Friday, March 18, 2005
Thought For The Day
Keep hearing how charter schools are going to tear communities apart. But if our society can withstand this sort of diversity in general, can't we stand a little more diversity in our public schooling?
Though everyone in Delaware today is focused on this there is some news on charter schools, new study, mixed but moderately encouraging findings. Makes then Governor, now U.S. Senator Tom Carper look like he was on to something when he championed charters in DE. But enough of that, like Mark McGwire, this blog is not about the past...
Jingle All The Way?
Quite a fight brewing in CA...reports that the CTA plans to raise dues and take a mortgage out on their headquarters to build a $54 million war chest to take on the Governator.
David Broder makes some observations on that scene in today's Post. Amazing how some of the politics there have changed...
Joanne Jacobs makes a good point about a strange write up of CA's API index. The article also implies that Preuss school skims, that's not exactly the case though there are requirements.
The larger point illustrated by the API (and one principal of a public school out there once quipped to Eduwonk that anything on the API below a six is just intolerable and that he could get a five "on heroin" -- and his school does a lot better than a five with really challenging kids) is that different schools achieve different results with similar students. In a rational world this sort of evidence would be used to bolster the case for public education and great public schools in all communities. In today's through the looking glass edupolitics such schools are ripped apart by an eager band of debunking researchers because we can't tolerate any success that might call into question any of the basic operating norms or assumptions about schools today.
UFT head Randi Weingarten here, NY Post editorial here. Background here.
This one is for parents, from the folks at KSA Communications. Lots of information.
Jay Mathews On The Rocks
Readers respond to a column on teen drinking.
The Governator and CA Senate Democratic Leader Perata a lot closer than you might think according to Sac Bees Weintraub. Worth reading.
NYT's Freedman on this issue in NYC. Isn't this exactly the kind of thing that can be outsourced to firms that specialize in it so districts can focus on their core competencies?
Update: A NYC correspondent writes to note that some, though not all, of this was done out of house.
Will they be joining the various sign-on letters demanding changes in the law, too? This article, ostensibly about education reporting, is really a clever pop at No Child Left Behind. Does this mean the NEA has an inverse Armstrong Williams problem, meaning they're pouring millions into anti-NCLB propaganda when they could be getting it for free? Could be...
In any event, This Week's Russo does a good job of pointing out some problems (a tremendously superficial disappointment, he says), Eduwonk will just point to one line as an example of the meta-problem:
The second part of No Child Left Behind reflects Bush’s belief that the private sector is best equipped to carry out public reforms.
Eduwonk guesses (well actually knows from experience) that this sort of sweeping statement makes one sound very erudite and above today's false consciousness at New York dinner parties and other salons. Only problem, where is the evidence to back it up? Bush has never really done much for vouchers, particularly in Texas, much to the disappointment of the Christian right, when he really could have. He sent his own kids to public schools. And, aside from supplemental services there isn't much private sector activity in NCLB that wasn't there long before Bush was dealing away Sammy Sosa, let alone running for public office.
There are certainly some holes in the President's theory of change on education, but a relentless affinity to privatization simply isn't one of them. NCLB's a public school reform; it's about voice and change, not exit. Ironically though, this sort of knee-jerk resistance may end up making it about exit...
Besides, across the board, aren't there enough Bush policy problems already, why waste time making them up?
Bill Gates, Beware The Ides Of March!
Diane Ravitch on high school reform in today's NYT.
No less than Teachers College honcho Levine (and a chorus of educators) says we've got a big problem with the ed schools...but nonetheless our talking points from the home office are to not let those pesky TFA'ers, New Leaders, or Broad fellows anywhere near the schools at all costs!
Update: More here. Great article from The Chronicle's Glenn, with more pushback.
Update II: Hess on the march? When Rick Hess said basically this same thing about teachers and leadership a few years ago he was assailed as a kook, or even worse in educational parlance as a -- gasp! -- "conservative". Now, Levine's basically saying it, too. More Hess here from the current Educational Policy. Hungry like a wolf? Hess is like the Duran Duran of education policy, once only listened to in secret, now hip and trendy.
Boardbuzz keeps saying that vouchers are not on the march, yet stuff like this keeps happening. You know, No Child Left Behind may well look pretty good in hindsight a few years from now…
Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice, a new charter high school opening in NYC is hiring in the following subjects for the 2005-06 school year: Reading, Writing, Literature, Mathematics, U.S. History, Government/Economics, Law, Forensics and other sciences. Resumes or inquiries here. As the name implies, the school will focus on law and justice.
And, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is looking for a research director. Interesting job that covers a range of responsibilities, resumes here. You don't have to be a conservative, some Ds working there now, but check the site for a good sense of the issues they work on.
MO's Sager apparently misunderstood this post about Sam Freedman's recent piece on Catholic schools. Perhaps it wasn't clear. The point is not that Freedman got into the voucher issue, he didn't and it's somewhat irrelevant to his larger point. Rather, the issue is that the problems of Catholic schools again point to a problem with vouchers as a large-scale urban reform -- the number of available seats for kids under these programs.
About Eduwonk's "ideological" opposition to vouchers, Sager didn't think so not long ago, though Eduwonk freely confesses that issues of program efficacy aside, a big concern with a lot of voucher proposals is that they sever the link between democratic accountability and decisonmaking and publicly funded education. That's ideology, sure, and a debatable concern. But it's not a trivial issue in terms of thinking about how to deliver education in a democratic society. Of course, there are ways to square that circle and provide parents with more options while protecting the public interest -- charters schools are one, but not the only, option -- but most voucher proponents don't seem very serious about having that conversation. Perhaps that's ideology, too.
Update: Sager responds here. Unfortunately he snipped -- and seemingly stopped reading -- before the line about "That's ideology, sure…". He also lays out a case for vouchers to help Catholic schools though such a plan would run afoul of Zelman.
From a connected senior Democrat who reports that the NEA is buying up some top political talent in its fight against No Child Left Behind. This person also reports that:
The NEA ads are changing. They are now using terms like "accountability." Obviously their approach will be to say that they are for accountability but NCLB rigid requirements are stupid. They have moved away from saying we should repeal NCLB and are acting like they just want to "improve" the law. It will be harder to for supporters to show how NEA's "improvements" are actually attempts to destroy the law.