‘Like treating cancer with a Band-Aid’

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Learning vocabulary starts long before typical preschool age.

“The federal government has a horrific record on preschool,” says Joy Pullman in The Federalist.

And she says no one is willing to admit what the root problems are: “The most curious thing about the preschool debate is that everyone acts as if dazed children just pop out of the prairie at age four.”

Of course, that’s not true – the learning gap starts long before typical preschool age, and yet no one is pushing for “preschool” at age 1, which is a lot less easy to promote than a program for a 3-year-old.

She also points out the elephant in the room:

Let me suggest another reason for the correlation between poverty and language loss in this country: fractured families. In the United States, as Brookings Institution research has shown, poverty is essentially the result of bad life decisions, not lack of opportunity. The study found that Americans have a 2 percent chance of living in poverty if they do just three simple things: finish high school (not college), work full time, and marry before bearing children.

Click here to read the rest of this excellent in-depth piece, “Government Preschool: Like Treating Cancer With A Band-Aid,” at thefederalist.com.

‘Like treating cancer with a Band-Aid’

“The federal government has a horrific record on preschool,” writes Joy Pullman in The Federalist.

And she says no one is willing to admit what the root problems are: “The most curious thing about the preschool debate is that everyone acts as if dazed children just pop out of the prairie at age four.”

Of course, that’s not true – the learning gap starts long before typical preschool age, and yet no one is pushing for “preschool” at age 1, which is a lot less easy to promote than a program for a 3-year-old.

She also points out the elephant in the room:

Let me suggest another reason for the correlation between poverty and language loss in this country: fractured families. In the United States, as Brookings Institution research has shown, poverty is essentially the result of bad life decisions, not lack of opportunity. The study found that Americans have a 2 percent chance of living in poverty if they do just three simple things: finish high school (not college), work full time, and marry before bearing children.

Click here to read the rest of this excellent in-depth piece, “Government Preschool: Like Treating Cancer With A Band-Aid,” at thefederalist.com.

How Obamacare is hurting its supposed beneficiaries in Utah

One of the many bitter ironies relating to the creation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is how it is hurting many of the people it was supposed to help.

A new illustration from data analysis and visualization specialist Bob Rudis shows this quite succinctly. His mashup of data from Investors.com and Gallup collects in one chart the heartbreaking human impact of the Obamacare debacle. Below is an image detailing some of the organizations in Utah that have had to cut work hours and/or jobs because of Obamacare.

utah-job-loss-obamacare

 

Many of these people are part of low-income households. The hours they are allowed to work are being reduced because organizations are doing what they have to do just to survive the implementation of Obamacare. If they don’t, even more jobs will be lost. The effect on these folks, with reduced hours leading to lower incomes, is one more example of the unintended consequences of this disastrous public policy.

A further irony: Many of those most affected just want the income – they don’t even need or want the insurance offered by their employers because, for example, a spouse already gets employer-sponsored insurance. Unfortunately, these victims will soon be joined by millions more who are about to feel the pain caused by Obamacare — a healthcare “solution” riddled with sickening problems.

Objections to Utah’s school grading system are demeaning, hypocritical

800px-School_bus_invasionUtah’s education associations – representing the interests of various adults in public schools – have come out of the woodwork in opposition to Utah’s new school grading policy.

This is not surprising, since the idea of school grading is new and innovative, and these associations tend to reflexively oppose anything new and innovative in public schools. But while association opposition to changing the status quo is normal, the demeaning and hypocritical arguments they use to justify their opposition are not.

Up front, let’s clearly summarize the school grading policy: Utah’s local public schools will get a performance-based letter grade (A to F), based on student academic growth and achievement. No legal rewards or penalties are attached to these grades. The grades are simply to inform interested parents about the strengths of their child’s public school, as well as the areas that need improvement.

Now let’s consider the associations’ arguments in opposition to school grading, based on quotes published in The Salt Lake Tribune.

