Friday, October 22, 2004
Secretary Paige, Unplugged
You people are driving me friggin’ nuts!
On Friday, November 5, the Progressive Policy Institute is hosting a luncheon debate featuring Richard Rothstein of Columbia University and author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap and Ross Weiner, Policy Director for the Education Trust. Jay Mathews of The Washington Post will moderate.
It’s a great chance to hear two influential policy analysts discuss and debate important questions about just what we can, and cannot expect from schools and how, accordingly, policymakers should proceed. It’s from Noon – 2PM at PPI’s offices in Washington.
For more information or to RSVP (required) please email “education AT dlcppi.org”.
Another good example from Michigan, how frustrating...
San Diego reporter Jim Trageser hits it out of the park on the situation in San Diego. Nut grafs:
No one claims [San Diego Superintendent Alan] Bersin has been perfect, but he has put forth thoughtful, meaningful proposals to try to shake up a system that has too long focused its energies on affluent white students to the detriment of low-income students. Those who claim his proposals are harmful ought to engage in the process in a civil, adult manner, presenting their own ideas ---- not simply condemning everything they disagree with as "Nazi."
There is more, worth reading.
Goose Moose Hunting
Be sure to check out the link at left and visit the Bull Moose, an interesting take on progressive politics.
Representative George Miller (D-CA) the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee is calling for an investigation of Department of Education grants to Bill Bennett's K-12 company and to ABCTE.
On the former, who knows, but it sure seems fishy. On the latter, likely a dry well. ABCTE is producing good work and moving forward, it's only the politics that are tripping them up.
Last week Democratic Senators Kennedy (MA) and Lautenberg (NJ) called for a GAO look at the Department of Education’s media advertising and watching project.
The good guys win one. Not unlike education, it takes more than money...
Are you a junkie for information about the U.S. Department of Education, and c'mon, who isn't? Then this Ed Week essay by Chris Cross is for you. Pegged to the Dept.'s 25th anniversary it's a good look at the history and politics of its inception.
There's a new education blog from Australia but focusing on issues here, too. Its author, a former teacher, writes asking for a link but advises us to dismiss it with sweeping condemnation because of its libertarian bent.
On the contrary, the more the merrier. Though more edublogs on the center-left and left would be very welcome.
Boardbuzz broke their silence yesterday, but basically they write this off as poking fun at a public official who says something stupid when in fact it's a bright-line example of the zealous ideology that too often clouds education policymaking. So, the referees are ruling it insufficient because it entirely dodges the point and the CD giveaway contest continues (unless you guessed yesterday in which case you're free to appeal).
Incidentally, you all are a cynical bunch. Lots of contest entries about Fridays, days before holidays, and other "Jo Moore" days as Kaus would call them.
Incidentally II, Boardbuzz chides Eduwonk for highlighting studies that show charters schools are doing some good. True enough. But we also hightlight studies showing when they're not and point out other problems in our work. We're breathlessly awaiting similar balance....
Teacher Induction RFP
Got a good teacher induction program handy, in your school or school district, or even just one you've been meaning to get out your garage or that your wife has been complaining about having in the rec room? Then send it to Mathematica, they're looking for good models.
Eduwonk thought that all that mattered today was this.
But apparently that's wrong and the world continues to turn. NYT's Winter and Archibald of the Wash Times write up the new tuition data (more politics in the Archibald piece).
Surprise! Another excellent and provocative NYT column by Samuel Freedman. Read to the end...
Harvard's Topo Hoxby has a new model for helping rank colleges in terms of quality. It doesn't involve geography but does seem to rely a lot on the information students are acting on which may be flawed. Interesting nonetheless.
It’s Day 6 of Boardbuzz Silence Watch. You can play along at home (and maybe win a CD) by clicking here. When will Boardbuzz, the only official blog for school board members, say something about the outrageous comments by a San Diego school board member (or the lame 3-2 censure vote)? This guy is getting anxious, he thinks he’s right!
In The Washington Post Michael Dobbs writes up the state-of-play on education in the 2004 race. It's a solid piece and good overview but the usually reliable Dobbs does a little too much "on the one hand...on the other hand" when in fact the evidence is reasonably clear.
Regarding NCLB Dobbs writes:
Little evidence supports the White House contention that No Child Left Behind has significantly narrowed the achievement gap between whites and minority students, said Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He cites recent test results that show a leveling out or decline in fourth-grade reading scores in 11 of the nation's 15 most populous states.
An analysis by the Education Trust, meanwhile, reported a narrowing of the achievement gap in 16 states in reading since 2002, and a widening in three. At the same time, the group reported the pace of progress was generally insufficient to reach the goal of full proficiency by 2014.
It's true that the White House contention of dramatic gains, echoed by Secretary of Education Rod Paige at the National Press Club last month, wildly overstates the reality and it's too soon for that sort of definitive judgment anyway. But, the landscape is not as mixed as this passage indicates (hint: go with the Trust). The Education Trust data v. the Fuller data is not a "meanwhile" or on the one hand... Apparently Dobbs didn't get the same memo(s) everyone else did basically saying that the Fuller "study" was a partisan hit job rather than research as PACE distanced themselves from it as fast as they could. Fair and balanced doesn't mean equal time regardless of the merits of the claim...
