Monday, April 23, 2018

Charter schools continue to show the need for school choice

By Natalia Castro

Charter schools are transforming American education. For the country’s most at risk students, charter schools are playing a critical role in building educational opportunities for students. As the Department of Education expands charter school use, studies proving their effectiveness have begun pouring into academia, proving that school choice is the best path toward educational advancement.

The biannual National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has released their 2017 National Report Cards assessing achievement across American schools through controlled variables. On a national level, charter schools appear to be even with non-charter schools, but John Valant of the Brookings Institute explains there is a clear reason why. In his March 2016 article, Valant explains charter schools are often clustered in urban areas and use a lottery system to take on a district’s most poor and underserved students. This allows them to show particular growth in America’s most needed areas.

This is further illustrated by the NAEP report, which showed on the district level, charter schools far outperform traditional schools. In America’s most diverse cities, charter schools are leading the way.

In Atlanta, with 19 percent of schools now being charter schools, charter school students produce average math test scores that are 17 points higher than their non-charter school counterparts. Similarly, in Los Angeles, charter school students score on average 28 points higher on math test scores.

In Cleveland, Ohio’s most diverse county, charter school students score on average 18 points higher than their non-charter counterparts on reading exams. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s most diverse county, charter school students outperform non-charter school students on reading test scores by 14 points.

The Center for Public Education fact sheet on charter schools attests this is due to diverse teaching staffs that can teach free from excessive state and federal regulations. With the ability to craft entire curriculums around student success, charter schools are able to experiment different methods of success.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has seen these positive impacts first hand in her home state of Michigan.

Findings from a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan compared students who received admittance into a charter school system through a lottery with those who also applied for the lottery but got denied in order to measure school success. While transitioning students showed the smallest progress, by the time charter school students graduated they displayed higher scores in both math and reading.

But this was by far the greatest impact.

In these Michigan charter schools, teachers are 47 percent more likely to be viewed as mentors than administrators. Principles observe teaching roughly 9 hours per day versus roughly 2 hours in traditional schools, due to administrative tasks. While teachers are paid less in charter schools, they are 20 percent more likely to receive performance bonuses.

Charter schools encourage the entire administrative staff to work for and with students, thus creating a holistically stronger learning environment. Last September, Secretary DeVos decided to allocate significant funds toward charter school development. Across the country, for our most at-risk students, those funds are paying off. But states do not have to wait federal intervention, they are already proving that once broken free from centralized control, particularly in urban areas, charter schools are providing better opportunities for the nation’s most at risk students.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Governmen


School Dist. Condemns Employee’s Retweet of Mom Whose Son Was Killed by Drunken, Criminal Illegal

An Oregon School District has denounced, and parents are demanding the firing of, a school official who retweeted a post by a woman whose son was killed by a drunken, criminal illegal alien.

The parents’ petition denounces Deputy Superintendent Steve Phillips for being “anti-undocumented alien,” The Oregonian reports:

“A petition demanding the Beaverton School District fire ‘anti-undocumented/immigrant and xenophobe Deputy Superintendent Steve Phillips’ gained steam Tuesday, the day after it was reported that Phillips retweeted an anti-undocumented immigrant tweet.”

Phillips’ “xenophobe” offense? He shared a March 25 post by Mary Ann Mendoza, whose Arizona police sergeant son was killed in a head-on crash by a drunk-driving, previously-deported Latino illegal alien. In her Tweet, Mendoza called illegal alien crime “one of the most PREVENTABLE causes of death in America:

“One of the biggest PREVENTABLE cause of death in America? An Avg of 12 Americans are killed daily by Illegal Aliens in our country. That’s over 4300 Americans a YEAR!! They are more dangerous than assault rifles and should be BANNED from our country #Marchtoendillegalkillings”

Superintendent Dan Grotting issued a statement condemning Phillips’ retweet of Mendoza’s pro-border security post as contrary to the school district’s “deeply held” pro-illegal immigrant “values”:

“The views expressed in a recent social media post and retweet by the Deputy Superintendent are not in keeping with the standards and values we hold as the Beaverton School District. The views are contrary to our deeply held values as expressed in our Strategic Plan and Pillars of Learning. We apologize for the hurt this has caused our staff, students and community.”

Mendoza’s son was killed in 2014 by 41-year-old Raul Corona-Silva, a convicted criminal who had lived in the U.S. illegally for more than 20 years, according to a report by The Phoenix New Times.

Following her son’s death, Mendoza helped found Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC). According AVIAC’s website, the organization “was started by several who have suffered the ultimate tragedy of losing a loved one to illegal alien crime.”

The group says its mission is to advocate for victims, as well as for deportation of all of those illegally living in the U.S.:

“As our name implies we want to be advocates for those who have been impacted by crimes committed by illegal aliens. The only successful accomplishment would be to stop illegal alien crime and that can only happen with the deportation of all people that are in the country illegally.”

Mendoza’s statistics appear to be based on data previously released by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' claim that federal intervention hasn't improved outcomes for students is based on the most recent data.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent interview with Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” caused quite a bit of backlash from critics.

As my colleague Jonathan Butcher has written, “60 Minutes” ignored many of the facts about the state of education in America. Response to the interview drew quite a bit of criticism of DeVos and her policy solutions.

Perhaps one of the most pivotal moments came when she suggested that the United States’ heavy federal investment in education has not yielded any results. Stahl hit back, asserting that school performance has been on the rise.

But the latest government data show otherwise. According to the recently released 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s “report card,” we now have more evidence that DeVos was correct.

In fact, recent scores show virtually no improvement over 2015 scores. Eighth-grade reading saw a single point improvement over 2015 scores (10 points is considered equivalent to a grade level), while all other categories saw no improvement.

These lackluster results come on the heels of declines on the 2015 assessment, suggesting the beginning of a trend in the wrong direction for academic outcomes.

Indeed, Stahl’s claim that the state of public schools has gotten better simply doesn’t hold up to the data. It fact, DeVos is entirely correct to point out that public school outcomes have not meaningfully improved, and that our nation’s heavy federal intervention in K-12 education has failed to help the problem.

As Heritage Foundation education fellow Lindsey Burke writes:

Forty-nine out of 50 states were stagnant on the 2017 report card, and achievement gaps persist. Historically, federal education spending has been appropriated to close gaps, yet this spending—more than $2 trillion in inflation-adjusted spending at the federal level alone since 1965—has utterly failed to achieve that goal.

Increasing federal intervention over the past half-century, and the resulting burden of complying with federal programs, rules, and regulations, have created a parasitic relationship with federal education programs and states, and is straining the time and resources of local schools.

Indeed, for decades, Washington has poured billions of dollars into the public education system under the assumption that more federal spending will close achievement caps and improve the academic outcomes of students. With mounting evidence that more federal spending is not the answer, it may be time to consider other policy approaches.

DeVos is correct to suggest school choice as a solution to lackluster school performance. Parents who cannot afford to send their child to a school that is the right fit deserve to have options. As DeVos told Stahl:

Any family that has the economic means and the power to make choices is doing so for their children. Families that don’t have the power, that can’t decide, ‘I’m gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb where I think the school is gonna be better for my child.’ If they don’t have that choice, and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don’t have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.

In light of recent evidence from the nation’s report card, “60 Minutes” and other school choice critics should consider that DeVos was correct in her framing of problems facing the nation’s schools and is on the right track with possible solutions—namely, that empowering parents is the right approach to improving American education.


No comments: