Report: Chronic Absenteeism in Public Schools a National Crisis

Empty Classroom

A record number of students are skipping school, propelling chronic absenteeism to a national crisis, according to an analysis of public-school attendance data.

The analysis comes as public school districts nationwide are laying off teachers, citing high inflationary costs, budget deficits, and spending decisions related to federal COVID-era funding, which is running out after schools received windfalls in federal subsidies for three years.

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Tennessee State Senator Joey Hensley Explains ‘Present’ Vote on School Choice Bill

Joey Hensley

Tennessee State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) said he voted present on the State Senate’s version of Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice bill this week in the education committee because he said he believed there needed to be “more discussion” on the bill before it advanced out of committee.

“I was present, not voting, because I felt like we needed more discussion in the education committee,” Hensley said on Thursday’s episode of The Michael Patrick Leahy Show.

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Corey DeAngelis Explains How School Choice Vouchers May Motivate Schools to Respect Parents’ Input as Competition Arises


Corey DeAngelis, a school choice activist and senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, detailed how implementing a universal school choice program in Tennessee could motivate public schools to respect and strive to meet parents’ expectations in order to compete with schools attracting families with vouchers.

On Tuesday, state lawmakers on the K-12 Subcommittee voted 6-2 to pass the House version of Governor Bill Lee’s proposed school voucher program, which would make Education Freedom Scholarships worth $7,000 available to students in every county of the state.

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Deer Valley Unified School District Board Member Paul Carver Offers Insights for Parents Concerned with K-12 Issues Today

A couple of Arizona’s largest school districts have been rocked with scandals lately, mainly over administrations trying to implement woke agendas.

However, the Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD), located in northwest Phoenix and surrounding cities, has escaped much of the controversy. Paul Carver, who sits on the governing board, said he believes it is because his district stresses transparency and teamwork. He said the superintendent has regular interfaith meetings, which have been transferred to Zoom since COVID-19, and the superintendent and many board members try to include everyone regardless of demographics.

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Commentary: America’s Public Education Crisis

Teacher Teaching

In April 1983, U.S. Secretary of Education Terrell Bell created the National Commission on Excellence in Education, directing it to “examine the quality of education in the United States.” The panel found that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

The report famously asserted, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might have viewed it as an act of war.” It also insists that “…academic excellence [is] the primary goal of schooling [and it] seems to be fading across…American education.”

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Corey DeAngelis Says Tennessee School Choice Bill Would Allow Students to Escape ‘One Size Fits All System’

Classroom Learning

School choice activist Corey A. DeAngelis joined Wednesday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss a rally he, Robby Starbuck, and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held in Nashville supporting Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice plan, known as the Education Freedom Scholarship Act.

On Tuesday, DeAngelis, Starbuck, AFP, and other school choice advocates held a Rally for School Choice & Parents’ Rights at the state Capitol in support of the governor’s school choice plan.

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Commentary: Public Education’s Alarming Reversal of Learning Trend

School Work

Call it the big reset – downward – in public education.

The alarming plunge in academic performance during the pandemic was met with a significant drop in grading and graduation standards to ease the pressure on students struggling with remote learning. The hope was that hundreds of billions of dollars of emergency federal aid would enable schools to reverse the learning loss and restore the standards.

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Report: Charter School Enrollment Increases in Georgia

Georgia’s public charter school enrollment has grown over the last four years while enrollment at traditional schools has declined.

That’s according to state-level data the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools studied for a new report, “Believing in Public Education: A Demographic and State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends.”

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Commentary: The Rapid Growth of Educational Freedom Is Unprecedented

According to the latest ABCs of School Choice  – EdChoice’s comprehensive report about all matters pertaining to education freedom – policymakers in 40 states have debated 111 educational choice bills in 2023, 79 percent of which related to education savings accounts. (ESAs allow parents to receive a deposit of public funds into a government-authorized savings account with restricted, but multiple uses. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses, and other approved customized learning services and materials).

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Commentary: Rome’s Best Emperor Shunned Government Schools

The great classical scholar Edith Hamilton noted that the ancient Greeks frowned upon their Roman counterparts in regards to education. The former adopted public (government) schooling while the Romans left education to the family in the home. The snooty Greeks thought Romans were backward and unsophisticated. The Romans, of course, conquered the Greeks.

