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Taveras’s First Major Policy Proposal of Questionable Value

A universal pre-K proposal from Providence Mayor Angel Taveras may be fighting the current of research showing such programs to be of dubious benefit.

Five Rhode Island Scholars Sign a Letter to US Bishops Opposing the Common Core

Five professors from Rhode Island institutions of higher learning have signed on to a letter sent to all of the Catholic Bishops in the United States, urging that the Common Core not be adopted by Catholic primary and secondary schools.

Where We Do and Don’t Have Rights

It’s beyond dispute that progressive activists don’t really believe in a right to free speech, in the sense of the American founding, and where that will take the country ought to be of desperate concern of Americans who value freedom.

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 10 (School Choice)

Justin Katz and Bob Plain discuss school choice in Rhode Island for this week’s Wingmen segment.

Districts for the Indoctrination of Children

Linking to yet another story of a parent’s facing surprising behavior from people within a public school district, Glenn Reynolds repeats his common refrain, “I’m beginning to think that putting your kids in public schools is parental malpractice.”

In this instance, a Jewish man from Pennsylvania objected to the political slant that he perceived in his child’s homework, related to the government shutdown, and his complaints appear to have inspired the local teacher union president to make at least one call to a third party in the community suggesting that he is a neo-Nazi.

Another recent story concerns a Georgia mother who has allegedly received a criminal trespass warning banning her from her disabled daughter’s school because she posted on Facebook about having been issued a concealed carry permit.

On the list of Rhode Island stories on which I have information, but for which the involved people are disinclined to come forward for fear of repercussions against them and their children, is one about a student assigned to do a project on one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights who told that he had to pick again when he chose the second amendment.

Add into the mix a worksheet “aligned with the controversial national educational standards” called Common Core that uses subversive sentences as examples for grammar assignments — un-American notions like, “the commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.”

Of course, as with random shootings, it’s easy to get the impression of epidemics when there’s a nation’s worth of bleeds-it-leads local news coverage flying across the Internet. That said, Americans should realize that there are no inherent protections in government when it takes over a public activity like education and a growing degree of opportunity to use its assumed authority to restrict and to indoctrinate.

Ravitch’s Lather-Without-Rinsing Rhetorical Style on School Choice

Anti-school-choice advocate Diane Ravitch misleads her readers on “vouchers” and the opinions of Rhode Islanders.

Go figure: aid down, cost increases slow.

I was just telling my eldest daughter (still some years away from high school, let alone college) that everybody should study economics for a mandatory year when I came across a blurb that made me chuckle. It’s the text summary of a data inlay to an article about moderating tuition hikes at public colleges and universities:

College costs rose again this academic year, but not as steeply as they have in past years. However, federal aid, which eases the burden for most students, has declined over the past two years.

The punchline is that “however.” Imagine that: When the federal government pours less money into higher education, colleges slow down their tuition increases! It’s almost as if federal aid doesn’t help students so much as inflate the cost of education.

The Ideology of Speech Restriction, at Brown University and Everywhere

There are two dimensions of political ideology useful for understanding yesterday’s events at Brown University. The first is attitude towards the nature of rights. The second concerns beliefs about the relationship between individual, groups and society.

If you believe that 1) that rights are not natural but granted by a collective and that 2) membership in a collective is primary — perhaps even everything — to social relations, then the idea that those outside of your collective don’t enjoy the full range of rights granted by your collective is an easy step to take.

(Alternate Title: I’ll describe the ideology of speech restriction. You determine its name.)

School Choice in Rhode Island: A Matter of Education

Results from a school choice survey suggest that Rhode Islanders are aware of the state’s problems and can grasp the common sense solutions; we just need to realize that we have a right to change things.

Hess: Differentiated Instruction = “benign neglect” for gifted learners

In his latest dispatch, Rick Hess makes the following observations about “differentiated instruction” and how, in general, some education “reforms” offer diminishing returns for children with parents who actively take a role in their education.

Depriving the People of an Education and Happiness

Speeches at the 2013 National Summit on Education Reform by Theodore Olson and Arthur Brooks offer a lesson on civil rights and the pursuit of happiness.

