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Andrew Coulson: Innovation in Education

Andrew Coulson, author of the highly recommended Market Education: The Unknown History has a three video series on innovation in education.

From the program description:

“With the great inventions of the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, productivity rose dramatically — and the innovations behind it spread like wildfire. But not so in education. In those early years, education was controlled by parents, but Horace Mann championed efforts to put education into the hands of state-appointed experts and state-trained teachers. And so, universal public education in America was born.

The documentary flashes forward to East Los Angeles, and a modern story of what happened when Jaime Escalante, a gifted math teacher at Garfield High, and the educational excellence he created in the classroom became the basis of the Hollywood movie, Stand and Deliver. Finally, Coulson travels to Seoul, South Korea, where college-bound students eagerly enroll in after school tutoring programs called “Hagwons.” Students and administrators tell us how well it works, and one professor declares he makes more than a million dollars in salary every year.

In “The Price of Excellence,” the first episode of School, Inc., the late Andrew Coulson, senior fellow of education policy at Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, explores the industry of education, its history, the politics that sometimes impede the growth of good schools – and good teachers — and the rise of entrepreneurial educators.”

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From the program description:

“Education policy analyst Andrew Coulson travels to Michigan’s prestigious Cranbrook High School, one of the top ten private high schools in America, in “Push or Pull,” the second episode of School, Inc. Cranbrook — and other excellent private schools in America –typically don’t “scale-up” to replicate their excellence on a larger scale and serve more students. So, is there someplace else where scaling up excellence is happening? The answer is “yes” and it is in America’s charter schools.

But when charter schools compete with public schools, there is often trouble ahead. From those involved we hear how the Sabis School, tremendously successful in Springfield, Massachusetts, was prevented from operating in nearby Brockton, because a school superintendent decided such excellence was simply not in the best interest of his public school.

For six years the American Indian Charter School, part of a small network of California charter schools, ranked among the top middle schools in California. But in the spring of 2013 the Oakland Public School District voted to shut down all three American Indian Schools, because the charter school had chosen to use its own special education services, and not those controlled by the state; that resulted in a loss of revenue to the public school system.

Not every story has a negative outcome. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the city’s vibrant charter schools came to the rescue, and provided the facilities and services which other schools needed to get back on their feet. Finally, Coulson travels to South America, for a comparison of how the success of Chile’s wine industry sets the scene for the growth of the country’s successful private school networks.

Chile’s private schools consistently outperform schools in all other Latin American countries, but trouble is always on the horizon. Still the private school networks of Chile provide a note of optimism in Andrew Coulson’s journey to discover the secrets of School, Inc.”

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“Ten years after Chile reformed its education system, Sweden followed suit, and so Sweden is Andrew Coulson’s first stop in episode three of School, Inc. All private schools in Sweden are now fully tax supported, and parents can choose between these so-called “free” schools and the local public schools.

The global journey continues, visiting highly successful private schools in Sweden, London and India, where the resistance to education as a business has lessened. Coulson is joined by the administrators of these schools to examine the secrets of their success, learning that some of India’s highly successful private schools serve eager poor students and parents at little more than a dollar a week. School, Inc. comes full circle to conclude in the English countryside where the Industrial Revolution began. Then as now, Coulson suggests, education was perhaps the only field in which successful entrepreneurship was not celebrated”

Coulson concludes:

“What if we allowed all education entrepreneurs to put their own money on the line in an effort to better serve us, gaining or losing just as entrepreneurs do in other fields? And what if we made sure that everyone had access to that wide-open marketplace? Would we then see excellence scale-up in education?”

Such an effort is in fact occurring with Higher Ground Education, an entrepreneurial effort, that has scaled to the largest private Montessori school Inc. in the country.

Recommend Reading: Market Education: The Unknown History by Andrew Coulson

DOLLAR: New Hampshire Supreme Court Upholds State’s School Choice Program

Concord, N.H.—Today the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court for Strafford County and saved the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. The program provides low-income families with education scholarships, which parents may use to send their children to a private school, a tuition-charging public school in a neighboring school district or to pay for homeschooling expenses. The plaintiffs were several state taxpayers who were philosophically opposed to the program. The court held that the plaintiffs lacked the necessary personal injury to challenge the program.

The scholarship money is raised by private scholarship organizations, who may offer local businesses a partial tax credit (85 percent) in exchange for their donations. Since a trial court found aspects of the program unconstitutional in June 2013, parents who wanted to use scholarships at private religious schools have been prevented from participating in the program. Now eligible families will be able to send their children to whatever school they choose.

“This is a great day for parental liberty in New Hampshire,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) Senior Attorney Dick Komer, who represented two families seeking scholarships and the Network for Educational Opportunity (NEO), the state’s only operational scholarship-granting organization. “We are delighted that the Supreme Court recognized that the trial court erred in allowing this case to proceed in the absence of any personal harm suffered by the plaintiffs from the alleged unconstitutionally of the program.”

