Friday, March 04, 2005
Yet Another Off Message Dem...
Indy Mayor Bart Peterson on charter schools and Indy.
Not to beat a dead horse, but Brink returns to the issue of the progressivism of No Child Left Behind. He essentially argues that it might be progressive if it were funded enough. This, of course, falls squarely into the “it sucks but fund it trap”. If the law’s no good or regressive, then it’s no good and regressive regardless of its appropriation. If its goals are worthy, then they’re worthy regardless of Washington budget fights. Moreover, funding is a strange measure of progressivism in the first place. By this facile logic, President Bush is more progressive on education than President Clinton. Is Brink going to take up that case?
Rather, progressivism has something to do with progress (look closely, the word is in there somewhere, though sometimes hard to discern these days) and reform. Roosevelt didn’t champion the New Deal just because it contained spending but because it reoriented the role of government in society. No Child, while obviously not as sweeping, does build on the 1994 Clinton ESEA law and further reorient the role of government toward forcing states to address the achievement gap. That’s one big reason progressives should like it.
Besides, as Willie Sutton noted, if you want money then you go where the money is. In education that means the states because they provide the bulk of the funding. No Child is the best tool to come along in a while to ensure better intrastate school finance equity. That’s another reason progressives should like it. But blinded by their loathing for President Bush too many invent reasons not to (even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, you know?). Here are some who don't. These ones, too.
Update: One reader, lefty Hill type (but a hard lefty in Beinhartese) writes: Re your NCLB item today: What about some numbers. 49M kids in K-12, $11B to "full funding." Could you revolutionize education on $230/head? Of course, that number could be as high as $300 for kids in some Title I schools. Windfall!
A common complaint about public charter schools is that they don't admit all students as traditional public schools purportedly do. Legally, charters are not allowed to do this, though unfortunately a small subset likely does in informal ways -- an oversight/authorizer issue to be sure.
But, what's lost in debate about this issue is that many public schools have formal admissions requirements and do not admit all comers. So where's the attack on magnets for skimming? In fact, in urban settings, charters are often compared to competitive schools in debates about student achievement.
Here's one look at this from a new edublog written by a former Boston teacher.
Important Sam Freedman NYT column about the financial woes of Catholic schools with multiple implications. Here's one. As these schools contract it raises even more questions about the efficacy of vouchers as a way to increase the number of seats in high quality schools for disadvantaged students. Here's another. Catholic schools and traditional public schools are losing some students to the same places -- public charter schools. Here's one more. These schools do work really well for some kids so no one should wish for their demise.
Alan Bersin threw himself on the tracks for this, but the parents and community in San Diego are getting their way. Reaction from San Diego Education Association here.
Update: A well-connected observer makes an important point that's implicit if you've been following this, but is important enough to spell out: TEACHERS at those schools bucked the SDEA and took part in the planning process!
Update II: Visit San Diego, see for yourself, and meet this guy.
New data on distance learning in elementary and secondary ed from NCES.
Georgia now moving in the same direction as South Carolina and a few other states (pdf) to better target differentials for National Board Certified Teachers toward teachers working in high-need schools. Eduwonk's not very familiar with the rest of the package that the article refers to, but this particular provision is certainly meritorious. As one GA teacher wrote Eduwonk:
I teach in a high performing school and was going to pursue certification next year, so as a teacher, I'm bummed. As a citizen, I think they have done the right thing.
Update: More here from the AJC's edublog.
Update II: Good timing. New analysis (pdf) of this issue from EPAA.
When Ed Trust Attacks Part Deux!
Strong Education Trust statement about the anti-NCLB flavor of the month, Utah.
Update: Could be more fizzle than sizzle for NCLB foes...Utah blinks first. And, the feds push back on CT.
Matt Yglesias makes an interesting historical point about Bill Gates' interest in high school reform. What struck Eduwonk though was Gates' specific emphasis on equity, something we don't hear enough about considering how the system is set-up to screw poor kids. From his LA Times op-ed today:
If we keep the system as it is, millions of children will never get a chance to fulfill their promise because of their ZIP Code, their skin color or their parents' income. That is offensive to our values.
Disclosure: In case you missed it, the 21st Century Schools Project at PPI is a recipient of Gates Foundation grants, they fund things like this.
With all the manifestations of this issue, worth reading again this essay from the 21st Century School's Project Bulletin by Leo Casey of the UFT about federalism and education.
Analyst Art Hauptman points-up the good aspects of the President's higher ed proposal but lays out the case for doing a lot more than what the President has put on the table.
Here's the National PTA's position on testing:
The National PTA opposes:
*federal legislation and/or regulations that mandate standardized testing or would lead to such testing;
*federal policies that mandate comparisons of states, school districts or individual schools.
Wait a minute. Obviously parents, and pretty much everyone else -- though you wouldn't know it from the hyperbolic tone of the current debate -- thinks there is a lot more to schools than test scores. But isn't information -- including test scores -- to make such comparisons, and the comparisons themselves, exactly what parents do want? Ask any realtor for God's sake. For that matter, how do people who work at the National PTA choose schools for their own kids? Randomly?
Oh wait, nevermind, dumb question, that's the NEA's position on testing! Is it the political manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome or something else? PTA leaves an obvious state loophole with the wording of this policy, but they have not been doing much lobbying of state legislatures for this either...
PTA also has a new poll out about NCLB and what parents want. Except Eduwonk can't locate the poll, only the highlights in a press release. Even those are not a slam dunk for the anti-NCLB crowd...when the NEA buys a national interest group, don't they expect them to stay bought? Is there a warranty?
Update: One urban parent writes: At my kids’ school, parents would trip over themselves trying to get this info.
States Rights Progressives
More on the odd new approach to federalism that seems to be animating the Democratic left. Via Brink, who doesn't like NCLB for all the usual reasons, but wants national standards?
Bill Gates' keynote speech at the HS Summit this past weekend has everyone buzzing. Good wrap-up, outstanding headline, from LA Times' Alonso-Zaldivar. See also this outcome from NYT's Pear.
Very good editorial from the NY Post.
What's really sad is that though these three charters aren't getting the job done, they're in the middle of the pack in terms of comparable schools. You won't hear too much about that though or about the other charters that are doing well.
The bottom line is that a little more tough love would be good across the board, but don't hold your breath for such an admission from the usual suspects... these two quotes from this AP story tell a sorry tale...
"We mean it when we say that if schools don't perform, there will be consequences," Philips [Bill Philips of the New York Charter Schools Association] said. "It's not enough to just enroll the neediest kids."
Dave Ernst, spokesman for the state School Boards Association, acknowledged that charter schools are being held accountable as proponents said they would. Still, he said, "It's disappointing whenever you see that children haven't gotten the education they're entitled to.
"The record indicates that certainly, it's time to take a long pause in New York to reassess the charter school experiment," Ernst said.
When you hear the school board association folks talking (and acting) like Phillips, then you'll know things are changing. Until then, this is politics.
Update: More here.