California Joins 26 States in Requiring Students Take Personal Finance Class

Students in Class

Over half of U.S. states now require high school students to receive a financial literacy course before they graduate after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill passed by the California Legislature.

With the passage of California’s law requiring schools to offer a course in personal finance by the 2027-28 school year and requiring the class of 2031 to receive at least one class, a total of 26 states now require students to take a course on how to manage money, according to a nonprofit spearheading efforts to pass such laws.

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Commentary: Teachers Also Think American Public Schools Are in Decline

Teacher

Eighty-two percent of teachers say that the general state of public K-12 education has gotten worse over the past five years. This is according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in October and November of 2023. That’s not the only shocking statistic from the survey, either, which overall offers a grim statistical map of the fault lines fracturing our education system. However, these trends may offer some insight into how to fix our schools.

First, the teachers. Most teachers (77 percent) find their job frequently stressful, and a large majority (70 percent) say their school is understaffed, which may contribute to the fact that over 80 percent of teachers say they do not have enough time in the work day to complete all necessary tasks.

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Commentary: More Public Charter Schools are Needed Nationwide

School in class

Parents, children, and supporters of school choice have cause to celebrate this National Charter Schools Week.

Charter schools earned the top two spots on a list of the best high schools in America, according to a recent report by U.S. News & World Report. And, of the top 100 public high schools, charter schools claimed 19 spots—10 in Arizona alone—despite accounting for only 8% of all public schools in the country.

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Ohio Governor Signs Bill Requiring Schools to Implement Official Policy Limiting Use of Cellphones by Students

Cellphones students

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 250 on Wednesday, requiring schools to implement official policy governing students’ use of cellphones during school hours.

The bill aims to “minimize student use of cellphones in K-12 schools” by requiring school districts to create a policy that reduces cellphone-related distractions in classroom settings.

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Commentary: Veteran Teacher Explains What’s Wrong with Traditional Schooling

Classroom Work

For 19 years, I was a master of time. Down to the minute, I controlled time for others and used it to meet my and others’ ends, irrespective of the desires of those in front of me. In short, I was a public-school teacher, and controlling time was my talent. Although I and other adults often talked about helping students reach their potential and grow as learners, what we really did each day was control their time and force upon them ideas and subjects in which most of them had little to no interest.

What if there were a better way? A way to help each student learn the way he or she learns best, develop autonomy, explore passions, and take control of his or her own time? Thankfully, that way does exist in the form of alternative schools and learning programs that continue to increase in number each day.

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Commentary: As Fentanyl Streams over Wide-Open Border, Students Lead Effort to Combat Campus Overdoses

Ten years ago, I had never heard the word “fentanyl.” Now, every sorority and fraternity on my college campus is equipped with Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, a lifesaving medication used to treat opioid overdoses.

The fentanyl crisis is acutely felt on college campuses. Oftentimes, college students will take a pill that they thought was Xanax or Ritalin and end up dead.

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Commentary: Eliminating Standardized Testing Had Shockingly Bad Results

Test Taking

For years, liberals have scoffed at the idea that standardized testing is the best predictor of academic success. The National Education Association, for instance, claims standardized tests are “both inequitable and ineffective at gauging what students know.” Activists’ campaign against standardized testing — and their assertions that such tests discriminate against “underrepresented minority students” — culminated in the decisions by more than 1,000 colleges to drop their standardized testing requirements.

This week, cold, hard data showed just how foolish those decisions were. The University of Texas at Austin released the academic performance data for students who submitted standardized scores versus those who did not submit such scores. The result is unambiguous: Students who did not submit standardized tests performed drastically worse than students who did submit their scores. The students who did not submit ACT or SAT scores finished the fall 2023 semester with a grade point average 0.86 grade points lower than students who did. This demonstrates an average difference of almost an entire letter grade. Had the University of Texas utilized all applicants’ standardized scores, it very well might have decided against admitting many of those who did not provide their scores. Students who did not provide scores had a median SAT of 1160, markedly lower than that of the students who did provide their scores: 1420. The University of Texas would have been correct in deciding against admitting those students with lower scores given how much better students with a higher average SAT performed academically.

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Commentary: Solving the Literacy Crisis

Reading

Learning to read is trending. The most fundamental of K-12 subjects is fueling YouTube videos and feature stories in People magazine and is now the subject of a report from Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Let’s hope the renewed interest spreads, because a shocking proportion of American children cannot read, and the data have profound implications for these children’s futures—and the entire criminal justice system.

Oliver James is the former convict who announced on social media that he taught himself to read as an adult, which sparked media coverage on how learning to read changed his life. As a student, James had been passed along from grade to grade without learning this basic skill.

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New Report on Connecticut’s Social Studies Standards Details Troubling Effect on Students

The National Association of Scholars’ Civics Alliance coalition released a comprehensive report critiquing Connecticut’s social studies standards, which is the state’s guide for teachers detailing what students should be learning from Pre-K through 12th grade.

