The Constitution is quite clear: The federal government should have limited power over the states.
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A new report shows students who took advantage of Milwaukee’s school voucher program had a high school graduation rate 12 points higher than the public schools in that city posted. That works out to be 18 percent better than the city school’s 65 percent grad rate.
The report says that over 3,000 more students would have graduated from public schools if they had matched the voucher students’ performance.
Aside from the obvious social benefits, the research indicates that higher rate could have generated an additional $21.2 million in personal income and $3.6 million in extra tax revenue if it had actually occurred.
Furthermore, while Milwaukee pays $6,442 per pupil for each voucher, that is less than half the $14,011 spent in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Thus, “bang for the buck” from the voucher program is astronomical.
The Kentucky Freedom Digest is a publication that has been circulating in a small circle for a few months now. Recently the Digest launched a great new website. The site contains information, updates, an event calendar, links to liberty minded organizations, and many other tools for the true liberty movement in Kentucky.
This site is a great resource, stop on by and take a look!
The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that charter school students in the city increased test scores by nearly 7 points last year on Indiana’s standardized test, called Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus. In contrast, students in regular public elementary schools in Marion County only improved by 1.5 points and the county’s high school students actually had a slight score decline.
The news report also expresses concerns about the fiscal condition of the charter schools, which, ironically, is largely due to tardy payments from the Indiana state government.
Meanwhile, don’t expect such good news in Kentucky. We don’t even allow charter schools.
Before getting into this, I want to make it clear that I am keeping an open mind on the new ‘Common Core’ education standards that Kentucky just adopted – especially because so far we’ve only seen drafts. More work is still expected before the final version releases, perhaps in April.
But, I can’t help noting that others are neither so cautious, nor confident. Heat is starting to come from a fairly broad spectrum of viewpoints.
Today, Education Week reports (subscription?) that two critical reports have just been issued on the Common Core standards.
One study comes from the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research in Massachusetts and the Pacific Research Institute. It is written by Ze’ev Wurman, who helped write California’s math standards, and by Sandra Stotsky, who helped with the very excellent and highly regarded education standards in Massachusetts. Both authors spent a lot of time in the trenches of the standards issue. Their comments should not be idly dismissed even though those comments are obviously based on a recent draft of the Common Core Standards rather than the final, still to be delivered, version.
The second report comes from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Texas is one of the two states that refused to join the Common Core initiative. Some of the findings in the news release from the TEA say the Common Core Standards don’t include the following, which are in the Texas standards now:
• Analyze works of literature for what they suggest about the historical period and cultural context in which they were written;
• Use effective reading strategies to determine a written work’s purpose and intended audience;
• Identify and analyze the audience, purpose, and message of an informative or persuasive text;
• Geometric reasoning that makes connections between geometry, statistics and probabilities;
• Connecting mathematics to the study of other disciplines by using appropriate mathematical models in the natural, physical and social sciences.
The National School Boards Association also has chimed in, raising questions about what it sees as excessive federal pressure to adopt Common Core or something similar. Is Kentucky selling its rights as a state to the feds?
Again, I retain an open mind on the Common Core Standards, and I am hopeful they will be a good improvement on Kentucky’s past, very disjointed and overly broad education policy. Certainly, some very credible groups like the College Board and ACT, Incorporated have been involved.
But, we also need to keep our eyes open. Rushing into these particular standards before they are even finalized may not be a wise move.
We’ve commented already on the big scandal in Pennsylvania where a school district allegedly used special software in loaner computers to spy on students at home.
The software in question allowed remote access of the laptops’ webcams, and, perhaps, internal microphones, as well.
Now, it turns out the same sort of software was loaded in over 2,000 computers issued to students in McCracken County schools (subscription).
Paducah Sun reporter Bill Bartleman reports that the school district is removing the software, but even that process raises questions. The district is doing that by remote control, as well. Clearly, if the district can remove the software on its own – remotely – then it probably can install something else remotely, on its own, as well.
The existence of such software places tremendous responsibilities – and temptations – on the IT department in a school district. How would anyone know if a rogue IT person decided to do a little recreational snooping, say maybe on the laptop of the school prom queen?
For that matter, with schools loaning computers to teachers, it might be that cute young teacher just out of college who is getting some unwanted attention, too.
Or, if school loaners went to local board members, maybe they have been getting a little unauthorized monitoring just to see how they plan to vote on some pending issue.
In any event, the ‘snoopware’ issue in Pennsylvania may be a problem elsewhere – like right here in Kentucky.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what, if any, laws were violated and how this all plays out in general.
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