reforming a failed system yields a reformed failed system.  We have also learned that putting more money into a failed system simply gives you a more expensive failed system.      The current system is obsolete and no matter how much we tweak it Read More ›

Quality Teaching Yields Quality Learning for Students

The only shortage facing the U.S. in education is quality According to the Bellwether Education Partners report there is no “national, generic teaching shortage.” Instead, authors Kaitlin Pennington McVey and Justin Trinidad, suggest that “Shortage rates are highest in schools serving low-income students and students of color and in subject areas that include mathematics, science and special education.” Students cannot learn from teachers who don’t know their subjects. This is especially true in math and science. Unfortunately, the current school system creates great teachers only by accident, not by design. This reminds us of the Norm R. Augustine statement before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science: “About two-thirds of the students studying chemistry and physics in U.S. high schools are taught by Read More ›

large group of kinds in kindergarten class
Group of happy boys and girls in kindergarten holding color cardboard shapes and looking at camera
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Washington is a Great Example of What Not to Do With Education Funding

After dumping almost another $1 billion into funding for education, why do the local school districts in Washington State keep needing more money? House Bill 2242, passed in 2017, effectively ended the drawn out McCleary decision.  The bill authorized the state to raise local property taxes to increase school funding and called for a reduction of levy funding to make the funding for property-poor districts more equitable.  The property tax increase went into effect last year and the levy reduction goes into effect this year.  Thus, for one year, property-rich districts had a windfall of funding since they received the new property tax revenues and retained their levy funding. Knowing that districts had excess funds for one year, a number of new contracts were Read More ›

Technology Must Revolutionize Learning

Technology spurs innovation. Innovation improves education. Instead of the teacher being the only source of knowledge in the classroom, students have access to the Internet which fosters student achievement. Here’s why: Learning does not start and end in the classroom, but continues throughout the day as students have access to their teachers’ lesson online, tutoring online, collaboration with other students, and the ability to reach other teachers across the entire world. There is, however, a significant issue stifling the advancement of technology in the classroom: the lack of training. As Don Nielsen states in his book, Every School, “Usually what they [teachers] need is to be trained on what new technology to use and how to use it. Unfortunately, most Read More ›

Leadership vs Unions

Teacher unions always focus on the needs of their members, not the needs of children. A case in point is the recent strike in Denver. Teachers were out marching for an increase in their pay while students were being used as pawns. An article in Edweek.org states  “The average teacher salary in Denver, which includes incentives, is $62,095. That’s well above the national average teacher salary, which is $55,100, according to federal data.” What is more disconcerting than the statement above, was the announcement made by the teachers’ union president, Henry Roman, “We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed Read More ›

One Size Fits All Should Fall

Enough squabbling has been done on whether or not the current education system works for every child.   New flash, it doesn’t!  Today, about 25% of our students drop out before graduation and another 45% graduate with insufficient learning to qualify them for community college, and in many cases, insufficient learning to qualify to enter the military.   Hardly what one would consider an effective education system.  Education, particularly K-12 education is meant to prepare a young person to be able to pursue their dreams—whatever they may be.   It could be college, a certificate program in a community college, a trade like welding, coding, electrical, becoming a mechanic or a hairdresser.  Perhaps, its music or the theater; it doesn’t matter what interests Read More ›

Grades Have to Go

Letter grades should be left in the past. In an article on Edweek.org, author Madeline Will argues for the importance of removing letter grades from the classroom. She articulates that “The traditional A-F system doesn’t inspire students to learn for the sake of learning. Grades are too heavily based on nonacademic factors, like punctuality and compliance. They stress some students out and cause others—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to give up.” At the heart of the problem is a resistance to innovation: “[T]he traditional grading system is entrenched in America’s schools, and educators who experiment with grades have faced pushback from administrators, teachers, parents, and students themselves. And many school districts are not logistically set up for making radical grading changes, Read More ›

A Quest for a More Purposeful Education

The Center welcomes a new program coordinator, Bailey Takacs The American Center for Transforming Education (ACTE) is pleased to introduce our newest staff member. Bailey Takacs has multiple years of experience in increasingly responsible roles at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In his most recent position, Bailey managed a campaign for State Representative Paul Graves. His experience is escalated by his Bachelor’s degree, earned from Pacific Lutheran University, with a major in Politics and Government and a minor in Philosophy. Having been a product of public education in Washington State, Bailey has had firsthand experiences with the challenges facing the existing public school system. His experience aligns with that of Don Nielsen, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, Read More ›