Tim Keller, Komer’s co-counsel and managing attorney of IJ’s Arizona office, added: “This was a hard-fought battle and we are gratified that the parents have finally prevailed. The plaintiffs’ case and the Superior Court’s decision were based on a relic of anti-Catholic bigotry enshrined in the New Hampshire Constitution in 1877, which they extended beyond its intended scope. This is a victory for all who would live free in New Hampshire!”

The lawsuit was brought by eight taxpayers and a business, who claimed the program violated a provision of the constitution that prohibits the state from appropriating or applying state funds raised by taxation for “the use of the schools or institutions of any sect or denomination.”

IJ Attorney Erica Smith contrasted the lack of personal harm to the plaintiffs with the harm they caused last summer to the participating families, who because of the trial court’s ruling, were unable to use the scholarships: “Without showing, let alone asserting, any actual harm to themselves, these plaintiffs denied priceless educational opportunities to many New Hampshire families, solely because they do not approve of the schools these families had freely chosen. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has ended this infringement of the rights of the participating families.”

Kate Baker, executive director of NEO, said, “We at NEO are thrilled by the decision of the Supreme Court. We are eager to get to work awarding scholarships to low-income families without having to discriminate based on what sort of private school the parents want their children to attend.”

CROSS: Blassio’s War on Poor Asian Children

From To make elite schools ‘fair,’ city will punish poor Asians | New York Post:

New York’s specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant and the equally storied Bronx High School of Science, along with Brooklyn Technical High School and five smaller schools, have produced 14 Nobel laureates — more than most countries.

For more than 70 years, admission to these schools has been based upon a competitive examination of math, verbal and logical reasoning skills. In 1971, the state legislature, heading off city efforts to scrap the merit selection test as culturally biased against minorities, reaffirmed that admission to the schools be based on the competitive exam.

But now, troubled by declining black and Hispanic enrollment at the schools, opponents of the exam have resurfaced. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has filed a civil-rights complaint challenging the admissions process. A bill in Albany to eliminate the test requirement has garnered the support of Sheldon Silver, the powerful Assembly speaker.

And new Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose son, Dante, attends Brooklyn Tech, has called for changing the admissions criteria. The mayor argues that relying solely on the test creates a “rich-get-richer” dynamic that benefits the wealthy, who can afford expensive test preparation.

As Ting’s story illustrates, however, the reality is just the opposite. It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers.

And, ironically, the more “holistic” and subjective admissions criteria that de Blasio and the NAACP favor would be much more likely to benefit children of the city’s professional elite than African-American and Latino applicants — while penalizing lower-middle-class Asian-American kids like Ting. The result would not be a specialized high school student body that “looks like New York,” but rather one that looks more like Bill de Blasio’s upscale Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Ironic?

To modern “progressive” elites, though, the story is intolerable, starting with the hard work. These liberal elites seem particularly troubled by the Asian-American work ethic and the difficult questions that it raises about the role of culture in group success.

While the advancement of Asian students has come overwhelmingly at the expense of more affluent whites, it has also had an undeniable impact on black and Latino students, whose foothold at these schools, small to begin with, has all but vanished.

[…]

Subjective selection criteria also inevitably favor the affluent and connected — as a comptroller’s audit of the screened-school admissions process revealed. The study found that most of the schools examined did not follow their stated selection criteria and could not explain the criteria that they actually did use.

[…]

Critics of the SHSAT will reply that something must be done about declining black and Hispanic enrollment at the specialized high schools. The answer, however, can never be to lower objective standards.

Adopting this cynical approach would do no favors for black and Latino children, while opening the door to discrimination against Asian kids like Ting. It is not the specialized schools’ emphasis on merit, but rather the advocates’ defeatist worldview that is truly — and tragically — wrongheaded.

 

 

 

DOLLAR: Students Defeat Teacher Unions in California

Writes Campbell Brown in A historic victory for America’s kids  – NY Daily News on the Vergara v. California decision:

The case began with courageous students, because they had to endure the nightmare: grossly incompetent teachers, mainly in poor and minority schools, protected by state laws. And when the court ruling thundered down Tuesday, the impact was profoundly clear: Students, you win.

[…] Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu said the evidence of the deleterious effect of ineffective teachers on students is so compelling that it “shocks the conscience” — a line that instantly gave voice to countless parents.The court found that the nine student plaintiffs and their team had proven both of their points. One, that California’s laws directly cause students to be unreasonably exposed to grossly ineffective teachers. And two, that poor and minority students, in particular, are saddled with those teachers. The ruling was so complete that the judge declared every state law in question unconstitutional:

California teachers are permitted to earn lifetime employment after a mere 18 months in class, well before they could truly earn that status or even be properly evaluated for it. The upshot, said the judge, is that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reasons (let alone a compelling one) disadvantaged.”

