Friday, November 05, 2004
Now That's A Sanction!
The Bush Administration has signaled that they are going to get serious about low-performing schools during a second term. Good enough, but this is just way over the line...
A week ago a Democratic activist with education ties in Ohio told Eduwonk that Bush would get 16 percent of the African-American vote there primarily because of school choice and gay marriage. He worried that in an extremely close race it could cost Kerry the state. It seemed like a high estimate but according to the exits, that's exactly what happened (in 2000 Bush earned 9 percent of the black vote in OH).
It's too early to discern exactly why (and Bush also increased his share of the African-American vote in Florida from 6 percent to 12 percent) but this is a trend worth examining. Bush's national share of the African American vote only increased by 2 percentage points. There was a lot of under the radar pro-voucher organizing and boutique targeted advertising going on in Ohio, was the same true of FL? Important to disentangle these issues since they have obvious ramifications going forward.
The good folks at Booker Rising are all atwitter and weigh-in on this, too, but are a little too deterministic, it didn't cost Kerry the state.
Update: LA Times exits (pdf) put Bush's share of the African-American vote at 14 percent. Via Booker Rising.
The delightful Dorothy Rich has unveiled a new website for her MegaSkills program. Worth checking out if you're interested in home and school issues.
From The Department Of You Can't Make This Stuff Up:
CT wants to pay great teachers in challenging schools more and offer other incentives for teachers.
Under the plan, 1,000 teachers who are successful in reducing dropout rates and raising student achievement would be eligible for a $3,000 bonus and a two-year contract that protects them from layoffs. Urban and suburban teachers would also be offered similar bonuses to trade districts for two years...
The [teachers'] union is balking because it says teachers should be paid based on experience, not merit. Union officials say the plan is illegal because it would conflict with collective bargaining and fair dismissal laws in the event of layoffs, said Rosemary Coyle, president of the Connecticut Education Association.
Righto! Remember, the kids come first! These ideas aren't perfect, but would a little innovation kill us?
In Washington State the anti-charter school referendum succeeded and the sales tax increase for education failed...Perhaps if the two campaigns had worked together with a unified message about investing more in schools and offering parents more public options? Also in WA, state superintendent Terry Bergeson won reelection, a decision with ramifications for the state's standards and assessment program.
In AZ, voters decided to expand the state board of education, that means representation for the state's charter schools.
In San Diego voters soundly defeated a school board candidate whose campaign basically seemed to be predicated on the notion that the local teachers' union is always right and San Diego schools chief Alan Bersin is always wrong. Maybe less toxic there? Here's hoping.
Already starting to hear a little noise about how if Kerry had been more harsh on No Child Left Behind he might have won this thing. Sorry, the issues that drove this election had little to do with education and the exit polls confirm this. In Eduwonk’s view, Kerry handled education about right. The action was elsewhere.
Update: Don't take Eduwonk's word for it, Chris Correa says the same thing here.
It's starting to look like this prediction was a little-off...
But the post-election analysis still mostly stands though the convincing margin of Bush's win will, at least initially, temper some of the partisanship. However, Bush's victory does mean that the conflation of politics, anti-Bush feeling, and education policy will continue. Bush himself certainly deserves some blame for this state of affairs, though clearly not all, but he can do something to defuse it and achieve some progress.
On education specifically, a dramatic move would be to appoint a reform-oriented Democrat as his next Secretary of Education. The logical candidates are some of the same names tossed out as good picks for a Kerry Administration: San Diego's Alan Bersin, New York's Joel Klein, Virginia Governor Mark Warner (who would be terrific for the national interest although it's not in his best interest), or former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes. Other good picks would include someone like former Detroit superintendent Deb McGriff or Hugh Price, the former president of the Urban League.
Picking someone from the other party for posts like Defense, State, or Transportation where differences do not consistently follow party lines is one thing. Reaching out to make a bold pick from across the aisle for a post where there are genuine partisan disagreements, but also room for real consensus building, is a whole different kettle of fish. It would also show that unlike previous feints to bipartisanship and unity, this time the President actually means to act on his words. It's hard to find a Democrat who agrees overwhelmingly with Bush on education but there are plenty, like the above, who agree on more than enough to build real consensus.
