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  • Morning Bell: Power to Parents, Not Feds

    Twelve years ago a Republican Congress and a Democrat president came together in a bipartisan fashion and passed one of the nation’s strongest charter school laws for the Washington, D.C., school system. The charter schools are publicly funded on a per-pupil basis and must accept any student who applies (if there are more applicants than spaces, a lottery system decides who the school can take). While each school must take everyone, they are also free to set their own rules for expelling students. More importantly, the charter schools are free from union contracts, so they have the freedom to decide who the hire and fire.

    Today there are 60 charter schools on 92 campuses educating more than 26,000 students. And as The Washington Post reports: “Students in the District’s charter schools have opened a solid academic lead over those in its traditional public schools. … Charters have been particularly successful with low-income children, who make up two-thirds of D.C. public school students.”

    As President-elect Barack Obama looks to fulfill the promises he made on the campaign trail to implement “a new vision for a 21st century education,” The Heritage Foundation sincerely hopes he looks to the charter movement’s success in the District of Columbia as a guide for much-needed reform.

    Since 1970 American taxpayer per-pupil spending on public schools has doubled after adjusting for inflation. Since 1985, combined federal spending on K-12 education has increased by 138% (adjusting for inflation). And what do Americans have to show for all this increased spending? Nothing. American students’ reading scores have remained relatively flat since 1970. Throwing money at public schools has not worked. More fundamental reform is needed. To that end, Heritage recommends:

    • Reform Federal K-12 Education Programs to Encourage State and Local Reform and Facilitate Greater Parental Choice: After seven years, experience has shown that No Child Left Behind has failed to spur meaningful improvement. Instead, NCLB has increased the administrative burden on states and localities and created perverse incentives for states to weaken academic standards. NCLB should be reformed to give states the opportunity to opt out of federal regulations and receive funding in a block grant if certain requirements, including maintaining academic transparency through state-level testing and public reporting, are met. This approach would allow state policymakers — with greater input from parents and other stakeholders — to take responsibility for strengthening public education in local communities.
    • Protect and Expand School Choice in Washington, D.C.: In addition to D.C.’s successful charter school movement, Congress also created the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program in 2004. The program, which had bipartisan support in Congress and the backing of then-D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, is currently helping 1,900 disadvantaged children attend private schools in the District. Surveys have shown that participating parents are more satisfied with their children’s education, and a testing evaluation has reported that participating students scored higher than children who remained in public school. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program should be maintained and expanded to give children the opportunity to attend a safe and effective school.

    Obama was right to say during his campaign that “we cannot be satisfied until every child in America … has the same chance for a good education that we want for our own children.” But four decades of experience with increasing federal involvement has shown that Washington cannot deliver on that promise. Instead of further expanding federal authority in education, Obama’s administration should empower those who have more power to make a difference in children’s education, especially parents.

    Quick Hits:

    • Czech President Vaclav Klaus described global climate issues as “a silly luxury.”
    • The nonprofit organization founded by a Service Employee International Union local spent nothing on its charitable purpose — to develop housing for low-income workers — during at least two of the four years it has been operating.
    • The hundreds of rules, regulations and letters of understanding that make up the labor contract between Ford and the United Auto Workers is 2,215 pages long and weighs 22 pounds.
    • A new book published by MIT and written by economists concludes that minimum wage laws reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers, reduce their earnings, do not reduce poverty, and have long-term adverse effects on wages and earnings by reducing the acquisition of human capital.
    • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has increased the size of the economic stimulus package she will support when Congress reconvenes next month, saying it will need to be $500 billion to $600 billion.
    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Morning Bell: Power to Parents, Not Feds

    1. Greg Baumgartner says:

      Not enough emphasis is placed on the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I would suggest that we dispense with the sciences and social studies until at least the 4th grade. We are trying to teach our kids advanced concepts at a time when they do not have the reading and writing skills to understand them yet alone express them in a physical format such as the written word. Honestly ask yourself how much of your science and social studies do you remember prior to the 4th grade? It would not hurt to expose them to the sciences and social studies area, but lets not palce them in a graded system. WE NEED TO ESTABLISH THE BASICS FIRST, IT IS THAT SIMPLE!!

