Opinion

Updated June 26, 2018 |
School Choice in 2018
Many people thought vouchers would never amount to much. Not only have they amounted to a great deal more than anybody could have thought, but vouchers have encouraged several more education choices to flourish.

School choice has been a fact in American K-12 education since 1989. That year the State of Wisconsin passed a voucher program which aimed to help students from low-income families in Milwaukee. Since then 39 states have established school choice programs.  Depending on the state, school choice programs have expanded to include educational savings accounts, tax credit scholarships, and individual tax credit/deduction which parents can use to send their children to a private school. 

Most states also allow parents to transfer their children from underperforming public schools to higher-performing public schools. In addition, many states have permitted the establishment of charter schools as one more alternative to an underperforming public school.  Because allocating taxpayer funding to educational resources other than public schools is controversial, numerous legal challenges have been filed. Depending on the state, you will see a variety of workarounds including the afore-mentioned educational savings accounts, tax credit scholarships, and individual tax credits/deductions.

According to the American Federation for Children, the following states now have some form of funding for school choice program. In fact, several states offer several educational choice options.  For the latest information https://www.federationforchildren.org/

Other resources include Noodle which has assembled a useful guide to the various educational choice options on a regional and state basis. 

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Updated May 28, 2018 |
Where Did the 115th Senate Go to High School?
After conducting a survey of the educational backgrounds of current U.S. senators we were able to draw some interesting conclusions. Keep reading to learn more.

Since the year 1913, American citizens have voted to elect state senators, but that has not always been the case. Up until the mid-1850s, senators were appointed by the legislatures of the state they represented in a system that worked quite well. The idea behind this method of selection was that allowing state legislatures to elect their senators would strengthen their tie to the national government and allow them to conduct business without the distraction of pressure from the general population.

Upon the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, however, things changed. Senators are now elected by popular vote with each senator representing a single state, and each state is represented by two senators. Senators play an important role in the U.S. government by writing and voting on bills, legislation that affects the people in their representative state.

Because U.S. senators have the power to approve or deny legislation that directly affects their constituents, it is important that each senator be a fair representation of the people and the politics of each state. Problems arise when there is a disconnect between the politics and the people – when a senator votes based on his own agenda rather than the will of the people. Each senator’s educational background and upbringing bears significant weight in the decisions he makes for his state.

We recently conducted a survey of all U.S. senators to collect some information about their educational background. After collecting this information, we analyzed it and were able to draw some interesting

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Updated June 02, 2016 |
The Velcro Parent
Velcro is a hook and loop fastener which sticks things together. It also has become a popular term for describing a certain kind of over-protective parent.

Velcro is a hook and loop fastener which sticks things together. It also has become a popular term for describing a certain kind of over-protective parent. The other term used to describe such parents is helicopter parent. The term drone is also used. I was curious about the phenomenon as I don't recall that Nancy or I were that over-protective with our children. My research indicates that hovering came into vogue with the advent of smartphones. Texting and apps make keeping in touch with your children very easy to do. Having said that, it is very easy to be too involved. That is not good for your child, and her school will not appreciate your velcro tendencies. There has to be a balance between hands-on involvement and a hands-off approach. So, let's approach the issue from that perspective. We will look at how this applies to each grade level as your children progress through their schools.

Pre-school

I was one of those lucky fathers who got to drive his daughters to their pre-schools. In those days back in the 70s, I was on the staff of a large Episcopal church on Long Island. Our house was about 2 miles from my eldest daughter's pre-school. The pre-school was located in the Sunday School classroom wing of the church. In fact, the school had just been established because there was such a strong demand for pre-schools in that south shore community.

Literally, the two of us would get out

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Updated April 26, 2018 |
Could This Happen To My Child?
Scandals in private school are bound to raise questions for those of us thinking about sending our children to private school. Regardless of how sensational these scandals may appear, they are actually few and far between.

The recent events at historic Saint Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire raise questions for those of us considering private school. The story was hard to miss as it seemed to air virtually non-stop for a week. Against that backdrop let's look at things from our parental perspective.

What are the odds of this happening in the school our children attend?

Probably not very likely at all. Statistically speaking, there are very few incidents such as this occurring in private schools annually. I searched carefully to see what I could find about private school scandals past and present. Honestly, there wasn't much out there, perhaps a handful or so of incidents annually. You can find the results of my search at the end of this article. The sensational coverage of the St. Paul's story tended to blow the incident way out of proportion in my opinion. I would think that the risk of similar events happening elsewhere is insignificant.

How could something like this happen in a private school which prides itself on 24/7 supervision of its students?

All private schools including Saint Paul's take their students' safety very seriously. In the case of boarding schools, their responsibility extends to 24/7 supervision while the students are in residence on campus. With day schools things work a bit differently because school opens in the morning and dismisses at the end of the school day. As a result, what happens in the late afternoon and evening is our parental

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Updated July 13, 2018 |
Homeschool or Private School?
What do you do when you are dissatisfied with your local public schools? Homeschool your children? Send them to private school? Let's look at your options.
Dissatisfied with your local public schools? When parents are faced with under-performing public schools in their area, what alternatives do they have? In most cases just three options are available: they can keep their children at home and homeschool them. They can also consider sending their children to private school. Or they could relocate to an area with good schools. Let's leave out the last option which is a real stretch for most families. Selling a home and finding a new one is not a project for the faint-hearted.
 
Fact: Approximately 2 million children were homeschooled in the United States in academic year 2011-2012. Source: Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012.
 
Fact: Approximately 4.5 million students attend private school. Source: Private School Universe Survey.

The mothers in this video explain why they are thinking about homeschooling their children.

The other underlying condition which we have to appreciate is that we are talking about average middle class families. Typically these hard-working folks bring in less than $100,000 a year. In many cases much less than that. I feel that this is a very important factor to deal with up front. Why? Because in most cases parents in this income bracket simply feel that they cannot afford private school. So they don't even bother exploring private school options. They are convinced that private schools are for rich kids. In their minds a private school education for
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