Saturday, September 04, 2004
More Texas AYP...This Time For Keeps!
Federal education officials are threatening to withhold $7 million in federal education aid if Texas officials don't get off the dime and release information about how Texas schools did under No Child Left Behind.
A lot going on in this story, worth reading.
PR note: Texas officials said: "...state officials say the money the federal government may withhold won't affect programs at the school or district level."
In other words, "we're flush, this is no big deal…" Probably not a very good talking point...it sure doesn't help anyone trying to get more funding for state education agencies!
Russian School Violence
A couple of readers have written to ask why Eduwonk has not written about this horror in Russia. The answer is, what more is there to say? It's awful. Especially because the custom there is that the first day of school is a big celebration with lots of parents and visitors. Besides, the Eduwife lived and taught in this part of the world for several years, and trained teachers there after that, so it's her bailiwick anyway.
Update -- Context from the Eduwife: It’s probably hard for most Americans to understand the excitement of the first bell ceremony the Beslan school was celebrating when their school came under attack. It's different than most first days here. More than likely, parents and community members, jammed into the tight quarters, must have strained to see as their children filing forward with the ringing of the traditional bell. The heat of the auditorium would have been stifling, but no one in the community would want to miss the girls in their enormous white bows and black and white dresses and boys in their finest. The air would have filled with joy and opportunity.
Couple of thoughts on the Bush speech last night as it relates to education. First, the effort to enroll more eligible kids in health care is great. Why didn't Clinton think of that? Oh wait, he did! Considering the Bush track record on implementation, Eduwonk's not optimistic about this effort getting far with this crowd.
Also, here's Bush on high schools, "As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation." Regardless of what one thinks about exit exams, this seems like an ill-considered idea for several reasons.
First, No Child Left Behind is causing the creation of more tests and modifications of others. The testing industry is about stretched to capacity. Is it really wise, then, in the midst of NCLB implementation, to start adding another -- very complicated -- layer? In addition, NCLB rightly focuses on consequences for adults, not for students (on the contrary it has specific benefits/rights for students). Why risk splintering the NCLB coalition further over an issue that many states are addressing one way or another on their own? And, that leads to the third concern, this is guaranteed to enrage state legislators and it's unclear what the benefits will be.
Eduwonk doesn't minimize the importance of high school reform, but on that front there are bigger (and politically smarter) fish to fry than this.
NY Daily News' Williams reports that Joel Klein is calling out the colleges and universities around Gotham. He's challenging them to takeover failing schools. What's the over-under on the number of schools that take him up on this (take the under...)?
The new Education Next is out. Among other highlights, VA Governor Warner discusses teacher quality, Rick Hess tackles education technology, Nathan Glazer reviews the controversial Samuel Huntington book "Who Are We", former education ace now homeland security star Siobhan Gorman does an education cameo looking at the inherent conflicts in supplemental services, Diane Ravitch reviews the new Kathy Boudin book (as in book about Kathy...), and two looks at Brown.
Interesting column from CA that pretty much dovetails with what a lot of D's and R's out there have been privately saying...via Educationnews.org.
And, another interesting one on the Wash Post op-ed page about cheating by Lawrence Hinman.
As you consider President Bush's pitch for another four years last night, take a minute to think the mess he has made of the golden opportunity he was already handed on education.
Also, during the speech there was wild applause for the "ending the soft bigotry of low-expectations" line but markedly less when Bush claimed credit for (mostly Democrat-led) funding increases for No Child Left Behind. Is it safe to infer from this that the Republican party is OK with ending the soft bigotry so long as it does not cost too much? They ought to just put that in the platform. Sadly, it's probably where most voters are...
Quick! Debunk KIPP!
A school, or in this case a set of schools, that does a good job with low-income students? That can't be! A letter in today's Washington Post about the recent Jay Mathews profile of KIPP starts the debunking.
...The fact that KIPP parents choose this school and agree to help enforce its rules sets them apart from the parents of most poor and minority students.
KIPP counters that its students had the same parents when they were performing poorly in regular schools, but they are the same in name only. Once the parents decide to enroll their children in KIPP academies, they no longer play the same role in their children's lives. In that sense, they are different parents.
