Education Reform

The State Government Leadership Foundation believes that states, not the Federal government, are the best conduits for producing lasting and effective education reform across our country.

The SGLF understands that real education reform must start locally. The SGLF intends to work with state elected leaders, statewide education officials, and business advocates to help advance and implement reforms that improve the quality of education in classrooms state by state.

The SGLF wants to help state and local government prioritize youth through meaningful and farsighted education reform that will increase student achievement and prepare students for success well beyond high school and into college or career paths.

The SGLF believes that education reform within states should be based upon the six broad reform goals below:

Reading 101

  • From grades K-3, children learn to read, and from grades 4-12, children read to learn.
  • States would be well served to make reading a priority early on.
  • Placing a critical focus on reading in the early grades will not only increase the likelihood that a student will graduate from high school, but also increase their life-long earning potential.
  • 2011 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that kids who are not proficient readers by the end of grade 3 are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
  • Further, reading is an area that can garner tremendous support from parents.

Linking Teacher and School Leadership Effectiveness to Student Achievement

  • States must start evaluating teachers and school leaders on the basis of student achievement. Period.
  • Right now, teacher evaluation systems focus too heavily on inputs such as credentials and not enough on outputs such as student achievement. By shifting evaluation systems to significantly include measures of student outcomes, in addition to objective observation protocols, student surveys, and other locally decided measures, state leaders can not only create buy-in at the local level, but also engage parents in a meaningful way with transparent data on teachers and school leaders.

Rewarding Excellence, Not Tenure, and Replacing Failure with Success

  • The current system deters some of America’s brightest young adults exiting the college system from joining the teaching profession because of low earning potential and the lack of professionalism.
  • States should compensate and reward teachers commensurate with student achievement in the classroom, rather than number of years in the classroom.

High Academic Standards for Every Student

  • Each state will better serve their students as they raise the expectation for each student across every grade level.  

Scrupulous Accountability on Multiple Levels

  • States are ultimately accountable for the learning that does or does not take place within their schools. 
  • States must hold their schools accountable on more than one level.  And there are multiple levels to rate schools. 
  • States should be encouraged to measure both proficiency and growth for all students to meaningfully differentiate support at the school and classroom level.

Additional Resources


Liberating Learning
Eduwonk
Time Magazine's School of Thought column
Politics K-12 Education Week
Education Next

School Choice for All Students

  • From charters, to tax credits, to virtual, conservative state leaders need to frame the conversation around more effective choice options, not simply more choice options.
  • As conservative state elected officials develop policy to increase the number of charters, extend the use of tax credits, and expand virtual learning offerings, prioritizing best practices will not only build support for the policies, but also provide students with better learning options.

News & Articles

Haslam Drops Raises for Teachers, State Workers

Written by Chas Sisk for The Tennessean on April 01, 2014Education Reform
Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to boost pay for teachers will be put on hold for at least a year, the governor announced Monday, as he works to close a $160 million gap in the state budget. Haslam said Monday that he will put off a proposal to give raises to teachers and other state workers, blaming poor sales and business tax collections. A one-year delay will save the state about $72 million in next year’s budget. The Republican governor said last fall that he wanted to give Tennessee teachers the biggest raises in the country over the next five years, and his initial $30 billion budget proposal released in February included a 2 percent across-the-board increase. The governor said he had not abandoned that goal. “My priorities haven’t changed at all.” He said. “If the funds were there, that was our full intent.” 
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Louisiana Lawmakers Give Preliminary Approval to $40M Higher Ed Fund

Written by The Associated Press for The Times-Picayune on March 31, 2014Education Reform
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to create a $40 million incentive fund to direct dollars to high-demand programs that will fill the petrochemical, engineering and manufacturing jobs his administration has drawn to Louisiana crossed its first legislative hurdle Monday. The bill (House Bill 1033) by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, would set up the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, called the WISE Fund. It would steer money to high-demand areas, like science, technology and research programs, at Louisiana’s four-year universities and community and technical colleges. Dollars for the fund would be allocated through the budget process, and Jindal proposes $40 million for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year.
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How Common Core Disintegrated in Indiana

