Education Reform

Red School House
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Schools Fundamentally Unchanged Since 1918

“All parents should be able to know what their children are learning, and for those paying attention in the coming weeks, the virus offers a chance for them to do just that.” So concludes Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy’s Institute at The Heritage Foundation in his recent essay on social distancing and parents witnessing their children’s education. Butcher’s points about parents’ need to understand what their children are learning and the opportunity afforded by this period of Coronavirus response are well taken. Tough times can spur educational innovation. Now is the time for a complete reassessment regarding how we educate—and the students have to come first. Someone once said, “If Rip Van Winkle had Read More ›

Path way
Path way of Hope and Success The light is on the destination.
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Mississippi Misfortunes and Where to Rebuild

The Magnolia state has had its fair share of woes. Coming in near the bottom of the barrel in education standings, the highest poverty rate in the United States, the lowest labor participation rate (56% to be exact), and one of the lowest median incomes, coming in at $23,121. This is just to name a few. Yet there is hope. My visit to the capitol of Mississippi this past week leads me to believe that in education, we may be on the cusp of a new era of meaningful reform. For example, we have seen a recent uptick in fourth grade reading scores, where Mississippi improved its position from forty-ninth in 2013 to twenty-ninth in 2019 based on National Assessment Read More ›

Group of paper plane in one direction and with one individual pointing in the different way. Business concept for new ideas creativity and innovative solution.
Group of paper plane in one direction and with one individual pointing in the different way. Business concept for new ideas creativity and innovative solution.
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Is Reform Achievable?

Dale Chu, senior visiting fellow of the Fordham Institute (an education reform think tank) writes, “the dour forecast [on big education reform ideas] is good reason for reformers to fight even harder in the 2020s and to search for a new path forward.” Given Chu’s conclusion, new transformative measures are required to propel our educational system to new heights. Simply put, what we are doing is not working. That is not to say that some pieces of reform haven’t been successful, such as the charter school movement and the accessibility of more choice in education. However, continuing down the path we are on will provide us another dreary decade. What America needs is one state to step up and lead Read More ›

Woman walking over the edge of the cliff on seaside without looking
Woman walking off of a cliff with the eyes covered
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Progressivism Fails to Clear the Gap

A recent report, The Secret Shame, shows the deleterious effects of progressive policies on education outcomes of minorities. The report concludes that the top 12 progressive cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Detroit have larger educational achievement gaps between whites and minorities than the top 12 conservative cities, such as Fort Worth, Anaheim, Virginia Beach, and Oklahoma City. Specifically, “progressive cities, on average, have achievement gaps in math and reading that are 15 and 13 percentage points higher than in conservative cities.” To determine the progressive and conservative cities, the report relied on independent political scientists Chris Tausanovitch and Christopher Warshaw who “pooled data from seven large surveys of U.S. public opinion to rank the nation’s biggest Read More ›

Do something different advice on napkin
Do something different advice - handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffee
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We are Failing Our Children

In 1983, the famous report, “A Nation at Risk” concluded that our country was failing to effectively educate our children. The authors were so critical of our schools that the preamble of the report summarized their findings by saying that; “if an unfriendly foreign power had imposed our schools upon us, we would have considered it an act of war.” That was 1983. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush held an education summit, called “Goals 2000.” Bill Clinton was the chair of that summit. After days of deliberation, another report was issued stating that, “by 2000, all children will enter school ready to learn and 90% of our children will graduate from high school.” Many other goals were listed, none Read More ›

Jackson, Mississippi, USA downtown Cityscape
Jackson, Mississippi, USA downtown cityscape at the capitol.
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Magnolia State Has Opportunity to Soar to the Top

Empower Mississippi, a nonprofit advocacy organization with a focus on education and employability, is helping elevate the state of Mississippi’s education standards. Their emphasis is on freedom and choice, paramount to transforming the education system. Elyse Marcellino, the Vice President of Empower Mississippi writes: “All in all, Mississippians have more opportunities than ever to find the educational program, services, staff, curriculum, and environment their children need.” This is due to their concerted effort on promoting choice in both private and public education. There are more than 4,500 students enrolled in a school choice program in the state of Mississippi and the numbers are increasing due to the passage of new legislation. As Marcellino notes, “after four years of inaction by Read More ›

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 ›

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 ›

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 ›

What if question on napkin
What if question - handwriting on napkin with a yellow cup of espresso coffee against rustic wood
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The Status Quo is Failing

“So why does a guy who seemingly did ok in the academic world think there should be more alternative routes through high school? That’s simple: to give a voice to the millions who in the rear view mirror were marginalized and to advocate for the millions ahead who will benefit by an opening of paths that hold academic integrity and which meet the realities of today.” – John M. McLaughlin in The Appeal of Alternative Education. In other words, education should provide a preparation for life for all children, not just those in the traditional public schools.  This is why we must transform our public education system. ACTE program chair, Don Nielsen, summarizes the broad objectives of education in his Read More ›