According to Utah’s largest public school teachers union: “Your average parent doesn’t know what’s going on. … And if we don’t wake up the citizens of this state, it’s going to be too late.” So the problem, according to the union, is parental ignorance, from which they intend to save us.

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Guest column: Utah issues letter grades to public schools

A PlusBy the Association of American Educators

During the 2013 legislative season, the state of Utah passed SB721 in an effort to foster a culture of transparency in public schools. Similar to bills in 15 other states, the new law measures various sources and awards an easy-to-understand letter grade to all public schools. According to a report, 55 percent of Utah’s 855 public schools earned either an A or a B grade. Just 14 percent of schools earned a D or an F.

Grades were based on a combination of student growth and student performance on criterion-referenced tests in language arts, math, and science. High schools were judged, in part, on the additional standard of graduation rates. Schools were also asked to test at least 95 percent of all their students and 95 percent of their underperforming students.

Education reform experts agree that the new system will be effective. “With the clear results from an A-F grading program, Utah is placing a strong focus on student performance. Parents and students are finally getting the clarity they deserve. We applaud Utah for recognizing both achievement and growth,” said Patricia Levesque, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

While we must work together to ensure careful implementation and practical grading criteria, this new accountability program is a step in the right direction for Utah’s education stakeholders.

By giving every school an easy-to-understand letter-grade ranking, the state has created the simplest and clearest representation of how schools truly are performing – both good and bad. This new system will shed light on the education reform debate and allow parents and community members the ability to understand how their local schools are performing. An informed and engaged public will be instrumental in improving schools in the future.

In the new age of accountability in public schools, teachers are also embracing policies that promote transparency and results. According to AAE’s National Membership Survey, 89 percent of teachers surveyed support services such as GreatSchools. These programs and organizations allow stakeholders to search and compare schools in their area via letter grades.

Teachers are, in fact, supportive of policies that easily identify schools based on performance. Although improving schools is a complex issue, we must embrace accountability and transparency in our public schools.

This column is also posted here.

Utah’s education system gets ‘D’ in financial transparency

Are Utah’s public education administrators properly committed to openness and transparency regarding their stewardship over public schools and the tax dollars that pay for them? A recent analysis from the Cato Institute suggests the answer is no.

The analysis graded state education department websites for the financial transparency they provide. Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) received a score of 65/100 – good for a “D” grade and coming in at 23rd out of 50 states. Two states got a grade in the “A” range (New Mexico got an “A” and South Dakota an “A-”), and 19 states got an “F” or a “F-” grade.

Read the rest of this post here at Sutherland Daily.

Utah's education system gets ‘D’ in financial transparency

800px-School_bus_invasionAre Utah’s public education administrators properly committed to openness and transparency regarding their stewardship over public schools and the tax dollars that pay for them? A recent analysis from the Cato Institute suggests the answer is no.

The analysis graded state education department websites for the financial transparency they provide. Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) received a score of 65/100 – good for a “D” grade and coming in at 23rd out of 50 states. Two states got a grade in the “A” range (New Mexico got an “A” and South Dakota an “A-”), and 19 states got an “F” or a “F-” grade.

Utah’s score was driven primarily by the incompleteness of the “per pupil expenditure” (PPE) figures reported by the USOE. In its grading criteria, Cato states that PPE represents “the ‘price’ of a year’s worth of public schooling” and is “the fairest and most meaningful way to compare spending levels among states and districts of various sizes, and to measure trends in spending over time.” This makes PPE “the most intelligible measure by which the public can evaluate school system spending and efficiency,” making its accuracy especially important for financial transparency in the education system.

The analysis reports that the PPE figures reported by USOE include only operating costs and leave out expenses such as spending on new school construction, even though such expenses are paid for by taxpayers. Including these additional expenses to give an accurate measure of total PPE would have raised USOE’s public education financial transparency grade by 20 points, bringing it up from a “D” to a “B.”