Written by Eric Weddle for IndyStar on March 30, 2014Education Reform
Four years ago, the phrase “Common Core Standards” did not conjure fear of federal overreach, too much data collection about young students or limits on teacher autonomy. Back in August 2010, the-Gov. Mitch Daniels and Tony Bennett, superintendent of public instruction, persuaded lawmakers, educators and others that Indiana should become an early adopter of these new national standards as a means to improve student performance, take advantage of federal incentives and ultimately raise the competitiveness of Indiana’s workforce.

Few, if any, anticipated the issue would descend into a political war. Yet that’s just what happened after Daniels left office and Bennett fell from power two years later. A tide of grass-roots opponents – many fueled by President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Common Core – turned key lawmakers from supporters into foes intent on dumping the guidelines.
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State Budget Deal Reached; $300 Million for New York City Pre-K

Written by Thomas Kaplan and Javier Hernandez for The New York Times on March 29, 2014Education Reform
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced on Saturday and agreement on a state budget that would provide $300 million for prekindergarten in New York City, but also undercuts other educational polices of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has championed prekindergarten while trying to slow the spread of charter schools. At the same time, lawmakers rejected most of the governor’s proposals to strengthen New York’s campaign fund-raising laws. But surprisingly, Mr. Cuomo said that if concessions that he had received passed with the budget, he would disband a powerful commission he had assembled to investigate corruption in the state’s scandal-plagued government. The agreement also includes several tax changes, including a new property tax rebate for homeowners outside of New York City and a higher threshold for when estate taxes are owed. Lawmakers also moved to reduce the burden on students from tests aligned with the more rigorous set of curricular standards known as the Common Core.
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Common Core: Gov. asserts state's rights

Written by Geoff Pender for The Clarion Ledger on December 16, 2013Education Reform
Gov. Phil Bryant on Monday, with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves at his side, issued an executive order that says Mississippi, not the federal government, has control over its public school standards and curricula. The order comes as Mississippi prepares to implement Common Core, English and mathematics standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states. The Mississippi Department of Education adopted Common Core in 2010.

Bryant’s order wouldn’t stop Common Core implementation but appears to be an effort to appease conservative groups and lawmakers concerned the program would cede control of what’s taught in the classroom to the federal government. Governors in other states have issued similar decrees, trying to allay fear of and opposition to Common Core. “There is serious public concern about the reach of the federal government into state public education policy,” Bryant said, “and this order makes very clear that Mississippi and its local school districts and notthe federal government are vested with the authority to define and implement public education standards.” Bryant vowed “classrooms will not become delivery vehicles for bureaucratic federal mandates.”
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Bill would allow charter schools to expand free of districts, unions

Written by Erin Richards and Jason Stein for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on December 16, 2013Education Reform
Wisconsin could see a dramatic rise in the number of charter schools operating outside of districts and without teachers unions, under a new Assembly bill brought by Republicans that would take independent charters statewide. The proposed legislation would eliminate district-staffed charters and empower a new slate of authorizers to approve independent charters: all four-year and two-year University of Wisconsin System institutions, as well as all the state's regional educational service agencies and technical college district boards. The measure comes as Republican lawmakers intensify their efforts to pass a charter-school bill in the remaining months of the session. Independent charters are controversial because they are public schools run like private businesses; they don't employ unionized staff and don't have to answer to school boards. They exist through a contract, or charter, with an approved nondistrict entity.

