Paying twice for education: We’re spending a lot of money to help college students catch

Published in The News Tribune October 10, 2010

Imagine, if you can, using taxpayer money to build an expensive stadium, then before it is paid off you implode it so that you can build an even more luxurious stadium, again with taxpayer money.

OK, too much of a stretch?  How about this:  We spend millions of taxpayer dollars to build a highway that doesn’t quite meet in the middle.

Sometimes in the public sector is seems like the adage “Measure twice, cut once” should be “Pay twice, get once.” Continue reading

New education standards key to improving schools

Published in The News Tribune August 27, 2010

As a new school year rolls around, there is reason to be optimistic that our educational system might finally be headed in the right direction.

Let’s start first with the bad news, best summarized by a couple of statistics.  According to the federal government, among Washington’s 8th grade low income black students, only 8 percent have achieved 8th grade math proficiency.  Among the state’s nonpoor white students, about half meet this standard.

These statistics point to the two persistent problems facing both Washington and the nation:  the low overall quality of education received by students, and the “achievement gap” – differences in the quality received based on socioeconomic class. Continue reading

Debate over test data signals serious approach

Published in The News Tribune, September 5, 2004

 The recent controversy over charter schools is something to welcome. While both sides of the dispute overstate what recent national test scores do and do not say about the effectiveness of charter schools, the debate over data indicates we may finally be getting serious about education policy.

The controversy started when the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced an apparent coverup by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).  The AFT charged that the DOE had made data unavailable on the performance of charter schools showing that these schools were “underperforming”. Continue reading