Friday, July 09, 2004
A Buffalo teacher and union activist speaks out on charter schools there, don't miss this one.
Here's the lede:
The problem with Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore's distaste for charter schools is that he does not acknowledge his own role in creating Buffalo's market for them. As I see it, there would be no particular need for charter schools in this town if he tried to work with them rather than fight them.
My knowledge of charters leads me to believe they are not a simple answer to educational problems. However, they move school reform from conversation to action - with accountability - which is healthier than staying hopelessly stuck.
Former WA State Superintendent and onetime charter supporter Judith Billings is signaling that she's going to jump in the race for the state sup't slot there. It's no secret that the incumbent isn't popular with the state teachers' union (WEA) because she -- gasp -- supports the state's standards program and --double gasp -- public charter schools, too.
Billings, a one-time charter supporter (she co-chaired the pro-charter referendum in 2000), has had a change of heart.
Billings also said she now opposes charter schools, a hot-button issue for the WEA, which is working to repeal [charter school] legislation passed this spring...
Charters are proving to be a very potent tool for recruiting pliant candidates in Wash. State. Is the WEA sure it wants to get rid of them?
Two new charter schools in Indy. Why does this matter to you? Because Indy Mayor Bart Peterson is the only mayor in the country who can directly charter schools, and he's doing a hell of a good job of it.
Here is the new 21st Century Schools Project Bulletin. You can sign up to get it sent to you free here.
New Heritage Foundation report on federal education policy. What's the solution?...You're never gonna guess...Surprise! It's vouchers! The report also notes that states are sitting on "billions" in unspent funds...over to you Stilwell. Via Joanne Jacobs, who agrees with Eduwonk's assessment of the Incredible Shrinking GI Bill for Kids.
California Secretary of Ed Richard Riordan is in some trouble there...longtime Riordan watchers were wondering when a foot-in-mouth incident would happen. Whoever bet on last week, you're a winner!
New report on CA charter schools and special education here (PDF). Press coverage here. Worth reading, some good ideas, some less so.
In this new PPI paper education analyst Chrisanne L. Gayl examines the history and current state of play on after-school programs and makes recommendations for policymakers. Punchline: After-school programs important, need more funding to expand, need greater attention to quality, too.
After five very productive years at Education Commission of the States, Ted Sanders is stepping down next January as ECS president to spend more time with his family. Ted is a thoughtful fellow and important advocate for education. The increased ECS presence in several key debates is a direct consequence of his efforts.
For your consideration, here are five education stories not getting the attention they should right now, each one has implications that could mean a major political or policy pivot in coming years:
*The increasing support for vouchers among African-Americans, now a solid majority overall and even more among younger blacks and families.
*How President Bush's mishandling of NCLB has created a mess for his signature education law, alienated even supporters, and potentially hamstrung some school improvement efforts.
*How important and significant it is that the entire Democratic ticket for president champions differential pay for teachers.
*The achievement gap. In personal terms it's catastrophic, in demographic ones if it's not the nation's top social policy challenge it's right up there.
*The teachers' union led referendum in Washington State to overturn the charter law there. Huge consequences for charters if this succeeds.
Two More Bonus Freebies! (A) Why No Child Left Behind is going to be a boon to efforts to make state school finance systems more equitable for poor kids and (B) The NEA’s membership woes and what that potentially means for the organization down the road.
In WI they say more bark than bite on NCLB. Stateline says rebellion? What rebellion?
The AP's Feller looks at teacher "tenure."
CSM looks at a new KIPP school. Inspiring.
They've set a date for a new teachers' union election in Chicago. A 9/13 smackdown.
NYT's Freedman takes a counterintuitive look at the flip side of summer school.
NYT's Winter takes an interesting look at counselor greasing.
Kerry and Edwards spoke with the NEA conference by videophone after blowing them off on Tuesday. No news though. Sen. HRC pinch hit in their place on Tuesday.
Here is a wonky look at cross sector alliances involving charter schools.
More from the U.K. on Labor's new education plans there. More from BBC here.
If you follow school finance, you should be reading these memos.
And, if you are interested in teacher quality issues then bookmark this website developed by Learning Point Associates and Education Commission of the States.
New Mathematica study (PDF) on
Kerry and Edwards and Education...And, A No Show Slight Or A Shrewd Move?
This morning the question that everyone* is wondering about is, of course, what does Kerry - Edwards mean for education? The answer? Not that much that Kerry didn't already mean. As opposed to, for instance, Gore - Lieberman, there is not much daylight between these two on any major education issue so troublemaking reporters and opposition researchers will be disappointed. Their higher education proposals are similar, and solid, and they've both stepped out on issues like differential pay for teachers who teach in challenging subjects or those where there is a teacher shortage.
