On April 21, 2005, Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Program Director Terry Ryan testified before the Alternative Education Subcommittee of the Ohio House of Representatives. They discussed Ohio's community schools (a.k.a. charter schools), which face a developing paradox: the more they expand and the more students they serve, the more threatened they become, by internal and external forces alike.
States still have far to go in setting rigorous, high quality expectations for K-12 math instruction. Although a majority have replaced or revised their math standards since 2000, many have failed to make substantial improvements. The review was led by David Klein, Professor of Mathematics at California State University-Northridge, and evaluates the content, writing quality, and clarity of K-12 math standards in each state. Klein and his team attribute many of the shortcomings to overuse and wrong applications of manipulatives and calculators; wrong-headed guidance from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and lack of true mathematics competence among those writing the standards.
Do states' current English/language arts and reading standards expect what they should? Are they demanding enough? Clear enough? Are states using them to guide not only the curriculum and assessment system for students but also their teacher-training programs? Sandra Stotsky, research scholar at Northeastern University and former senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education, finds that most states have revised or replaced their standards since 2000 and made some improvements, especially to K-8 standards. However, major shortcomings remain in other areas including high school literature requirements.
How did New York City's experiment in school reform, once so promising, become such a mess? Author Sol Stern explains in this third edition of Fordham's new Fwd: series of short articles of interest to K-12 education reformers.
Statewide textbook adoption, the process by which 21 states dictate the textbooks that schools and districts can use, is fundamentally flawed. It distorts the market, entices extremist groups to hijack the curriculum, enriches the textbook cartel, and papers the land with mediocre instructional materials that cannot fulfill their important education mission. Tinkering with it won't set it right, concludes this latest Fordham Institute report. Legislators and governors in adoption states should eliminate the process, letting individual schools, individual districts, or even individual teachers choose their own textbooks.
Charter school opponents have been taking shots nationally at charter schools in recent days, but these sorts of attacks have been a common occurrence in Dayton, Ohio since charter schools first opened there in 1998. Herewith is a report from the field on how charter schools are faring in the Buckeye State circa September 2004.
Widely used supplemental materials may be dangerous to educational health! These works often include hefty doses of political manipulation and ideological bias, courtesy of their authors. This study casts a wary glance toward materials that seldom come under scrutiny. This study is the fifth in a series dedicated to reforming social studies education.
This report, prepared for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute by Public Impact, compares charter school funding and district school funding. It finds that charter schools are under-funded compared to their district counterparts, even after accounting for differences in students and grade levels. These findings should be taken seriously by those who argue that charter schools drain funds from district schools.