The key to KIPP's success is parents who care. Unfortunately, too many inner-city students lack this fundamental right.
Righto! When low-income parents were given a chance to become more empowered with regard to their children's education it made them "different", and presumably more positive, parents. Is such empowerment either (a) impossible on any scale or (b) undesirable? On the contrary, aren't both pretty good liberal goals?
Didn't President Bush promise to lead and deliver results? In the NYT, Samuel Freedman shows the human side of one initiative that hasn't seen much leadership (and even fewer results...).
Also, AP helpfully points out that the administration is not the only institution in Washington that cannot execute...DCPS are off to another good start! Silver lining though, kudos to acting superintendent Rice for a refreshingly no B.S. attitude. More Hess than Cuban!
DC Education Blog has more on new sup't Janey.
Update: Local Wash Post coverage on the DC debacle here.
Charter Political Confusion
Eduwonk is in Indianapolis (home to one of the nation's finest blues bars). The mayor here, Democrat Bart Peterson, is the only mayor in the country who can authorize charter schools himself. He’s got quite a variety now and you can learn more about them here.
This morning, Eduwonk visited two schools. One, run by left-leaning folks was very regimented and structured, basically hard-core traditional. It was a KIPP school. The other, run by right-leaning folks, was very progressive, individualized, and child-centered. They’re both great schools, but they help give the lie to the way discussions about education and charter schools are too often shoehorned into political frameworks that just don’t fit.
Eduwonk didn't bother to watch Secretary of Education Rod Paige's speech on Tuesday night. But, thankfully, someone did. The other day Eduwonk let a lefty point out some irony so in the interest of fairness, balance, and equal time here is a review of Paige from a Republican who has worked on the Hill and around D.C.
I can't believe you had nothing on Eduwonk about the Paige speech last night. The delegates seemed to be sitting on their hands during much of the "No Child Left Behind Act is the greatest thing since sliced bread" speech. And, when Paige mentioned funding, it seemed like dead silence. Though Paige was at least better than the Bush girls.
More recap from last night here.
One of Eduwonk's colleagues has started a new blog on politics: New Donkey. It has commentary on current political goings on, interesting historical analysis, and plenty of edge. The writer has one of the keenest political minds in Washington and a tremendous knowledge of political history.
If centrist and progressive politics are your thing, or you just want to read some insightful commentary you probably will not find anywhere else, then this is a blog you should be checking regularly.
Commence predictable back-and-forth…some vouchers in the new D.C. program are going unused. Fodder for both sides here.
Credit Where Credit Is Due: These are a few jobs that Bush Administration policies demonstrably have created!
A pretty compelling argument for external accountability from MI. One tease:
One Detroit elementary, for example, gave itself a perfect score for its facilities despite being closed in October because it started sinking into the ground.
Will urban education reform become like boxing? The Broad Foundation currently offers an annual $1 million prize for urban education. Now, the National School Boards Association is launching their own urban education award. McGraw-Hill is ponying up $5K for the NSBA award.
There is some overlap, for instance Norfolk, VA, a demonstrably improving school district and Boston, another system on the rise, are candidates for both awards. Still, will we have split titles and/or unified belts in the future? Stay tuned...
Tightwad Afterthought: Can’t McGraw-Hill do better than $5K? It’s emblematic of the cheap way educators get treated vis a vis the way things work in other industries. Or, can't someone else kick-in?
A reporter covering the protests in New York City emails Eduwonk that there are some generational tensions among the protestors:
It was almost like a parody: baby boomers were complaining that today's young anarchists have no intellectual base. They are able to send text messages to each other about where the next action will be, and yet they don't have a clue about the world around them. They complained that none of the kids knew who Cesar Chavez or Saul Alinsky were.
Apparently the older protestors are, understandably, concerned that their messages will be lost in the mayhem and that the protests will not be taken seriously. There is no small irony here. One of the big arguments against academic standards is that it will hurt the ability of kids to think critically. Could it be that the opposite is true? Could arch-villain E.D. Hirsch be onto something?
Charter Schools on NPR -- Updated!
The charter school flap will be featured today on NPR's Talk of the Nation. If it's not available in your area, you can listen here.
Update: You can hear audio or get a transcript here.
