Category

Education Policy

NO SCHOOL
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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 ›

If at first you don't succeed
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Fix Graduation Requirements, Then Track Credentials

Graduation from high school is based on time. After 12-13 years of school, to receive a diploma a student needs to collect a certain number of credits (called Carnegie Units). A credit is generally based on having received a passing grade for one year of class time or 9,900 minutes of instruction (55 minutes x 180 days). What all of this says is that seat time, rather than real learning, is the primary measurement for meeting graduation requirements. As Don Nielsen expresses in another way, “in public education, measuring input is more important than measuring output.” The same can be seen in the industry-recognized credentials (non-degree or certifications) that students are earning. According to ExcelInEd, “nearly half of the 50 Read More ›

money cant solve it all
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Sometimes You Don’t Get what You Pay For

A scan of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), “the nations report card,” makes it clear that revenues have increased significantly from 1996 to 2016 (the most recent data compiled). However, has that changed the overall outcomes for our children’s education? The data suggest it has not. According to The Hill, “Six of the top 10 states that improved their average test scores on the NAEP the most were among the 11 states with the smallest funding growth.” As our program chair, Don Nielsen, writes in his book Every School, “Spending has grown at ten times the rate of enrollment. Thus, we are now spending almost three times more per child, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to educate our children than in 1970. Most Read More ›

Young woman with stack pile of books and piggy bank full of debt rethinking future career path
Student loan concept. Young woman with stack pile of books and piggy bank full of debt rethinking future career path
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Teachers Miffed About Pay

“I am a fool to do this job.” So states one teacher in the PDK Poll as reported by EducationWeek. The comment reflects the fact that teacher compensation is the number one complaint of the teachers polled.  In fact, of the 556 teachers polled, 55% of teachers said they would strike for higher compensation. As we reported on this issue previously, most of the angst comes from unfulfilled promises by strong arm teacher union politics.  Because of unions’ unrelenting support on seniority pay raises and lifetime job security, hundreds of new teachers and central office staff are laid off, class sizes increase, and after-school programs fail. This is bad for everyone, including taxpayers, new teachers who are in dire need Read More ›

Sad businessman looking down standing next to open dumspter with rain of dollars falling into it.
Sad businessman looking down standing next to open dumspter with rain of dollars falling into it. Waste money. Unprofitable project. Business failure.
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Real Solutions, Not Cash Infusions

As Max C. Eden aptly states (National Review, July 30, 2019) when it comes to education, “money matters, but not if it’s simply tossed into a dysfunctional district.” He cites a recent Johns Hopkins University study regarding the dreary conditions of public schools in Providence, R.I, despite the fact that Providence spends $17,192 per pupil every year. Spending has increased significantly for the American public education system—to almost three times more per child, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than in 1970. Eden also points out that “Although education spending took a hit during the Great Recession, it has been climbing steadily over the past five years and is at an all-time high in most states.” Switching to teacher pay (which Democratic presidential Read More ›

Buried alive but not broken
Hand coming out of ground as concept for never give up
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Transform Education from the Ground Up

“[L]et’s focus on what really matters. To my mind, that is, every student, every kid.” So states Stand Together CEO, Brian Hooks, in the “Yes Every Kid” initiative. “Yes Every Kid” is a social-welfare organization funded by The Koch Network. Koch runs the program under the umbrella of Stand Together, a non-profit organization also funded by Koch that works on anti-poverty efforts. The Koch brothers are tied to conservative political causes which to some places them outside the mainstream when it comes to K-12 education policies—especially the belief in smaller government and limiting the overreach of the Department of Education. However, the main focus of “Yes Every Kid” is toward “mov[ing] away from the ‘us versus them’ framing in K-12.” Read More ›

Help Wanted
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WANTED: New-fashioned Way of Producing Teachers

One article in a recent Education Week popped out of the page: “After Career Overhauling Ed. Schools, Levine to Step Down, Foundation head known for lambasting teacher training.” The article refers to Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, who will now remain at the foundation in a senior fellow role. The strong title is well deserved. Levine came to the position with the intention of either fixing the existing model of teacher preparation or “reinvent[ing] it.” He has been recognized for “spearhead[ing] several initiatives designed to improve the preparation of educators.” In 2006 he stated teacher-prep programs were “unruly and disordered, they’re treated as a cash cow by universities.” His views parallel those of Don Nielsen, Read More ›

Mom and daughter hands, outdoors
Mom and daughter hands, outdoors
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We Need Leaders and Parental Choice

Idaho Ed News recently published an article focusing on charter schools and leadership, highlighting two separate charter public schools’ experiences.  Devin Bodkin notes that “starting next year, Bingham Academy and Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center will no longer share a director or ‘head administrator.’ The schools will instead operate under separate leadership according to emails between the schools’ board chairs and the commission.” Bodkin states, “Blackfoot declared an “area of need” for the middle school principal position.” The hiring of the new principal, “coincides with a new law that relaxes hiring requirements for charter school administrators. Typically, a principal must hold a master’s degree. But Senate Bill 1058 allows Idaho’s charter schools to permanently bypass the normal hiring requirements for Read More ›

Broadcast
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Don Nielsen on the Education Gadfly Podcast

Don Nielsen, program director for the American Center for Transforming Education and author of Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education, appears on the Education Gadfly show to discuss “the feasibility of empowering school administrators, and whether it’s feasible in district schools.” Also discussed on the show is why Nielsen has crafted the new version of his book and how states can move forward with what he refers to as the “Game Plan.” Listen for yourself by clicking the audio below!

Grunge state of Washington flag map
Grunge state of Washington flag map isolated on a white background, U.S.A.
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Students and Parents Badly Hurt by the Legislature

The 2019 legislature missed out on a big opportunity this year. Instead of working to reform how our schools operate, the legislature took a step backwards by undoing much of the good work that was done in response to the McCleary court ruling just two years ago. In 2017, Democrats and Republicans approved a bi-partisan school funding bill, reforming state and local property taxes to ensure that the state met its constitutional obligation to fully fund K-12 education.  The law reduced inequities by capping local property taxes, so wealthy areas would not have an imbalanced benefit, by providing equitable state funding to all schools on a per-student basis. All parties, including Governor Inslee, lauded and moved forward with the agreement. Read More ›