For most of the five centuries of the Republic, Romans were schooled at home where virtues of honor, character, and citizenship were emphasized. Not until the Republic’s last century or so did anything resembling government schooling emerge. Moreover, it was never so centralized, universal, and mandatory as it is in our society today. The English academic and cleric Teresa Morgan, in a 2020 paper titled “Assessment in Roman Education,” writes, “In no stage of its history did Rome ever legally require its people to be educated on any level.”

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Metro Nashville Public Schools Unveils Potential Changes for One of District’s Highest Performing High Schools

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) is considering making changes to Martin Luther King Academic Magnet School (MLKAMS), one of Nashville’s highest-performing high schools.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, district Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Battle unveiled plans to move seventh-grade and eighth-grade students to Head Middle School and rebrand that school as Head Middle School at MLK. If MNPS goes forward with its plans, MLKAMS will become a traditional high school serving ninth-grade to 12th-grade. MLKAMS currently teaches students from seventh-grade to 12th-grade.

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Commentary: If Your Kids Aren’t Happy at School, Find Them Another One

“I hated going to school when I was a kid,” said Elon Musk in a 2015 interview. “It was torture.”

When deciding how his own children would be educated, Musk rejected traditional schooling and created his own project-based microschool, Ad Astra, in 2014, on his SpaceX campus. “The kids really love going to school,” said Musk about Ad Astra in that same interview, adding that “they actually think vacations are too long as they want to go back to school.” In 2020, Ad Astra evolved into the fully online school, Astra Nova, and its popular math enrichment spin-off, Synthesis.

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Commentary: Charter Schools Rise to the Challenge

Due to pandemic-related issues, declining birthrates, inferior education, radical curricula, etc., government-run schools are bleeding students. Whereas traditional public schools (TPS) had 50.8 million students enrolled in 2019, the number had shrunk to 49.4 million one year later. The federal government now projects that public school enrollment will fall even further – to 47.3 million – by 2030, an almost 7% drop in 11 years.

Where are the kids going? The U.S. Census Bureau reports that families are moving to private schools and setting up home schools at a great rate. But what can parents do if they can’t home-school or afford a private school and there are no educational freedom laws on the books? Their option then would be charter schools, which are independently operated public schools of choice that aren’t shackled by the litany of rules and regs that TPS are encumbered with and, importantly, are rarely unionized.

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Analysis: States Are Gearing Up for a School Choice Showdown in 2024

School choice is going to be a hot-button issue next year as several states are set to propose legislation expanding education options, while others are gearing up to defend against lawsuits claiming voucher programs are unconstitutional and an “existential threat” to public schools.

School choice advocates passed legislation in Nebraska, Florida, Ohio and other states in 2023, with a major victory in Oklahoma as well after the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approved an application for a Catholic online school in June, the first religious charter school in the country. Several states are looking to follow their lead in 2024 and expand education options for parents, while others have become the target of lawsuits by public education advocates, who argue that voucher programs are unconstitutional.

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Gov. Bill Lee Expected to Back Statewide Education Savings Account Legislation

The move to expand Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program statewide is expected to have a very powerful ally in the General Assembly’s next session, sources told The Tennessee Star.

State Representative Bryan Richey (R-Maryville) said Governor Bill Lee is planning a press conference on Tuesday to discuss a bill to expand ESA beyond Metro Nashville, Memphis, and Hamilton County into all of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

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Florida Lawmakers Aim to Cut Red Tape for Public Schools with New Legislation

Florida lawmakers have filed a new bill to cut red tape for certain aspects of public and charter school assessments, accountability, instruction and education choice.

Senate Bill 7004 was introduced by the Florida Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12 and builds on the deregulation of public schools provision in House Bill 1, providing additional authority to school districts related to pre kindergarten programs, school improvements, assessments, reporting and instructional materials.

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Poll: Voters Satisfied with Local Schools but Not Public Schools in General

A new poll shows a large disparity between how voters think of their local public school system and the nation’s school system as a whole, signaling frustration with larger education issues as opposed to more area-specific ones.

Respondents’ approval of their local schools held constant in the most recent The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll, which was conducted by Noble Predictive Insights.

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Infrastructure Crisis Escalating in Pennsylvania Public Schools

Lead paint, coal furnaces, hallway instruction, classrooms partitioned with teetering stacks of books and supplies, students and teachers struggling to work in unabated heat during sweltering weather — these are all images invoked by testifiers before the Basic Education Funding Commission over the last few months.

Experts say this barely scratches the surface of a massive infrastructural crisis across the state.

