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Charter Schools

New Orleans, defining public education anew — through choice

Brian Dassler, principal of the KIPP Renaissance High School in New Orleans, and David R. Colburn, who served as provost from UF from 2000 to 2005 and now runs the university’s Ruben Askew Institute on Politics and Society, note that states and school systems would do well to study the ingredients that lifted the city’s public schools. Central to that success, the pair argues: The school system “provided real choice to all families regardless of their financial means. What had been a luxury afforded only to higher-income families in the past is now available to every parent in the city.”

No Child Left Behind demands we employ every option for poor children

In his Washington Post commentary today on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is still offering a narrow definition of flexibility and an unnecessarily limited set of options to reduce the achievement gap. Duncan lauded the bipartisan support in Congress for “providing more flexibility to schools, districts and states,” but failed to mention the importance of providing more flexibility for teachers and parents.  We are over-regulating our classroom teachers and undermining their ability to innovative and be entrepreneurial.  Empowering teachers to create and manage their own schools will give them the same opportunities as...

Unions must fear lost membership more than lost teacher tenure

Rick Scott will be inaugurated as Florida’s 45th governor in just eight days, following one of the nation’s closest gubernatorial races, and it is worth reflecting on what drove the Florida Education Association to call it “the most important election of our lifetime.” Those who think efforts to reduce tenure and increase merit pay are what will break the unions are missing the most important business ingredient here – market share. FEA’s preferred candidate for governor, state CFO Alex Sink, lost by only 1.2 percentage points in a Republican landslide that saw the other four statewide Democrats lose by an average...

Tuthill on teacher empowerment: charter schools encourage teachers to start their own shop

Williams wants to introduce his own charter initiative in Alabama and asked Doug for advice on how he should proceed. Doug's reply: Don't let your opponents falsely claim that an expansion of schoool choice is an attack on public school teachers and public education.

Mr. Secretary, we don’t drown students in Florida

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan brings an intellectual heft and a genuine compassion to his job, which is why he can’t be excused for his duplicitous talk on learning options for poor children. That word, duplicitous, is unusually harsh. So please allow me to try to defend it with three of his own statements, made all within a 29-minute span, to a distinguished audience at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's National Summit on Education Reform in Washington earlier this month.

Brookings: Stop shortchanging charter schools

Our discourse over educational options for underprivileged children clearly has advanced when the Brookings Institution draws a conclusion that could also find a home at the conservative Heritage Foundation: “Charter schools are by definition schools of choice. The promise of education choice includes improving quality and efficiency through competition among schools, enhancing opportunity for students of low-income families who may otherwise be trapped in ineffective schools, and spurring innovation. But the promise of choice in public education is constrained by the quality and timeliness of information on school performance that is available to parents.”

One legend’s call to today’s civil rights leaders: Erase the lines we have drawn in the past

After listening recently to RiShawn Biddle's podcast calling on civil rights leaders to change their approach to education reform, I was reminded of an unpublished column written by one Florida legend in the civil rights movement, the Rev. H.K. Matthews. Matthews shared the piece with me and others after several civil rights groups last summer demanded that President Obama reconsider the core elements of his education agenda, which included the expansion of charter schools and the closure of consistently low-performing schools. These iconic groups, which included the NAACP and the Urban League, had good intentions in presenting their education policy framework, but Matthews found their arguments irrelevant today. Their call for equal opportunity, he wrote, was "limited by some familiar boundaries of generations past -- those of neighborhood and family income."

Klein is close, but his call for choices falls short

Outgoing New York schools chancellor Joel Klein is right to identify that low-income families deserve to have the best educational options available to them, but he frames the argument for school choice in a way that stops short of advocating for equal opportunities for our most disadvantaged families.