Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 - A Banner Year in Education Reform

It was a banner year for education reform.  We told our story on the big screen in Won't Back Down and the movie broke 25 year old box office records.  It was also a heartwarming story of what can happen when parents band together to turn over public resources to corporations looking to take over a school.  It was easily one of the three most realistic school movies of the year along with Pitch Perfect and Red Dawn, which also demonstrated just how far our school children are falling behind Korea.

2012 was a great year for Michelle Rhee who showed herself as a true champion not only of putting students first, but of respecting second amendment rights as her organization endorsed many of the Michigan state legislators who pushed to allow concealed carry in Michigan schools.   After the Newtown shootings however, she wasted no time in reminding people what's really important saying in a statement, "events like these also strengthen our resolve to do exactly that -- improve schools for children and thereby improve entire communities. The entire StudentsFirst organization -- including the members of our team in Connecticut -- recommit ourselves to that mission today."

Charter schools were in the news as NorthStar High School in Florida shut its doors for financial difficulty and had to let million dollar a year principal Kelly Young go.   Nearly three quarters of NorthStar’s students failed the state reading test; half failed in math, but Young pocketed a salary of at least $824,000 a year.  Still, it couldn't be easy to work for a school that couldn't afford adequate resources.  State governments need to do something about funding for charter schools. 

In Chicago, I wonder how long Juan Rangel and his $260,000+ salary will continue to be able to have school openings like this one, if charters do not receive more tax dollars. 

Speaking of Chicago, Rahm Emnauel showed himself to be a true reformer by standing up to the Chicago Teachers Union and crushing their strike.  Rahm managed to retain the right for principals to demand math and read be taught in school and that teachers work a set day rather than coming and going whenever they feel like it. 

Michigan became a right to work state.  Nothing can turn an economy around faster than an abundance of new $8 an hour jobs and I expect most Michigan residents will be happy to snap up 2 or 3 of these jobs themselves.

Jonathan Alter proved to be the journalist of the year.  Alter was quick to pounce when Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis posted on Diane Ravitch's blog, "Rosenberg’s “false outrage” needs to be checked. That same false outrage should show itself when policies his colleagues support kill and disenfranchise children from schools across this nation. We in Chicago have been the victims of their experiments on our children since the current secretary of Education “ran” CPS."

Jonathan Alter responded, "Chicago Teachers union Pres Karen Lewis says TFA "killing children".

It's not like there are a bunch of school children dying in Chicago now or something.  Sure, there are students being attacked and killed because their schools were shut down without paying attention to gang or neighborhood boundaries.  Sure, the supporters of that policy are the same ones who support TFA, but that doesn't mean that TFA is killing students.  Karen Lewis is way out of line as you can see.

Finally, Diane Ravitch continues to hate children, but that's neither here nor there.

Many great education reformers have moved on to bigger and better things.   Tony Bennet, for instance, has left Indiana and I am sure we'll be hearing great things from him.

Finally, a court ruled Louisiana's great voucher program unconstitutional and students are again being indoctrinated with talk of climate change and gravity.  Small children are being told that The Flintstones is not a documentary and that handling poison snakes is a dangerous thing to do regardless of your faith.  Still, I am sure the voucher bill will be retooled and provide a blueprint for our country in the days to come.

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