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Nearly Half of Homeschool Parents Cite ‘Liberal’ Public Schools as Motivating Factor: Poll

Almost half of parents turning to homeschooling today say they are concerned about their children being “influenced by liberal viewpoints,” according to a Washington Post and George Mason University poll released Tuesday.

The number of American families that are homeschooling saw a significant spike following the COVID-19 pandemic, with one study finding that the number had risen by 30% during the 2021-2022 school year, according to the Urban Institute. A new poll found that, when asked why they decided to homeschool, 46% of families replied that they were worried that “local public schools” are “too influenced by liberal viewpoints,” according to the Post.

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Commentary: Students and Teachers Are Ditching Public Schools in Droves

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education released a report titled, “A Nation at Risk,” which was an important point in the history of American education. The document used dire language, asserting that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

The report also stated: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

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Michigan School Spending Rises While Enrollment Drops

Per student spending in Michigan is up 24.8% over the past 17 years as Michigan has pumped more money into K-12 education while enrollment has been in a two-decade decline.

Enrollment fell 17.5% between 2003-04 and 2020-21, from 1.71 million students to 1.44 million. Two years later, after a nominal gain, it was down to 1.43 million. There was just one year in the 20 with an increase other than 2021-22’s nominal rise, a year impacted by COVID-19.

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Catholic Education Soaring in Popularity

The annual conference this month of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education offered an atmosphere of overall joy and confidence as Catholic schools committed to the teachings of the faith reported they “could not keep up with the demand” for their services, Mark Bauerlein, contributing editor at First Things, wrote this week.

Bauerlein appeared to revel in the stark contrast between the upbeat environment at the Catholic education conference which, he noted, featured tables run by “organizations dedicated to Western civilization, the liberal arts tradition, and Catholic study” that “offered materials blessedly free of the negative politics and rhetoric that fills the discourse of the National Education Association, the ed schools that train teachers, and all too many school boards.”

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Florida Teachers Unions Suffer Financial Blow Thanks to New Paycheck Laws

Several teachers unions are seeing a decrease in their revenue due to a Florida law that prohibits automatic paycheck deductions, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida teachers unions of both public schools and universities filed a revised lawsuit and injunction against the state’s dues-deduction ban that went into effect July 1, arguing that the law has caused the organizations to suffer major revenue loss, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In June, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker declined the unions’ May injunction, arguing that granting one would “offer no redress for plaintiffs’ injuries.”

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Commentary: It’s Time to Acknowledge America’s Education Crisis

The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding college admissions has once again thrust America’s educational system into the spotlight. A major question that has come from this ruling is whether America’s children are being intellectually and academically prepared to even enter or succeed in these colleges and universities. The tragic answer is that America’s public education system is failing to equip our youth with the tools necessary to succeed in higher education and in their future professional lives. We are failing America’s most valuable asset—our children.

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Former Mississippi Governor Points to Success of Legislation Leading State’s Fourth-Graders to Become Top Reading and Math Achievers

Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is celebrating the “comeback story” of his state’s fourth graders, who ranked on 2022 national test scores as the nation’s top performers in reading, and second in math, following the enactment of literacy legislation he spearheaded that saved the state from its “dead-last ranking in the United States.”

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New York State’s ‘Best Practice’ Document Urges Schools to Keep Child’s Gender Transition from Parents

The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) published a “legal update and best practice” document last week that encourages schools to keep a child’s claim of a new gender identity from parents.

“The student is in charge of their gender transition and the school’s role is to provide support,” the document states. “Only the student knows whether it is safe to share their identity with caregivers, and schools should be mindful that some TGE [transgender and gender-expansive] students do not want or cannot have their parents/guardians know about their transgender status.”

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California Voters Overwhelmingly Support Parental Rights

Results of a poll targeting California voters have found an overwhelming majority say parental rights continue when children attend government schools.

The survey, conducted by Rasmussen Reports and Real Impact, an organization that seeks to “equip the Church to stand for righteousness in the public square,” observed 82 percent of respondents disagreed with a statement that says, “A person loses their parental rights when a child enters public school.”

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Nashville Mayoral Candidates Offer Views on City Schools

A poll conducted in May on behalf of Tennesseans for Student Success by VictoryPhones, showed that Nashvillians prefer a mayoral candidate with a strong position on education and infrastructure. That quality slightly edged “positions on social issues” as the leading factor in who earned their vote.

In discussing education policy with Nashville mayoral candidates, The Tennessee Star found few variances between potential city leaders. All candidates supported Metro Nashville Public Schools and appreciated the past administration’s efforts to increase teacher pay. They all voice a commitment to ensuring that Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) are among the best in the country. Outwardly, none are choice advocates.

