School Choice: The Benefits of Competitive Schools

School-Choice-700x466One of the greatest benefits that school choice gives to education is that it creates a field of competition and innovation that should, theoretically, raise the standard of education in every school, public, private, and charter.

Competition has been the motor that has driven innovation in this country for its entire existence. In the last two decades we’ve moved from cell phones the size of bricks to smart phones with more computing power than the first NASA space shuttle, because each company involved in that type of technology was constantly trying to find a way to outsell the others product. Without competition between companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google we might have reached this level of technology eventually, but it’s more likely that it would have been our grandchildren, rather than us, enjoying the technology.

Why should our schools do any less?

While in the last two decades we’ve moved from desktop computers that hardly anyone could afford to the tablets and laptops that almost every college student has in their backpack. Unfortunately our field of education has not had that same surge forward, except, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the geographic areas where competition through school choice has taken root.

One of the reasons for the success of charter schools is certain that, while public schools are generally kept open long after they have failed to improve themselve, charter schools can and have been shut down for underperforming. According to The Center for Education Reform, between the years of 1992 and 2011 around 1,036 charters were shut down. Charter schools have to provide a decent education to survive, insuring quality competition between them and the public schools in their area.

Now we aren’t talking about astronomical gains across the board (though many charter schools, like BASIS schools in Arizona, can claim remarkable results) but there is an upward trend being seen in a field where the trend has mostly been stagnation.

Franklin Center recently invited me to attend a conference on school choice in my state of Arizona. We learned a lot about the programs available in my state, but one thing that struck me was a teacher who had founded a charter school in a failing school district. The school has worked hard to prepare students for graduation through a variety of innovations that this school founder has seen spread to other area schools, increasing success at those schools as well.

This anecdote isn’t a fluke or a coincidence. This sort of competition between charter schools and public schools has already been shown to benefit the students.

There have been a multitude of studies that have looked at the correlation between school choice and the quality of public schools in the same districts. Many of the early studies show an increase in productivity, but they also show increased quality of teachers, and an increase in achievement for the students that are still in public school.

In Texas more recent studies (from 2007 and 2014) showed that the creation of charter schools had a positive impact on the traditional public schools in the area and, even more telling, that injecting the best practices of charter schools into the public school setting also showed increases in achievement for students in those schools.

Charter schools were never meant to be the death of traditional public schools, instead they may very well be their rebirth.

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A Kickstarter Campaign That Will Help Teachers, Students, and Parents.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 12.12.04 PMThis is my latest project. Promoting a new startup company that is going to do amazing things in the field of education resources.

Lyceum Education was started to create a suite of flipped classroom videos that most teachers would love to use but don’t have the time to create.  The flipped classroom works on the theory that the old model of teaching a lesson during the day and practicing the lessons at home during homework is backwards.  Students should learn the lesson the night before and practice the lesson with the teacher present to help them with any problems they may have. This way provides faster learning for the students and less frustration when some part of the lesson isn’t understood.

Lyceum seeks to create a suite of lesson for middle and high school that will cover all the lesson of the four core subjects (English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science) that can be used eventually to allow almost any teacher to work in a completely flipped classroom model.

These lessons can also be used by any home schooling parent to supplement their own at home education by offering quality lessons for subjects that may require specific knowledge the parent may not be comfortable with.

As these lessons will only cover the knowledge and comprehension levels of learning they do not replace the need for a teacher or parent in the education process, they only allow them more time to focus on the deeper level  learning that student need adult help with to progress to their full potential.

With the 900,000 we are requesting your help to raise, we will be able to buy the equipment needed to film and edit these video and the salaries needed to support 4 teachers and 1 video editor for 2 years while we create the initial part of the entire suite.  We believe that in 2 years we can provide enough lessons to make this marketable and then allow sales to fund the further creation of all the lessons teachers could possibly need.

This is something I feel extremely passionate about and I know that the people involved in this project will do amazing things.

Please share this kickstarter campaign with your friends and families and donate if you can.

