Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jay P. Greene Nails it Again.

Earlier today I was chatting on a mailing list with people about homeschooling policies. One of the so called "advocates" just does not seem to understand how dangerous the NEA is to homeschooling freedom. Unfortunately this well intentioned person is doing more harm to homeschooling freedom than she may ever realize.

Jay P. Greene nails it again. Greene is the author of one of my favorite books Education Myths What Special-Interest Groups Want YOU to BELIEVE About our SCHOOLS AND WHY IT ISN'T SO. This book is a must read for all parents and taxpayers.

His BLOG today nails teacher unions and education policy dead on. The following is a partial post of his blog.

"This not only helps explain why JPGB beats Edwize, but also why reformers are able to beat the unions in the policy arena. It’s true that the unions win most of the time. But given their enormous advantage in resources, it is amazing that the unions ever lose. The reason that the unions lose as often as they do is that their policy positions are much more difficult to defend intellectually."

To view the rest of this post go to

True education freedom fighters and reformers understand the above statement.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is too funny.

Our friends at the Illinois Policy Institute sent us a very relevant funny. It is probably best to go to their site to see the image better.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We don't need a rocket scientist to see that something is deeply wrong with K-12 education in the U.S.

Mr. Epstein was right on when he said that "We don't need a rocket scientist to see that something is deeply wrong with K-12 education in the U.S." Until we acknowledge this and start calling even the good teachers out for allowing this to happen we will continue to see a decline in the public education system. Intent on the part of educrats may be good but even those with good intentions cause severe harm to children, family, taxpayers and the good of our Country in general.


The following piece appeared on Hat tip to Pete the finance guy for directing me to the following article.

Hayek, Not Gerstner
Richard A. Epstein 12.09.08, 12:01 AM ET
We don't need a rocket scientist to see that something is deeply wrong with K-12 education in the U.S. For the last 50 years, three facts dominate the landscape: Clever reform proposals are a dime a dozen; cost-per-pupil expenditures increase; and student performance continues to lag. It is as if our current policymakers felt duty-bound to wreck our educational system.

With the dawn of the Obama administration, hope springs eternal that the next round of educational reforms will be different. Yet the disinterested outsider should brace for more disappointment. Modern policy loses out to a three-part indictment. Count one: some proposals are bromides. Count two: other proposals are counterproductive. Count three: real structural reform is off the table. Guilty on all three counts is Louis V. Gerstner's heartfelt plea for educational reform.

Count one: blandness. Who can be against higher standards for education or better systems for measuring teacher and student performance? Yet by the same token, no one knows how to develop standards for education that match the precise ones in place for today's industrial products. President Bush's benighted "no child left behind" program flounders because it is hard to grade schools by testing their shifting, unstable student populations. Thus the political imperative for positive results drives public officials to define down success in the short term, only to create impossible demands in the long run--when someone else is on the hot seat.

Count two: monopoly. The modern trend is toward more centralization. Yet why continue our dreaded flirtation with national standards when there are few economies of scale in education? At root, educational success depends upon the distinctive interaction between a responsive student and a dedicated teacher. Unfortunately, increased federalization of education is high on the agenda of Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

Gerstner's proposal accelerates this process by urging the adoption of a standard national curriculum, to be implemented at the federal level by abolishing all but the largest educational school districts. The ambitious effort to impose curricular uniformity misses important differences among students on such key elements as ability, background and interest.

One-size-fits-all is yet another version of a state monopoly that will work no better in education than it does for telephones. No set of public officials, each with a separate private agenda, could hope to hit the curricular nail on the head. But this looming national presence will snuff out the niche entrepreneurs whose curricular innovations could well prove worthy of imitation.

The more sensible approach, therefore, is to follow economist Friedrich Hayek's lead: Push hard toward decentralization, so that different groups can take their crack at developing integrated K-12 educational programs that might work, precisely because they are fueled by competitive forces. Let's remove the fetters that local governments impose on charter schools. Let's expand the use of vouchers, without onerous government conditions. Let's encourage the formation of bottom-up education programs that build off a strong home-schooled base.

Count three: the union elephant in the closet. I save the most explosive question for last. One factor that is clearly correlated with the decline in public education is the rise of teacher unions. Oddly enough, the best case for teacher unions is as a counterweight to the omnipresent central administration that Gerstner and others defend. But no modern educational reform will get off the ground unless something is done to blunt union power, which does no better by education than by automobiles.

