Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Is School Choice Not Good for All?

Recently Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, stated that President- elect Barack Obama has "every right to make a decision that works for their family" when asked if he and wife Michelle should send their children to public schools.   

Why is this typically not the message we hear from the teachers unions when referring to the average American family?  Doesn't the average family deserve school choice as much as the Obamas?  Shouldn't they have the right to make decisions that work best for their family?    

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alternative Teacher Certification

A recent Education Next study by Paul Peterson  confirms what many education reformers have suspected for awhile: genuine alternative teacher certification processes improves education. The study shows that more minority teachers are hired and student learning is more rapid in states that have genuine alternative teacher certification processes.

From a common sense perspective this seems obvious to me.  Why make it difficult for someone who has worked in a field for a number of years to teach that subject?  I would rather my child learn from someone who has practical experience in a field of study or work rather than someone who has only studied the theories on the subject in a classroom.  I am sure that lessons in classroom management and lesson planning are needed for professionals wishing to become teachers.  But in many cases these people have managed and trained employees in the same field so teaching students should not be much of  a stretch for them.  



Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Choice and Competition is the Answer

Janese Heavin at Classnotes posted recently about school board members in Columbia, MO acknowledging something many of us who follow education have known for a long time - Missouri's public schools are failing minorities.  This is not just a Kansas City or St. Louis problem as the link in the previous sentence shows.  

It is refreshing to see members of the Columbia Public School Board acknowledge the district's shortcomings.  Hopefully they will take appropriate actions.  One action they should take to to press state officials for more choices in their community.  The addition of charter schools to Columbia would be a great first step in that direction.  Currently, charter schools are only allowed in St. Louis and Kansas City.  While the charter schools would not be under the Board's control, the new competition will press the traditional public schools to improve. The innovations being used in charters can also be good examples for teachers in the public school system.    

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Walking the Walk

This press release from the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation is just one more example of moving a child from a bad school to a good school working.  TTEF gives scholarships to children in St. Louis Public Schools to go to private schools.  According to this release 1,100 children benefit annually from TTEF scholarships.

I would hope the anti school choice advocates take note of the Sinquefield's contribution to helping these children get into schools where they are receiving a good education.  A Harvard study, also noted in the release, has demonstrated students progressing more than a grade level past their peers in reading and math after transitioning schools.  Mr. and Mrs. Sinquefiled are clearly walking the walk and backing up their advocacy by donating to TTEF.  Real examples of the lives of real children being positively changed.  I invite the anti education reform movement to show where they are helping children in SLPS in such a monumental way by maintaining the status quo.       

Friday, November 7, 2008

Preach What You Practice!

I thought this OpEd was an appropriate follow up to the election results.  It is ironic that many elected officials, both nationally and locally, oppose school choice but yet send their kids to private schools.  Why shouldn't poor families have choice also?  It is frustrating to hear school choice opponents say that these programs only help the rich and high performing students.  Many choice programs are specifically aimed at children with special needs or in low income families.  

When a business is not providing a quality service at a good price you take your business, and dollars, elsewhere.  Why should it not be the same option with schooling?  I look forward to the day when more elected officials will practice what they preach (or in this case preach what they practice) and support more school choice for children.   

Monday, November 3, 2008

Presidential Election 2008

Tomorrow Americans will go to the polls to elect the next President of the United States, as well as vote on many state and local candidates and issues.  Voting is the great equalizer in our country. Our votes count the same as Warren Buffett's, Bill Gates' or President Bush's.  Voting is blind to color, gender and ethnicity.  The ballot does not know if you are young or old or rich or poor.  

Both of the presidential candidates in this election, John McCain and Barack Obama have outlined their plans for education on the web and in speeches across the country.  Unfortunately, education has been far overshadowed in this election as an issue by the ecomomy and the wars and should have received much more coverage and investigation.  I watched all three debates and the only question on education was at the end of the last debate.  

No matter what your background is, I hope you will strongly consider education reform as a top issue when you go to cast your ballot.  America is lagging behind many other developed countries in K-12 education. This trend has to stop!

Tomorrow I will vote for the candidates, Presidential and statewide, that I think will do the most for education reform in our country and the state where I live.  This includes candidates who support expanding education choice and greater accountability for teachers, administrators and policy makers.  I hope everyone else does the same.