Friday, December 03, 2004
Phillip Howard On Too Much Law, Sara Mead On New IDEA Law
Be sure to check out Common Good's Phillip Howard in today's NYT.
...Law is brilliantly ill suited as a management system. Law is rigid and leaves no room to adjust for the circumstances. Once the idea of rule-based management takes root, the bureaucracy grows like kudzu. Teachers and principals spend the day tied up in legal knots.
...Schools depend on the energy, skill, judgment, humor and sympathy of teachers and principals. Liberate them to draw on all their human traits. Then liberate some of us to hold them accountable. Throw most of the rules overboard. Let law set the goals and basic principles, not dictate daily decisions...
Elsewhere, superintendents sure don't last too long in Cincy.
In The Gadfly, PPI analyst Sara Mead recaps the new IDEA bill.
Here's a short update on San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales' attendance challenge. And, if you missed it, this John Merrow News Hour report on dropouts in Florida is well worth checking out.
“Wild” Gene Hickok has announced his resignation as the #2 person at the Department of Education. Couple of quick thoughts:
*This was hardly unexpected, as soon as the President nominated Margaret Spellings as his next Secretary of Education the question became when, not if.
*This will only fuel more conservative angst; they viewed Hickok as a big ally. Too bad for them...(unless President Bush appoints another conservative or school choice Kool-Aid type to the post).
*Say whatever else you want about Hickok (and Eduwonk will in a moment) he cared deeply about education. You could disagree with him but it was hard to doubt his passion for trying to improve schools.
*But, in Eduwonk’s view Hickok’s passion too often translated into a deterministic view of education policy. He believed too strongly in the invisible hand of the market, had too much faith that data would wake the public and policymakers from their slumber and galvanize action. His faith in these things meant that he viewed policy as more of a “what” than a “how” business, when in fact it needs to be both. The NCLB framework does provide a lot of important data, but educators must know how and be able to use it. Likewise, choice does offer benefits but any education marketplace must be carefully regulated for quality and even Adam Smith cannot obviate the need to ensure that schools have the “how”, too.
If the teachers' union in San Diego put the effort into educating kids that they do into tormenting superintendent Alan Bersin, the place would be a fount of little Einsteins...
For background you can't do much better than this paper (pdf).
Eduwonk notes sadly that fishing season is about over in the mid-Atlantic region but nonetheless, here's a little bait and switch for you.
Education spending has increased dramatically during the past few years. On the campaign trail President Bush liked to point out that spending for No Child Left Behind related programs was up about 49 percent in his first term. Fair enough, though one can quibble about allocations (for instance why Washington is not investing more in assessments) the overall numbers are pretty big which may be why Democratic attacks about "full funding" for NCLB fell flat.
But, the numbers in the budget that Congress is about to pass, the first since the President's reelection, are less robust:
Department of Education: FY05 level is $56.6 billion, an increase of approximately $900 million, or 1.6%, over FY04. This is the smallest percentage increase in 9 years (since FY96). It’s almost $2.3 billion below the FY05 Senate bill level and almost $800 million below the FY05 President’s budget request.
No Child Left Behind: FY05 level is $24.5 billion, an increase of $58 million, or 0.2%, over FY04. This is almost $1 billion below the FY05 Senate bill level and almost $400 million less than the FY05 President’s budget. This means that No Child Left Behind Act spending is about $9.8 billion less than the authorized amount in FY05.
Title I: FY05 level is $12.7 billion, an increase of $400 million, or 3.2%, over FY04. This is $700 million below the FY05 Senate bill level and $600 million below the FY05 President’s budget.
IDEA: FY05 level is $10.6 billion, an increase of approximately $500 million, or 5.2%, over FY04. This puts IDEA spending at about 19% of average-per-pupil-expenditure and less than half the “full funding” level of 40%. The final figure is $600 million less than the FY05 Senate bill level and almost $500 million below the FY05 President’s budget.
Title V Innovative Education State Grants: $198.4 million, a cut of $98 million from FY04.
Granted, the increases of the past few years mean that education will surely survive a slowdown but these numbers indicate that perhaps the high water mark for Bush Administration spending on education has been reached. We'll know more when the President's FY06 budget comes out in February.
To be sure, we can't spend our way out of some of the educational problems we face, but there is a role for money.
Still More Conservative Angst On Spellings, Great Teachers In AZ...And, Equity And Dirty Secrets In NYC
This story on Margaret Spellings and school choice by Ed Week's Hendrie has it all. Choice advocate Clint Bolick goes on the record saying, "Rod Paige was a tough act to follow, but certainly the president could have chosen someone who has a strong track record on school choice, and Margaret Spellings does not" and Fordham's Finn says basically the same thing. Department of Education's resident choicenik Nina Rees tries to paper over any controversy but it's clear that voucher folks in Texas didn't consider her an ally and that the D.C. voucher folks don't either. Of course, her pragmatism on all this is why Eduwonk thinks she's a good pick in the first place, but watching all this conservative angst sure is fun anyway! (At her confirmation hearings will any Republican senator ask her, "Are you now, or have you ever been, a Democrat?")