Tough steps are needed to counter the union monopoly. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's spirited assault on teacher tenure in the woeful Washington, D.C., school district presents one key test of the reformist program. But even if she gets her way on merit pay, it will not be enough. We need to dismantle the system that requires school districts large or small to bargain with teachers' unions in the first place.

The bottom line: Education cannot survive Gerstner's corporatist model that necessarily combines state monopoly with union power and large public subsidies. This determined libertarian makes no apologies for championing decentralized power, voluntary association and market competition.

Richard A. Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago; the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a visiting professor at New York University Law School. He writes a weekly column for

Quote of the Day - " We need to dismantle the system that requires school districts large or small to bargain with teachers' unions in the first place."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homeschoolers wanting to be overseen by the State...Say It Isn't So

As many of you know we will probably homeschool our children when the time to begin formal education comes. Because of that I have been actively researching the issue for the past two years even though we will not have to formally begin educating our daughter until August/September 2010. Our 4 year old (5 in July) is currently reading at the 2nd grade level and is between the first and second grade level for most areas of study.

One of our legislators intends to propose legislation that would include goals and curriculum for homeschoolers. I found this absurd on so many levels. First and foremost proposed legislation could force me to dumb down the curricula for my child to meet some state law. If I wanted Anastasia's education to be dumbed down I would send her to a public school. Second what right do legislators have forcing a curricula on homeschoolers when they refuse to fund homeschoolers' education.

Okay I really wanted to rant more but I am tired my 17 month old kept me up for about 3 hours last night.

I recently became aware of a site called Alliance for Intellectual Freedom in Education, this is a must read site for all newcomers to homeschooling in New Hampshire. I wish I would have ran into the site two years ago.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

A visit with education’s fearless reformer

Education reform is not going to happen until Americans wake-up and stand up to the bullies that have hijacked the public education system. No amount of money will satisfy the beast of public education. Real reform must also come from within as well, as it is being done in Washington, D.C. under the watchful eye of Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Hat tip to Dave Ziffer, a fellow education reformer back in Illinois. The following piece appears on


A visit with education’s fearless reformer

“Power is the ability to move the seemingly immovable.” That’s what Washington, D.C. public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said when I stopped by her office yesterday as I headed home from the Fortune 500 Forum. Ever since we launched the Fortune Most Powerful Women list a decade ago, I’ve asked scores - perhaps hundreds - of leaders, male and female, how they define power. It’s fascinating to hear the responses. Rhee’s definition reflects her incredibly difficult task: overhauling what many consider to be the worst major public-school district in America.

Rhee happens to be on the cover of this week’s Time: There she stands sternly in a classroom with a broom in hand. The cover line: “How to Fix America’s Schools.” I’ve been eager to meet Rhee for a while, since a lot of people who have smart ideas about education - Melinda Gates, Allen & Co. banker Nancy Peretsman, Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings - have told me that she’s one of the smartest, bravest education reformers to come along in years. She’s wildly controversial, which makes her all the more interesting.

A 37-year-old Teach for America alum who ran a non-profit called the New Teacher Project in New York City, Rhee had never run a school or a district before D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed her to his top education post last year. Since then, she has closed schools, fired hundreds of underperforming teachers and principals, and fought to replace tenure with pay for performance.

Rhee has hit walls and earned the ire of unions, but that doesn’t discourage her. “You always have to lead from the front,” she told me yesterday when I asked her what is the best advice she’s gotten along the way. Joel Klein, the New York City schools chancellor, gave her that advice last year, and he told her: “Don’t feel the need to bring everyone along with you. If you do that, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Though a staunch Democrat, she’s worried about Obama’s yet-to-be-revealed choice for Secretary of Education. “The Democrats have fallen down in such a significant way,” she says, “and have not pushed the things that could help the least fortunate.” Who would be her pick for the top education post? She mentioned two people I’d never heard of: Kati Haycock, president of the D.C.-based Education Trust, and Michael Barber, a McKinsey consultant in London who has advised education policymakers including Klein. As for Klein, he’d be a terrific, if controversial, choice, she said. “If the criteria is, how well do you get along with the unions, then we’ve lost already.”

P.S. For more new ideas about education reform, read “Bill & Melinda Gates Go Back to School” in the current issue of Fortune . Click here to see Melinda Gates on video, talking at our recent Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit about the lessons she learned about trying to fix Amerca’s schools. Also, former IBM (IBM) chief Lou Gerstner shared his ideas in a Monday Wall Street Journal op-ed.