School in the Dark

School in the Dark
September 12, 2013

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

School Choice Weekly, Issue #7

Every Tuesday, children at Grove Avenue Elementary School in Barrington, Illinois attend school in the dark. The school’s principal, Cindy Kalogeropoulos, has instituted “Green Tuesdays” to “raise awareness” about the environment. School leaders also encourage children to wear green on Tuesdays. So children ages 5 through 10 must receive a weekly “wakeup call” about the environment while being deprived of one-fifth of their school year as they struggle to read and pay attention by whatever light streams in through the school’s windows that day.

School leaders may think they don’t need to spend all five days on top of their game for kids. Barrington, after all, is a wealthy Chicago suburb and Grove Avenue has received national awards for its students’ performance. Undoubtedly, taxpayers don’t mind, right? It’s all for a good cause.

Ken Rusin has two children attending Grove Avenue, and two more who will attend when they reach school age. He’s beside himself trying to get the lights back on in his kids’ school. He has called lawyers, the local police, the local fire department, and the school’s insurance company, not to mention calls, letters, and visits to Kalogeropoulos and school board members. They’ve all essentially told him nothing’s going to change until a child gets hurt in the dark. They also have told reporters no parents have complained about the program and everything’s hunky dory.

This is an extreme example of what happens when parents have no real power over their children’s education. It happens in smaller ways: Mothers who can’t get their gifted child advanced math classes, fathers who can’t get their disabled children a particular treatment they want, parents who can’t get their children assigned any real academic work in favor of craft projects and magazine reading. Families should not have to negotiate with the parents of thousands of other children to meet their own children’s unique needs, and neither should they have to buy a new house in another district. Rusin’s children should not lose a fifth of every elementary school year to the extreme, leftist politics of a certain principal, and neither should any child.

SOURCE: School Reform News


School Choice Roundup

  • LOUISIANA: State lawyers ask a judge to delay the Obama administration’s lawsuit against the state’s voucher program. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges giving mostly black, poor children the ability to attend better private schools hurts black families.
  • EMPOWERMENT: How school choice allows parents to be entrepreneurs on behalf of their children’s futures. In a thought-provoking analysis, Jonathan Butcher emphasizes the possibilities of school choice, especially Arizona’s education savings accounts, known as vouchers 2.0.
  • WISCONSIN: The Milwaukee school district is violating a law requiring them to sell unused buildings to choice and charter schools, says a law firm. The school district says it would be happy to make the buildings available if the state will let them raise taxes.
  • ALABAMA: More kids got school choice from No Child Left Behind than a new state school choice program. Until the Obama administration waived NCLB, the law allowed some students to escape persistently failing schools into other public schools. Alabama’s new law allows students attending failing schools to apply to another public school or attend a private school with a voucher. This year, 719 children used the state law to attend another school, with just 52 choosing private schools.

Common Core Watch

  • NEBRASKA: An independent study finds the state’s English standards are better than Common Core, and its math standards introduce some topics later but in greater depth. State officials still worry about getting schools materials that fit their state standards because almost everything available is geared to Common Core.

Education Today

  • FISCAL CRISIS: The gap between what states have set aside to pay public pensions and what taxpayers owe on them is $4 trillion nationwide, a new report finds. Teacher pensions comprise a large share of this debt, as state and local lawmakers for years have found it easier to pay teachers in the future rather than in the present.
  • INDIANA: A legislative review panel clears former state Superintendent Tony Bennett of cronyism for changing the state grade of a school that contributed to his campaign. His actions were reasonable and did not constitute favoritism because they did not apply just to that one school, the panel concluded.

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)