Alternatively, Bush could follow advice like this and his second term will do nothing to build consensus in the nation nor move us closer to addressing the enormous challenges that American education faces.
Also, if Bush II doesn't change its tax cut and spend ways, educators should worry more than anything else about the Geezer War, which will not just be a federal problem.
PS—Rumors abound that Margaret Spellings was once, or still is, a Democrat. Eduwonk doesn’t know, or really care, and while he thinks she’s a fine pick for Secretary because she has a much-needed pragmatic streak, a Spellings pick would, by itself, do little to defuse the toxic and intellectually deadening education politics of the past year or two.
Update! Several reliable emailers say that Diane Ravitch's name is floating around. But she's not a Democrat either! It's unity! Remember?
Another Good Edublog
A NC Teach For America teacher has a cool blog on education as well as an interactive site for teachers to share resources.
It's also highlighted in this month's NEA Today. They must not have known about the TFA connection....
NSBA's Mike Resnick has written a sensible overview (pdf) of how NCLB's "adequate yearly progress" provisions are playing out around the states. It's targeted at school board members but will be a useful overview for anyone with a basic understanding of what the law requires. Pay attention to the jumps, they're confusing in the pdf format. Via Boardbuzz.
A Pause For Reflection…
"Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half." --Gore Vidal
Today is the perfect time to consider how lucky we are to live in a country where we sort out our differences at the ballot box rather than in the streets and how important it is to participate in the process. Moreover, it's an ideal time to reflect on how awesome it is that we live in a country that can produce something like this...
A great article (pdf) in PS: Political Science in Politics takes an ironic look at the Supreme Court's betting pool on the 2000 presidential election and teases out all sorts of inferences. The highlight of the article is the entertaining endnote 5 about the scientific method. Too often education research resembles that remark...
Via Drezner via Crooked Timber.
A week or two ago Eduwonk bemoaned that there are not more education blogs on the left. Now, here's one recently started by a teacher from Austin, TX. He's off to a fast start and has some good stuff.
Update: Another very good, though not new, edublog is Chris Correa, check that out, too.
To The Barricades!
Over at This Week in Education, Russo outs Barak Obama as a voucher supporter. Eduwonk is less sure but it's worth reading, he's got some evidence.
In any event, something for the usual suspects to freak out about.
No doubt, with a phenomenally close election looming, people today are less interested in eduwonkery than in politics. Plenty of good stuff around the web but a couple of highlights are: New Donkey if you're looking for fast-breaking analysis, particularly about the political dark arts that we'll see over the next 48 hours; Bull Moose if you're interested in observing smartly written and high-level conservative angst in the closing hours; RealClear Politics and Slate (they have the race where Eduwonk had it last week--Update: They've changed their minds!) if you want to track the polls and what they potentially mean; and Mickey Kaus for probably the smartest (and funniest) analysis of what it all means (he's breaking news on OBL's red-state strategery right now). And of course, you'll check Drudge twenty times today.
And, for a different angle, check out Tradesports.com or even buy a few contracts yourself. Will the market predict the outcome better than the experts? You decide.
Eduwonk readers will en masse enter silly contests to win free CDs or to win a man-purse, but the response to a request to help a couple of teachers trying to launch a small initiative in LA is underwhelming. Even if you just have a few dollars to give, they're needed and in-kind help is especially appreciated. The team needs t-shirts, transportation, and meals for the day of the competition as well as a lot of help getting ready. Email us at 'education AT dlcppi.org' and we'll put you in touch with the teachers leading the project.
Remember, for large donations of time or donations of more than $100, Eduwonk will kick in a personalized, signed copy of Wendy Kopp's recent book about Teach For America. We'll handle getting it signed and shipped for you. Makes a great holiday gift!
Eduwonk's not so sure this is a worrying trend and apparently some experts don't think so either. Playing poker requires analysis, mathematics, and logic so there are certainly worse ways kids can spend time. Besides, you can grow up to be famous like these guys.