Newswire: January 29, 2013
Vol. 15, No. 4
SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK. From coast to coast, tens of thousands have cast a net and joined the call to celebrate “school choice,” the term that encompasses the opportunity for parents to make a wide array of choices in pursuit of the best fit for education, for their own child. What a concept. In no other industry is the case for freedom and opportunity so controversial as education, but that is changing, thanks to those who conceived National School Choice Week and those who move mountains to create those opportunities every day. Here’s just a smattering of those voices from among countless Twitter feeds. It’s a great sight. Do a search on Twitter for #schoolchoice or @schoolchoicewk and you’ll be astounded how many and how smart the tweets are. Yes there are cranky, antagonistic and oppositional ones, too, but of course, those are from the interest groups who choice threatens. Their days of complaining are numbered.
STATE OF THE STATES One by one they step up to the plate, address their respective assemblies, and talk of their plans for the year. Often they are ambitious, sometimes guarded, and almost always politically crafted not to offend. Welcome to the season of state of the states. Lest you think watching reruns of West Wing or the latest season of The Bachelor is a good thing, you might want to consider tuning into your Gov’s annual address to see what’s in store for you — or if he/she is bold enough to be out there on education reform. Governors are key to advancing school choice and education reform. That’s why we score them annually and watch for their walk to match their talk. You should too. Here are some quotes and a couple of examples from recent addresses, and our take on what we heard:
JAN BREWER, Arizona, Jan 14 – Thumbs Up.
“We’ve already injected competition into our education system, and Arizona’s growing charter school sector has produced several of the top-performing models in the nation.”
SCOTT WALKER, Wisconsin, Jan 15 – Thumbs Up.
“Part of the long-term strategy to develop our workforce is to continue to transform education in our state. The reforms we enacted over the past two years saved school districts hundreds of millions of dollars and allowed each district to hire based on merit and pay based on performance….Going forward, our educational efforts must be focused on performance…in our budget, we will lay out plans to provide a financial incentive for high-performing and rapidly improving schools. We want to reward and replicate success—all across the state.”
MIKE BEEBE, Arkansas, Jan 15 – Thumbs Down.
“We’ve come from consistently settling among the bottom few states in the nation…We’re now sixth: the highest ranking our state has ever seen.” (Ahem – not on achievement, on Ed Week inputs!) “While this ranking is unprecedented…it does not signal an end to our work…we still lag behind much of the country in the results that system produces. We will tackle this issue through more than increased student funding…My office is working …to push more of that funding into active efforts to help our students.”
NATHAN DEAL, Georgia, Jan 17 – Platitudes. No Thumbs.
“Let’s talk about our earliest learners, who build upon what they learn today for the rest of their lives. We have an outstanding pre-K program.”
JAY NIXON, Missouri, Jan 28 – No Reform, No Thumbs.
“Of course, with increased funding, come higher expectations. We expect better test scores, better graduation rates, more college degrees and more Missourians ready to compete for the best jobs in a global economy. We’ve all got to do better, and that means everybody: students and teachers; parents and principals; coaches and college presidents. Increased funding means increased accountability.’
More to come…and more news is available daily here.
Happy School Choice Week! Be sure to thank a legislator that helped give your kids a choice and write those who haven’t – yet.