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March 22, 2006

School Choice Around the World

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The Education Forum, an education policy advocacy organization based in Wellington, New Zealand issued a new report, School Choice, A Hot Topic with findings like:
-96 percent of New Zealand parents wanted to be able to choose the school their children attend.
-The British favor letting parents choose either state or independent schools and have public funding follow children to the chosen school.
-Sweden saw a huge increase in government funded independent schools since school choice was introduced in 1992.
-School choice has continued expanding in the U.S. with both charter and vouchers. Charters now enroll 1,000,000 students in 3400 schools. The first charter school opened in 1992. 100,000 students are served by vouchers and tax funded scholarships. Some 400,000 families are eligible for tax credits for private school tuition. Favorable legislation for school choice continues to be passed by legislatures.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2006

Options for At-risk Youth

The American Youth Policy Forum has made an extraordinary contribution to understanding why some programs click and other don't. They have conducted careful, well-funded studies of 133 alternative programs for at-risk youth. These are summarized in Some Things Do Make a Difference for Youth and More Things That Make a Difference for Youth.

The reports contain descriptions of many programs. The critical elements for success make sense and in some ways are surprising. Unfortunately, many programs do not pay sufficient heed to the factors, which are:

Amer. Youth Policy Forum.jpg-Quality of Implementation
-Caring, Knowledgeable Adults
-High Standards and Expectations
-Parent/Guardian Participation
-Community Involvement
-Holistic Approaches
-Work-Based Learning
-Longterm Services, Supports & Follow-Up
-Youth as Resources/ Community Service and Service Learning

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Another report from the same source, Whatever it Takes: How 12 Communities are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth describes specific successful local programs and a number of national programs.These reports, available online, describe each of these factors with examples, recommendations, glossary and excellent references and resources. Well-written and useful pieces of work with powerful implications for all of education when we are losing a dropout every 9 seconds!

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2006

Street Schools

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A group of "street schools" serve severe at-risk youth, usually students turned-out by other schools serving at-risk populations. The National Association of Street Schools has a membership of 43 schools serving some 3,000 students. All are private schools with a range of funding including the Gates Foundation's Alternative High School Initiative. The first, the Denver Street School started 21 years ago in Denver by Tom Tillapaugh and received recognition in the U.S. Department March, 2006 issue of the Education Innovator. Another choice for learning.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

Recent Reports on Choice

Public Policy Institute.gifTwo recent reports call for school reform on a large scale.
Put Learning First by Paul Hill recommends that school boards hold a "portfolio" of educational options, each different, some contracted for but all with major site decisions over program, staffing and budgets. The school board would fund and monitor the magnet, traditional, charter, at-risk, district, etc. schools for performance. Their gettingchoiceright.gif public oversight would be tight regulation over civil rights and student performance but loose regulation on procedures.

Getting Choice Right from the Progressive Policy Institute suggests ways to better design school choice policies to reach all students and families. This collection of essays, an outgrowth of discussions by a panel, addresses processes for education choices not whether to have them. The panel determined choice is here to stay and it's a matter of how it's managed and promoted regarding equity, resources and accountability.

Both of these important reports thoughtfully review critical issues regarding choice in readable formats.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)