Advocates see the schools as important to reform efforts because they're not bogged down by school system bureaucracy and have more flexibility in curriculum and staffing. Opponents criticize the schools for not having to follow the same rules as traditional districts, and for being the darlings of business interests. The schools also, in effect, reduce funding for traditional public schools the charter pupil otherwise might have attended. Only the Milwaukee Common Council, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside authorize independent charters, and most of the schools are in the city of Milwaukee. The Assembly bill introduced Dec. 9 by a mostly suburban Milwaukee group of Republicans — Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield, Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc, Rob Hutton of Brookfield, Don Pridemore of Hartford and Joe Sanfelippo of West Allis, along with Joan Ballweg of Markesan in central Wisconsin — aims to change that.
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Lawsuit challenges vouchers for NC private schools

Written by Jane Stancill for Charlotte Observer on December 11, 2013Education Reform
RALEIGH The battle over private school vouchers in North Carolina is headed to court. On Wednesday, 25 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court, calling the state’s voucher program an unconstitutional assault on public education. The diverse group includes parents, teachers, clergy and well-known names such as Mike Ward, former state schools superintendent, and Judy Chambers, the daughter of the late civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers. Sponsored by the N.C. Association of Educators and the N.C. Justice Center, a left-leaning advocacy group, the lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the tuition grants before they start in 2014. At issue are the “Opportunity Scholarships” passed into law this year by the legislature, which will provide $4,200 in taxpayer dollars for low-income students to attend private schools starting next fall. The General Assembly appropriated $10 million for the scholarships in 2014-15. Supporters argue that the program provides school choice to poor families whose children are stuck in low performing public schools.
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Assembly committee to release Common Core report

Committee to release report on Wednesday

Written by The Associated Press for Channel300.com on December 09, 2013Education Reform
A report on recommendations for changes to the Common Core education standards in place in Wisconsin is scheduled to be released and voted on this week. A special Assembly committee created by Republicans earlier this year to study the standards plans to release its report on Wednesday and then vote on it Thursday. Tea party conservatives have been loudly criticizing the standards that are designed to improve instruction in math and English. Critics said the standards are weak, creating a national curriculum and the government is collecting too much information about students, and But backers said the voluntary standards in place in 45 states are a vast improvement over what Wisconsin previously had and that concerns are overblown.
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Idaho governor defends openness, goals of Common Core

In an online chat, Otterr and panelists say education reform will raise the bar for Idaho schools.

Written by BILL ROBERTS for The Idaho Statesman on December 06, 2013Education Reform
Gov. Butch Otter sought to calm concerns Thursday about changes in education that could come from his task force for improving public schools and he lined up solidly behind Common Core, a key element in his plan to revamp education. As part of a live, two-hour chat on the Idaho Statesman's website, Otter and members of his task force took questions from the public. Panelists were Linda Clark, Meridian School District superintendent; Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, House Education Committee chairman; and Boise parent Mike Lanza.
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Pence seeks pre-K vouchers, road money in 2nd year as governor

Written by Tom LoBianco for The Associated Press on December 05, 2013Education Reform
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will seek to expand the nation's broadest school voucher program to disadvantaged preschool-age children and increase access to charter schools in his second year as governor. Pence also says he plans to seek new money for roads and push for a series of economic measures, including eliminating the personal property tax for businesses and altering regulations to attract more companies to the state. Pence outlined his agenda Thursday at a legislative conference organized by the Indianapolis law firm Bingham Greenbaum Doll. He has said previously that he plans to spend his second session with the General Assembly pushing for a range of issues broadly focused on improving Indiana's economy. Pence had moderate success pushing through his initiatives during his first legislative session this year.
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Bipartisan Idaho school reform bills unveiled

Written by Betsy Z. Russell for The Spokesman-Review on December 05, 2013Education Reform
BOISE – In a rare moment of bipartisanship on school reform in Idaho, Democratic state lawmakers unveiled four far-reaching bills Wednesday, and GOP state schools Superintendent Tom Luna endorsed them. “This isn’t a partisan issue,” said Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise. “We all know that we need to work together. The public expects us to work together.” Within hours, GOP Gov. Butch Otter and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, also had encouraging words about the bills, which would enact the 20 recommendations from a task force that Otter appointed to chart the future of education reform in Idaho. Those items range from restoring $82 million a year in operational funds cut from the schools in recent years to new ways to determine when students should advance to the next grade.