Public school self-evaluations are like elections in a dictatorship…

… nobody thinks the regime can afford to show vulnerability. That’s why there’s such a gaping hole in Linda Borg’s Providence Journal article on results for Rhode Island’s new teacher evaluation experiment.

It isn’t just that weak-kneed administrators don’t want to risk the careers of teachers or the wrath of unhappy unions; it’s also that the administrators, themselves, look bad if they’re building “ineffective” organizations. And if they start reporting an honest and negative assessment of their schools, then the only people who can really enforce accountability — those who ultimately hire them and pay their salaries (taxpayers and voters) — might actually begin to do so.

What these results suggest is that there is zero institutional incentive for school districts to evaluate themselves honestly, and much incentive for them to take up the teacher union talking point of “an effective teacher in every classroom.”

  • The Foster school district reported not a single teacher less than “highly effective.”
  • Another seven districts or charter schools reported no teachers less than effective (that is, either “ineffective” or “developing”).
  • Thirty-one of the 50 districts/charters for which there is data admit to no more than 5% of teachers’ being less than effective.
  • Only five schools put their “ineffective/developing” count above 10%.

This simply isn’t credible, and if you think about it, it isn’t surprising that those five systems reporting the worst results are Barrington and four alternative schools. For alternative schools, accountability is enforced, ultimately, by parental choice (limited as it may be), so they can better afford to utilize evaluation tools as intended.

Allowing parents to evaluate their children’s teachers and potentially withdraw funding for them is the only means of real accountability. When that’s the case, administrators don’t have to manage via public report and can actually work with teachers to improve.

The Roosevelt Society 10/2/2013 with Deborah Gist

Here are eight takeaways from last evening’s Roosevelt Society forum with Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist…

8. Finally, Commissioner Gist offered that students don’t necessarily like an easy teacher, despite what the conventional wisdom might be…

Update: School Administration Backs Off the Keychain Bandit

After a TV news report on channel 10 and some time on Matt Allen’s 630 WPRO talk show, the story of the Coventry middle school student suspended for a gun-shaped key fob caught national attention on the Internet, by way of the Ocean State Current, picked up by Instapundit and other libertarian/conservative blogs, and then the Daily Beast, followed by the Huffington Post. Now, by way of the Matt Allen Show, we learn that administrators had had enough attention by Monday:

Keith Bonnano, the boy’s father, said both the superintendent of Coventry Public Schools and the principal of the Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School called him Monday and assured him that his son would get help with any missed schoolwork. …

They’re also going to allow the boy to accompany his classmates on a field trip to Salem at the end of October, something Bonnano said his son was very much looking forward to.

Additionally, Bonnano will be able to appeal the suspension to have it removed from his son’s permanent record.

Coventry Middle School: Real Violence Versus Toy Gun

An interesting comment to my post on the Coventry keychain suspension:

Well on Thursday my son who is in 6th grade at same school who might I add is 11.. Was stabbed with a pen which went through sweatshirt and draw blood and kicked and then she followed him to bathroom and waited outside for him from 11 yr old girl and guess what I was under understanding she was being suspended and asked if we wanted to press charges and we didn’t because I felt she just need some help and the correct punishment.. We’ll guess what she was back in that school on Friday and after hearing about this story I’m am so mad and feel let down from school system.. I now am setting up meeting with superintendent I’m outraged if we did this we wouldn’t have choices we would be in aci with felony charges what is wrong with this whole system…

Coventry Student Suspended for Keychain

A Coventry student has been suspended from school for carrying a keychain shaped like a gun.

The Government Replaces God at Cranston West

A “Creed” banner to replace the banned “Prayer” banner at Cranston High School West replaces God with the government and a free people should find it deeply disturbing.

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 2 (NECAPs & School Choice)

This week, Justin and RIFuture’s Bob Plain argue the wisdom and need for standardized tests as a graduation requirement.

Things We Read Today (54)

Quadrupling down on Rhode Island; finding the American-statist antidote in the Ocean State; school choice as the real civil rights battle of the day; who gets media “support” and why.