A Moment of Thanks
School Choice Weekly, Issue #18
Thanksgiving and the Advent and Christmas seasons that follow offer time to reflect. So this week, rather than highlighting another horse-race aspect of education politics or policy, and well in keeping with our theme of education, here’s some food for thought.
First, did you know the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” also was instrumental in having Thanksgiving made a national holiday? In the mid-1800s, Sara Josepha Hale pestered five presidents until President Abraham Lincoln finally acquiesced and made Thanksgiving the third national holiday. Learn more about her and her campaign here.
Here are some excerpts from Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation. Thankfully, our nation is not wracked with civil war, but it has many divisions and troubles that dishearten the stoutest patriots. Lincoln’s words offer hope amid even darker days.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict …
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy …
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
SOURCES: World Radio, Washington Post
IN THIS ISSUE
- LOUISIANA: A former state legislator and voucher foe has a change of heart on school choice: The African-American woman now leads a statewide organization promoting vouchers.
- PRIVATE SCHOOL DILEMMAS: Should private schools begin to act more like charters? Or should lawmakers stop requiring private schools to administer state tests? (Or both?)
- WISCONSIN: Lawmakers spar over whether and how to require private voucher schools to collect and report all the same data public schools do. Private school advocates have objected to being enclosed within the government education system.
- DC: A government report criticizing the city’s voucher program dings bureaucracy, not vouchers, says Patrick Gibbons.
- OKLAHOMA: A state senator has filed a bill to halt Common Core’s phase-in following state hearings on the national standards.
- LOUISIANA: Over the next ten years, the state will phase in how Common Core tests affect other test-related education policies.
- MASSACHUSETTS: The lead Common Core test state will let districts choose whether to use the tests starting in 2015 or 2016. The once-top education state is slipping after lawmakers have backpedaled on reforms.
- NATIONAL: Thirty-one states have not made their graduation requirements match Common Core, and the organization that coordinated Common Core wants them to. A report from Achieve, Inc. says Common Core won’t have much influence without corresponding policy changes.
- WISCONSIN: After four public hearings, lawmakers conclude they want a “compromise” on Common Core that includes keeping the entire structure but possibly passing a student privacy law.
- TENNESSEE: The first modern, large-scale study of a state preschool program again finds it does not benefit children. The gold-standard study examined 3,000 low-income children.
- MARYLAND: The state got high national test scores, but excluded the largest number of special-education and English-learning students in the nation. Three in five of such students did not take the National Assessment of Educational Progress in Maryland this year.
- FEDERAL: How the Obama administration wasted $5 billion on an education project with a known history of failure. Federal school turnarounds essentially have never worked, on average.
- SPECIAL ED: Three policy changes states can make to reduce the explosion of useless spending in special education: create district cooperatives for high-need children, weight student funding, and create “exceptional need” funds.