The Bottom Line | Page 32

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 ›

Parents checking children homework
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Parents’ Imperative Responsibility

Government action is not going to rectify our failing educational system. Instead of throwing more money at schools, especially intercity schools, it is essential to have more family action within education. There needs to be a return of parental responsibility in schools. The idea that kids are failing in intercity schools simply because of bad teachers is untrue. Many intercity teachers are doing a marvelous job even in a broken educational system. “America 2000”, signed into law in 1994 and a product of a 1989 educational summit held by the late President George H.W. Bush and chaired by soon-to-be President Bill Clinton, reinforced the importance of a child’s parents in the educational process. The report stated that “Today’s young Americans Read More ›

Wide view of the boise capital building
Boise capital building shot with fisheye then corrected or distortion.
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Money Should Follow the Students

As reported by IdahoEdNews.org the Idaho state legislature has been grappling with vacating the 25-year-old education funding formula in Idaho. Originally crafted in the House by Representative Clow, the 59-page draft was an excellent starting point for changing the funding system. However, the House bill has effectively been killed due to the omission of a couple minor edits that some felt were necessary. Now the scene has shifted to the Senate. The two funding-formula bills have “a lot more commonality” than differences, Senator Mortimer stated when hearing the news about the House action taken. The bill introduced in the Senate would vacate the old funding model (an antiquated method of funding K-12 schools solely based on attendance or seat time) Read More ›

Flags Fly Night Falls Austin Texas Capital Building Motion
Flags blow in the wind after night falls on the state capital grounds in Austin
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Inputs vs Outputs

Sadly, K-12 education all too often focuses on measuring inputs rather than measuring outputs. However, Texas may soon change this archetype.  A new proposal in Texas’s state legislature shifts the focus to rewarding school districts with stronger outcomes. In an article on Education Week, staff writer Daarel Burnette II states, “Texas is proposing to, in effect, flip that model on its head by spending more money on districts that meet certain state standards and less money on those that don’t.”  Discovery Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education is attentive to education developments in Texas, as the state’s desire to improve education makes them a good candidate for implementing many of the other education reforms we recommend. As Don Nielsen points Read More ›

the-flag-of-florida-blowing-against-palm-trees-in-soft-gray-sky-stockpack-adobe-stock
The flag of Florida blowing against palm trees in soft gray sky
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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 three components of this bill, if passed, will begin the transformation process of Florida’s schools. A lot more needs to be done, but this is a wonderful beginning.  The beneficiaries will be the children of Florida.

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 ›

angelina-litvin-32188-unsplash
Pencil sharpener and pencil on line paper
Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

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 ›

happy-teacher-and-schoolgirl-giving-high-five-during-class-at-school-stockpack-adobe-stock
Happy teacher and schoolgirl giving high five during class at school.
Photo by Drazen on Adobe Stock

Quality Teaching Yields Quality Learning for Students

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. 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 ›