The 34-page report, titled “Disowned Yankees: How Connecticut’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students,” details how the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) produced the curriculum, the result of implementing the curriculum, as well as “recommendations for how to fix the adoption process and the substance of Connecticut’s social studies instruction, by substantive revision of the Standards.”

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Commentary: Chronically Absent Students Need an Alternative

Empty Chairs

It’s no secret that chronic absenteeism has skyrocketed since the pandemic. As The 74s Linda Jacobson writes, a new analysis of federal data released in late 2023 shows the problem may be even worse than previously understood.

The report from Johns Hopkins University shows that two out of three students were enrolled in schools with high or extreme chronic absenteeism rates during the 2021-22 school year—more than double the rate in 2017-18. (Students who miss at least 10% of the school year, or roughly 18 days, are considered chronically absent.)

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Corey DeAngelis: Vermont Has Had a Successful School Choice Program Since 1869

School choice activist Corey A. DeAngelis joined Wednesday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss the future of school choice in the U.S., specifically in Democrat-run states.

Leahy kicked off the segment by noting how Vermont has the oldest operating school voucher program in the country’s history with its Town Tuitioning Program.

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Anti-Bullying Virginia Bill Aims to Enhance Protections for Specified Classes of Students

Sad Person

 Virginia’s House of Delegates Education Committee voted on several influential bills Monday morning, including one on student bullying, the implications of which may be unclear.

The legislation was created with the belief that naming groups of students often targeted most by bullying would force schools to proactively develop a plan for responding to specific bullying situations quickly and appropriately.

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‘Seahorse Births’: Abortion Doula Normalizes ‘Pregnant Men’ Giving Birth in Lecture to Catholic University Students

Catholic University of America

A self-declared “abortion doula” spoke this week to Catholic University of America students about her experiences coaching women through delivering or aborting babies, as well as coaching “pregnant men” to deliver in what she called a “seahorse birth,” according to audio of the class lecture obtained by The Daily Signal. 

A Catholic University nursing student described Tuesday’s lecture to The Daily Signal, saying the guest speaker said she also practices Reiki, a controversial Japanese method of spiritual healing and self-improvement.

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Arizona Father of Five Arrested Twice for Protesting COVID-19 Restrictions Continues His Efforts to Protect Children

Kelly Walker, a journalist and father of five in Tucson, is expanding his efforts to protect children from bad policies in schools despite being arrested and prosecuted after one school pushed back. Since the bad experience, he’s built a platform of advocacy for parents and children harmed by school policies at Real Freedom Talk. He now produces videos about abuses in schools and appears on major talk shows to discuss his experiences and expose what is happening in Tucson schools.

Walker said what prompted his activism was observing the increase in mental health problems among children due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. A student committed suicide near his home, and the suicide rate among children in Pima County increased 30 percent. A nearby school admitted they had locked students in closets and forgotten about them. He said parents from the community came to his former coffee shop, Viva Coffee House, and asked him if he could do something about it.

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Commentary: Educational Collapse and the Definition of Truth

College Students

It’s no secret that America’s students are struggling. The latest Nation’s Report Cards have not been flattering, with average scores in both math and reading declining over recent years.

It’s also no secret that pandemic restrictions have only exacerbated the learning decline in the U.S. However, scores have been falling since before the pandemic, signaling that there are more systemic problems holding back young people. In fact, this educational decline comes from a deeper philosophical brokenness about the notion of truth itself.

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Biden Admin Targets Largest Christian University in U.S.

Grand Canyon University campus

The Biden administration’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking aim at the largest Christian university in the U.S. in a new lawsuit.

Grand Canyon University (GCU) is the largest Christian university in the U.S. with over 100,000 students enrolled and over 85,000 online students as of fall 2022, according to their website. The FTC alleges that GCU engaged in deceptive business practices with its doctoral programs and that it also engaged in illegal telemarketing practices, according to the federal complaint filed in the District of Arizona.

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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: 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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Math Scores Around the U.S. Plunge as Students Suffer from Learning Loss

U.S. students are lagging behind other industrialized students in math in a global assessment released Tuesday, according to Axios.

Students in the U.S. saw a 13-point fall in their 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) score compared to their 2018 results, according to Axios. The score was “among the lowest ever measured by PISA in mathematics” and comes as U.S. students are suffering learning loss following the pandemic.

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Students Across the U.S. Are Absent Much More than Before the Pandemic

Teacher Classroom

Nearly 70% of students attended schools that experienced chronic absenteeism during the 2021-2022 academic year, according to data compiled by Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Before the pandemic, 25% of students attended a school with high levels of chronic absenteeism, but during the 2021-2022 academic year at the percentage rose to 66%, according to the report from Attendance Works, a nonprofit focusing on absenteeism, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, which focuses on high school graduation. Nearly 14.7 million students, or 29.7%, were chronically absent in the 2021-22 school year.

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Zero Students Proficient in Math at 40 Percent of Baltimore High Schools

Not a single student is proficient in math at 40% of Baltimore public high schools in the spring of 2023, according to state exam results obtained by Fox45.

Nearly 2,000 students took the state math exam across the 13 schools with no proficient students. Of the students who took the exam at those schools, 74.5% of them received the lowest possible score, Fox45 reported.