USOE also lost points for not reporting pension costs, and for providing incomplete reporting on the costs of public education employees. Full marks on these two measures would have brought USOE’s grade up into the “A” range.

Of course, financial transparency on the State Office of Education website is only one aspect of openness and transparency in Utah’s government-run public education system. But since we live in a digital age when most information is made available online, online financial transparency is an important measure of public education officials’ commitment to openness and transparency. Hopefully, Utah’s education leaders will see this report as an opportunity to further open up public education and increase Utahns’ ability to access financial information regarding the schools that are responsible for educating their children, and are being paid for by their tax dollars.

Higher education wasted on stay-at-home mom? Hardly

Stories_of_beowulf_mother_and_son_readingA Princeton grad and stay-at-home mom has written an excellent article about the value of an Ivy League education — even if it is never used for full-time employment.

Anne-Marie Maginnis writes,

[W]hen a highly educated woman is home with her children day in and day out, she weaves the riches of her education into their lives in continuous, subtle, living ways. This is a priceless preparation for a lifetime of learning. This gift is the transmission of culture.

We need not live under the fallacy fabricated by the feminist movement that women’s contributions only count if they are publicly showered with lofty positions of power, awards, money or recognition. Maginnis adds,

[P]erhaps the most meaningful way in which stay-at-home moms use their elite degrees is by raising their children to be well-educated, confident leaders of the next generation. When a mother with an Ivy League education stays home to raise children, she is making it her full-time job to invest the best that she has received, including her education, into these children. She is choosing to form a few people in a profound way, rather than to affect a broader audience with a smaller per-person investment.

These mothers are not sacrificing pay, prestige, and a stimulating career without good reason. They feel they are giving their children something they could not otherwise give if they were out of the house all day. This is not to denigrate mothers who cannot afford to stay home; they obviously serve their family, often at great personal sacrifice. Nor is it to criticize working mothers who choose to share their talent with the larger world. It is merely to point out that highly educated women who choose to stay home with their children have a unique contribution to make as well.

The entire article can be found here.

Higher education wasted on stay-at-home mom? Hardly

A Princeton grad and stay-at-home mom has written an excellent article about the value of an Ivy League education — even if it is never used for full-time employment.

Anne-Marie Maginnis writes,

[W]hen a highly educated woman is home with her children day in and day out, she weaves the riches of her education into their lives in continuous, subtle, living ways. This is a priceless preparation for a lifetime of learning. This gift is the transmission of culture.

Read the rest of this post here at Sutherland Daily.

Tempest over attendance law: It’s all about money and power

800px-School_bus_invasionMuch will be argued over Senator Aaron Osmond’s proposal to revise Utah’s compulsory attendance law, but my guess is, most people will ignore the central question: Who (or what) has final say over the education of children? Utah’s compulsory attendance law provides one answer: the state. But other Utah statutes, not to mention the Utah Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court, provide another answer: parents.

I think there is some room for fact-based, reasonable compromise to align Utah’s compulsory attendance law with federal and state constitutional law and other state statutes.

In 2003 and again in 2011, Sutherland Institute detailed in a publication, Saving Education and Ourselves: The Moral Case for Self-Reliance in Education, the legal and public policy histories regarding the “upbringing and education” of children. Additionally, a former Sutherland board member, Daniel Witte, and I authored a paper for Brigham Young University Law Review (2008), “Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice,” wherein we argued, in part, that the pretext for compulsory education has been used consistently by federal and state governments to unjustly assimilate (i.e., “Americanize”) indigenous, immigrant and religious minorities – a pretext that assumes that the state has the final say over the education of children.

Closer to home, during the great voucher debate of 2007, I wrote Vouchers, Vows, and Vexations: The Historic Dilemma over Utah’s Education Identity – again, providing some historical narrative about the control of education, especially (and unavoidably) regarding the experience of Latter-day Saints with public education in Utah.

This debate over who controls the education of children is an old and important one.

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