Luna said, “This is a huge step forward, as it creates the bipartisan support for education reform that we’ve wanted, but it’s been elusive.” Luna’s Students Come First school reform laws, which included rolling back teachers’ collective bargaining rights and a new focus on online learning, passed the Legislature without a single Democratic vote. Voters resoundingly rejected the laws in the 2012 election. Otter, who had backed the rejected laws, then appointed a 31-member task force drawing from all sides in the education reform debate, and it proposed the 20 recommendations, which backers call a strategic plan for the future of education in Idaho. Among them are a teacher career ladder that would bring big pay increases along with a new tiered licensing program, and stepping up classroom technology, teacher mentoring and training, and advanced opportunities for students.
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GOP pushes performance-based teacher furloughs in Pennsylvania

Written by Karen Langley for Pittsburgh Post Gazzette on December 03, 2013Education Reform
HARRISBURG — Currently, state law allows teachers to be laid off only for reasons related to declines in student enrollment or changes in the organization of a school or district. And when a school district does furlough teachers, it must choose who to let go only by seniority. With the support of the Corbett administration, several House Republicans have proposed changes to the furlough rules. The House Education Committee on Tuesday heard testimony about proposals to add “economic reasons” as a cause to furlough teachers and to allow performance to be considered in selecting who loses their job.

The proposals build on a teacher evaluation system, new this school year, through which student performance counts for half of a teacher’s rating. Previously, teachers were assessed only through classroom observation. The changes to furlough rules are opposed by teachers unions, while education reform groups have registered their support. Carolyn Dumaresq, the acting education secretary, said in written testimony that the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett believes districts should be allowed to furlough for economic reasons and that furlough decisions should be based on teacher performance.
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As state shifts to Common Core, students have to dig deeper into subjects

Written by JENNIFER CHAMBERS for THE DETROIT NEWS on December 02, 2013Education Reform
In Kelly Bender’s first-grade classroom in Troy, every school desk is empty and students are on the move. Some are taking places on colorful pieces of classroom carpet, math boards on their laps and dry-erase markers in hand, trying to solve single-digit subtraction problems. One stands at a Smart Board, drawing “math mountains” to solve an 8 minus 5 problem. Others take turns at the interactive whiteboard to create circle drawings or write out a numeric equation to explain the answer to a math problem. Different approaches, but the students have one thing in common: They are solving problems under Michigan’s Common Core State Standards, a set of rigorous goals in math and English for students in grades K-12.

They were approved by the State Board of Education in 2010. School districts across Michigan have spent the last three years integrating the standards into their curriculums. Over the summer, lawmakers hit the pause button on Common Core by blocking funding for the new fiscal year, stepping into a nationwide controversy over the standards sparked by those who consider Common Core a federal intrusion into local education matters. Lawmakers resumed funding in October, but asked state education officials to report to them their research on state assessment options aligned to the standards. The report is due today. Lawmakers will need to approve an appropriation to pay for the test selected by the state.
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Wisconsin Supreme Court to consider two voter ID cases

Written by Patrick Marley for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on November 20, 2013Education Reform
Madison — The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to take up two separate cases over the state's voter ID law, which has been blocked since shortly after it took effect in 2012. The move by the high court cancels oral arguments that were to be held next month before the District 2 Court of Appeals in Waukesha in one case. In the second case, the Supreme Court is agreeing to review a decision by the Madison-based District 4 Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court's action comes six days after the Republican-run state Assembly voted to soften the voter ID law in hopes of overcoming four legal challenges. The state Senate is also controlled by Republicans, but leaders in that house have said they want to see how courts react to the cases before deciding whether to tweak the voter ID requirement.

