Latin America needs to improve primary education to shore up growth and democracy

Posted by GABRIEL SANCHEZ ZINNY on Fri, Oct 09, 2015 @ 12:08 PM

In recent years, Latin American and Caribbean nations have accomplished across-the-board reductions in poverty and, in many cases, impressive growth rates. These positive trends have allowed for increased spending on education, but cannot obscure the huge challenges still faced by the region in this area. 

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Tags: education, education news, K12 education, latin america, assessments

Automation, Productivity, and Human Capital in Latin America

Posted by GABRIEL SANCHEZ ZINNY on Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 03:21 PM

Over the past decade, Latin America maintained impressive levels of growth even as the United States and Europe were rocked by economic crisis. And while the region's perennial social challenges -- including high levels of poverty, inequality, informal employment, and poor education -- also saw improvement, they remain a major impediment to more inclusive and better functioning economies.

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Tags: education reform, education, education issues, education and public policy, latin america

Shockingly Few Students Are Proficient In U.S. History

Posted by Johanna Sanchez on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 @ 11:47 AM

Which of these do the governments of Canada, France and Australia have in common: a) They are controlled by the military; b) They have constitutions that limit their power; c) They have leaders with absolute power; d) They discourage participation by citizens in public affairs?

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Tags: education reform, education, civic education

FL Chamber-Backed Education Accountability Bill Passes FL Legislature

Posted by Johanna Sanchez on Thu, Apr 09, 2015 @ 04:23 PM

A Florida Chamber-backed education accountability bill reducing the number of education assessments passed out of the Florida Legislature today and is heading to Governor Rick Scott to be signed into law.

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Tags: Florida Education, education, economy, florida legislation

In Colombia, Education Is in Fashion

Posted by Luana Goncalves on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 02:09 PM

Visit any hotel in Colombia, and you will hear a diversity of languages. Chinese, Arabic and English are being spoken almost as much as Spanish. That's because investors from all over the world are looking to expand their businesses in this fast-growing Latin American country.

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Tags: education reform, education, latin america, Colombia, entrepreneurship

Protect Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Posted by Johanna Sanchez on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 @ 02:12 PM

Hispanic CREO Super Bowl Ad Features Teen with Heartfelt Plea to Protect Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program --Scholarship program under attack by the teachers union, school boards and others benefits nearly 70-thousand low-income, mostly minority students this school year

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Tags: Florida Education, education reform, education

Innovative Education Can Help Fight Crime in Latin America

Posted by Johanna Sanchez on Fri, Feb 06, 2015 @ 01:15 PM

Apart from the human tragedies that make up such statistics, high levels of violence create a major barrier to economic development. Insecurity hobbles the creation of social and human capital, weakening efforts to improve education and health, while also threatening much-needed investment. U.N. figures show that the cumulative impact of violence worldwide is as much as 11 percent of global GDP; in Latin America, homicide alone is estimated to shave off over 4 percent of GDP.

Latin America’s imprisoned population is at the center of this crisis. The World Prison Population List, a project of the International Centre for Prison Studies, tracks incarceration around the world. Its most recent report finds that out of the world’s 10 million prisoners, 1.3 million belong to Latin America—a rate of 229 inmates per 100,000 people, far higher than the world average of 144. And over the past two decades, the Latin America’s incarceration rates have ballooned by 120 percent as the drug wars have intensified.

The spike in the prison population has created a policy conundrum for nearly every country: how to improve the “employability” of inmates in order to allow them to reenter the labor force? This challenge, in turn, raises a number of questions about which programs are most effective in bringing inmates back to society, and what role formal and informal education programs can play.

What is clear is that the potential benefits—to both society and the state budget—of successfully reintegrating inmates are huge. The RAND Corporation, in a major 2013 study, found that every dollar spent on prison educational programs saved between $4 and $5 by reducing recidivism rates. In particular, the suite of educational practices known as technical and vocational training lead to a 43 percent lower chance that inmates would return to prison.

The potential of prison education is particularly promising in countries like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Chile, where more than 40 percent of inmates are recidivists. Prison experts point out that the current approach is to give inmates little more than a “bus ticket and some pocket change” upon release, when what is needed is a comprehensive reintegration process.

As the RAND researchers found, increasing offenders’ education level is perhaps the single most effective way to boost their chances for positive re-entry into society. Especially given that many, if not most, inmates had failed to finish even basic elementary school before their incarceration, finding jobs without some sort of augmentation of their skills unsurprisingly proves difficult. RAND finds that “the odds of obtaining employment post-release among inmates who participated in correctional education programs were 13 percent higher than the odds for those who did not.”

There have also been interesting findings on the potential for education technologies, including web-based e-learning, to expand classroom access to both inmates and those recently released from prison. In terms of comparative effectiveness, e-learning may be equivalent to more traditional methods: “learning gains in both reading and in math among inmates exposed to computer assisted instruction were similar to learning gains made by inmates taught through traditional (face-to-face) instruction methods,” argues RAND.

If that is the case, then e-learning options have a major advantage—the way in which they reduce the stigmatization faced by inmates in the outside world. That stigma is one of the main obstacles for ex-offenders in pursuing coursework in a traditional classroom setting. However, by allowing former inmates to continue their education with a level of anonymity, retention rates—and thus graduation rates—are higher.

