Peace Love and Understanding with Sherman Dorn

July 19, 2019

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Over at RedefinED I dip a toe into podcasting with my old nemesis Sherman Dorn (wait…that makes one of us the bad guy right? Not it!) Dr. Dorn and I used to argue about Florida NAEP scores, but now we both live in the Cactus Patch. Anyway Dorn very kindly hosted me at Arizona State to record the podcast, which is in two parts, and (I think) we basically agree that public schools are over-regulated and seem to reach a consensus on a lighter footprint testing system. Along the way we discuss the 20th anniversary of Jeb Bush’s reforms and other stuff. Jayblog fans should take a listen: part I and part II.

Interstate Mobility and Family Empowerment

May 1, 2019

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So states like Arizona and Florida are crushing the ball on interstate mobility– incoming outnumbering outgoing approximately 2 to 1.  Ergo it must follow that Arizona is “draining” California of people and money, and Florida is doing the same to New York. Perhaps we should tear up the interstate highway system- this whole freedom thing is messy and it hurts the feelings of those losing taxpayers. To the contrary- I argue we should embrace what Hesiod called “good strife” or what Craig Barrett termed “tension in the system” over at RedefinED.

In education tension in the system can nudge system of schools mired in allegations of corruption to encourage better performance, like for instance this:

Granted you’ll have some in California, burdened as they are with all of that magnificent coastline and almost every other natural advantage imaginable, complain about having to compete with the likes of our humble patch of cactus. You see a similarly disturbing tendency for the advantaged to cry foul when the upstarts do well in education and elsewhere. There is a school of thought that holds that the practice of “amateur sports” was motivated by a desire on the part of British toffs not to be humiliated by working class heroes back in the day.  If California prefers to bemoan the cosmic injustice of people seeking happiness rather than putting their own house in order, I say to opportunity seekers-welcome to Arizona! Or as my cajun friends might paraphrase Hesiod: laissez la bon combat rouler chere!

The Prodigal Nerd Returns to Florida

December 3, 2018

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

A bit of personal news- I’ve taken a new gig at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and as editor at RedefinED. Over at RedefinED online I offer an introductory post re-introducing myself to my friends in Florida:

Florida is a grandly innovative state with a record in policy implementation that is far greater than average. It’s very hard to appreciate this when you are close to your own inevitable policy and political messiness, but trust me, it is very clear from over here. I’m proud, for instance, that Arizona originated both scholarship tax credits and education savings accounts. Both innovations have been successfully taken to greater scale, however, in Florida – in no small part due to the relentless attention paid to the details of implementation.

You’ve taken crucial first steps towards equalizing opportunity in schooling. The sky not only did not open with a rain of frogs or locusts, you’ve seen real tangible progress. Florida public education, despite much protestation from traditionalists, is not only still there, it is substantially improved.

Funding for public education is guaranteed in the Florida Constitution and is as close to a permanent institution as you get in American society. It’s here to stay. Florida, however, has the chance not just to practice the form of public education, but to fulfill its actual promise. Much divides our society, but Americans still unite on crucial issues, including education. We desperately want an education system that gives students the knowledge, skills and habits needed for success and to responsibly exercise democratic citizenship. We – left, right and center – commonly and fiercely desire a system of schooling which serves as an engine of class mobility. Florida has moved the needle in this direction by setting families free to pursue opportunities that would otherwise be denied to them. More of this is needed and the next step will be to develop a consensus around setting educators free as well.


“Not Just Taking Their Money”

June 1, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

RedefinED profiles an interesting snippet from current Florida K-12 politics. There is quite the controversy over an omnibus ed bill that districts want vetoed. Districts don’t want charters, but they need them:

The same district leaders who complain about the Legislature and call for a veto also say they need charter schools to accommodate population growth, as funds are scarce to build new schools. This is especially true in the southernmost part of the county, where approved developments that were dormant during the recession are now springing to life.

Some also recognize that charter schools can give a second chance to students who fall through the cracks in the district system. Board member Susan Valdes, speaking at the May 16 board meeting, described two such students, one who lost a parent to military combat and the other who had been ill.

“If the governor signs the bill,” Valdes said, addressing administrators in the auditorium, “hey, life lesson that we should learn about really, truly taking care of our children — not just taking their money.”

This is all going to get more challenging as Florida’s youth and elderly populations continue to expand. The current bill that stands at the center of the controversy includes a series of small but important steps in the needed direction. The yearned for veto will do nothing to address the reality that the Florida public school system must adapt to changing circumstances. Moreover “just taking their money” was an entirely reprehensible waste of human potential even during the easiest of times, which these are surely not. Just remember where you heard it first folks.

Segregationist Neanderthal 1, Florida’s First Integrated School 0

September 22, 2016

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Make sure to catch this post over at RedefinED by Patrick Gibbons about the racist “founder of Florida public education” and his 18 year jihad to close a racially integrated private school.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, and even if you tried, no one would believe you, which is why Gibbons included a sources appendix at the end of the post. Very worth the read.


Please Return to Your Seats and Fasten Your Seat Belts…

February 17, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

I have a new guest post on RedefinED today showing that everything in Florida will be fine as the children of the Baby Boomers have children and the Baby Boomers retire. So long that is if they find a way to reformat Medicaid to keep it affordable, create 1.4 million new school spaces and somehow avoid a major drag on economic growth as the percentage of working age people declines.   

You know, just a few minor things here and there. 

More on Florida Age Demographapocalypse

December 6, 2013


(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

New guest post on RedefinED about Florida’s killer combo of surging youth and elderly population.  I recently did a podcast with the Heartland Institute on the same subject.

Like Arizona, Florida’s current choice programs are simply too small to absorb more than a small portion of the coming youth population increase.

Florida census choice chart

Guest Post on RedefinED

May 21, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The RedefinED team asked me to write a response to my friends Howard Fuller and Andrew Coulson regarding the means-tested vs. universal choice debate.  Andrew and Howard, for different reasons, support a means-tested approach but I lay out my case as to why I think choice must be universal in scope and how we should approach equity and third-party payer concerns.

The issues raised by Howard and Andrew ultimately beg the question: just where is it that we are going with the parental choice movement? Success in passing some broad programs simply increases the stakes for being thoughtful about the details.

Check it out over at RedefinED.

The Choice Genie is out of the Florida Bottle

March 24, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Drawing on data from redefinED and the Digest of Education Statistics, I produced the following chart. With 1.46 million students learning in part or wholly at schools other than their assigned public schools, Florida’s choice students outnumber the total public school population of all but about 8 states.

Okay, so it may be around 12 or 15 or so  if we were to account for some inevitable double counting in the figures (I’ve already separated out the McKay and Step Up for Students from the private school number). The choice programs however are just getting warmed up in the Sunshine State.

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