The short orders issued Wednesday by the Supreme Court put the two state cases before it and clear a path for decisions to be rendered by June. No one dissented in the decisions to take the cases. Meanwhile, two other challenges are being considered in federal court in Milwaukee. A two-week trial in those cases wrapped up last week, and U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman is expected to issue a written ruling early next year on whether the law is constitutional and in keeping with the federal Voting Rights Act. The law would have to overcome all legal challenges for the voter ID requirement to be put back in place. "I am very pleased the court has agreed to take these cases and I look forward to defending the law," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement.
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In Nashua, a new era for teacher evaluation

Written by Barbara Taormina for The New Hampshire Union Leader on November 20, 2013Education Reform
NASHUA — School officials have spent a lot of time looking at more effective ways to evaluate students, and they are also looking at a new way to evaluate teachers. Superintendent Mark Conrad and Nashua High School South art teacher Robin Peringer met with the Board of Education’s Human Resources Committee on Wednesday to report on an ongoing teacher evaluation pilot program involving 50 teachers. While more detailed evaluations that include student test scores and other assessments are required for schools districts that received federal school funding, Conrad said the new evaluations are more about helping teachers become better educators.

Under the current system, administrators and teachers agree on a date and time when principals will visit a classroom for about 40 minutes. Principals then provide each teacher with a narrative evaluation and possibly some suggestions on how to improve. Under that type of system, which Conrad called a dog and pony show, most teachers, nationwide, have been rated highly effective. But with the new system now being developed, principals and other evaluators will make six short unannounced visits to classrooms to observe teachers. And rather than recording their ideas and impressions, evaluators will use a rubric that defines standards and performance levels. Teachers will receive a numerical score — 1, 2, 3 or 4 — for every three-year evaluation period.
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States Insist on Third Grade Reading Proficiency

Written by Adrienne Lu for Stateline on November 15, 2013Education Reform
Educators have known for decades that learning how to read by the third grade is a critical milestone for children. Students who fall too far behind by the third grade rarely catch up. One recent study found that students who don’t read well by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Despite progress in some states, only 35 percent of fourth graders across the country are proficient in reading, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released earlier this month.

“I think it’s an outrage,” said Carol Rasco, chief executive officer of Reading is Fundamental, a children’s literacy nonprofit organization that distributes millions of books to needy children every year. “To me, that’s an emergency. It’s a crisis.” States across the country appear to agree. About 30 states have adopted measures to try to meet the reading milestone, according to Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaboration of nonprofits, foundations and communities. Last month, the National Governors Association released a report urging governors to take five policy actions to improve reading by the third grade.
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TN leads nation in math, reading gains

Written by Joey Garrison for The Tennessean on November 07, 2013Education Reform
Tennessee claimed the title Thursday of fastest-improving state in academic growth after boasting the greatest leaps nationally in math and reading assessment scores by middle school students, a feat that drew glowing praise from the top U.S. education official. A celebration among state officials, Republican lawmakers and educators erupted Thursday inside a Mt. Juliet middle school auditorium after Gov. Bill Haslam — who has taken criticism for piloting controversial education reforms — unveiled historic results from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress report card.

The report, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, highlighted Tennessee as one of only three public school jurisdictions — and the only state — that made math and reading gains in the fourth and eighth grades from 2011 to 2013. In fact, Tennessee’s overall growth in these areas marks the largest collective test score jump in the federal assessment’s history. “If you look, it really wasn’t even close,” said Haslam, a Republican, who called the announcement perhaps his most significant during his nearly three years in office. “We literally blew away the other states when it came to education results.”
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Wyoming students outperform the national average in Math and Reading

Written by BOB BECK for Wyoming Public Media on November 07, 2013Education Reform
Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students outperformed the national average in reading and mathscores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAPE scores. The test is administered every two years. Wyoming did especially well in 4th grade math where it improved by three points from 2011 and five points from 2009.   State Education Director Rich Crandall is pleased. “It means we are getting a good return on our investment.  If you look at that 4th grade math category, we are outpacing the growth in the United States.  So what we as a Department want is to step back and say ok…how can we take that same kind of success we are getting in 4th grade math and apply it to every other category.”

