By: Lindsey Burke From: Heritage.org
Two competing forces are pushing on America’s K–12 education system today.
One is an effort to infuse education choice
into a long-stagnant system, empowering parents with the ability to send their child to a school that meets her unique learning needs.
The other is an effort to further centralize education through Common Core
national standards and tests.
Across the country, education choice options have been proliferating rapidly, including vouchers, tuition tax credits, special needs scholarships, and education savings accounts
. Educational choice is a revolution because it funds children instead of physical school buildings
and allows dollars to follow children to any school—or education option—that meets their unique learning needs.CHOICE EMPOWERS PARENTS
to direct their child’s share of education funding, giving them options beyond an assigned government school.CHOICE PRESSURES PUBLIC SCHOOLS
with a much-needed competitive atmosphere, which works toward improving educational outcomes for students who take advantage of choice options as well as students who choose to attend their local public schools.CHOICE HELPS KIDS.
Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., now have private school choice programs—and more states are considering implementing choice options. Education choice represents the type of innovation and freedom that will provide long-overdue reform to the K–12 education system, and holds the potential to truly raise educational outcomes for every child
across the country.
But at the same time this encouraging shift toward education choice is underway, there is a push to take education in the exact opposite direction through Common Core national standards and tests.COMMON CORE IS an effort to centralize education
by dictating the standards and assessments that will determine the content taught in every public school across the country.COMMON CORE HAS NO EVIDENCE
that it will improve academic outcomes or boost international competitiveness. But the Obama Administration has pushed states to adopt national standards and assessments in exchange for offers of billions of dollars in federal funding and waivers from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind.COMMON CORE ASSUMES
that top-down, uniform standards and assessments—driven by federal bureaucrats and national organizations—are preferable to the state and local reform efforts guided by input from parents, teachers, and taxpayers.
States have been competing to improve their education systems by implementing education choice options and other reforms such as alternative teacher certification, transparent A–F grading systems, and a focus on reading achievement. Check out innovations in:
American education is at a crossroads: One path leads toward further centralization and greater federal intervention. The other path leads toward robust education choice, including school choice and choice in curricula.
Common Core takes the path toward centralization, and state leaders should seize the moment
to resist this latest federal overreach
. National standards and tests are a challenge to educational freedom in America, and state and local leaders who believe in limited government should resist them
By: Melanie Sturm From: Aspen Times
“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life,” counseled Faber College’s Dean Wormer in “Animal House.” For the collegiate class of 2013 — until next year the most indebted ever — add “in hock” to that immortal list.
Compared with their parents, current graduates are paying four times more in inflation-adjusted terms for their diplomas while suffering substantially inferior job and income prospects. Like “Animal House’s” witless frat brothers, those who believe college is a last hurrah before plunging into adult reality must Think Again.
For generations, Americans practiced what Benjamin Franklin preached — “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” — believing a college degree was an affordable yet golden ticket to independence, a satisfying career, financial security and an “open sesame” to American society. Even students without credit histories or clear plans for the future could borrow the necessary sums to pursue impractical majors such as ethnic studies, take six years to graduate and still land jobs with incomes sufficient to pay down debt.
Today, however, a college degree is substantially riskier due to mushrooming global supplies, ever-inflating U.S. diploma prices and a more selective, chaotic and stressful market for college graduates. Though a B.A. carries a certification premium with employers, it conveys little about actual qualifications, especially considering recent studies of higher-education outcomes (surveyed in the 2011 book “Academically Adrift”) that show how little knowledge, critical thinking and skills acquisition occur between an undergraduate’s freshman and senior years.
Because its risk-reward ratio is out of whack, it’s no longer a truism that you’ll get out of college what you put into it. Among those younger than 25, 53 percent are either unemployed or in jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, a high for this demographic since record-keeping began in 1948.
As in the housing bubble, easy credit and expectations of ever-increasing returns on education investments buoyed demand for college diplomas. To capture federal money, academic institutions hiked tuition, causing students to incur more debt, diminishing the degree’s reward. Since 1978, tuition has grown 7.5 percent annually, far outpacing inflation and family incomes, which increased 3.8 and 5.0 percent, respectively.
Because many colleges operate like mortgage brokers, even encouraging students who are academic risks to take on debt, two-thirds of freshmen borrow, while one-third of those with loans leave without degrees. Consequently, the portfolio of federally guaranteed student loans has grown to $1 trillion — up 70 percent since 2008, exceeding total credit-card debt. Considering that government loans aren’t dischargeable, even in bankruptcy, many are sacrificing their dreams, including further education, marriage, kids and homeownership.