Bonus Update: Here, here, here, and here are four stories from Minnesota about charter schools (and they know something about them up there). A couple on the recent charter flap and one on growing demand for charter schools there. And, here is one more. Via Jacobs.
Still want more MN? OK, here is a bit more.
In case you missed them, here and here are accounts of Alan Greenspan's comments the other day about entitlements. If you care about education finance this is not an arcane or irrelevant issue. In fact, it's a central one. The looming resource squeeze as the baby-boomers head into their golden years threatens to swamp all kinds of social spending.
In addition to entitlement reform, this means that different priorities must make themselves as competitive as possible in the fight for resources. In the case of public education (where relatively few Americans are direct stakeholders in terms of having their kids in school) this means broadening the coalition supporting education funding. It seems that (a) improving the schools serving poor and minority kids so that parents there are more satisfied and less eager for other options (b) expanding customization within the public sector to again bind more people to public education and (c) improving overall performance and productivity.
Continuing down the current path of denying that serious problems exist seems like a sure way to end up fighting a constant rear-guard action when the geezer war comes.
Also, Columbia TC's Levine makes a similar point in today's LA Times.
Update: Eduwonk leaves a big irony behind. An alert reader writes that: I was looking forward to Eduwonk pointing out the irony of it all: Levine is concerned that policymakers might focus more on healthcare than school improvement efforts, which is exactly what Richard Rothstein’s book, published by Teachers College with a glowing foreword from Levine, tells them to do.
There’s a nice Chicken Little meets Lizzie Borden aspect to it. Good point!
There are a couple of ways to look at the new charter school data from Ohio. One way is that there are a lot of struggling charter schools in Ohio. Another way is that there are a lot of struggling charter schools in Ohio. Hopefully the efforts to improve authorizing there are going to pay dividends.
The AFT deconstructs the WSJ op-ed on charter schools and MO deconstructs the letter, here. More from AFT here.
Conservative angst about No Child Left Behind...via This Week in Education.
CBS revisits the Texas Miracle debate. Via Educationnews.org
NYT's Schemo reports that a lot of disabled students are falling through the accountability cracks.
Considering all these politics, this column by Joanne Jacobs in the San Jose Mercury News is a must-read.
Wash Post's Singletary asks the common sense question: Why does a small tax-break for teachers who spend their own money on supplies fall by the wayside in the midst of the current tax cut bonanza?
In AZ, a math initiative from the Rodel Foundation is paying off.
Finally, despite all the protesting this week, a worrisome decline in college activism...
Today's New York Times manages to turn a pretty straightforward story into another pop at charter schools. Because of the growth of charter schools (now more than 3,000), federal researchers will now only survey a sample of charter schools for the Schools and Staffing Survey. Traditional public schools and private schools are surveyed via sample now.
The NYT take? First, reiterating -- still with no nuance -- the claim that charters are generally doing poorly and implying that, in light of this, something is not right with this new policy to bring the charter methodology in line with how other schools are sampled. Worth nothing, the decision to do this was apparently made several years ago. Eduwonk would like to see more research, too, but this is a defensible position.
Incidentally, the NYT also again claims that charter schools, "are likely to grow tremendously under the federal No Child Left Behind Education Act, which prescribes conversion to charters as a remedy for chronically failing traditional schools."
Is it just too hard to add the words "as one remedy among many?" Few charter school supporters advocate widespread or automatic conversion of low-performing schools to charters and NCLB does not require it.
Olympic Afterthought: Don't miss this great quote, it's a 9.5! "If we're going to get to the bottom of the lower performance of charter students, we need to understand how the quality of charters differs from public schools," said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley. A summersault followed by a hard pike wrapping tendentiousness in the guise of genuine scholarly concern. Not just anyone can pull that off, must be a good training regimen!
Update: A very experienced Democratic PR hand --sympathetic to the Bushies on this issue -- writes Eduwonk to point out that, "facts don't matter in cases like this. It's the perception, and this looks bad." That's probably right. But it probably wouldn't be so right if, across the board, the Bush Administration had not built up a genuinely remarkable record of being untrustworthy. Still, aren't newspapers supposed to ferret out the facts anyway?