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 A number of states, such as Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have withdrawn from it.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.
It began as the idea of one eccentric entrepreneur, but now has 1.3 million signatories backing it: the case for breaking California up into six separate states is gathering steam. When the Six Californias campaign began, most serious commentators thought it was crackpot scheme, a pipe-dream of a few people that had no hope of gaining traction. They have been proved wrong. To an extent anyway.
In their new book, Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well, Herbert Walberg and Joseph Bast point out, “research makes clear that reward systems can significantly raise academic achievement levels … for adolescents.”
According to data collected by the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, American students continue to slide down the international rankings, failing to break the top 20 best-performing countries as of 2012. U.S. students rank below average in math and near average in reading and science. PISA is just one assessment, but it reflects a clear trend: U.S. students are not achieving what they need to achieve in an increasingly competitive global economy.
When people do not feed, talk to, read to, discipline, or provide shelter to their children, is it still appropriate to call these people parents? Across the country, school districts are now able to phase in a federal program that provides taxpayer-funded breakfast and lunch to every single child enrolled in the school. That’s every child, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. A child who attends that school and has millionaire parents can receive taxpayer-funded breakfast and lunch every single school day.
Could one ruling by one Los Angeles Superior Court judge free public education from the stultifying grip of the teacher tenure system and lead to widespread use of incentives to reward excellent work by teachers and students alike?