-The dismissal process for grossly ineffective teachers in California is so complex and costly that it does not work; many districts do not even bother trying. That leaves thousands of underperforming teachers knowingly remaining in front of students. The judge blasted the system as so problematic that it turned dismissal into an illusion.

-California’s “last-in, first-out” law gives top priority in a time of layoffs to ineffective teachers if they have seniority while better teachers with fewer years are sent packing. The judge called that a lose-lose situation, supported by logic that was “unfathomable.”

[…]

It should never have come to this: Students taking on the powerful governments and teachers unions, all to challenge laws that inexplicably and directly lead to a worse public education.

DOLLAR: Documentary Sheds Light on Common Core

By having central government bureaucrats dictate how, what and why students learn, the innovation, entrepreneurship, and diversity of a “grass roots” education (i.e., Montessori, i.e., Home Schooling) — where education is tailored to the needs of the student as directed by the parent — will be eliminated. This is the key political argument against the so-called “common core” initiative.

In “Building the Machine” viewers receive a “big picture” overview of the Common Core States Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and its effects on their children’s education. “Building the Machine” compiles interviews from leading educational experts, including members of the Common Core Validation Committee. Find out more about the Common Core: http://www.hslda.org/CommonCore

David Allen: Five Things To Optimize your Focus

According to David Allen in When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized we need “a system that creates space to think, to reflect, to review, to integrate and to connect dots” to put ourselves into “a productive state — the feeling that you’re doing exactly what you should be doing, with a sense of relaxed and focused control?” This allows us to sort out the “chaos of the workplace” and stay “focused on the most important things, as they relate to your goals, direction, values and desired outcomes. You must constantly recalibrate your resources to generate the best results, and to say “not now” to what’s less important.” However points out Allen, we must learn how to do this by following a “sequence of five events to optimize your focus and resources“:

Capture everything that has your attention, in your work and your personal life, in writing. Maybe it’s your departmental budget, a meeting with the new boss, an overdue vacation, or just the need to buy new tires and a jar of mayonnaise. For the typical professional, it can take one to six hours to “empty the attic” of your head. It may seem daunting, but this exercise invariably leads to greater focus and control.

Clarify what each item means to you. Decide what results you want and what actions — if any — are required. If you simply make a list and stop there, without putting the items in context, you’ll be stuck in the territory of compulsive list-making, which ultimately won’t relieve the pressure. What’s the next action when it comes to your budget? The next step in arranging your vacation? Applying this simple but rigorous model puts you in the driver’s seat; otherwise, your lists will hold your psyche hostage. And keep in mind that much progress can be made and stress relieved by applying the magic two-minute rule — that any action that can be finished in two minutes should be done in the moment.

Organize reminders of your resulting to-do lists — for the e-mails you need to send, the phone calls you need to make, the meetings you need to arrange, the at-home tasks you need to complete. Park the inventory of all your projects in a convenient place.

Regularly review and reflect on the whole inventory of your commitments and interests, and bring it up to date. As your needs change, what can move to the front burner, and what can go further back? Make these decisions while considering your overall principles, goals and accountabilities. Schedule a two-hour, weekly operational review, allowing space to clean up, catch up and do some reflective overseeing of the landscape, for all work and personal goals, commitments and activities.

• Finally, deploy your attention and resources appropriately.

Remarks Allen, “I have never seen anyone apply these practices, with some degree of commitment and application, and not find significant improvement in focus, control and results. The technology, the organizational goals, the quirkiness and turbulence of external realities — these become things to manage, not a hoped-for source of productivity itself.”

Read the full article.

Part 2 of Lisa VanDamme’s Response to “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”

Lisa VanDamme takes the Wall Street Journal Article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” to task methodologically, exposing that it is premised on a false dichotomy. Is our choice only to be high-handed or hands-off? Domineering or deadbeat? Abusive or permissive? Or is there another alternative?

Click here for the first video: Lisa VanDamme Slams WSJ Article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”, Part 1

Lisa VanDamme Slams WSJ Article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”

Lisa runs the VanDamme Academy, a private school that provides a quality private education for elementary and middle school students, with a Montessori environment for 5 to 7- year – olds. This is the first of several videos in which Lisa VanDamme shares her thoughts about the Wall Street Journal Article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”In this video, Miss VanDamme implores listeners to consider the question on which the whole issue depends: By what standard do we say a child is “successful”?

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WOW! You can read some of her CapMag articles here. You can visit Lisa’s video blog here.

UPDATE: See Part 2 here where Lisa answers the critics of Part 1.