Tag Archives: Homechooling

Chicago teacher strike: average pay $71K, 80% of 8th graders not proficient at math

CBS News reports:

Thousands of teachers, parents and supporters marched through downtown Chicago on the first day of a school strike.

The crowd Monday afternoon stretched for several blocks and was expected to swell through the early evening and into the city’s rush hour. Some protesters carried signs that said “Chicago Teachers United” and “Fair Contract Now.” Others waved red pom-poms and chanted. Earlier in the day, thousands of teachers picketed around neighborhood schools.

[…]The city’s public school teachers make an average of $71,000 a year. Both sides said they were close to an agreement on wages. What apparently remains are issues involving teacher performance and accountability, which the union saw as a threat to job security.

They don’t want to be held accountable for failing to provide outcomes for their customers, the children.

Why do you think they might fear being held accountable? Are they doing a poor job of teaching? Is that why they fear being accountable? Let’s see.

CNS News explains:

Chicago public school teachers went on strike on Monday and one of the major issues behind the strike is a new system Chicago plans to use for evaluating public school teachers in which student improvement on standardized tests will count for 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Until now, the evaluations of Chicago public school teachers have been based on what a Chicago Sun Times editorial called a “meaningless checklist.”

[…]In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education administered National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in reading and math to students around the country, including in the Chicago Public Schools. The tests were scored on a scale of 0 to 500, with 500 being the best possible score. Based on their scores, the U.S. Department of Education rated students’ skills in reading and math as either “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient” or “advanced.”

[…]79 percent of Chicago public school 8th graders were not grade-level proficient in reading. According to the U.S. Department of Education, this included 43 percent who rated “basic” and 36 percent who rated “below basic.”

[…]80 percent of Chicago public school 8th graders were not grade-level proficient in math. According to the U.S. Department of Education, this included 40 percent who rated “basic” in math and 40 percent who rated “below basic.”

Fire them all. Abolish the federal Department of Education. Make teacher unions illegal.

Education policy tutorial videos:

Related posts

How teacher’s unions make war on charter schools

Story here in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T The Heritage Foundation and Independent Women’s Forum)

Let’s see what Jay P. Greene has to say about charter schools:

In New York, for example, the unions have backed a new budget that effectively cuts $51.5 million from charter-school funding, even as district-school spending can continue to increase thanks to local taxes and stimulus money that the charters lack. New York charters already receive less money per pupil than their district school counterparts; now they will receive even less.

When I was a young man, I dreamed of becoming a prosecuting attorney or English teacher. (Software engineering was my third choice). But the political activism of left-wing teacher unions, and their opposition to merit-pay, stopped me from becoming a teacher. I always think of unions as a form of adult day-care, insulated from real world competition and consumer needs.

Unions are also seeking to strangle charter schools with red tape. New York already has the “card check” unionization procedure for teachers that replaces secret ballots with public arm-twisting. And the teachers unions appear to have collected enough cards to unionize the teachers at two highly successful charter schools in New York City. If unions force charters to enter into collective bargaining, one can only imagine how those schools will be able to maintain the flexible work rules that allow them to succeed.

…Eva Moskowitz, former chair of the New York City Council education committee and now a charter school operator, has characterized this new push against charters as a “backlash” led by “a union-political-educational complex that is trying to halt progress and put the interests of adults above the interests of children.”

…When charter schools unionize, they become identical to traditional public schools in performance. Unions may say they support charter schools, but they only support charters after they have stripped them of everything that makes charters different from district schools.

And why does school-choice matter?

In New York City, Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby found that students accepted by lottery to charter schools were significantly outpacing the academic progress of their peers who lost the lottery and were forced to return to district schools.

Florida State economist Tim Sass and colleagues found that middle-school students at charters in Florida and Chicago who continued into charter high schools were significantly more likely to graduate and go on to college than their peers who returned to district high schools because charter high schools were not available.

The most telling study is by Harvard economist Tom Kane about charter schools in Boston. It found that students accepted by lottery at independently operated charter schools significantly outperformed students who lost the lottery and returned to district schools. But students accepted by lottery at charters run by the school district with unionized teachers experienced no benefit.

I highly recommend you read the whole article, as Greene is a respected authority on education policy. In case you missed my recent article on Obama’s cancelling of vouchers, check it out here.

