Education, business, and government leaders are gathering this week in Washington, DC to discuss the future of American education at the Thought Leader Summit (held from Nov. 10–13), an event held as a part of the National Education Initiative. Among the many topics that will be discussed is the advancement of online education, a technological gift that could save conservatism in America.
There is a controversy over proposed new school textbooks in Texas—not over what is actually in the books but instead over scientific facts environmental lobbyists want the publishers to keep out of them. The activists want to censor the textbooks.
The ongoing struggle between parents and the Missouri government over the state’s school transfer law is another example of politics and bureaucracy winning out over parents, children, and their futures.
Homeschooling seems to be an easy target for critics of school choice. It always has been. With homeschoolers being by definition outside the education establishment, some people attach a stigma to their choice, suggesting homeschooled children and their families must be somewhat weird. Recent claims about Adam Lanza, alleged perpetrator of the Newtown massacre, are just the latest and perhaps most egregious example.
It’s been a rough year for the Common Core standards. As parents, teachers, officials, and politicians learn more about the standards, more and more states are considering ways to get out of Common Core. The standards in math and reading were allegedly designed to make students career- and college-ready. Now that the public is able to see them, the standards have proven not to be what was promised. People are fighting back.
Throw enough mud at the wall, and some of it will stick. That seems to be the hope behind the several legal challenges brought against education tax credit scholarship programs. In some cases, choice opponents use the Blaine Amendment as an excuse to extinguish any hint of education freedom. In other cases, they use technicalities, such as a suit saying the statute violates a law requiring each piece of legislation concern only a single subject.
The 2010 introduction of Common Core, a set of requirements for what elementary and secondary school children should know in math and English language arts, has turned schools in one state after another into battlefields as its complexity and other factors led to protests against it. Even so, by mid-2014, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that very nearly half of those asked about it hadn’t even heard of it. A number of states, such as Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have withdrawn from it.
Behavioral psychologists and economists have considered incentives to be a normal part of human nature for decades, if not centuries, but applying them to education still stokes controversy. For example, some people recoil at the idea of paying kids and their teachers for high scores on Advanced Placement tests that get students college credit in high school, as some schools in Northern Virginia are doing,
The time is right to refocus school reform on practical objectives that can be achieved in local communities. Fortunately, a new online tool can empower parents and local school boards to work in unison toward an important common goal: ensuring third-graders have learned to read.
Writing in Canon and Culture, Prof. Colin Garbarino of Houston Baptist University poses an interesting and accurate critique of the common notion that the nation’s colleges and universities indoctrinate a generally conservative or at least politically and culturally neutral incoming student population into advanced progressive leftism and political correctness. They do impose such an agenda, he notes, but the overwhelming majority of students they are indoctrinating have already heard and adopted its fundamental premises upon arrival.
In elementary school, many of my teachers would place a long banner across the top of the chalkboard, reading “Knowledge Is Power.” The phrase is meant to teach students the importance of education and the empowerment it can bring. For today’s workers, this idiom remains relevant and significant.
For a half century the idea that saturated fat in foods raises cholesterol and, consequently, causes heart attacks was dogma ostensibly justifying government regulation. The attacks on dietary fat have increased in recent years due to the “war on obesity.” But a new book based on nearly ten years of research has fired a devastating salvo in defense of this designated dietary enemy. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz traces the origin of the fat myth from its faulty scientific beginning to its discrediting.
Shouldn’t the substantial taxes we pay to support our local school districts ensure that our children are receiving quality education? Then there is the cost of a college education which keeps escalating but which is deemed necessary by society for young people to succeed. Yet more and more college students are being saddled with massive education debts to pay after graduating from college, coupled as they are with limited job opportunities.
By exercising even a little of the critical thinking the pushers of these national standards claim to want mandated in all classrooms, consumers can learn a big, valuable lesson about polling that seeks to shape public opinion rather than honestly gauge it.
Suppose instead of making common cause with corporate titans and Washington technocrats to impose Common Core standards uniformly on education, philanthropist Bill Gates instead used his vast wealth to create his own brand of schools to compete in a vibrant educational marketplace.
When a friend of mine was young, his family kept their dog close to home with one of those invisible fences. It delivered a mild shock to the dog’s collar when he crossed its line. One day, the fence posts shorted out. But the dog still refused to cross the shock-less border. There was nothing keeping him fenced in but his mind.