Kickstarter Campaign: Lyceum Education 

Common Core Tourettes and the Anti-Common Core Mob

 

 

 

one cries because one is sad

(This post got a bit away from me, I apologize for the rambling nature and probable spelling errors…in my defense I’m ranting and I don’t care if my grammar is perfect in a rant)

I don’t know what we did before we had Common Core to blame all our education woes on, I really don’t.

I don’t remember my  parents saying “look at this Prentice Hall math problem my kid had to solve” or “look at this Houghton Mifflin Harcourt history worksheet my kid brought home” and trust me the problems were just as prevalent then as they are now that everyone has tourettes that automatically attaches “common core” as the adjective in every complaint about education, curriculum, or teaching styles.

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The Anti-Common Core Crowd Want to Take You on a Guilt Trip

Screenshot 2014-02-13 at 2.30.52 PMNo thanks, please unpack my bags and refund my ticket, I have no interest in going down that path with you.

Maybe it’s because my plaintive cries of “You are ruining my life” failed to appropriately guilt trip my parents when I was a kid and therefore I became a sociopath that stopped caring about the emotions of others.

Or maybe it’s just because blaming Common Core for a child being frustrated with a couple of math problems is so insane that it barely takes scrutiny to dismiss.

Sure, I feel terrible for the girl in the picture. I have an abundance of empathy because I was a high achieving child in my K-12 years (let’s just not discuss that college thing ‘kay?), this was long before Common Core by the way, and I remember having some very vocal and tearful breakdowns at the kitchen table over my homework, whether I was in public school, private, or home school at the time. Math was always an especially difficult subject for me (still is, I never really had a good math teacher) and I got frustrated easily. I could solve every problem but one and that one would give me a breakdown.

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Bailing Out Failing Public Schools is NOT Conservative

Let me preface this article with the disclaimer that I know very little about the state of education in North Carolina. I know that public schools in general are usually disgusting paper mills that push students through without much care to whether the students are actually learning anything and I know the North Carolina came in 38th in SAT scores in 2013.

I also know that being for a public institutions because “think of the children” (even when the institution regularly screws up children’s education) is not a conservative principle.

So imagine my shock when I read this article on Diane Ravitch’s blog that basically said that if conservatives are more interested in results and the free market being used to encourage schools to excel, we aren’t really conservatives.

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Concept Over Content: Common Core, Curriculum, Testing, and School Choice

I watched Common Core: The Great Debate for the second time today and I noted some things being said by the anti-Common Core side that the Fordham Institute side did address, but I’d like to give my own point of view on.

The first was that Common Core does not indicate actual content.

Fordham Institute’s President, Chester Finn, did deliver quite a smack down on this himself, but I wanted to go one step further and, similar to Common Core, address the issue in conjunction with the need for school choice.

As Finn says in the debate, people who are anti-Common Core and people who are in favor of school choice should BOTH be pleased that Common Core does not dictate much in the way of content.

I don’t think anyone on either side of this debate is anti-school choice and how can you have school choice if schools are all required to teach from the same curriculum and book list? It wouldn’t be impossible, but it certainly wouldn’t be as effective.

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9 Year Old Reads 63 Books in 6 Weeks: Library Director Tells Him to Stop Being Mean to Other Kids; Calls Him a Hog

Lifes-Not-Fair1“Boo hoo! It’s not fair for the other kids that he reads so much!”

Basically.

I thought the concept of a competition was to get gets to kids to, I don’t know,…compete? Was I wrong about that? I entered plenty of reading contests when I was in school, sometimes sponsored by the school library and sometimes by the city library. Yes, I did win one or two of them.

See, when I was in elementary school I had my own library card and I would go in, check out as many books as I could, then show up 2 weeks later with a sack of finished books to turn back in. The librarians loved me. They encouraged me to read, they didn’t tell me that I was ruining everyone else’s self esteem by reading so many books.

But Tyler Weaver, a 5th grader, reads 63 books in 6 weeks and suddenly he’s “hogging” the contest and making other kids feel bad? What the hell is the world coming too?

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