Secretary of Education rescinds previously awarded D.C. vouchers

Fox News reports on it here: (H/T The Cato Institute)

The Heritage Foundation has a lot more.

Let’s start with a personal experience from one of the 200 low-income households affected.

Put yourself in the shoes of LaTasha Bennett. A single mother living in Washington, D.C., Ms. Bennett is able to send her child to a private school thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Hoping to enroll her daughter in the same private school, Ms. Bennett applied for and recently received a voucher from the Washington Scholarship Fund.

But last week, Ms. Bennett and hundreds of other D.C. parents received a form letter from the U.S. Department of Education informing them that their children wouldn’t be receiving a scholarship.

And more:

Secretary Duncan’s decision to take scholarship money away from low-income families came just days after the Department of Education released a study showing that students participating in the Opportunity Scholarship program had statistically significant better reading scores than students who applied to the program but were not offered a scholarship. The students that were in the program the longest showed notable improvement reading at levels approximately 1.5 to 2 full school years ahead of the sample group.

The data is in. School choice works. And it significantly lower costs. Opportunity Scholarships offered through the program are worth $7,500. Since the participating private schools cannot charge scholarship students more than the amount of their scholarships, that amount is still less than half of the $15,315 that D.C. taxpayers spent per pupil in the 2004–05 school year.

And what about the educations of Barack Obama and Arne Duncan?

Growing up in Hawaii, President Obama attended a private school. Growing up first in Chicago, and now in Washington, Obama’s two daughters attended and still attend a private school. Growing up in Chicago, Secretary Duncan attended a private school. And when he moved to D.C. Secretary Duncan chose to live in Arlington, where good schools for his children are assumed.

But maybe they were just pretty typical progressives, living in an emotional fantasy-land, with no access to facts?

The Wall Street Journal reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

Voucher recipients were tested last spring. The scores were analyzed in the late summer and early fall, and in November preliminary results were presented to a team of advisers who work with the Education Department to produce the annual evaluation. Since Education officials are intimately involved in this process, they had to know what was in this evaluation even as Democrats passed (and Mr. Obama signed) language that ends the program after next year.

Mr. Duncan’s office spurned our repeated calls and emails asking what and when he and his aides knew about these results. We do know the Administration prohibited anyone involved with the evaluation from discussing it publicly. You’d think we were talking about nuclear secrets, not about a taxpayer-funded pilot program.

And the Denver Post’s David Harsanyi reports: (H/T The Heritage Foundation)

When I had the chance to ask Duncan — at a meeting of the Denver Post editorial board on Tuesday — whether he was alerted to this study before Congress eradicated the D.C. program, he offered an unequivocal “no.” He then called the WSJ editorial “fundamentally dishonest” and maintained that no one had even tried to contact him, despite the newspaper’s contention that it did, repeatedly.

When I called the Wall Street Journal, I discovered a different — that is, meticulously sourced and exceedingly convincing — story, including documented e-mail conversations between the author and higher-ups in Duncan’s office. The voucher study — which showed progress compounding yearly — had been around since November and its existence is mandated by law. So at best, Duncan was willfully ignorant.

And why are we surprised? Teacher’s unions funded Obama’s election campaign, not children and parents. The purpose of schools, according to socialists, is to indoctrinate the youth with socialism, moral relativism, secularism, and the religion of global warming. The purpose of schools is not to provide them with an education, so that they can get a job and avoid dependence on the government!

Further study

The Heartland Institute’s series of podcasts on vouchers and school choice.

Heartland Institute’s podcasts on school choice and education

I waited anxiously for this Heartland Institute series of 10 5-minute podcasts on education to finish, and now it’s finally done!

Here are the links:

  • In episode 0, the introduction, we respond to the question, Why Do We Need School Reform?
  • In episode 1, surveys reveal that parents who choose independent schools do so on the basis of academics, not athletics or convenience.
  • In episode 2, we discuss how allowing tax dollars to follow the child will give parents more control over their child’s education.
  • In episode 3, competition encourages creativity and lessens mediocrity.
  • In episode 4, choice makes parents accountable and frees leaders from excessive regulation.
  • In episode 5, school choice enables teachers to recover lost freedoms.
  • In episode 6, funding should be adequate to enable parents to chose high-quality schools, but parents should be allowed to add their own dollars.
  • In episode 7, voucher programs help teachers by paving the way for better teachers to receive higher pay.
  • In episode 8, private schools should be allowed to retain their self-government. This autonomy is in the best interest of the public.
  • In episode 9, school choice promotes and protects the institutions and organizations that create and protect democracy.
  • In episode 10, school choice creates a genuine free market for education, free from rules.

