Category

Education Policy

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
Licensed from Adobe Stock

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 ›

frau liest kindern in der schule etwas vor
frau liest kindern in der schule etwas vor
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How to Maintain High-Quality Teachers

Don Nielsen underscores the critical role of teachers in his book, Every School: “Quality teaching yields quality learning for students.” The enormous influence of teachers on a range of student outcomes has become even more clear in the last decade—an influence only slightly less than that of parents. Yet with the extensive variability in teacher quality within schools, it’s not easy to provide students with access to high-quality teachers. So how do we produce and maintain high-quality teachers for public schools? Three issues are paramount: selection and preparation, placement and working conditions, and compensation for teachers.   As Nielsen argues, “Professionals in areas of law, medicine, engineering, etc., are carefully selected prior to being accepted into a college program. They Read More ›

Old used can of street football game and legs in sneakers.
Old used can of street football game. Legs of a young man in sneakers. Children's street games with a can on the road.
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We Cannot Continue to Kick the Education Can Down the Road

Earlier this year, I wrote on Florida’s major expansion of education vouchers. It is wonderful to see that this legislation made it across the finish line. It is even more powerful than one imagined because it allows for even more students to enter the program than what was earlier discussed. Originally, the Senate attempted to keep the eligibility requirement at the 260 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Now that number is up to 300 percent, allowing for more students to enter. Allowing “Up to 18,000 students [to] enroll in the program’s first year” is just the beginning as, “the number of students who can participate could rise in future years,” writes The Associated Press. Not only does this legislation Read More ›