The biggest victims are those the system was designed to bolster — marginal students. Just as federal lending policies helped inflate the housing bubble, undermining the ability of low-income homebuyers to ascend into the middle class, federal student-loan policies have backfired, consigning indebted and degreeless Americans to the low end of the labor market without incomes sufficient to pay off debts.
Given these sad realities, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett poses a frequently asked question in his book “Is College Worth It?” Students whose lifetime earnings potential comfortably exceeds their debt — achievable with sought-after degrees like petroleum engineering or prestigious credentials such as a Stanford diploma — should go. However, “two-thirds of people who go to four-year colleges right out of high school should do something else,” especially considering Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions that seven of the top 10 fastest-growing jobs require on-the-job training, not higher education.
At the heart of America’s education crisis is the implicit goal to leave no child behind without a college degree, as if the college campus were the optimal garden for all children to flourish. Parents and teachers appreciate how distinctive and diversely talented kids are. Yet our K-12 one-size-fits-all system emphasizes and tracks academic abilities — often at the exclusion of nonacademic aptitudes — and without great success considering reading and math scores are no higher for 17-year-olds than they were in 1970 despite an inflation-adjusted tripling of K-12 education spending.
The consequence of our misplaced focus on college is that many brilliantly talented and creative people believe they’re not because their unique abilities were devalued at school. Wouldn’t our kids be better served if educational success meant enabling students to reach adulthood aware of their native abilities and passions and inspired to realize their full potential? Wouldn’t society be enhanced by a richer conception of human capacity that appreciates diverse talents and rewards what one knows and can do, not one’s salary?
New education startups that use online technologies — like the recently announced MIT/Harvard joint venture — have the potential to revolutionize education, offering students affordable courses to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” as Theodore Roosevelt urged.
Think Again — isn’t lifting kids from where they are to a better place in life the point of education?
Many states are beginning to address the realities of the Common Core standards. Rushed through in a hurry, educators and leaders now need time to evaluate the potential impact.
Don't let anyone fool you.
Common Core standards are shaping the curriculum our children are taught.
This video shows an example from a Literature and Writing Teacher's Guide for first grade.
Are they teaching great children's literature and what makes it valuable? No.
The lesson focuses on social justice activism -- for first graders! We're talking six-year-olds!!!
Students are taught to use emotional words because they have the most impact.
For example, in the workbook, kids are told to say "My mom always 'nags' me to clean my room." Instead of "My mom always 'tells' me to clean my room" -- because the word 'nag' has more emotional impact. (See 3:12)
The video also shows teacher guidelines for teaching Literature and Writing to third graders.
Teachers are told to observe students and to record growth and change in individual student behaviors and attitudes in advocating ways to solve social problems, recognizing social problems, and so on.
Measure growth and change in behaviors and attitudes in advocating for social justice? (See 7:47)
In a literature and writing class for third graders?
In one of the most conservative states in the country?
The federal government is taking control of education from state and local governments and they are indoctrinating our children
18th Century Advice: Thomas Jefferson on Education Reform
By: Elena Segarra From: Heritage.org
The original “Man of the People,” Thomas Jefferson, was born on April 13 in 1743.
Jefferson is best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence
, but he also wrote prolifically and prophetically on education. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be,” he wrote
in a letter to a friend.
Jefferson understood that freedom depends on self-government: the cultivation of self-reliance, courage, responsibility, and moderation
. Education contributes to both the knowledge and virtues that form a self-governing citizen. By proposing a bill
in Virginia that would have established free schools every five to six square miles, Jefferson sought to teach “all children of the state reading, writing, and common arithmetic.” With these skills, a child would become a citizen able to “calculate for himself,” “express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts,” and “improve, by reading, his morals and faculties.”
Jefferson viewed this basic education as instrumental to securing “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” for Americans because it helps an individual “understand his duties” and “know his rights.”
Once taught reading and history, people can follow the news and judge the best way to vote. If the government infringes on their liberties, educated citizens can express themselves adequately to fight against it.
By providing equal access to primary schools, Jefferson hoped to teach children “to work out their own greatest happiness, by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”
While Jefferson supported the idea of public education, he would not have placed schools under government supervision. Instead, he argued for the placement of “each school at once under the care of those most interested in its conduct.” He would put parents in charge.
"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by…[any] general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.… No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to."
Taxpayers would provide the resources for public education; the community would arrange the schooling. Although we today face a very different set of challenges than Jefferson, his reasoning remains relevant: Those most concerned with the school’s performance, i.e., parents, will best manage education.
We spend more than enough on our struggling
education system. Empowering parents with control over dollars, instead of increasing the amount spent on schools, will improve educational outcomes.
