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Customization

school choice

Teacher-led micro schools, ESAs create opportunity in Native American education

I had the opportunity recently to visit a new, small private school on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. The school illustrates an education trend that is providing a new avenue for addressing America’s largest achievement gap. The United States has done very poorly by Native Americans, including but hardly limited to K-12 education. Starting in the late 19th century, a group of “Indian Schools” was established. Authorities forcibly separated families and attempted to forcibly assimilate students, even beating them for speaking their native language. In addition to being barbaric and illiberal, these and other federal efforts have left...
microschool

Ron Clark Academy: We have to give teachers more freedom

I recently had the opportunity to visit Ron Clark Academy, where I got “slide certified” and my mind was blown. I’ve been to many outstanding schools over the last two decades, but I’ve never seen a school with the energy to match RCA. RCA is a micro-school in Atlanta where 75 percent of the students receive aid from Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program. A private school covering grades 5-8, RCA plans to include fourth-graders next year. The enthusiasm of the kids and the staff is off the charts, as you can see in this video. Two young ladies in sixth...

revisitED – Jeb Bush: Information is power for low-income parents

Editor’s note: Today, redefinED continues to review pieces published previously on school accountability. This post, which originally appeared in June 2016, features former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in an interview conducted by a student who attended school on a tax credit scholarship. All parents should have access to "consumer reports" on schools in their area — public or private, magnet or charter — and be able to choose among them. Once their children are enrolled in a school, they should get meaningful updates on how well they're doing. It might seem simple, but for too many parents, that's not how the school system works,...

How public education can learn from the health care reform debate

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis caused an uproar recently when he commented that all publicly-funded K-12 education services are part of public education. He was speaking about a proposed new education voucher program that, if it becomes law, will give low-income and working-class families public funds to help pay for private school tuition and fees. The assertion that education vouchers are part of a devious scheme to dismantle and privatize public education is undermined if publicly-funded vouchers are part of the public education system. Hence, the strong political backlash from education choice opponents to the governor’s statement. My hometown paper, the...
demographics

Arizona nudges past Florida in teacher pay as both states turn Japanese

Living out in a distant and pleasant patch of cactus, I noticed this week that Arizona overtook Florida in average teacher pay in the latest National Education Association report. ZONA! ZOZA! ZON … oh, wait. Neither state is near the top. The Florida news report on the NEA numbers contained the typical demands for additional state funding, but there is more going on here than state priorities. Looking ahead, none of this is going to get easier as Florida turns Japanese – in other words, one of the oldest countries in the world. At some point this year, Florida’s elderly...

revisitED: Customization can lead to eliminating school grades and better accountability

The state of Florida’s latest annual report on the performance of students receiving tax credit scholarships contained these facts: 22.9 percent of scholarship students came from public schools rated “D” or “F” in the prior school year, while 30.3 percent of came from public schools rated “A” or “B.” School grades are intended to inform parents about the effectiveness of district and charter schools, but tax credit scholarship parents aren’t impressed. Apparently, most of these low-income and working-class parents are using other means to determine which schools will work best for their children. I was skeptical when Florida first started grading...
family empowerment scholarship

Landmark education bill on path for passage this legislative session

A bill that would allow teachers and students to focus on mastery of grade-level skills rather than grades unanimously cleared the Senate Education Committee Tuesday. Filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg), SB 226 would expand an existing “competency-based” pilot program to any school district that wants to participate. The program allows students to earn credits based on mastery of content and skills regardless of how much time they spend in the classroom. A similar bill already has cleared one subcommittee in the House chamber. Pinellas, Palm Beach and Seminole County school districts, as well as the University of Florida’s P.K. Yonge Development Research School,...

Put her in charge or it’s game over, man!

The American film classic Aliens features a group of futuristic Marines who bite off more than they can chew when a distant colony they’re exploring turns out to be a lair of deadly space monsters. Private Hudson, played by the late, great Bill Paxton, melts down in a panic. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley reminds him that a young girl they had rescued, Newt, had survived for weeks on the space station with no weapons and no training, prompting Hudson’s memorable question: “Why don’t you put her in charge?” Well, why not indeed? As the film continues, it becomes increasingly clear that...