Home » school choice

The Miseducation of CNN (And Bernie Sanders)

A question posed to Bernie Sanders at last night’s Ohio democratic debate was a missed opportunity to powerfully educate the public about charter schools.  Typically, information is power, but when the information is bad, all we have is mush.  Following is Sanders’ exchange with the questioner and Roland Martin, a well-informed media commentator with a passion for education: (with some of my own commentary sprinkled in)

MARTIN:  Since I have a brother and two sisters who are teachers, and one who is a teacher’s aide, let’s go to a teacher.  We have Caitlyn Dunn, she helps lead a charter school here in Columbus, Ohio.  She did Teach for America and saw the inequities in our school system, and she says she is undecided.  So, you got a shot.  Go for it.

DUNN:  Thank you so much for taking my question.  An article was released in the Columbus Dispatch Friday announcing the schools producing top student gains from around the state of Ohio.  Of these, one-third of those schools producing these results were charters right here in Columbus, Ohio.  So, knowing this, and also having similar narratives from across the country, do you think that charter schools are a viable way to educate children in low-income communities, or do you think that you would continue, as President, giving money to traditional public schools?

During this time, apparently CNN’s Teleprompter was miscued by an ill-informed editor, because rather than abbreviate the question correctly, CNN produced this bastardized version, suggesting that charters were not public schools.


Adding insult to injury, Mr. Sanders seemed to create a new class of charter schools, one that does

Read More …


Editorial: For D.C., reauthorizing school choice is the right choice

March 14, 2016
The Washington Post

IN THEIR zeal to kill off the federally funded scholarship program for poor D.C. students, opponents have peddled the fiction that Congress foisted the program on an unwilling city. In fact, the program was backed enthusiastically by then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and a key D.C. Council member, and parent demand for scholarships far outstrips supply. So let’s hope that a letter from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and a majority of the council urging continued funding for the program finally puts the myth to rest and helps allow more students to benefit from the program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides needy students with vouchers to attend private schools of their choice, is up for reauthorization. As has happened before with all-too-depressing frequency since the scholarships were established in 2004, the program is under attack from unions and other opponents. If Congress fails to act, the city will also lose out on millions of dollars that go to its traditional and charter public schools as part of the three-sector federal funding deal.

The very real danger of the District losing $150 million in federal funds over five years apparently finally sunk in with members of the council. Three members who previously had urged that the program be killed joined Ms. Bowser and five other members, including council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), in a March 7 letter to congressional leaders in support of the Scholarships for Opportunities and Results (SOAR) Act. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) in a statement called the support of the mayor and council “an important boost” in the effort to get reauthorization to the president’s desk.

We hope so. Mr. Ryan is right that “when we

Read More …

Senator Scott Presses Acting Education Secretary King on DC Vouchers

Today at the Senate HELP Committee hearing on the nomination of Dr. John B. King Jr. for US Education Secretary, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), an ardent supporter of school choice, asked King about expanding DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP), as DC students and families watched.

Here’s the exchange between King and Scott:

SCOTT:  One area that we may have to agree to disagree on is the DC OSP. I know there are parents and students in the audience who have a very passionate position, as I do, on the importance of the DC OSP.

Especially when you look at your commitment to equity and excellence, and the fact that we have a classic example here in Washington DC of a process and a program that has produced numbers and success in a way that’s inconsistent with other schools.

I believe the graduation rate of DC OSP students is around 90%. Other schools in DC are around 62%, some going as low as 38%. The cost per pupil for the DC OSP is somewhere around $9,000-12,000, and for other DC schools it’s over $18,000. So you get about a 50% better graduation rate, and 88% of those students go on to a two-year or four-year college experience.

It seems to me that the administration, and you as Secretary, should take a second look at that program, and look for ways to integrate it and to use to carry over money of $35 million dollars to fund more scholarships. And quite frankly this is not just my perspective but a bipartisan perspective. You look at the support of Senators like Ron Johnson (R-WI) as well as Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) who all have the same opinion of the DC OSP.

What can we do to move the

Read More …


The Education Issue We Should Debate This Election Year: School Choice

The Common Core controversy is mostly forgotten. But traditional public schools are still shortchanging many children.

by Jason Riley
Wall Street Journal
February 16, 2016

Education has not been the election-year issue for Republicans that some expected last summer, when the presidential race was getting started and conservatives’ denunciation of the Common Core standards was all the rage. “Common Core might be the most important issue in the 2016 Republican presidential race,” declared the Washington Post in July. Fortunately, that hasn’t occurred.

