Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Op-Ed: Need Education Reform to Move Missouri Forward

In today's Springfield News Leader, Joe Knodell, a retired superintendent and a consultant for the Missouri Education Reform Roundtable Foundation, spells out the need for education reform and gives praise to the big steps taken in this past legislative session. He feels the 2009 session will hopefully be the beginning of education reform ideas to become reality. Missouri falls behind the other states in several educational testing areas, and this evidence may be the reason legislators are finally trying to change.

The best indicator that the legislature is ready to act was the passage in the last session of Senate Bill 291. Among other things, the bill calls for a study on open enrollment by the Joint Committee on Education. SB 291 also included measures involving charter schools, teaching standards, transparency, virtual schools and a parents' bill of rights . All should move us in the right direction.

Sen. Rob Mayer of Dexter introduced a bill on open enrollment that received a considerable amount of support in the Senate. But senators decided to study the matter first and reconsider the matter next year. Sen. Mayer, who is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, should be commended for his forward thinking.

We live in a world where kids know more about technology than most adults and many teachers. We cannot continue to educate children the way we were educated years ago. We must use the technology that is available and encourage talented people to become teachers. A well- educated work force is the key to prosperity. Kudos to our legislators who grasp this fact.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Charter School Students in MO Doing Better than Others

A recent report done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Standford University found that Missouri charter schools are, on average, doing better than their peers at traditional public schools. From this national study, only 5 states show higher learning gains for charter school students, and Missouri is one of them.
Missouri charter schools are doing well and the children there are outperforming other students, yet we still only have charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City. It is reports like these that should force these restrictions to be lifted and allow charter schools to go state wide.
This results are posted in the Kansas City Star.

“The results in the CREDO report are clearly encouraging for Missouri charters, though there are areas for improvement,” said Aaron North, executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association.

“Charter schools are not an experiment or a passing trend. They educate 31 percent of all public school students in Kansas City and 26 percent in St. Louis.”

Charter schools are helping thousands of children throughout Missouri get a better education, what would happen if thousands more could???

Friday, June 12, 2009

Milwaukee School Choice Program Under Attack!

School choice gives parents and children the right to chose where they attend school. With so many failing public schools, it gives thousands of children a chance. In some cases, the public school may not be failing, but is not the right fit for that child. Children from more successful families may have the luxury of attending a private school. Sadly, not all children can afford the top of the line luxury schools. In Milwaukee, a hugely successful voucher program has granted thousands of lower income families rights to chose their schools. Unfortunately, now they want to cut the number of students that can have a choice. Where is the sense in that? A successful program where the kids are achieving an excellent education, laying the groundwork for the rest of their lives, and the state might decrease the children they allow to use it? It is not more expensive for a child to attend another school...the money follows the child, money that would have been at one school or another. Why would someone want to take this opportunity away from children???

Chicago Tribune: Milwaukee school choice numbers may drop

MADISON, Wis. - Assembly Democrats want to lower by 3,000 the number of students who can participate in the Milwaukee school choice program.

Democrats voted Thursday night in a closed door meeting to lower the cap on the program from 22,500 to 19,500 over the next two years. The current lid was agreed to in 2006 by Gov. Jim Doyle and Republican lawmakers.

But now Democrats, many of whom want to do away with the program, are in control of the Assembly.

Under school choice, students from low-income families can attend private schools at state expense.

The enrollment change was added to the state budget that will be debated by the Assembly on Friday. It must also pass the Senate and be signed by Doyle to become law.