    2. Mary TX says:

      Put States back in charge of their own schools.The Federal Government never should have been.

    3. Doris Morgan, Oklaho says:

      Per the Charter system experiment in my town:

      Wiley Post had always been a great elementary school; the surrounding neighborhood was full

      of the right kind of families and parents. So

      when it was time to go charter, there was WW1.

      Result was the neighborhood kids were tossed aside

      and the more well-to-do were carried from across town to take their places. Now we are doubling

      the size of the school (to take in even more of the well-to-do.) They no longer let us vote there. Our neighborhood is extremely upset.

      I am childless, so there is no reason for me to

      really care…..except I want my tax dollar to go

      to my families and kids….and it's a gift they can't accept. This is not normal America!!

    4. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      My guess is the increased costs of education can be traced to the never ending demand for new equipment such as personal computers. What ever happened to text books and chalk boards? Seems the later allowed folks to function independently of these non-imaginative and dumbing down high tech classroom aids. And the newly elected president wants more of the same? Computers and related items are only as productive as the mind that's using it.


    5. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:


      In this country – education is compulsory – learning is optional



      Why don't they take THE BEST Teacher for EACH subject, and Videotape their class.

      Then, play the video in EVERY CLASS ROOM, for that subject, in the state, and on PBS.

      As an example, let's use Freshman High School English.

      Make Each Video 30 minutes.

      The video would be played at the Beginning of each class

      and the Remainder of the class time would be used for an

      IN CLASS teacher to discuss the tape, and answer questions.

      If a Student missed a class, they would be REQUIRED to watch those tapes.

      That way EVERY student of Freshman English, in EVERY school in NV would get the same information.

    6. Vickie Suarez, Sayre says:

      Dear Heritage Foundation,

      I am a thirteen year home school mom of seven children, four graduated, three still being educated at home. I feel it is vitally important that we support parental choice in the education of children. This means supporting the education of children in the home by their parents, as well.

      I want to share the thoughts of Michael Farris who wrote an article in the Home School Court Report, November/December 2008. Michael Farris wrote that parental rights are not fully protected by our judicial system, and in fact, in a recent court opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that parental liberty in directing the education of one's children is not clearly established. In a recent case involving parental rights, only Justice Clarence Thomas ruled that parental rights are subject to the highest level of judicial protection. Michael Farris said there is confusion among the nation's courts on the correct legal standards to be applied to parental rights. "Not only are the courts failing to embrace a strong theory of parental rights, law reviews…contain a dangerous assortment of views" on the subject, said Farris. Farris said legal scholars are willing to put more restrictions on the doctrine of parental rights. These legal scholars are more than willing to use relevant court decisions to bolster their radical views. The trend is to embrace restrictions on a parent's child-raising abilities and this runs counter to parental rights as a fundamental right.

      The trend has been toward the children's rights theory. Children's rights theory is just a way of marketing family life in a socialist context, and has little to do with liberty. The children's rights theory, said Geraldine Van Buren, professor of human rights at the University of London, provides policy makers with the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child's or parents', as long as it is based on the best interests of the child. There is a trend toward a nanny state in the name of children's rights. In a recent parental rights opinion, Justice Stevens taunted judges who favored parental rights for their treatment of children as "chattel property."

      Some left-leaning thinkers say home schooling should be permissible, but stricly regulated. They seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of too much parental involvement in the lives of children. They question whether the schooling of children should even be under the control of parents and think home schooled children grow up to be civically disabled and ethically servile. They want children to become self-sufficient, productively employed citizens, not relying on the state for support. They think the way to teach avoidance of reliance on public support is to put children in government schools for 13 years, relying on public support of the tax payers for every dime. They want to ensure that children acquire the capacity to live their lives as they wish, to be free when they become adults, from the domination of other people. The liberal democratic state would theoretically help them protect their freedom.So, they want government to regulate home schooling in order to advance freedom.