The national reading and math standards, adopted by 43 states at the urging of the Obama administration, were seen as a kind of litmus test for GOP candidates. Republican primary voters, it was predicted, would not abide someone who favored more federal control over K-12 schooling. So far, however, Common Core hasn’t been much of a factor.

Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, who opposed the initiative (after first backing it), are out of the race. So are Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two staunch opponents of Common Core. John Kasich and Jeb Bush, who support national standards, are still around. Donald Trump is anti-Common Core, but that hardly explains his large lead in national polling.

Supporters of Common Core operate on the assumption that national standards are essential to lifting academic performance. But there is scant evidence that a new benchmark will produce better outcomes. Studies that compare state standards and test scores show zero correlation between high-quality standards and high performance. Putting quality teachers in the classroom would go a lot further than uniform standards toward improving test scores.

The bigger problem with even the modest attention given to Common Core in the campaign is that it detracts from the much more important discussion about school choice. Jeb Bush spends time defending Common Core that would

Read More …

National Lawmakers Championing Choice

Today, we celebrate national lawmakers like Rep. Luke Messer and Sen. Tim Scott who understand the importance of creating education opportunities for children, especially those who need it most.

They are champions of DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), which has proven powerful in improving education for low-income children in the nation’s capital for over a decade. The average annual income for families who receive opportunity scholarships is less than $22,000, and approximately 98 percent of DCOSP students live in zoned neighborhood schools designated as in need of improvement. More than 90 percent of DCOSP participants graduate from their schools of choice – a much higher rate than DC’s traditional public schools (by at least 30 percent!) – and 88 percent go on to enroll in two or four year higher education institutions.

DC opportunity scholarship Save opportunity

More than 16,000 families have applied to the program since its inception. Data reveals that parents are both highly satisfied with their school of choice as well as the progress their children are making.

However, despite efforts to reauthorize the program in October 2015, the DCOSP was left out of the FY 2016 Omnibus Bill, creating uncertainty for these students most in need of educational attainment and options.

Take action here to ask Congress to make sure the DCOSP continues to be a vital lifeline for students.

This is one of a series of posts highlighting numerous diverse opportunities from towns to nations for National School Choice Week 2016.


State of the States: How Do Our Governors Stack Up on Education?

Governors all over the country are in the midst of delivering their State of the State addresses, laying out their reflections on the last year and where they plan to go this year. What better time than during National School Choice Week for reformers to compare and challenge – what’s your chief executive’s record compared to when he or she ran for office and what have they done?

CER’s Educationfifty.com offers analysis on where governors stand on three core edreform tenets: 1) strong charter school laws, 2) meaningful school choice, and 3) strong teacher quality efforts, providing information to help you gauge whether they are acting on their original commitments, today.

From Boston, Mass. where there is a major cap lift going on and a governor that’s been true to his promises, to Tennessee where progress toward full vouchers for the most needy is finally on a positive path and holds hope for that governor’s initial promises, it’s important to not just know but highlight how state chief executives are doing in ensuring innovation thrives in our schools.

With states our laboratories for change, it’s a critical time just one month into the new year to take stock.

Here’s a list of State of the State addresses that have already occurred, and whether or not education reform was addressed (Click on a state’s name to be taken to full Education50 analysis):

Gov. Walker’s State of the State address touched on the need to ensure high-quality educators for Alaska’s children.

Gov. Ducey, in his State of the State address, discussed philanthropic foundations that are investing into the state education system and his intent to partner with them to expand opportunities for low-income children (and to further arts and sciences programs).

Gov. Brown’s State of

Read More …


Feelin’ 22

I dunno about you, but we’re feelin’ 22!

Yesterday CER officially turned 22, marking over two decades of advocating for choice, accountability, and Parent Power. While we’re proud of what the #edreform movement has accomplished, it’s time to ramp up the pace at which students have access to choices. Across America, only about five percent of all school-aged children are taking advantage of great educational opportunities.

YOU can help edreform grow more opportunities for children in its 22nd year and beyond in a variety of ways like donating or selecting CER as your charitable organization of choice when you shop on Amazon through AmazonSmile. Thank you for your support over the years, and together, we will continue to change the conditions of education today and push for policies that increase #ParentPower.