Interesting debate brewing in the higher ed community about data collection. For background on the impetus check out this paper (pdf) by the Ed Trust's Kevin Carey.
Senator Sessions takes a victory lap on IDEA discipline on the AP wire.
The Rodel Foundation has been honoring outstanding teachers, the Arizona Republic is profiling each one, too.
Don't Know Much About History: The NEA says too many schools are being identified as needing improvement under NCLB (but funny, they don't mention either the really low cut scores in some states right now - for instance, schools needing only one in three or one in four kids proficient to make adequate yearly progress - or that even more were identified under the previous law but that nothing happened to most of them. Probably just space constraints.). Note to Democrats, choosing producers over consumers is dangerous and risky politics.
NYT's Freedman again visits the small schools issue in NYC. NYT's Winter and Cooper and Herszenhorn write up the latest chapter in the NY equity fight. Punchline: NYC to get more money but no one ponying up to pay yet.
Dirty Secret Alert: NY Post's Sager tracks down some teachers to get their views on the teacher contract in NYC. Anecdotal but well worth reading.
Too Much Law...And Not Enough In VA (And Don't Forget To Vote)
Jenny D. has more RFK on education, good reading. Eduwonk's only seen these transcripts in print so kudos to Jenny D. for taking the time to type them in.
Common Good has a new webpage that illustrates the excesses of legality in public schools and how law can thwart educational goals. NY Daily News' Williams has more here.
Need more evidence that there is a health care problem for kids? A new study in VA reports that almost one in four children in the state's foster care system are there because their parents are seeking, and cannot afford, mental health care for them.
Man, it just sucks when you don't have choices in the public system...
In The Washington Post, Jay Mathews looks at reading instruction in the early grades.
Finally, totally unrelated to education policy, but please take a minute and vote for Pat Tillman as sportsman of the year over at SI. Some of the others like Lance Armstrong and Emeka Okafor are certainly class acts and deserving, but this year Tillman is a big cut above (and he's only 3rd in the voting right now...). Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for calling attention to this.
RFK On ESEA
Jenny D. is posting parts of the transcripts from debate over the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now No Child Left Behind) in 1965. Key point is Senator Robert Kennedy's calls for standardized testing as part of the accountability plan. As Eduwonk understands it from people who were there, he was even more vehement about this point during the private meetings and the conference finalizing this bill. Today's Democrats could do a lot worse than take some domestic policy cues from RFK, he was unafraid to talk about poverty but also unafraid to seriously attack it even it meant displacing various institutional interests...
Yesterday's LA Times writes up the alleged rise of "cusp" or "bubble" students - students at or near proficiency on states tests that schools focus on at the expense of students further behind because they're more likely to pass tests and help schools make "adequate yearly progress" under No Child. It's catchy (any panic needs a catchy name) and this could be the next three-ring circus about the horrors of NCLB. Unfortunately though, it's a problem that preceded the law. In fact, could addressing this problem be why the bar for making "adequate yearly progress" goes up over time and why sub-groups of students must make progress, too? Of course, many of the same folks now raising this as one more reason to jettison NCLB don’t like those provisions either.
Elsewhere, NY Daily News' Williams looks at some up and coming social entrepreneurs. This is a must-read. Joel Klein's interest in these folks is the peg but there are national implications.
In Education Next, PA journo Brad Bumsted examines NCLB lawsuit fizzle there (and, with a seriously buried lede, he also outs Deputy Education Secretary Eugene Hickok as kin to "Wild Bill", a minor fact which still explains so much...).
He may have bigger problems, but he does have strong feelings about teaching methods.
Signaling even more angst among the Kool-Aid drinkers, NY Post worries about incoming Ed Secretary Margaret Spellings' chops on school choice and proposes a Trojan Horse strategy... Let's see, a pick for Secretary that George Miller and Ted Kennedy like and that Bill Bennett and conservative ed boards don't. Hmmm....
Interesting article on risk and fear and schoolchildren from the U.K. Incidentally, it was a Brit who created Outward Bound. Via Jacobs.
Charter schools are:
a) A silver bullet for what ails American education
b) The greatest threat to public education since Milton Friedman put pen to paper
c) A promising idea and work-in-progress that will require great effort going forward
d) A full-employment program for education reporters at The New York Times
If you answered 'c' then this job might be for you:
The Charter School Leadership Council is looking for a Vice President for Operations and Finance. This person will manage the Council’s day-to-day operations; collaborate with the President to establish and accomplish organizational goals and objectives, including long-term financial growth and sustainability; and provide advice, guidance, and direction on business matters. The successful candidate will have substantial management experience (5-10 years) with responsibility for finance and operations; keen understanding of the nonprofit finance and compliance environment; and excellent verbal, written, and presentation skills. Familiarity with education policy and charter schooling is a plus. An MBA or Master’s degree in a related field is required. Salary and benefits are competitive. For a full position description, contact CSLC at firstname.lastname@example.org.