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D minus. That’s the generous grade to give the Obama Administration—based on student test performances in math and reading over the eight years it held office (2009-2017). Its final grade became apparent just this week when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the official report card for U. S. schools nationwide, released the 2017 results. Student gains registered over the Obama years were trivial at best, far short of those accomplished during what must now be referred to as the halcyon days of the George W. Bush Administration.

Charters are making a rebound—at least among Republicans and African Americans. Last fall, the 2017 Poll administered by Education Next (EdNext) reported a steep drop in support for the formation of charter schools. Only 39 percent of the public supported charters, a remarkable change from the 51 percent level of support registered in 2016.

For Democrats and Republicans alike, charter schools have long provided a happy compromise between vouchers for religious schools and no school choice at all. Charters give families an alternative schooling option but remain publicly funded, secular institutions authorized by government agencies. They have been warmly endorsed by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Of all the 48 continental states, the Grizzly Bear State, as it was originally known, has the hottest, driest valley (Death Valley), the highest hill (Mt. Whitney), the largest living tree (Sequoia), the most people, and the greatest number of domestically raised turkeys living outside the state capital (Sacramento). But when it comes to K-12 education, are the views of Californians any different from those living elsewhere across the United States?

As compared to other undergraduates, Hispanic students are 33 percent more likely to be enrolled in a two-year college rather than a four-year university. According to the National Center on Educational Statistics, Hispanic students constituted 23 percent of the 2014 undergraduate enrollments in colleges offering an associate's degree, but only 17 percent of the enrollment in institutions offering a bachelor's.

As lawsuits multiply and partisans continue to squabble over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning migration from six majority-Muslim nations, liberals in the mainstream media have been pushing the line that America’s historic tolerance of religious diversity no longer extends to adherents of the Islamic faith. A just-released Education Next survey tells a different story.

President Donald Trump’s poll numbers have slipped well below levels enjoyed by prior presidents during their first one hundred days. But on one issue—school choice—the president is pushing the numbers in the direction he desires. It’s time for him to push his school choice agenda.

Alexis de Tocqueville concluded in the 1830s: “The situation of the Americans is entirely exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be put in the same situation.”

Disadvantaged students make up the fastest growing segment of American children today — and a robust workforce and a skilled economy will depend on their academic success. California is doing things differently — a bold experiment to bring America’s largest public school system back from the brink. Is it working?

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January 24, 2017
By Doug Gavel

President Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education has accelerated the discussion around the issue of charter schools, for which DeVos has long advocated in her native Michigan.  Charter schools are publicly funded, quasi-independently-operated community-based schools intended to serve as incubators for novel teaching and learning models, but their effectiveness within the public education system has been an issue of longstanding debate.