Meanwhile, it is fair and balanced to say that the Bush-Cheney campaign and conservatives more generally were caught flat-footed when John Kerry proposed a pretty ambitious plan for federally funded pilot programs to innovate with differential and performance-based pay schemes for teachers.
Their immediate response was that Kerry wouldn’t possibly follow through and do it. But that sort of fell flat because until after the election it’s impossible to validate or falsify that assertion. So now they’re saying that Kerry’s plan doesn’t go far enough because Kerry’s campaign has said that any initiative would have to respect local collective bargaining agreements for teachers. EIA’s Antonucci argues the point here, MO's Sager here.
This latter charge is a ridiculous standard. There is a long-standing precedent that federal policies defer to local bargaining agreements. The wisdom of that policy is debatable but if conservatives want to grumble about it they should start with President Bush who failed to address it in Title I (then clumsily tried to do it after the fact and got his clock cleaned by the NEA's legal team) where it will certainly impact many more school improvement initiatives than it will in Kerry’s plan.
Besides, are conservatives really now arguing that Washington should mandate pay schemes for local teachers? Doesn't it make more sense to direct resources toward communities where there is buy-in for reform, and by doing so stimulate a greater willingness to innovate?
The election surely will not turn on this issue, but it’s grasping at straws nonetheless.
Boardbuzz Silence Watch - Day 5…Win An Anti-NCLB CD!
It's been five days, and Boardbuzz still has not commented on the outrageous behavior of San Diego School Board member Frances Zimmerman who compared supporters of a plan to overhaul several low-performing schools there to Nazi collaborators. By a 3-2 vote the board censured her.
When will Boardbuzz weigh-in? They can't possibly support this sort of rhetoric. But when will they break their silence and hold forth on this truly shameful episode?
Eduwonk has no idea, but waits eagerly (along with this guy...). In the meantime, you, dear reader, can decide! Email Eduwonk (education AT dlcppi.org) with the exact date (and, yes, you can guess "never") you think Boardbuzz will address the issue. The person guessing closest will win a coveted CD of NCLB protest songs! Yes, the same CD that USA Today's Toppo writes about here. Get it before it goes gold or platinum!
Fine Print: In the event of a tie the entry received first will be declared the winner. Obviously, employees of NSBA are not eligible, just wouldn't be fair. But, to sweeten the pot, Eduwonk (who as a fan of folk music is in possession of a number of these CDs and loves to drive around at high speeds blasting them from the educruiser's hi-fi system) will send one along to the hardworking staff of Boardbuzz when they do finally break their silence.
Update: Per the above, one reader wants a good -and serious- folk music recommendation. Here is one, Scuffletown. They're terrific live, have a couple of strong CDs out and another on the way, and the guitar player/lead vocalist moonlights as an outstanding high school principal.
This (two words Game 6) is all that matters today, but apparently there is news elsewhere, anyway.
MO's Sager (who as a New York journo is in a position to know such things) says that the New York Times is working on another hit piece on charter schools. Apparently it's about ideology. Hopefully they will check out this New Yorker article (pdf) by Katherine Boo. It shows the human side of charter schools. When you move past the silly and hyper-ideological political debate, it's about creating good public schools and good places for kids who right now are getting screwed by the system. That's why a lot of liberals are opening charter schools, it's "people against the powerful" in action.
This article from WA State gets at the same thing, check the lede. Let's see, local activists trying to help the disadvantaged and powerful groups opposing them...once upon a time would have seemed like the just the job for...The New York Times.
Senator John Kerry on NCLB (and other issues) from the Des Moines Register. Via Jacobs.
Three important Washington Post stories:
A look at the membership woes of the National PTA (note the Jane Hannaway quote, what's the over-under on angry calls about that?).
In a must-read Jay Mathews writes that No Child Left Behind is helping principals and takes Post columnist Marc Fisher to task (what's the over-under on angry notes about that one, too?).
Finally, Post education ace Rosalind Helderman writes-up new data on graduation rates in Virginia. Turns out the claims of critics that the SOLs would keep thousands of kids from graduating have not been realized (most likely in part because of supports that VA Governor Mark Warner put in place). But, about one out of four 9th-graders are still not making it through high school in Virginia (though that figure has not changed much with the SOL's so they're not the culprit).
Want Even More NCLB?
Kerry policy advisor Robert Gordon discusses No Child Left Behind and other issues in this Ed Week chat hosted by the always fair and balanced Erik Robelen. And, here is new data (pdf) from the Education Trust.
More news from the anti-charter school referendum in Washington State. And, this article makes clear that the misinformation (and lack of information) about charter schools is probably the biggest obstacle that opponents of the referendum face.
American Enterprise Institute hosted an event about education stats with an interesting panel including NCES' Lerner. You can read a summary here.
From NYC, back and forth on how the schools are implementing NCLB. Eva Moskowitz tirelessly bird dogs these issues there. NYT here, Daily News here, NY Post here. Post has the best lede...
The Charter School Leadership Council has a new president, longtime charter policy expert Nelson Smith. Press release here, Ed Week here.
Boardbuzz Silence Watch: Day 4 and still no comment about this ridiculous episode in San Diego...On Day 7 we call this guy...