Indy Star on pre-K, Daniels on education, Duncan on charters

Some interesting reading on education topics …

Sunday’s Indianapolis Star featured a front-page story about Indiana’s lack of support for early childhood education. The paper followed up with a Wednesday editorial. The Star reports that Pre-K Now, a national advocacy group, rates Indiana as one of the eight worst states for public pre-kindergarten programs. “It’s one of the few states where leadership has not made the smart investments other states have thought were important,” says Pre-K Now director Marci Young.

Karen Francisco, in the Learning Curve blog at the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, writes about the attitudes toward public education expressed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in his recent Weekly Standard profile. The profile got national attention for Daniels’ comment that Republicans should strike a “truce” on social issues if they want to win elections. Francisco’s headline: “No truce with public education.”

The U.S. Department of Education website posts U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s remarks on July 1 to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. Duncan offers a bit of tough love but makes clear he speaks as a member of the family. “There are a couple of things that I think we have to do much better, frankly, as a movement,” he says. That’s right, “we,” not “you.”

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Winners and losers in the school-funding game

Monroe County Community School Corp. board member Keith Klein asked an important question last week when the board was voting to put a school-funding referendum on the November ballot: Will “winners and losers” result from Indiana’s growing reliance on property-tax referenda to fund school operating expenses?

The answer appears to be yes. The school districts where citizens have voted to raise property taxes in order to better fund their schools include some of the wealthiest districts in the state. In less well-off districts, school-funding referenda have typically been defeated.

The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at the Indiana University School of Education recently released a policy brief on Indiana school-funding referenda, along with a data base of results. They provide timely information about the referenda that have been attempted since the current system for funding school took effect last year.

In 2009 and so far in 2010, 13 school districts have asked voters to raise property taxes to support their general funds, Continue reading

Charter school stories here, there and everywhere

Maybe it’s pack journalism, or maybe the charter-school phenomenon has broken through to the mainstream media. Whatever the case, you could hardly open a newspaper this week without seeing a story about charters –- even though they enroll less than 3 percent of the nation’s students.

Both the Associated Press and the New York Times gave big play to stories about charter schools run by Chicago’s Renaissance Schools Fund, a business-backed philanthropy.

The AP story, a compelling feature that ran in the Washington Post and many other papers, focuses on Urban Prep, a high school on Chicago’s tough South Side that boasts a 100 percent college-acceptance rate for its 2010 graduates. Continue reading