But, in a must-read, EIA reports that the NEA was not happy that Kerry decided at the last minute to skip their conference where he was scheduled to speak. Knee jerk reaction: It's actually a shrewd move on Kerry's part considering the NEA's favorable (read unfavorable) ratings among the general public and swing voters and the amount of (favorable) attention he was getting yesterday...More considered reaction: Same.
Too bad he missed all those good songs though...
*OK, just the dozen or so people who care...
Probably a safe bet that this won't go platinum...
By the way, aren't protest songs supposed to argue for social change rather than against it? Perhaps there is some lost Dylan or Guthrie tune about why it's very important to organize to ensure that poor kids don't learn much in school, but Eduwonk missed it.
Holiday Weekend Blockbusters: Not Spidey! Instead...The Money Pit...And, Dumb and Dumber...
Last week, Ted Stilwill, the state superintendent in Iowa and president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, fired back at House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Boehner over the unobligated funds issue. Stilwill took sharp issue with the insinuation that states are sitting on federal funds that could be used for No Child Left Behind.
From Stilwill's letter:
As the nation’s chief state school officers, we write to express our strong objections with your recent comments regarding federal funding to support public education. You assert that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is adequately funded because states are "sitting on" billions of unspent dollars. You also state, "we are increasing federal education spending more quickly than states can actually spend the money." If these statements are meant to defend the current level of federal funding for education, they are deliberately misleading. Your statements ignore the budgeting practices authorized by Congress and misrepresent the quality work of our nation’s chief state school officers. As chairman of the Committee on Education and Workforce, we call on you to acknowledge that states are in fact following the federal laws and guidance regarding the expenditure of federal funds for NCLB.
Throughout the last six months, the Committee on Education and the Workforce has cited a U.S. Department of Education (ED) Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS) report that identified $5.7 billion in unexpended funds from fiscal years 2000, 2001, and 2002 and implied that states are not taking full advantage of appropriated funds for NCLB. It may be understandable for members of the general public to assume that federal funds flow immediately to states after an appropriation bill is signed, but you or members of your staff know better. Indeed, states could issue press releases expressing a concern that we have not been "paid $16.8 billion owed to us for more than a year." However both that statement and yours would be equally foolish since both disregard the budgeting regulations and practices authorized by Congress.
This is the nut of the matter:
It is also most inaccurate to suggest that because states and schools have not spent their funding, it is going unused. Of the funds that are still unexpended, most are already committed to pay for specific projects; they are in a queue waiting to be expended for ongoing contracts. The comments fail to distinguish between funds that have been obligated to support specific projects and activities and those funds that are unobligated.
But there is also this:
As the nation's chief state school officers, we particularly resent the implication that state education agencies, rather than Congress, are somehow blocking the flow of funds to local classrooms. Not only is the insinuation untrue, but state education agencies and their chiefs have cooperated fully with the administration and with Congress in a partnership to implement No Child Left Behind – indeed we are on the front lines of that partnership. Now you inaccurately suggest that any lack of resources appears to be of our own making.
Pretty strong stuff (and an early draft was even stronger...). To be sure, a lot of Democrats misread the public appetite for simply spending more on education without accompanying reforms. Yet surely a more grievous miscalculation is this apparent Republican strategy of arguing that states are awash in federal money. First of all it's not true. And second, state level fiscal constraints are causing discernable problems and most voters are not able to distinguish between local and state dollars and federal ones.
Whether the press catches on to the unspent funds gamesmanship on is an open question but if the Republicans end up getting pummeled on this, they have no one to blame but themselves. The penny wise/pound foolish approach to NCLB funding was pretty dumb politically, calling attention to it with stunts like this, even dumber.
Breaking News! Exclusive! Must Credit Eduwonk! The NEA Doesn't Like President Bush
Yes, surprisingly enough, it's true. You can read all about it here.
More Chicago, the AFT weighs in.
In the Sunday NYT Book Review Daniel Swift reviews "History Lessons: How Textbooks From Around the World Portray U.S. History."
Colbert King writes about the plight of DC youth in The Washington Post, don't miss this one.
Also in The Post, David Broder discusses the hyper-partisanship in the House of Representatives, which is in no small part why little gets done these days. Another must read, this impacts education policy along with everything else.
In the NYT Michael Winerip gives a detailed and depressing look at special education in NYC.
More on Cosby here.
And, NYT's Greenhouse wraps up the just ended SCOTUS term.