Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career.
Arthur Levine, former President of the Teachers College of Columbia University, has issued no-holds barred critiques of teacher training and school leadership training. This month Levine released an overview of researcher training in the nations colleges of education.
Senator Hillary Clinton recently unveiled a proposal for a new $10 billion federal program to offer preschool for all children. But, the Clinton plan is based on two flawed assumptions; first, that preschool is an essential component of all children's early education; second, that it's the federal government's responsibility to promote and manage it.
Since Arizona blazed the trail for tuition scholarship tax credits in 1997, Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have followed our example with programs of their own. More states will likely follow in the next few years.
This year the Arizona legislature is considering an improvement to the individual tax credit law that would allow taxpayers to contribute to scholarship organizations up to the April 15th tax filing deadline, similar to an Individual Retirement Account. Currently, a contributor must take action by December 31st.
Political commentators use the term "Dukakis in the Tank" as shorthand for a public relations effort that backfires. Arizona is in the midst of a home-grown version.
On August 15th, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) issued a press release proclaiming "Horne: Latest ACT College Entrance Exams are Further Proof that Arizona Students Perform Above the National Average."
Mickey Kaus of Slate.com covered a fascinating episode at the Democratic National Convention. In a standing room only event, Colorado State Senate President Peter Groff and reform minded Democratic mayors Adrian Fenty from Washington D.C. and Cory Booker from Newark took education unions to task.
Kaus described the event, writing (emphasis in the original):
Its round one in the battle over school vouchers for children with disabilities and children in foster care, programs signed into law last year by Governor Janet Napolitano.
While I'm more of a Robert Nozick guy, it is an interesting thought experiment to judge todays public schools against the principles of John Rawls, an enormously influential liberal political philosopher.
The Arizona Republic recently featured a two-part series on alleged financial improprieties of charter schools. Focusing on a small number of rogue schools leads one to wonder if the reporter's intent was to tar the entire charter school movement and invite a regulatory response.
Only a few years ago Indianapolis suffered from a 35 percent high school graduation rate. Mayor Bart Petersen took action, challenging the status quo by sponsoring and authorizing an array of charter schools.
"We are simply in an age where cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, 1950s style education just doesn't work for a lot of kids. The evidence is the dropout rate. The evidence is the number of at-risk kids who are failing at school," Petersen wrote.