GOP Governor Bobby Jindal defends anti-evolution education policy, but it costs his state millions in science-based business
It is time to acknowledge that the fashionable theory of school reform — requiring that pay and job security for teachers, principals and administrators depend on their students’ standardized test scores — is at best a well-intentioned mistake, and at worst nothing but a racket.
I mean that literally. Beverly Hall, the former superintendent of the Atlanta public schools, was indicted on racketeering charges Friday for an alleged cheating scheme that won her more than $500,000 in performance bonuses. Hall, who retired two years ago, is also accused of theft, conspiracy and making false statements. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Also facing criminal charges are 34 teachers and principals who allegedly participated in the cheating, which involved simply erasing students’ wrong answers on test papers and filling in the correct answers.
Here’s what 8th graders in Louisiana know, for sure, about the 1960s rabble-rousers better known as hippies (emphasis mine):
“They went to Canada or European countries to escape being drafted into military service. They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners. Rock music played an important part in the hippie movement and had great influence over the hippies. Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.”
How do they know it? Because their history textbook — “America: Land I Love” — told them so! Dirty hippie-gate is just one of many reasons the quality of the Louisiana school system’s voucher program has been called into question.
Eleven states have adopted tax-credit programs that encourage donations to private-school scholarship programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
None of those programs is like Georgia’s program.
Most states at least make an effort to ensure that tax-subsidized scholarships are limited to lower-income students who might otherwise be stuck in an underperforming public school. That’s the whole philosophy behind the program nationwide. States do not want the program to become a backdoor means of subsidizing private school tuition for those who can already afford it.
But Georgia law, by design, contains no such safeguard. It is against the law for the state to even ask how many of the scholarships are being awarded to lower-income students.
North Carolina could soon see a dramatic increase in the number of charter schools, with as many as 150 of the public-private hybrids opening across the state next year. But new research from Duke University suggests the charter school boom will result in greater racial imbalance in the state’s public education system — and that can have negative educational consequences for students. North Carolina limited the number of charter schools that could operate in the state to 100 until 2011. That’s when the General Assembly — with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction and embracing a school-choice agenda — lifted the cap.
What if the cure for cancer is trapped in the mind of someone who cannot afford an education?
I recently saw this bumper sticker on my way to a morning lecture at James Madison University’s Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI), a program that offers a wide range of classes for adults.
In the second year of Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s signature effort to improve public schools, nine of 12 jurisdictions that received $4 billion in federal grants made good progress. But three — the District, Maryland and Georgia — have stumbled, federal officials said.
“We have a lot of good news in this report and also some challenges,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Thursday.
The Education Department has been closely tracking the performance of the 12 states, praising those that are performing well while identifying others where problems have arisen.None of the grantees have been ordered to return federal funds, although Georgia has been moved into a “high risk” category.
As the nation works its way through the debate over vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public education funding, a quieter battle over homosexuality, religious education and school tax money is under way in Georgia.
At issue is an increasingly popular tax credit program that transforms state money into private school scholarships, some of them used at religious-based schools that prohibit gay, lesbian or bisexual students from attending. The policies at more than 100 such schools are explicit.
Like the Dew adds: Great credit goes to Steve Suitts and the Southern Education Foundation for revealing this outrage.
This is life in America now. Every decade or so, the country experiences the worst day in its history. The latest day of horror was last Friday, December 14, 2012. It’s a tough one to sort through. The news of the mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut only got worse with each new report from early afternoon on. Too much to take in. But it’s all you can think about. And you think it through over and over again and still you can’t imagine the pain of the families, especially the parents of the 20 murdered children. We’re not equipped to absorb that much pain.
… [A] close examination raises questions about the depth and durability of the [educational] gains in Florida [under Jeb Bush]. After the dramatic jump of the Bush years, Florida test scores edged up in 2009 and then dropped, with low-income students falling further behind. State data shows huge numbers of high school graduates still needing remedial help in math and reading. And some of the policies Bush now pushes, such as vouchers and mandatory online classes, have no clear links to the test-score bump in Florida. Bush has been particularly vigorous about promoting online education, urging states to adopt policies written with input from companies that stand to profit from expanded cyber-schooling.
Many of those companies also donate to Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which has raised $19 million in recent years to promote his agenda nationwide.