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LGBTQ students need — and deserve — educational choice too

Sixteen-year-old Channing Smith of Tennessee killed himself after classmates circulated sexually explicit messages he exchanged with another boy. Fifteen-year-old Nigel Shelby of Alabama killed himself after peers bullied him over his sexual identity and school officials reportedly told him “being gay is a choice.” When 9-year-old James Myles of Colorado came out at his school, fellow students reportedly told...

Reminder: One measurement is not sufficient to judge entire K-12 system

Readers of Sean Reardon’s study on student learning gains between third and eighth grade should heed the advice from Douglas Adams’ classic sci-fi comedy novel “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: DON’T PANIC. Matt Ladner recently provided an excellent reason not to flip out: Florida’s long-term gains (such as high school and college graduation) are at or above the national...

The conscripted child as agent

“A child’s a plaything for an hour.”  -- English poet Mary Lamb, 1764-1847 The speech of Nazis and pornographers is properly protected by the First Amendment; the censor gets his licks only to curb obscenity and forms of “clear and present danger.” Here, I very briefly consider a different form of speech right, that right of the child not to speak....

A ‘Tiffany’ with 1,000 faces

Early in his recently published book, “How the Other Half Learns: Equality, Excellence, and the Battle Over School Choice,” Robert Pondiscio introduces the “Tiffany Test.” Pondiscio had answered the call to teach in a district school in the Bronx after a career in publishing. One of his students, Tiffany, was dutiful and organized, and as Robert relates, purposefully neglected by...

A third-grade conversation

Billy to his teacher: “Where do right and wrong come from?” Ms. Bland: “Well, it’s in our genes; we’re made that way.” Billy: “Then why do people do bad stuff?” Ms. Bland: “People are free to choose the wrong; even if they know what’s right, they don’t always do it.” Billy: “How did right and wrong get in our genes like that? Who...

Miss Virginia brings choice champion’s life to silver screen

The most rewarding aspect of working in the family empowerment movement, hands down, is the people you meet. One of my all-time favorites is Virginia Walden Ford. Walden Ford grew up in Little Rock, Ark., during the battle for school integration. Decades later, she led the fight for the Opportunity Scholarship Program in Washington, D.C. Now, her story has been...

archivED: Progressives have long supported vouchers, education choice

Editor's note: Each Saturday in October, redefinED will revive a post from our archives that speaks to the rich and sometimes surprising history of education choice in the United States. Today's post, which first appeared in 2012, is nevertheless still relevant, reminding us it’s impossible to stereotype families who use vouchers and tax credit scholarships.   Think school choice is solely a conservative...

School leaders to their communities: Are we communicating yet?

When it comes to connecting with the parents and communities they serve, many school leaders sound like Strother Martin in the movie “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” That’s the conclusion of nearly half of the 500 school leaders nationwide surveyed in the recently released “The State of K-12 Customer Experience 2019.” Conducted by K12 Insight,...

A school choice scholarship saved Elijah’s life – and allowed him to be who he is

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Every day, they cut him with slurs. Almost every day, they tried to block him from the boys’ locker room. For Elijah Robinson, a soft-spoken kid with mocha skin and almond eyes, the harassment at his high school was cruel punishment for his sexual identity. It started in ninth grade and continued through most of 10th. It...