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Colorado Teachers’ Union Passes Resolution Declaring That Capitalism ‘Inherently Exploits Children’

A major teachers’ union in the state of Colorado recently passed a resolution declaring that the capitalist system of economics “inherently exploits children, public schools, land, labor, and resources.”

According to Fox News, the final draft of the resolution passed by the Colorado Education Association (CEA) reads: “CEA believes that capitalism requires exploitation of children, public schools, land, labor, and/or resources. Capitalism is in opposition to fully addressing systemic racism (the school to prison pipeline), climate change, patriarchy, (gender and LGBTQ disparities), education inequality, and income inequality.”

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Heritage Author Asserts Goal of Leftist Lawmakers’ Demand for Ethnic Studies Curricula in Government Schools Is Erasure of American Culture

A senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation says leftist lawmakers in Democrat-led states such as Minnesota and California are feeding into a culture of victimization and identity politics with their plans for mandatory K-12 ethnic studies curricula, the goal of which, he says, is actually to erase American culture.

In an op-ed at the Washington Examiner Tuesday, Mike Gonzalez wrote that what is most disturbing about the leftist call for mandatory K-12 ethnic studies curricula in government schools is that most of the lawmakers proposing these bills are actually “not in the least bit interested” in learning about the minutiae of the hundreds of ethnic cultures represented in the United States. Rather, “they care only about American culture — or, at least, how to erase it.”

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Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Pushes Back Against Drag Shows in Schools

On Saturday, a student-led drag show was held at Tucson High School titled the “School is a Drag, Show,” as planned by the school’s Q Space, a club for LGBTQ+ students. In response, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne (R) said these shows should not be held in the schools.

“In my view, adults have first amendment rights to attend drag shows if they choose to, but they don’t belong in school,” Horne said via the phone to The Arizona Sun Times.

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Woke Washington State School District Board Member Draws Fire for Cutting Music Program With Claim It Fosters ‘White Supremacy’ and ‘Institutional Violence’

An Olympia School District board member in Washington state is the recipient of intense criticism for attempting to justify budget cuts by eliminating the district’s music classes with the claims the classes promote “white supremacy culture” and “significant institutional violence.”

According to Jason Rantz, host of The Jason Rantz Show on 770KTTH, with an expected district budget shortfall of $11.5 million, School Board Director Scott Clifthorne told parents the music program for fourth and fifth-grade students would be eliminated to make the budget cuts.

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Commentary: The Things Students Are Learning After They Left Public Schools During Pandemic

The education disruption caused by mass school closures and prolonged remote instruction beginning three years ago this month led many families to seek other learning options beyond an assigned district school. Emerging research reveals just how significant and sustained that shift was.

In a new report, “Where the Kids Went: Nonpublic Schooling and Demographic Change during the Pandemic Exodus from Public Schools,” Stanford economist Thomas Dee reveals that more than 1.2 million students left district schools during the pandemic response. That exodus endured throughout the 2021/2022 academic year, as families continued to opt for private schools and homeschooling even though most district schools reopened. 

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Government School Districts Plan K-12 Closures as Student Enrollment Plunges

Some of the largest public school districts in the nation are planning to close K-12 schools as they face plummeting student enrollment rates.

“Nationwide, public school enrollment fell by more than 1.4 million students to 49.4 million between fall 2019 and fall 2020—a decline of roughly 3%, according to data from the U.S. Education Department,” reported the Wall Street Journal in January. “The following school year, enrollment failed to return to prepandemic levels and remained roughly flat.”

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Wilson County School Board Ethics Committee Dismisses Most Complaints Against Conservative Board Member

The Wilson County Board of Education (WCBOE) Ethics Committee in Tennessee dismissed most of the complaints from nine parents and community members against retired Marine Joe Padilla, who won his Zone 4 seat in August along with three other conservative Republicans.

One speaker at the ethics committee meeting held Thursday evening, accused Padilla of posting to his Facebook account that he disagrees with transgender hormone drugs and surgeries for minors, claiming such a post constitutes “propping up right-wing talking points.”

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Study: Students in Wisconsin Choice Schools Outperforming Public School Peers

On this National School Choice Week, a new study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty shows parental choice programs continuing to outperform public schools, particularly in the state’s largest city. 

“Apples to Apples: Accessing Wisconsin State of Education”, accesses Badger State educational performance across public, charter, and private voucher schools.

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