Education Reform

Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career.

<p>Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career. </p>

Pacific Research Institute scholars Lance Izumi, Vicki Murray, and Rachel Chaney offer an alarming wake-up call for parents in their new book Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice.

The authors tell a troubling story about the quality of public schools in California's middle class communities. Too many students at these schools are not grade-level proficient in English. Too many of these students are not grade-level proficient in math. And too many of these students are not ready for college-level work.

The Education Next article Can Catholic Schools Be Saved? asks the provocative question: Will charter schools finish off inner city Catholic private schools? The author cites a RAND Corporation study that found private schools in Michigan lose one student for every three students charter schools gain.

The patience of the Arizona taxpayer is not infinite. Voters sent a clear message last week in school bond and budget override elections, defeating 22 such measures while passing only 11. Some of those passed were by very narrow margins. Some of the budget overrides that were defeated had been in place for decades.

There has already been a steady stream of news stories about districts struggling to deal with a new fiscal reality. This situation reminds me that the Chinese use the same symbol for crisis and opportunity.

The Constitution of the United States established what form of government?­ Which wall was President Reagan referring to when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"?

These questions were part of a 60-question test of civic literacy administered to college freshmen and seniors at 50 American colleges and universities. The test (available at www.isi.org) covered American history, government, international relations and economics.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us reach way back in our memory banks to recall those old grade school lessons about the Pilgrims. Many of us were taught that the Pilgrims prospered once Squanto taught them North American horticulture, but theres more to the story. For some years, the Pilgrims continued to suffer from famine. It turns out it was of their own making.

The Pilgrims practiced communism. They shared and shared alike, farming together on community property. They starved and starved alike, too.

Democrats for Education Reform is a new group that is making a big splash. On November 19, the group held an event in which U.S. Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) stressed the importance of parental choice and innovation in education. Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, supports both charter schools and tax credits for middle-class families.

U.S. News and World Report just published its annual ranking of the top 100 public high schools in America.

Arizona punches above its weight on this list. Arizona has less than two percent of the nations K-12 students but has three schools on the list: University High School in Tucson, Basis Tucson and Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff. University High is a magnet school and Basis and Northland both are charter schools. Congratulations to all three.

I recently testified on minority overrepresentation in special education before the United States Civil Rights Commission. Education Week reported that the hearing expanded into a three-hour discussion that touched on parental choice, school officials judgment calls on special education placements, and effective early-childhood education.

Economists define “structural unemployment” as job openings going unfilled amidst a sea of unqualified applicants. That is in part what we’re seeing today. A McKinsey Institute survey found that 40 percent of firms have had job openings for six months or more that they can’t fill. Others estimate that America’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate would be 8 percent—12 percent lower—if such jobs could be filled.
 

Pop quiz: what institution has 460 employees making over $100,000 per year, 38 of whom received raises of $10,000 or more between 2008 and 2010? Maricopa County residents should know, they paid for it—and now they are paying even more.

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