Will Donkersgoed of the Wyoming Department of Education says there were other positive results.  For instance 4th grade girls increased their math scores by 4 points in the last two years. “That essentially eliminated any results between them and boys.  And there are similar types of stories for Hispanic students in grade 8 math and Native American students in grade 4 math increased their scores by nine points on the NAPE scale.”
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Delaware principals need to be tougher in evaluating teachers, state says

Only 1 percent of Delaware teachers were rated ineffective

Written by Matthew Albright for The News Journal on November 06, 2013Education Reform
Only 1 percent of Delaware teachers were rated ineffective during the first full year of the state’s evaluation system, according to new Department of Education figures. State officials say that shows school leaders aren’t making the tough evaluations needed to give honest feedback and weed out low-performing teachers. “Going forward, we need to ensure that school leaders implement the system well, so that our overall results reflect the reality of what’s happening in our classrooms,” said Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. “When only one in five of our students is graduating high school ready for their next step, we still have a long way to go.”

Principals, who make most of the evaluations, say they were hesitant to give teachers low ratings based on a big, brand-new system many still were learning and some don’t think is fair. Though there’s disagreement on how best to go about it, teacher evaluations are regarded widely as an important part of improvingschools. Many teachers are keenly interested in their scores, because good evaluations can qualify them for bonuses and career advancement, while bad ones can put them under scrutiny and even put their jobs in jeopardy.
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McCrory launches teacher advisory committee

Written by Lynn Bonner for The Charlotte Observer on November 05, 2013Education Reform
CARY Gov. Pat McCrory launched a teacher advisory group Tuesday that he charged with making recommendations on issues such as teacher pay, testing and technology. At a meeting at the SAS campus in Cary, he asked the group to keep in mind the needs of businesses looking for educated workers. “This is an issue that’s going to determine the future of our state and the future of our jobs,” he said.

McCrory said improving education was “not a Democratic or Republican issue,” but public education has become a flashpoint for McCrory and the Republican legislature. The first meeting of the advisory committee – 24 K-12 teachers from across the state – was held the day after teachers and parents around the state protested per-pupil spending that has fallen to near the bottom of national rankings and low teacher pay. Even SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, in his short welcome to committee members, said he hoped the legislature “will find some money to pay you a little bit more. Some of the salary data is not very good.”
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Common Core standards for K-12 students approved by Senate, close to implementation

Written by Kristen M. Daum for The Detroit Free Press on October 24, 2013Education Reform
LANSING — The Michigan Department of Education could begin implementing Common Core Standards for K-12 students in the state soon, now that the state Senate has given its approval. By a voice vote today, the Senate approved a resolution that allows the department to implement the national standards under certain conditions. A voice vote means each senator’s position on the bill is not recorded. The Senate’s revised version of the resolution — HCR 11 — now goes back to the House for final approval. The House approved its version in late September by an 85-21 vote. Common Core State Standards are a national set of expectations of what students need to know in order to be career- and college-ready when they leave high school. The standards have been controversial in Michigan and some other states where people expressed concern about the potential loss of local control.
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School voucher enrollment goes up 38 percent despite lawsuits, budget fight

Written by Danielle Dreilinger for The Times-Picayune on October 21, 2013Education Reform
Despite legal and fiscal uncertainty, enrollment increased in Louisiana's school voucher program this year: 6,751 students compared with 4,876 last year at this time, or a 38 percent increase, according to state data released Monday. Satisfaction with the schools appears to be strong as well, with many returning schools doubling or even tripling their voucher enrollment. Vouchers, officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, allow low-income students to attend participating schools at taxpayer expense. All the schools so far have been private or parochial with the exception of one Opelousas public school. Students must be either coming from C, D or F schools, or entering kindergarten. The program began as a New Orleans pilot in 2008 and is in its second year of statewide operation.