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Commentary: The Importance of Making Mistakes

A couple of years ago, I received a post-semester email from a student’s father. He was upset about his child’s final grade in my class, which had landed somewhere between a high B and a low A.

The grade was clearly not very low, but the student’s father wanted me to reconsider. Apparently, a specific assignment’s less-than-perfect score had kept his son from making the honor roll.

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University of Wisconsin Enrollment Up for First Time Since 2014

There are a couple of hundred more students at University of Wisconsin schools this fall after the university released its fall 2023 enrollment numbers.

“The estimates show an enrollment of 161,322 for fall 2023, an increase of 540 over fall 2022. For new freshman students, the estimates indicate an increase of 592 students in fall 2023 at UW System universities not including UW-Madison, which deliberately sought to reduce the number of incoming first-year students after last year’s incoming class was slightly larger than anticipated,” the university said in a statement.

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University of Michigan Students Who Test COVID Positive Must Isolate Off Campus

The University of Michigan’s COVID-19 policies tell students who test positive to “make an isolation plan” for five days by getting a hotel, going home or staying with a friend off campus.

“Make an isolation plan, which could include relocating to your permanent residence, staying with a nearby relative or friend, or finding a hotel space,” the U-M guidance says.

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Commentary: The Economic Benefits of School Choice

It’s back to school for Florida students and many others across the country this week. The first days and weeks of a new school year are always filled with anticipation, adjustments, transitions and growth for parents and students. Yet, this school year’s “firsts” for an expanding pool of families also includes the first time that their children will have the resources and freedom to enroll in the school of their choice. The short and long-term consequences of these new opportunities aren’t just experienced within the four walls of a home or school building, or by the families now empowered to pursue them – the impact of education choice stretches across communities and economies, helping to unleash prosperity and growth that benefits everyone.

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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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Schools Struggle to Get Students to Class amid Learning Loss

Schools across the country are struggling to get kids to class while still recovering from the learning loss following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The New York Times.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress released a report this month showing that students who missed three or more days of school had lower math scores than those who were not absent. Schools, however, are having trouble finding bus drivers to get children to class, with some districts delaying their start times each day and others forced to postpone school for a week, according to the NYT.

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Florida Officials Predict Increased Student Aid Costs for Taxpayers

Florida officials project that taxpayer-funded student aid will increase in coming years as more students graduate from high school in the Sunshine State.

The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s Education Estimating Conference was held on Friday to discuss projections for various scholarship programs for Florida college students in fiscal 2023-24 to fiscal 2028-29.

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Michigan Teachers’ Effectiveness Ratings Flourish While Student Performance Stumbles

In Michigan, local school district evaluations stated that there were only 165 teachers out of the 115,910 evaluated in 2021-22 that were found to be “inefficient.”

Statistically, that translated to 0%. In fact, 99% of all Michigan public school teachers last year were rated either as “highly efficient” or “efficient,” the highest two of four evaluation categories.

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Highly Rated Detroit Public Schools Teachers Struggle Teaching Students

Just 5% of Michigan students are rated “proficient” in a district with 99% of teachers rated “highly effective” or “effective.”

The classification of students for Detroit public schools comes from the latest national testing referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The classification of their teachers is provided to the Michigan Department of Education by The Center for Educational Performance and Information.

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Peoria Unified School District Governing Board Refuses to Draft Policy to Address Students of Opposite Biological Sex Using Restrooms

The Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board held a meeting Thursday night on whether or not to look into a policy limiting the use of restrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex. The board rejected the proposal, agenda item 8.5, in a 3-2 vote. It had become an issue for the district due to a male student, who does not identify as transgender, entering the girls’ restrooms, watching them, and uploading videos he took to TikTok.

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State Abortion Laws May Sway Where Students Attend College: Poll

State abortion laws may be swaying students’ decisions about their college futures, according to study results first published by Gallup on Thursday.

Approximately 72% of currently enrolled college students admitted that state abortion laws play an important role in determining whether to stay enrolled, according to the poll, which was conducted in partnership with the Lumina Foundation. While smaller, a majority of respondents aged 18-59 who are not currently enrolled in higher education admitted that they would consider the abortion law of the state a college or university is located before enrolling.

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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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University of Arizona Hikes Tuition by Three Percent for Incoming Students

The University of Arizona proposed a 3% increase in tuition for all incoming resident undergraduate students, effective in the 2023-24 academic year. Out-of-state incoming students will experience a 4% increase in tuition.

Current students will not be affected by the change, thanks to the Guaranteed Tuition Program, which started in 2014. The program ensures that all undergrad degree-seeking students will pay the same tuition and fees throughout their time at the university.

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Commentary: Affirmative Action Is a Thought Experiment

Imagine for a moment that beneficiaries of affirmative action were randomly selected. Suppose instead of applying affirmative action by race, we randomly assigned every person a number between one and five. Colleges would reserve portions of enrollments so that people with a “one” would only compete against other ones for a reserved number of slots. Likewise, those with a “two” would compete against each other for slots reserved for twos. And so on. 

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