Tuesday, June 06, 2017

New Buckeye Institute Report: ESAs Would Meet Ohio’s Unique Educational Needs

On Wednesday, The Buckeye Institute released its latest report, Education Savings Accounts: Expanding Education Options for Ohio, by Greg R. Lawson and Lindsey Burke. This timely new research assesses the benefits of educational savings accounts (ESAs) and calls on Ohio policymakers to adopt this innovative tool, which gives parents the ability to pay for the education services that best meet their child’s individual needs, rather than being forced to use a one-size-fits-all model.

“The ESA concept builds upon Ohio’s successes with a variety of scholarship programs such as EdChoice and will ensure that Ohio’s children receive the education they deserve,” said Lawson. “It also provides additional incentives that propel Ohio’s educational system forward from a 20th Century model into one nimble enough to meet the demands of the 21st Century.”

In the report, Lawson and Burke outline precisely how ESAs would enable parents to customize their child’s education to meet his or her unique needs. For example, ESAs would allow parents to pay not only for private schools, but also allow them to use any remaining money in the account to pay for additional educational items such as textbooks, tutors, enroll students in online classes, or even save money for college.

“To enhance choices for families, infuse innovation into the K-12 sector, and ensure that education opportunities are as unique as the children they teach, Ohio should establish a universal ESA option that maximizes flexibility, accommodation, and parent-driven accountability, Lawson and Burke said in the report. “Ohio students deserve access to the best educational opportunities. Empowering all families to customize their children’s education through ESAs builds upon Ohio’s existing school choice options to ensure that every child has instruction suited to their individual needs.”

In the report, Burke and Lawson suggest two potential funding mechanisms for ESAs.

One option is funding an ESA program much like the state funds charter schools. The state could place 90 percent of the full per-pupil amount ($6,000) into an ESA account and send the remaining 10 percent to the student’s originally assigned school district in order to defray a portion of the district’s fixed costs.

A second option would deposit only the actual amount that the district would have received from the state into a student’s ESA account. As Burke and Lawson note, though, while this mechanism might be easier to implement, it would also create less predictable ESA contributions.

In their conclusion, Lawson and Burke find that ESAs would ensure that every child has instruction more suited to his or her individual needs and would empower parents to make and afford educational choices for their children that meet those needs.

Lawson is the research fellow at The Buckeye Institute and served for five years on the boards of two Columbus-based charter schools. Burke is the director of the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation and the Will Skillman fellow in education policy. She is also a fellow at EdChoice.


Some hires by DeVos contrast with her reputation

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has filled her administration with appointees whose personal and professional backgrounds challenge the opposition’s narrative that she has no interest in protecting vulnerable students.

Since her confirmation, DeVos has been a Trump Cabinet member that liberals love to hate, with opponents denouncing her as an out-of-touch, evangelical billionaire without the desire or capacity to protect vulnerable poor, black, immigrant, gay, or transgender students.

But DeVos’s appointees include a progressive Democrat who believes a broken education system is a form of white supremacy; a sexual assault survivor who is in a same-sex marriage; and a second-generation American who ran a federal program that helped unauthorized immigrants.

“It’s definitely surprising, and should make people question their assumptions about this administration,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank.


British political party says sex education for under-16s should teach 'normal science' and stop 'obsessing over gender queer theory'

UKIP's education spokesperson David Kurten says it is wrong to advocate ‘non-reproductive acts’ to those below age of consent

Sex education for schoolchildren under the age of 16 should only include “normal science” of reproduction and chromosomes, Ukip said as it criticised those “obsessing on gender queer theory”.

David Kurten, Ukip’s education spokesperson, said it is wrong to suggest anything to do with “non-reproductive sexual acts, sex-change operations or gender fluidity” should be taught to pupils under the age of consent.

He said such topics could be introduced after a child turns 16 as they are becoming adults and therefore “can deal with these different concepts” and understand them.

Mr Kurten said parents are the primary educators of their children, adding counselling should be offered to those pupils who want to talk about their feelings and “specific things”, those at “risk of sexualisation” at an early age or those who have become sexually active before 16.

Speaking at a press conference in central London, Mr Kurten said: “We must protect our children from damaging and confusing fringe ideologies which sexualise children at an early age and confuse their natural development as boys and girls – both in primary, secondary and even pre-schools.

“No one would have thought 10 years ago that it would ever be considered politically incorrect to call children boys or girls, to call parents mothers or fathers, or if you say there are two biological sexes determined by your chromosomes rather than 40 or 50 or 60 different genders then this is on the way to being considered a hate crime.

“Of course it isn’t. It’s science. “We must continue to teach scientific facts of reproduction and that your chromosomes determine your biological sex – the right age to do this is 11.

“But children deserve a childhood. They should not be sexualised with concepts which are grossly inappropriate for their age.”

Mr Kurten said he has seen materials aimed at seven-year-olds “describing sex acts, which are nothing to do with reproduction, in graphic detail”.

He went on: “This is wrong, as was the call of the NUT [National Union of Teachers] to introduce some kind of sex education into nursery schools. Two-year-olds in nursery schools can hardly talk.

“It’s wrong to suggest anything that might open the door to teach about non-reproductive sexual acts, sex-change operations or gender fluidity to two-year-olds or even four-year olds in primary schools, or even 11-year-olds in secondary schools.

“While countries in Asia are flying ahead of us in academic attainment and eastern European countries are training their own young people with all the technical skills they need to succeed, in Britain part of the debate about education is focused by obsessing on gender queer theory and whether boys should wear girls’ uniforms.

“This is nonsense and we need to focus and lead our young people to what is important – [that] they have the skills they need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.”

Asked what age would be considered appropriate to teach pupils about gender fluidity and sex changes, Mr Kurten replied: “As you know, the age of consent in this country is 16 so I don’t think we should be promoting any kind of sex education beyond the normal science – reproduction and chromosomes – up to 16.

“After 16, when people are transitioning to becoming adults and people can deal with these different concepts then we can introduce them – at an age when people can deal with and understand it. “But certainly in primary school and definitely pre-school, I wouldn’t allow it.”

Mr Kurten was challenged whether Ukip’s approach could create difficulties for children at a later age, such as with their mental health, by not allowing teaching on topics beyond reproductive science until post-16.

He highlighted the role of parents before adding: “If there are specific individuals who are at risk of sexualisation at an early age, who become sexually active at an early age before the age of consent – which is 16 – and then if there are specific people who want to talk about specific things then we need to provide a means for specific people, specific children to be counselled, to be able to talk about their feelings and talk about what they need to talk about.

“But I don’t think we need to do that for the mass of children under 16. “I think we need to teach the scientific facts but we shouldn’t be teaching children anything that might encourage them into early sexual activity – whether that’s heterosexual or homosexual.”

Mr Kurten’s education speech also included calls for a “national plan” to allow 500 grammar schools and technical schools to ensure they are in “every town, city and borough in the country”.

He accused the Conservatives of paying “lip service” to grammar schools by failing to lift the ban in seven years of government.

Addressing universities, Mr Kurten said there “shouldn’t be safe spaces or no platforming” on campuses. He added: “If students cannot respond in a mature manner if they disagree with an idea they shouldn’t be at university.”


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