Thus, educational re-entry programs based on e-learning may well be an effective, and very cost-effective, tool for reducing recidivism and thereby reducing the spike in violent crime that has shaken Latin America. As the RAND report points out, “the direct costs of reincarceration were far greater than the direct costs of providing correctional education.”

Spending money smarter will be key if Latin America is to overcome its dramatic human capital shortfall—one that has only been exacerbated by the recent wave of criminality. The region is currently in a negative feedback loop where more crime leads to increased incarceration and worse educational and employment opportunities. To reverse that trend, policymakers and education providers should be working together to find ways to prevent crime through innovative educational programs

Gabriel Zinny

Founder, Kuepa

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Tags: education, innovation, Latinos & Hispanics, latinos

ExcelinEd applauds Governor Susana Martinez's unwavering commitment to New Mexico's students

Posted by Johanna Sanchez on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:31 AM

Dear Friend,

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Tags: education reform, education, School Choice, New Mexico

Keeping the Promise: A Florida Education Summit

Posted by Johanna Sanchez on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 02:37 PM

Join us for a can't-miss conversation!

On February 10th, the Foundation for Florida's Future will host Keeping the Promise: A Florida Education Summit. The half-day event is convening top Florida policymakers and education stakeholders for a conversation about accountability and choice, two of the most important factors for unlocking student potential.

Attendees will hear from leading policymakers, researchers, innovators and educators about where we've been, where we are and where we can go when it comes to testing and accountability in our schools. They'll also learn about groundbreaking national research on the changing demographics in Florida, our state's outlook and what that means for education and the economy. We'll end with a myth-busting discussion on one of the most talked-about and misunderstood topics today: educational choice.

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

The Alumni Center
1030 West Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32306

Registration is now open!
This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. For event details and to register, visit

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Tags: education reform, education, Arizona education, Arizona

Nation’s Largest-Ever School Choice Celebration to Kick Off in Jacksonville Next Week

Posted by Luana Goncalves on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 @ 03:31 PM

School choice supporters to ring in National School Choice Week 2015 with Official Kickoff at Florida Theatre, January 23, 2015.

US Sen. John McCain, Joe Trippi, Rev. HK Matthews, Superstar Athlete
Desmond Howard to headline first of 11,000+ events nationwide

JACKSONVILLE – The largest celebration of school choice in US history will officially start on Friday, January 23, 2015 at a special event in Jacksonville, Florida.

National School Choice Week 2015 will kick off at the Florida Theatre at 12:30 pm on January 23. The event is the first event of an unprecedented 11,082 independently planned and independently funded special events taking place across all 50 states during the Week, which runs until January 31, 2015.

The goal of the Week is to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options for children, and to raise awareness of the importance of, and benefits of, school choice in a variety of forms.

More than 1,900 students, parents, and teachers will attend the Official Kickoff celebration, which will be nationally televised – on tape delay – on two cable television networks. The event’s speakers include:

  • US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a longtime school choice supporter, who will be touring the NFL-YET Academy, a public charter school in Phoenix, and addressing a National School Choice Week event at the school.

  • Rev. HK Matthews, a noted civil rights pioneer who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Montgomery and Selma, and was arrested 35 times for peaceful protests to demand integration during the US civil rights movement.

  • Joe Trippi, Democratic strategist and FOX News analyst, who managed Howard Dean’s 2008 presidential campaign and is a renowned national and international political advisor.

  • Desmond Howard, a school choice advocate and former college football and NFL player, winner of the 1991 Heisman Trophy, Super Bowl XXXI MVP, and current ESPN commentator. 

Additional speakers include Gary Chartrand, chairman of the Florida State Board of Education; Frank Biden, the president of Mavericks in Education and the brother of Vice President Joe Biden; Jeanne Allen, pioneering education reform champion and founder of The Center for Education Reform; Wendy Howard, the founder and executive director of the Florida Alliance for Choice in Education; Christie Bassett, 2015 Florida Teacher of the Year and a teacher at Highlands Park Elementary School in Polk County, Florida; Jason Fischer, member of the Duval County School Board; Lisa Graham Keegan, senior advisor to National School Choice Week and the former superintendent of public instruction for Arizona; and Randan Steinhauser, an advisor to National School Choice Week, who will join the event live via satellite from Austin, Texas. Andrew Campanella, the president of National School Choice Week, will serve as the event’s host and anchor. 

The event is centered around testimonials from students, parents, and teachers who benefit from an array of education options – including students and graduates from traditional public schools, public magnet schools, public charter schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

“Florida is a national leader in providing quality, effective education options for children,” Wendy Howard said. “National School Choice Week provides an opportunity for the Sunshine State to demonstrate to the nation the basic but transformational message that school choice works.” 

“National School Choice Week will break records as the nation’s largest celebration of educational opportunity in American history,” Campanella said. “We are grateful for our partner organizations and supporters in my home state, Florida, for their work in making the inaugural event of this special week, so memorable.”

The event’s planning partners include:

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Tags: education, School Choice, Educational Options, National School Choice Week, kickoff, events