State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex has proposals to improve education though results from such programs still might be a year or more away. Here are some:
-- A "get tough" intervention program. Principals and teachers could be fired from schools that score "at risk," the bottom rating, for four consecutive years. Rex's measure is before a House committee now. "It's about turning those schools around more quickly," Rex said.
-- More choice within public schools. The goal of Rex's "Public School Choice" program is to let parents in every school district transfer their student to other schools within that district. The program also encourages niche programs, such as single-gender education and Montessori programs, at schools. Last year, a bill requiring all school districts to offer some level of choice was defeated. Rex said he hopes to have the bill reintroduced this year.
--; 4-year-old kindergarten for all at-risk students. Rex wants incentives for teachers who get results in the classroom and incentives for quality teachers who agree to teach in struggling schools. Rex hopes to have these recommendations drafted into legislation in the next two weeks.
-- A new education funding formula. Rex wants to collapse many of the state budget line items that pay for education, giving districts more flexibility in how to spend their state dollars and allowing money to follow the student. This proposal, too, is anticipated to become legislation in a couple of weeks.