      Many home schooled children are raised in Christian homes with a disinctively Christian worldview. But, these thinkers do not want children to have absolute values and reject the idea of absolute truth. They want children to be taught that there is no absolute truth and all values are equal. But they don't really believe that all values are equal for if they did they would treat all ideas equally. One would not be better than the other. Both would deserve equal consideration and protection. They simply cannot accept the idea that parents have the ability to raise children to believe in God, absolute truth, and the other principles that are so despised by these thinkers. They want parents regulated in case they exercise their rights to raise their children in a manner different from any unapproved idea. Beware the underlying issue is parental rights. We need to protect them or we will lose everything.

    7. Duke Lynch CA says:

      Control of education has long been a principle of the Social Engineering crowd whether Socialist, Communist, etal; and they have won! The NEA and the Teachers union now control and are fighting to retain that control with the help of a Corrupt Congress…Basic to all educational programs is the teaching of love of country, history of foundation of America as a Republic based on Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, with Representative Democracy as the operating system…Then; careers are chosen with specific disciplines studied including trade schools and/or apprenticing, liberal arts as a foundation for social careers, engineering, law..etc with the common language of English.

    8. Darrel Baird, Kent says:

      Welcome to the world of The United States of Washington D.C.

      Nancy knows everything . If you don't believe that, just ask her. Her ideals with education and welfare have really been successful in developing control over emotional weakness . Just look at L.A. and San fransico. I'm quite sure that she is willing to share this fine program with the rest of us………..Weather you want it or not!!!!!!!

      This is just part of the plan to make us accountable to Washington and Washington accountable to no one . Brainwash the kids and Hide God . Bingo, it's done . How DARE parents interupt this with teaching accountability to a higher power than a Nancy.

      Read the Declaration of Independence, Read the Bill of Right, And GET MAD!

    9. Bob R, Tucson, AZ says:

      I was in college during the latter part of the Great Depression (1935 to 1942). The Democrats were throwing "everything but the kitchen sink" into the economy. The biggest joke of the lot

      was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). At least it was the butt of most jokes at the time.

      Nothing worked until the revival of industry at the outbreak of WW2 brought us out of it. I think the war was the only thing that saved Roosevelt's reputation for posterity. Hopefully we do not have to go down that road again but there is a distinct possibility of that happening.

    10. Dennis Aderholt Soci says:

      Teachers pay and government is not the answer. Parenst need to be involved in this process. To many parents think their children go to school and the parenst do not take any active part in the process. They do not want to be bothered.IT IS LIKE THE OLD SAYIONG GOES, YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER BUT YOU CAN NOT MAKE HIM DRINK. WELL E CAN SEND KIDS TO SCHOOL, BUT THE PARENTS MUST INSURE THEY LEARN.

    11. Joyce Gregory, Phoen says:

      I just finished reading Laura Ingrahams book, Power to the People and was moved to ask my 11 year old granddaughter if I could see her social studies book. I wanted to see what they were teaching a junior high student about government, etc. I was told they could not bring their books home,that they shared them with other classes to "save" money. I have become so distrustful, I think this is just to keep parents from knowing what their children are being taught.

      When I went through K-12, (I am 70 yrs old) there was probably more parental involvement, because there were not so many other things to take up a parent's time, and PTA was sort of a social gathering.

      When my children were attending these grades, I didn't go to PTA, but I always read their text books.

      Now, living with my grandchildren and their mother, I find they don't even get to bring their text books home. I don't think parents today know what their kids are being taught and what they are not. I don't know what the answer is, but there should certainly be more parental involvement.

      If Laura has a handle on it, and I am afraid she does, we are allowing the teachers and the schools (albeit the colleges!!) to turn all our kids into liberals and the fundamental basics of what has made America so great is being flushed right out of their minds.

    12. MIKE, PENSACOLA, FL says:

      You still miss the point. Government should not be in the education business – period. There is no constitutional authority, and market based, self determined entities can do a much better job. Just like the business sector.

    13. Pingback: Teach like it’s 1979 « Designated Conservative

    14. FRAN SMITH says:

      Lately, I have been hearing disturbing news from parents of young children in the public school systems…It seems fine if your child is for the democrates' way of thinking, but if not and they have another view it's wrong and they are being chastized for it and even sent to the principals office…..I thought we still believed in freedom of speech….If I was one of these parents, I would sue the school board for this…..Either respect everyone's right to speak or politics should be taken out of the public school systems….Teachers have no right to inflict their politics on children even if their union may condone it……

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