Posts Tagged ‘education’

Tennessee Education Stories: Marshall Shanks

Tennessee Education Stories: Marshall Shanks

Marshall Shanks

Marshall Shanks is a a young student in Memphis attending St. George’s Independent School, and he is a perfect example of the positive impact that occurs when we empower families with school choice. Marshall has attended St. George’s since pre-K, has participated in golf, lacrosse, basketball, and band, all while maintaining a 3.4 GPA. He takes a rigorous course-load that has included pre-algebra, French, and Latin. Marshall’s education comes courtesy of the Memphis Opportunity Scholarship Trust (MOST), a privately funded scholarship organization designed to help low-income families in Memphis attend private elementary and secondary schools.

Marshall’s mom, Marilyn, is a prime example of a hardworking mother left to raise her son after his father passed away when Marshall was barely a year old. She is grateful to MOST for Marshall’s opportunity to receive a quality education that she could otherwise not afford. “Our private school experience has been a blessing. We are fortunate to have a choice,” she says.

Sadly, many of Marshall’s peers are not so fortunate. Marshall and Marilyn live in a neighborhood rife with challenges. The hopes of many youth are slipping away, as young people fall prey to drugs and other illicit activities. Without the same opportunities as Marshall to benefit from a quality education, they are being left behind.

To learn more about Beacon’s efforts to advance school choice, click here.

August 22nd, 2014 | Feature, Tennessee Stories

Education Study Shows Vouchers Benefit Students and Public Schools

Education Study Shows Vouchers Benefit Students and Public Schools

The Beacon Center of Tennessee has just released the highly anticipated “Saving Education” study, a new study on education, which focuses on the impact of opportunity scholarships, or vouchers, on the public school system. You can download the full study here.

The results were eye-opening to be sure, showing that students leaving public schools with vouchers are not the only ones who are helped, vouchers also benefit those children who stay in the public school system.

Because only a portion of per pupil funding follows a child in a voucher program, there will be a substantial amount of money left over for the public school district.

The study shows that on average, school districts across the state would have an additional $612 on top of fixed costs for every student that leaves the school district with a scholarship. Additionally, if a voucher program was focused on failing school districts, such as districts in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, these districts would save an average of more than $1,000 per student who left with a voucher.

“The teachers’ union keeps repeating the myth that opportunity scholarships would take away money from our public schools, but that has been proven wrong yet again,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen.

August 19th, 2014 | Feature, Policy

Stupid Is as Stupid Does: We Need to Save Education

Stupid Is as Stupid Does: We Need to Save Education

It is back-to-school for Tennessee kids, and the excitement is difficult to miss if on one’s Facebook or Instagram feed. Pictures of kids dressed in their best outfits, producing cheese-faced smiles, and wearing backpacks bigger than they are to appease nostalgic parents have almost overtaken social media. As friends of mine have recently begun having school-aged children to make these new memories with, it is both exciting and nerve-racking for them to realize that these days essentially mark the beginning of a years-long training program for their future vocation.

Outside of the home, education has more-or-less served as an ecosystem in which children will be gradually equipped with the tools they will need to succeed in whatever field they decide to enter. In fact, many on both sides of the political isle argue that a good education is the best remedy for escaping poverty, a life of crime, or other socio-economic obstacles. So does it not behoove us to measure the success of our education system by that admirable yardstick?

In his recent column in the Daily Caller, Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, broke down the data according to whether or not the education system is a successful game-changer in our socio-economic climate. According to Enlow, “If the purpose of education is to create well-educated citizens who are employable in today’s global marketplace, we are doing a miserable job.”

Among Enlow’s assessment is the startling reality that, although the Department of Labor and Statistics asserts a national jobless rate of 6.1 percent, that number skyrockets to 10.4 percent for 20-24 year olds and a whopping 19.3 percent for 18-19 year olds. Perhaps that dismal outlook is why we are witnessing a simultaneous and dramatic increase in the demand for educational choice.

In the Friedman Foundation’s spring survey, 69 percent of parents with school-aged children were supportive of vouchers—compared to 59 percent in 2012. Most interestingly, those most supportive of choice options are minorities and the newer generations: African Americans (74 percent), Hispanics (72 percent), and young adults (69 percent).

So as we peruse through all the pictures of backpack-toting children, we should reconsider whether we want the future leaders of our country to be trapped in a poorly performing education system of the past or whether we are going to be bold enough to demand a change. Are we going to continue the civil rights injustice of determining one’s academic opportunity based on a ZIP Code rather than on a parent’s decision? We know that our system is failing our children. Is not the definition of stupid, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”?

-Lindsay Boyd

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August 18th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

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