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     (CONRAD) – STATE SENATOR LEW JONES SAYS YOU CAN ALMOST COUNT ON IT……..DISCUSSION OF AN “INTERSTATE EDUCATIONAL COMPACT,” IN THE NEXT LEGISLATURE.

       THE LEGISLATIVE INTERIM EDUCATION COMMITTEE MEETING IN HELENA LAST WEEK HELD DISCUSSIONS ON HOW TO BEST PROVIDE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR A MOBILE POPULATION…..A TREND IN OUR CURRENT CULTURE.

       FOR EXAMPLE, PARENTS FOLLOW TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES SUCH AS OIL/GAS DEVELOPMENT OR MILITARY DEPLOYMENT, BUT WHEN THEY ARRIVE IN MONTANA THEY FIND THAT GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS ARE VASTLY DIFFERENT.

            CHARTER SCHOOLS WERE ANOTHER MAJOR TOPIC OF DISCUSSION AND JONES SAYS, WHILE, “THERE IS UNDENIABLE BENEFIT IN PROVIDING STUDENTS WITH POSITIVE OPTIONS, ANY SUCH PROVISION DOES NOT NEGATE MONTANA’S CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATION TO OFFER A QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR ALL.

            PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN THE MOST COMMON EDUCATION REFORM PROPOSAL WITH THE ARGUMENT THAT THRU ENHANCED FLEXIBILITY AND COMPETITION, THE CHARTER SCHOOL CAN ENHANCE TEST SCORES AND LOWER COST.

            ACCORDING TO JONES, HOWEVER, THE ACTUAL BODY OF RESEARCH ON THE NATION’S 5600 CHARTER SCHOOLS SUGGEST THAT WHILE STUDENT TEST SCORES DO VARY BY LOCATION, CHARTERS, ON AVERAGE, ARE AT BEST EQUAL, AND MORE OFTEN MEASURE INFERIOR TO THEIR PUBLIC COUNTERPART, MOREOVER, THEY ARE RARELY CHEAPER.

            JONES SAYS THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE NOT VIABLE ANYWHERE, BUT IT IS CRUCIAL THAT MONTANA NOT FALL PREY TO UNSUBSTANTIATED ANECDOTAL ARGUMENTS, BUT RATHER THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE REFORM POTENTIAL PRIOR TO ACTING.

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