August 29, 2003

This is good, this is exciting ... and now you know what that sneaky fellow George Bush is really up to

At School, a New Era of Multiple Choices for Parents by Gail Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor

...This fall marks the first year when neighborhood public schools feel the brunt of a new national experiment in accountability - and the impact on parents may be even greater than that on students and their teachers.

One result: more choices for parents. This fall, parents of 54 million students nationwide will see more comparative data about public schools than has been available, even to top administrators.

Parents will know which schools have highly qualified teachers, and which do not. They will know which schools are making "adequate yearly progress" toward state standards, and which are not.

The question is: What to do with the new information?

If parents act on new insights by moving their kids to different schools - ones that aren't deemed "in need of improvement," for example - it could have big implications not just for the future of their children but also for the shape of school reforms nationwide...

...The No Child Left Behind Act, which President Bush once dubbed "the cornerstone of my administration," adds new choices. It requires that all groups of students - whatever their race, ethnicity, poverty level, English proficiency, or disability - demonstrate "adequate yearly progress." If not, parents have options, which begin to kick in this year.

For parents in the least successful of US schools, the choice may be to leave the neighborhood school or to tap into some $2 billion in federal funds to buy academic help, such as tutoring or after-school program.

"The new law says that choices should not depend on your ZIP code or your personal wealth. The goal now is to make choice a permanent part of public education for every student, and we're definitely moving in that direction," says Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona Superintendent of Education and CEO of the Education Leaders Council, an education reform advocacy group...

Options. Choices. Parents choosing, not bureaucrats...

President Bush let Teddy Kennedy put any amount of money and foolishness he wanted into that education long as he got to add this morsel of yeast to the dough. I think the ferment has just barely begun.

Posted by John Weidner at August 29, 2003 11:38 AM
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