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School Choice Caucus Meeting

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Choice is something that we often take for granted until it is taken away. On some days, the biggest choices we make are what we’re making for lunch or whether we’re going to the gym, on other days, we make choices that can influence the rest of our lives. Parents’ choices not only influence their own lives but also the lives of their children, and that is exactly what the parents who spoke at the Congressional School Choice Caucus meeting on March 25th were fighting for: their ability to make the best possible choices for their children.

The meeting was hosted by Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN), founder and chair of the Congressional School Choice Caucus, and featured parents of children who participate in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The goal of the caucus is to “expand educational freedom and promote policies that increase high-quality education options for all children.” The four parents who spoke at the meeting highlighted their own experiences with OSP and how it has positively impacted their children. Each parent shared their unique story, but the one common thread throughout the entire meeting was the value of their choice. Parents know how different each of their children are, so why should there be only one system that is perfectly suited to them? Education is not one size fits all.

Congressman Messer stressed his belief that every child should have the opportunity to walk into a classroom where they have a chance to learn, and that is exactly what each one of the parents in attendance wanted for their children. A mother of two who lives in Maryland said, “I wish that I didn’t have to ‘shop’ for schools. But I do and I will, because that is what’s necessary for my children.” Both of her children

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March Madness in York, Pennsylvania

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The term “March Madness’ often evokes thoughts of Cinderella storied basketball teams that beat the odds to make a successful run at glory, along with shining moments that completely change the dynamic felt by all the players involved.

But these principles can easily be applied to the developments of New Hope Academy in York, PA, when a recent school board meeting provided a moment more shocking than when the 14th seed Mercer upset number 2 Duke.

In what can only be described as a gutless move, the York County School Board motioned for police to escort New Hope performing arts director Cal Weary out, after refusing to acknowledge Weary because he apparently didn’t sign in to be recognized. So naturally, this somehow warranted police intervention.

“What I would have said to them is this — we are all part of the same community. All we want is fair representation,” Weary said following the meeting. “We’re asking for a seat at the table.” There’s a certain sadness to the silencing of the only side of the table calling for compromise and dialogue.

After refusing to hear from New Hope supporters throughout the meeting, Board member Margie Orr also refused to hear from students, claiming the Board is solely accountable to “taxpayers.” The revealing mindset that school officials aren’t accountable to the students they serve is nothing short of astonishing and appalling.

Since last year, New Hope has been embroiled in a fight to keep its school doors open in the face of local adversity, all the while boasting achievement data that shows remarkable gains posted by students coming from the traditional school setting.

The courts of Pennsylvania will now decide New Hope’s fate, and hopefully there’s room for one more Cinderella Story to beat the odds and show that they belong. New Hope

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The new, new SAT – Path to Obscurity?

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The College Board has once again made changes to the SAT, reducing writing and vocabulary expectations that negatively affect the exam’s rigor. The latest installment in the over two decade-long struggle to implement what always appear to be well-intentioned modifications, is nothing short of the SAT’s battle to avoid obscurity.

This is just another instance when student outcomes are not the impetus behind changes. And each change has brought about more confusion, and frankly, lower expectations being set for our children. Who could forget the “contentless writing” debates of 2005.

Lagging test scores on the SAT were no different in 2001 than they are today. The real issue at stake is whether or not children are learning and whether we’ve set expectations so low (eliminating “obscure words”) for them that they themselves are on a path to obscurity.

Kara Kerwin
President, The Center for Education Reform

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