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>

What would happen if we deposited all a child’s K-12 education dollars into an account parents control? A new report from Arizona’s Goldwater Institute discusses just such a system as it unfurls in their state. Report author and Goldwater’s Education Director Jonathan Butcher joins School Reform News Managing Editor Joy Pullmann to discuss education savings accounts. He says the U.S. education system is heading towards more personalization and family freedom.

When the Goldwater Institute recently recruited attorney candidates from out of state, I was able to use a lure I never would have thought possible: Arizona has the best public schools in the country.

For the second time in a decade, Arizona’s teachers union is trying to block children with special needs from getting the best education they can find. After kicking children with special needs and foster children out of Arizona’s opportunity scholarship program three years ago, the union is now trying to rob these children of their education savings accounts.

Contact: Rob Kramer, (602) 633-8961

A revolutionary school choice program in Arizona known as “education savings accounts” is expanding educational options in unprecedented ways for families whose children’s needs have not been met by traditional public schools. Meanwhile, legislators in Florida, Utah, and Iowa have considered enacting the program in their states.

“From the moment we entrust a package to an overnight delivery service, sophisticated technology tracks its every move. We can go on line the next morning and watch its progress toward the final destination. If something goes wrong, we know in an instant’"and can take immediate steps to address the problem.

There's an interesting phenomenon taking place at a west Phoenix elementary school.

It's called the Pride Program, and it's giving sixth-graders challenging courses in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

School administrators are implementing the back-to-basics program to lure students to Cartwright Elementary, which has lost more than 1,200 students to area charter and private schools. Martha Garcia, president of the school's governing board, says the school is "offering so much more now than before that we can attract some of those students we lost."

Roughly 350 Tombstone students have been waiting more than a year to move from their historic, but crowded, 83-year-old high school into their new school. The new Tombstone High School remains closed indefinitely because, as school superintendent J. Ronald Hennings admits, "We just can't get kids to it."

Even after spending $7 million, and going $600,000 over budget, Tombstone school and district officials still need one more thing: a new road that leads to the school. And, of course, lots more money to build it.

According to a recent poll most Arizonans support school choice. There was no funny business in this poll. Prepared for the Alliance for School Choice, the poll asked if respondents supported or opposed school vouchers, and explained vouchers in plain language: vouchers are funded by the government, private organizations, or by some combination of both, and provide money to parents to select which public or private schools they would like their children to attend.

A resounding 62 percent supported vouchers, only 30 percent opposed them.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics yesterday released its annual report, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. So what do the indicators indicate?

Despite the media attention such reports garner, isolated indicators give little meaningful information.

Teacher quality matters, enormously. Dr. William Sanders, the leading researcher in the field of value-added assessment, explains, "Race, socioeconomic level, class size, and classroom heterogeneity are poor predictors of student academic growth. Rather, the effectiveness of the teacher is the major determinant of student academic progress."

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