During his lifetime, Thomas Jefferson had little success with his efforts to reform the American education system. Yet the principles he promoted hold true today: Our freedom depends on delivering a quality education to future generations. As we honor Jefferson’s birthday, let us also heed his advice and enable parents to make more of the decisions regarding their children’s education.
"We take choice for granted in our lives in every othere area, but really education is the most important thing. Especially as a parent, you want your kids to have a solid education."
"School choice is now at a tipping point. In the United States, more charter schools are cropping up, while tax dollars and voucher systems are now allowing the money to follow the child. Evidence indicates that these new educational options are effective, and less costly, in improving the quality of K-12 education.
"Kids in America have more choices today than they've ever had before. Every empirical study shows a positiive effect, and no study has found a negative effect."
Best-selling author, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, recognizes that colleges and universities across the country don't teach the principles and values that make America great. It fact, many campuses champion destructive values and principles.
Dennis has set about to create a campus of five minute mini-courses that give us the education we need (and should have gotten). Ever-expanding, the Prager University curriculum (so far) is available below.
As with any curriculum, you and I probably won't agree with everything that's taught. But, in just 5 minutes, the courses offer unusually valuable understanding and insights.
Patriotic Moms will feature some of these 5 minute courses here on the blog. But in the meantime, just want you to know these wonderful lessons are available by clicking on the LEARNING tab above. iBuen Provecho!
Prager University CoursesLife Studies
The greatest of the "studies" is the study of life, not some abstract study. Keep studying it, and trust your common sense. These courses will give you some tools to make your life and the lives of those around you better.Psychology
Learn about some of the most important matters in psychology that will help you in your relationships and in understanding your other half.Wisdom of the Masters
Five minute video interviews with the seminal thinkers of our times, exploring their most important ideas. Interviews with the great British historian Paul Johnson, renowned American political scientist, Bruce Herschensohn, and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin have already been completed. Many more are planned.Religion/Philosophy
The more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views. With an effort to undo these anti-religious views, the following courses give rational, reasonable expression to the Biblical worldview and Judeo Christian values.Political Science
The following courses will give you the facts, history and common sense evidence to help you understand key political issues. These five minute courses are straight to the point with no political agenda.History
As we study history we learn how and why civilizations have developed and gain an insight into how to make the decisions necessary to proceed forward.Economics
The following courses will help you articulate how the only current social and economic system that aligns itself with the combined human spirits of achievement, ambition, self-improvement, individualism, self-esteem, and initiative is Capitalism.
This is the time of year when kids are going back to school.
Do you know anything about the things your kids are learning, the skill of their teachers, or of the quality of their education?
Public education has seen little change in the past several decades, despite diminishing results.
In these clips from his documentary, "Stupid In America'" John Stossel explores some better ideas.
How would you like to find a survival kit for freedom?
What would you give for such a valuable kit?
President Ronald Reagan has one for you. It's called "Free to Choose" by Milton Friedman.
In the video below President Reagan praises Nobel Prize winner, Milton Friedman, and the principles he teaches.
President Reagan said that Milton Friedman's work is "of rare importance," and his lecture series, "Free to Choose," teaches concepts that “led to our prosperity and have given us our freedom.”
In fact, Reagan calls "Free to Choose" a "survival kit for you, for our nation, and for freedom." The videos were made decades ago, but they are more relevant today than ever!
Below are all 10 "Free to Choose" lectures. Each video title is linked to the transcript for that video.
The videos and transcripts are a goldmine of valuable principles. They are shared in honor of Milton Friedman's 100th birthday. I hope you enjoy them!
Note: Links to Milton Friedman's autobiography, and other great resources, are included after the "Free to Choose" videos.
(If you can't see all 10 videos, click the tiny red "Read More" link below.)
Japanese students learn to do complex calculations quickly without the need for paper or calculators. American students in contrast are flying kites and trying to feel good about themselves.
Students aren't taught, and don't begin to understand, why they should become highly skilled in complex math and science concepts. Or why they need to understand the real history of liberty and accomplishment in America. Or why they should prepare themselves with real skills to make a contribution in the real world.
The list of important deficiencies in our education system is long.
How can we fix American education?
And, on a more personal level as Patriotic Moms, how can we make sure our children receive an excellent education in the things that will matter most for them? How can we prepare them for the days in which they live?
The quality of our lives, in many ways, is determined by the quality of the questions we ask and the answers we seek.
In our work as Moms, few questions rival these in importance --
What will be the life's work of my children?
How can I help them prepare for their life's work?
What does a quality education consist of for my children?