The booklet that the series is based on is here as a PDF.

Democrats vote to discriminate against students of faith

Did you know that Obama’s massive stimulus bill contains a provision that “prohibits renovation money for schools that allow religious groups to meet on campus”? Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ describes the provision here. According to this Fox News story, Senator James “Jim” Demint (R. – SC), proposed an amendment to the pork-filled bill to remove the anti-religious provision. However, Demint reported that the amendment failed in the Senate 43-54, with almost all Republicans voting for religious liberty, and almost all the Democrats voting against it. The provision had previously passed in the Democrat-controlled House, with every Republican voting against it.

I think this defeat is a helpful reminder to people of faith about the role of government-run schools, and teacher’s unions, in imposing secular-leftist values on the next generation. I recently finished reading Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism”, in which the author explains what the word fascist really means. Fascism is the political philosophy that seeks to undermine individual goals and values, including religious and entrepreneurial values, and to substitute the values of the society, as expressed by the party in power.

A common thread in fascist regimes is the effort to separate children from parents at a young age, so that adult teachers can impose the state’s values on the children when they are least able to resist them. That is why, accoring to the Guardian, the National Socialist party abolished homeschooling in fascist Germany in 1938. (A review of Goldberg’s book by Canadian author Denyse O’Leary is here). My favorite quote from Goldberg’s book is about the role of government-run schools in a fascist state:

Hence a phalanx of progressive reformers saw the home as the front line in the war to transform men into compliant social organs. Often the answer was to get the children out of the home as soon as possible. An archipelago of agencies, commissions, and bureaus sprang up overnight to take the place of the anti-organic, contra-evolutionary influences of the family. The home could no longer be seen as an island, separate and sovereign from the rest of society. John Dewey helped create kindergartens in American for precisely this purpose — to help shape the apples before they fell from the tree — while at the other end of the educational process stood reformers like Wilson, who summarized the progressive attitude perfectly when, as president of Princeton, he told an audience, “Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life … [but] to make them as unlike their fathers as possible.”

The United States is also heading in this direction. In California, Human Events reported that homeschooling was effectively banned by an activist court. Dinesh D’Souza frankly explains why the left is so intent on keeping control of the schools here. He notes that secular people do not form families and do not have children, because it is too much of a constraint on their autonomy. Instead, D’Souza writes, secularists simply seize control of the children of religious parents, and pass their values on to the children in the mandatory government-run schools.

This plan has become so successful, that even young evangelicals are abandoning their faith at the ballot box. Phyllis Schlafly recently noted that 32% of young evangelicals voted for Obama in 2008, compared to 16% of them who voted for Kerry in 2004. Some of this slide to the left is due to parents focusing too much on entertainment and material gain. But a large portion of the blame should be pinned on the government-run schools and universities. USA Today notes that 70% of Protestant Christians abandon their faith by age 23.

Once you understand that the secular left has an interest in separating children from their parents, you begin to see why they support policies that transfer more familial responsibilities to the state. Higher taxes ensure that mothers must work, so that the child’s vulnerable pre-school years may be spent with government-certified instructors in day care. The emphasis on sex-education in the government-run schools leads young people into behaviors that later undermine marital stability. And, as Stephen Baskerville argues, the state encourages divorces to make business for itself.

I’ve argued here that Democrats favor secularizing government-run schools in order to undermine the faith of children. This is something that people of faith, who want to pass on their worldview and values to their children, need to think about. If you voted for Obama for nationalized health care, taxing of the rich, stopping global warming, etc., then now may be a good time to think again. Do a little studying about what conservatives believe – you may find out that conservatism is more consistent with the goals of faith-based voters than you had first thought.

By the way, as Ezra Levant reports, it happens in Canada, too. Often.

UPDATE: Wow, Ezra Levant is really mad at the University of Calgary for censoring pro-life students! National Post story is here.