Eric Lewis, Louisiana director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, said he was excited to see the increase. He said he was hoping for even more participants, but thought the enrollment looks good considering "all the debate that's been out there." Indeed, the voucher program has been a target of litigation in Louisiana as it has in many other places. Sign-up for this school year opened as the state Supreme Court was about to consider the constitutionality of the program. The justices ruled in May that vouchers could not be funded by siphoning money from a budget reserved for public schools, forcing Gov. Bobby Jindal to request a separate $40 million-plus line item from the Legislature.
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Matthew Tully: Here's why school vouchers are a good idea

Written by Matthew Tully for Indianapolis Star on October 20, 2013Education Reform
Assuming you had options, would you send your son or daughter to a school that didn’t educate them well? My answer to that question would be an emphatic “hell, no,” of course; and I’m fairly certain most other parents would say the same thing, and they’d say it just as emphatically. After all, it has to be a heartbreak to feel forced by geography or income to send children to a school that doesn’t meet their academic or social needs, or that doesn’t ensure they are growing and developing to their full potential. It’s a simple question: Would you send your kid to a school that didn’t work for them? It seems to me that question alone is what the debate about vouchers should center on.

So, yes, I’m fine with the huge growth in vouchers in this state. As The Star reported recently, Indiana is growing its low-income voucher program faster than any state in the nation. Indiana education officials report that enrollment in the program more than doubled this school year and now counts roughly 20,000 students. That’s 20,000 kids whose families de­cided to send them to schools that better met their needs, that better fit their personalities, that better addressed their unique strengths and weaknesses, and that they believe give them a better chance at receiving the education they deserve. That’s a lot of kids whose families have made clear that they want and expect better. Good for them.
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School voucher numbers soar for Indiana

Written by The Associated Press for The Tennessean on October 14, 2013Education Reform
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana could soon become the nation’s leader for use of school vouchers if unprecedented growth in the state’s school choice program continues. The Indiana Department of Education reports that more than 20,000 students have signed up for the three-year-old voucher program for the 2013-14 school year. That’s more than double last year’s number. The numbers put Indiana second in the nation for use of the vouchers, which give qualifying families public money to offset tuition costs at private schools. Milwaukee has more than 24,000 students enrolled in its program, while Ohio has just under 16,000. But both of those programs grew slowly over the course of many years, The Indianapolis Star reported. School choice advocates say they aren’t surprised by Indiana’s rapid growth, especially in Indianapolis. Marion County accounted for 30 percent of all voucher students statewide last year. “The growth in Indiana’s voucher program is amazing, but not totally unexpected given the quality of the non-public schools in and around Marion County,” said Robert Enlow, CEO of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation, which advocates for vouchers nationally.
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Wyoming education board stands firm on Common Core

Written by Associated Press for The Billings Gazette on October 09, 2013Education Reform
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The state Board of Education is sticking with new statewide K-12 education standards in English, language arts and math despite critics who say the standards erode local control. "The state Board of Education's position of being in favor of the Common Core has been reaffirmed," board Chairman Ron Micheli said. "And it will stay that way until there is a change in the position of the board." Wyoming is among about 45 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Members of the board heard a presentation Tuesday from Amy Edmonds with the Wyoming Liberty Group, which opposes the new standards. "We cannot afford to continue down this path of adopting every new 'it' idea proposed as the silver bullet in education improvement," Edmonds said. "Wyoming's citizens, our communities and our mineral wealth all afford us with incredible opportunities to create a system that is world class. We simply need the courage and the vision to do it ourselves." Edmonds asked the board to consider stopping the rollout or ending the use of the Common Core and returning to a system that better allows for local control.
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