Hear what our friends and partners in education reform have to say about CER’s work here!


FROM THE DESK OF… Jeanne Allen, Senior Fellow: Recommendations on the GOP Presidential Debate

In the hands of some very seasoned campaign advisors, most presidential candidates take a safe approach to debates. With a relatively short time to get your talking points out, numerous issues to cover and lots of competitors working hard to hog the stage, they are advised to stay focused. But the measure of a candidate is what they do – and say – when programming is impossible. Who these people are and how they’d do as our president is best measured by dealing with issues that every one of us can relate to, the most communal of issues. That’s why I’m hoping that the candidates find opportunities across every issue to demonstrate their understanding that education is the great equalizer, and its connection to the economy and our international competitiveness, our peace, our safety at home and abroad is all connected to how well we educate our youth and our adults. Education is a big field, of course, so I’ll be looking for the guy or gal who is able to talk about education in the context of the most important current events we face today in improving and revolutionizing our schools. In my book, the candidate who touches well on the following three most important themes will win my vote.

Number One: Celebrate charter schools

Charter schools provide choice and diversity to parents and teachers, and challenge the status quo to do better. They are held accountable by performance contracts and in states where charters are largely independent from state and local bureaucracies they thrive. Charter schools are the reason we talk about standards today, have performance pay and teacher quality on the table and have closed some achievement gaps. Charters have helped breathe new life into cities like Washington, D.C. and New Orleans (just two out of

Read More …


Answering the call…

The nation will never forget watching the levees break, the fear and pain on the faces of the people trapped, the destruction, countless lives lost too soon. Ten years ago to the date, a storm, an act of God, broke down almost every system and structure that was supposed to keep the great people of New Orleans safe.

There is no question that those systems and structures were severely flawed and broken before the storm. But one in particular – the traditional public schools – literally had tens of thousands of students falling through the cracks. Before the storm, every effort to bring substantive reform to education was fought and defeated by special interests. At the time, CER was intricately involved with the dozen or so folks locally trying to bring about substantive change.

When news of Hurricane Katrina hit, we were all glued to our televisions in horror, outraged that Americans were suffering because of it. There’s a lot of speculation as to the reasons why – flawed government, brutally failed efforts to evacuate – the list goes on.

On August 29, 2005 I made a phone call. What about the hundreds of families of the dozen or so charter schools we personally knew and worked with – were they safe? Dr. James (Jim) Geiser, the former director of Louisiana Charter School Association, now Senior Program Consultant at University of Georgia, answered the call!

Jim and several charter leaders and families made it to Baton Rouge. If my memory serves me right, a charter operator in Louisiana’s state capital gave them refuge.

I’ll never forget Jim’s words, “It’s all gone… You can’t even imagine the destruction. We’re desperately trying to find students and their families to make sure they are safe.”

I could hear the pain in his voice while he was multitasking to

Read More …


Growing and Sustaining Catholic Schools: Lessons From Philly

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.13.55 PMAccording to a new report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will have happy news to share with Pope Francis when he comes to visit in September.

Across the United States, Catholic schools have been suffering declining enrollment, but Faith in the Future has announced that the Philadelphia system of Catholic schools are now projecting growth in the number of students they serve. Additionally, the high school system, previously in deficit, is now reporting a surplus in funds, which are being reinvested back into the schools themselves.

While Pennsylvania Catholic schools have also generally benefited from the state’s two tax credit scholarship programs, which allow parents who might not otherwise be able to afford to send their kids to Catholic schools to choose that option. While public policy solutions are important to keep on the table, as they could have a huge impact on the ability of the religious school sector as a whole to remain solvent, Catholic school leaders can’t wait for the next governor to make school choice his or her priority; the crisis is real and now.

In 2011, The Center for Education Reform issued a policy alert taking a critical look at the issues facing struggling Catholic schools, suggesting that the future success of Catholic schools will be tied directly to the ability of Catholic school leaders to integrate faith missions with business skills, and embracing the kinds of changes taking place in the education marketplace at large.

And indeed, the Faith in the Future report notes part of the reason for significant progress has been “reinforcing business process in pursuit of a new growth strategy.”

Acknowledging that it is still early, Faith in the Future believes they are

Read More …

Page 1 of 1012345...10...Last »

Edspresso Lounge

Edspresso Archive

Education Blogs