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Morning Shots

AB 1381: Scraps for the Children (Peter Ford, by way of Clark Baker)

I was recently asked about the ongoing battle between LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s bid to take over the LAUSD and the ensuing battle. My friend and career teacher Peter J. Ford III, who presently teaches in Inglewood, California, penned his analysis.

From the eyes of a classroom teacher, I view Mayor Villaraigosa’s (Mayor ‘V’) current setback of LAUSD control as little more than an extra element of entertainment to this humorous, yet insidious sideshow. When finally resolved, union bosses and politicians will win big but, as always, the children will be last in line – if they arrive at all.

This saga is only the latest chapter in the book of “use education as a stepping stone for your ambitions.” As a teacher, I’ve seen substitutes who were aspiring actors, choosing to teach while “in between jobs.” I’ve had colleagues who were simply waiting to get accepted into law or medical school and, after 2-3 years, were gone. I’ve had others who openly say (at least they were honest) they wanted to teach for 2-5 years then “go into policy.”

Assembly Bill (AB) 1381 is a façade that makes its writers and supporters feel good about themselves. Their self-congratulatory, “See, look what I did!” does nothing to help children. AB 1381 gives the mayor no authority to encourage and grow the pool of quality mathematics and science teachers LAUSD desperately needs in all schools, not just the urban ones.

The next time any politician demands “resources in the classroom,” ask him or her to quantify their statement; does it mean giving each teacher a full-time aide who actually teaches and maybe a $2000/year stipend to buy anything their classroom needs? Does it mean paying teachers for all

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Why We Need School Choice (Jamie Story)

Reality has set in.  Texas schools are trailing much of the United States, and United States schools are trailing the rest of the world.  Over the years, the “solution” offered for ailing schools has been an infusion of new resources.  Unfortunately, these “reforms” have done nothing to increase outcomes, and generations of students have suffered in the meantime.  We must find a true solution now.

School choice is the most effective and efficient means to improve student achievement.  It provides immediate help to students trapped in failing schools, while encouraging competition that leads to increased outcomes for all students, from public and private schools alike.  School choice is the most promising solution for our schools and our children.

Schools Must Improve

Texas students are being underserved by public schools.

  • Almost 40 percent of Texas students fail to graduate high school.1
  • 88 percent of Texas public schools are rated “Acceptable” or higher, but this designation only requires that 35 percent of students demonstrate proficiency in science, 40 percent in math, and 60 percent each in reading, writing, and social studies.2
  • Texas students exhibit the 3rd-lowest SAT scores and the 8th-lowest ACT scores among the 50 states, despite having below average participation rates on the two tests.3
  • Over the past ten years, SAT scores in Texas have increased by only one point, while the average for the rest of the country has increased by 18 points.4
  • Half of all students in Texas two-year colleges, and 40 percent of all college students statewide, require remedial coursework.5

Those favoring the status quo often boast that 4th and 8th-grade Texas students have recently outperformed the national average on several subjects of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  Unfortunately, besting the national average is hardly impressive, as the U.S. ranks near the bottom of industrialized countries in student achievement.7


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Their Cheating Hearts (Derrell Bradford)

Recent weeks have been witness to yet another investigative article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on the sad state of affairs that is the Camden Public Schools. The Inquirer, and its southern New Jersey competitor the Courier-Post, have done a pretty bang-up job chronicling the utter incompetence of the Keystone Cop Crew that masquerades as school leadership in Camden City; such a good job, in fact, that the slew of headlines is only topped by the simple understanding that Camden Public Schools just can’t stop screwing up.

The latest article focused on cheating. In New Jersey, there are other names for cheating, of course. When you spend more per urban student than just about any place in the country, you can’t crush student futures, or taxpayer expectations, with words like cheating. You develop subtler monikers like "adult interference," which was at the heart of Department of Education investigations into numerous schools in Camden this year–two of which were elementary schools that tested in the top six in the state in standardized test scores two years ago. With state monitors present the following year as a result of these unusually high scores, the schools, unfortunately, didn’t test in the top 600, with one of them watching its math scores plummet 77 points from 100% to 23% proficient. Notably, after the scores were released, the principals at these schools retired and now wait at home, collecting their pensions, fearing their names will appear on Edspresso.

Damn…that adult interference is pretty effective. Or as Yoda might say, "Powerful stuff, it is."

The cheating in Camden Public Schools, as it turns out, is not a new phenomenon. Teachers interviewed under cover of darkness by the Inquirer fessed up to doctoring grades, leaving prompts present in classrooms, and openly telling children to reconsider their

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