In the News – September 10, 2012

In this edition of In the News: 

Democrats vs. Republicans on Education

Republican Education Platform 2012 Emphasizes School Choice, Teacher Accountability
Huffington Post – August 29, 2012
The GOP education platform advocates providing broad education choices to parents and children at the state and local level — whether through charter schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits. The party also advocates an emphasis on STEM subjects, merit pay for teachers, and proper implementation of technology in the classroom to facilitate learning.

Democratic Platform Hails Common Core, Praises Teachers
Education Week – September 4, 2012
In its official platform, the Democratic Party challenges and encourages states to raise their standards so students graduate ready for college or career. Democrats also say they will provide states and communities with the flexibility and resources they need to improve K-12 education. The platform gives teachers significant recognition and praise, but it also refers to the need for carefully crafted teacher evaluation systems.

When It Comes To Education, Two Peas In A Pod?
NPR – September 6, 2012
While President Obama and Governor Romney don’t agree on everything to do with education, they both are big fans of charter schools, and they both want to see teacher evaluation reformed and revamped, although they have different ideas about exactly how to do that.

Course Choice

New Louisiana “Course Choice” Program Upends Public School Model to Offer Personalized Classes
Associated Press – September 8, 2012
Louisiana is the first state in the nation to offer course choice. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, public school students can take classes outside their school from course providers approved by BESE. The tuition for these courses will be paid by local school districts from their MFP funds. Supporters say the program will help students get college credit, advanced placement courses, and technical training. Critics say the law has too few protections to ensure the courses are legitimate and that the money is well spent.

Maginnis: Louisiana Vouchers Pale Compared to Course Choice
LA Politics Weekly – August 29, 2012
Louisiana’s School Choice Bill wasn’t all about vouchers. It also allowed for course choice. John Maginnis believes, if administered properly, the course choice program could give students greater access to learning, or it could be the biggest boondoggle and raid yet on public education funds.

Impact of School Choice

The Impact of Charter Schools on Public and Private School Enrollment
Education Gadfly – August 28, 2012
A recent analysis from the Cato Institute showed that charter schools are having a major impact on private school enrollment, taking approximately 190,000 students from private schools between 2000 and 2008. Urban charter schools in states with strong charter laws draw more of their enrollment from private schools than those in states with weak laws.

Vouchers – Darwin = ??
Education Gadfly – August 30, 2012
The Education Gadfly says we shouldn’t worry too much about voucher schools that may teach Intelligent Design. The Gadfly says Louisiana has the right idea that schools, be they charter or voucher, should be free to operate as they see fit (within the bounds of health-and-safety) so long as they are accountable for their students’ performance as verified by state assessments. Accountability is about outcomes, not inputs, practices, staffing, or even curriculum.

Latest Research and Analysis

Report: Evaluate Teachers on Test Scores
The Advocate – September 7, 2012
According to a report from the Manhattan Institute on teacher evaluations, a job evaluation that is linked to student achievement is a solid indicator of how effective teachers will be in the future. Louisiana will implement a new teacher evaluation system this year, with half of each teacher’s review based on the growth of student test scores and the other half tied to classroom observations.

Kick-Starting Reform: Three City-Based Organizations Showing How to Transform Public Education
Education Gadfly – September 6, 2012
New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) is one of three organizations profiled in this national report from the CEE-Trust. The report offers insight into how NSNO, The Mind Trust (Indianapolis), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit) each leveraged funding and resources and attracted talent to their cities.

Is Grit Enough?
Education Gadfly – September 6, 2012
In his new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough looks at the research on why some children succeed while others fail and concludes that there are a number of variables that determine a child’s success in school and in life. For example, the emotional stress of poverty can block a child’s ability to learn, but this can be countered by nurturing in the early years. In addition, traits, such as perseverance, optimism and grit, are often a better indicator of success, and these can be taught and improved, even into adulthood.

Maintenance of Inefficiency
Education Gadfly – September 6, 2012
A new study, called Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education, identifies school districts that get similar (or superior) results for special-education students, yet do so at significantly lower cost than their peer districts.

New School Year Brings More Cuts in State Funding for Schools
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – September 4, 2012
According to this analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 35 states are providing less education funding per student than they did five years ago. The cuts have forced local districts to eliminate 328,000 jobs nationally since 2008. 

Local News

Closer Eye on Testing: Editorial
Times-Picayune – August 30, 2012
The Times-Picayune says the Orleans Parish School Board needs to hold Moton Charter School accountable for cheating on high-stakes tests. OPSB also needs to keep a sharp eye out for cheating elsewhere and come up with plans for making cheating on state tests more difficult.

Recovery School District Considers Uses for $1.7 Million Windfall
Times-Picayune – September 6, 2012
The RSD recently discovered an extra $1.7 million in student activity funds available for New Orleans schools. After Katrina, many schools closed by the state or transformed into charter schools had student activity money left in their bank accounts, money that had been raised at concession stands or bake sales or other events. The law says that any district with student activity funds from closed schools has to form a five-member committee and deliberate in public meetings on how to dole out the cash.