Saturday, April 23, 2005
In Washington on May 5th? Then you might want to check out the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy's Cinco de Mayo party at the Josephine Butler house. Great music, outstanding student and professional art, and wonderful food.
Read into this what you want, but it could be a face saving way out for Utah.
Cato Institute wonders whether vouchers or traditional public schools are more likely to head off corruption. You will never guess what they conclude…
Congrats Wendy Kopp!
First a TFA'er becomes Teacher of the Year, now Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp has been awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Social Entrepreneurship. She's being honored along with Dr. Ben Carson who is being awarded the William E. Simon Prize in Philanthropic Leadership. The award carries a $250K prize.
Cue hand-wringing among TFA critics.
Jenny D. is outraged.
Per the below, here's Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights head William Taylor on the lawsuit from his press statement today. Third graf's the killer and a good indication of the level of indignation today from some key folks on the left. The question is of course, will they go public?
The NEA’s lawsuit contains no recognition whatsoever of the obligation of state and local governments to provide a decent and adequate public education for their children. One can search the 60-page complaint in vain for any statement that the costs of providing highly qualified teachers or small class sizes or other crucial resources should be borne by anyone other than the federal government.
Nor does the NEA acknowledge that states are shortchanging poor children by distributing tax revenues disproportionately to wealthy districts. The Illinois State Education Association, one of the plaintiffs, should be ashamed to be attacking the federal government for not giving enough when the State of Illinois spends several hundred dollars more per child on wealthy students than on those who are poor...
...Finally we must note the cruel irony of the NEA’s filing a suit where the lead plaintiff is the school district of Pontiac, Michigan. In 1971, right wing organizations responded to a court order calling for the desegregation of the public schools by dynamiting ten school buses. The federal courts of course had not provided any money for Pontiac to carry out its duties. So today we are hearing that improving education for the minority and poor children of Pontiac should be excused because it is an underfunded federal mandate.
The National Education Association has finally filed suit over No Child Left Behind. Yes, the NEA is going to court over unfunded mandates. Isn't railing against unfunded mandates something conservatives do? Sadly, yes. Besides, the core of the lawsuit boils down to the contention that No Child Left Behind is forcing school districts (and by extension states) to spend too much on education. This is, to put it mildly, a novel argument from the NEA.
But the real problem with the NEA's lawsuit against NCLB is not so funny. The suit could well have the opposite effect than they intend. It's obviously as much a political as a legal strategy, but rather than build additional sympathy for more education funding, the lawsuit will again be an opportunity for Republicans to call attention to the substantial increases in funding for elementary and secondary education over the past four years, let alone the last decade (including the Clinton second term increases). Get used to hearing 40 percent increase and more than $8 billion for NCLB since 2001…That may not sound like much in Washington, and may not account for some parts of the law that need more funding, but it sure does sound like a lot of dough to the average citizen, particularly the overwhelming majority who don't get up in the morning hating NCLB.
Overplaying the funding hand by pushing it in this high profile/high stakes way may be still yet another way to make President Bush appear better on an issue than he really is. In addition to the aggregate funding levels, because it's his secretary of education getting sued, he'll be perceived as standing up for the kids in the public debate. This tact also further obscures the areas where the Bush Administration may be meeting the legal definition of a "funded" mandate but is still not promoting good public policy. For instance, in the case of assessments where more funding can help stave off a race to the bottom on quality.
NCLB does have one built in mechanism to promote more funding for education --adequacy lawsuits. The data from NCLB will be a boon to plaintiffs who are suing states to create more equitable intrastate financing schemes. Right now, many state finance systems shortchange poor school districts to varying degrees. Here's a good look at that (pdf). And, as Willie Sutton succinctly noted when asked why he robbed banks, you go where the money is. And it K-12 education it's ultimately the states that have the lion's share of the money. If successful, this NEA lawsuit could take the teeth out of these efforts.
NCLB, though not without its flaws, is a law aimed at forcing states and school districts to do right by poor and minority kids. In the long run, does the NEA really want to be remembered for having gone to court to stop that?
NYT's Dillon wraps-up yesterday's action in Utah. The worrisome part -- or what should be the worrisome part -- from the point of view of the left is buried in the final three paragraphs.
A day will come when George Bush will no longer be president, a lot at stake in this law, will this have been worth it?
New paper on teacher quality by PPI's Sara Mead and Andrew Leigh of Australian National University. Looks at the issue and discusses differentiated pay and certification issues.
See also this new PPI paper by Asia Society's Michael Levine.
A look at the Amistad Charter School in City Journal.
Amistad doesn’t just place demands on students; it also requires a lot of educators. But they seem happy to give their all. Sue Walling, Amistad’s young academic dean, bubbles over with energy. “One of my favorite things was when Dacia gave me a key to the school,” she enthuses. Why? Because it made it easier to work late.
At Walling’s old job, in a suburban Connecticut public school district, where she worked for four years, putting in long hours got her into trouble with her union. The union rep told her that working so much set a bad precedent—management could start asking all the teachers to work late. If she absolutely had to work extra, the rep went on, then she should at least hide her car. “I got the whole speech that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Walling recalls. “I could never go back.”
Congrats Jason Kamras!
In light of the back and forth about Teach For America, worth noting that the just announced National Teacher of the Year is a TFA alum teaching in D.C. This marks the first time a D.C. teacher has won the award.
The problem is that what CT wants and what Spellings said she would not bend on are pretty much mutually exclusive. Discussions continue. Some of this seems to have more to do with CT politics than No Child Left Behind...
Watch for other NCLB lawsuit news today. Long legal odds, good politics.
Wash Post's Jay Mathews looks at the increase in merit-based aid in higher education and the consequences:
A 2003 study by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education reported that from 1995 to 2000, scholarship aid to students from families making $40,000 or less increased 22 percent in 1999 dollars. At the same time, scholarship aid for students in families making $100,000 or more a year increased 145 percent.
The Best Eight (11) Years Of Your Life!
Who knew U of W was such fun?
...another Educontroversy erupts! Late last week longtime Teach For America critic Linda Darling-Hammond released a new study (pdf) about TFA teachers at the American Educational Research Association's meeting in Montreal. In the spirit of the setting, TFA detractors gleefully pointed to the study saying "oui! oui! we knew TFA was very bad..."
Because it was released first to the press, before TFA had even seen it, TFA supporters were naturally suspicious. As it turns out, they had ample reason. This letter from TFA's Abigail Smith outlines the preliminary problems with the study. Unfortunately, though these are serious issues, they haven't stopped either the yapping of critics or some press accounts which could presumably be damaging to TFA's fundraising and recruitment efforts (a cynic might say that was the point of this whole exercise... but you'll find no cynics here!).
Here's U of W's newly engaged (hearts are breaking around edupolicy land...) and very diplomatic Dan Goldhaber from the Houston Chronicle (pdf):
The way the information is presented is not standard," he said. "If you were to submit this to an academic journal for review, they would demand more information about ... the results than what is currently in the paper."
Look for some spirited back and forth. Hopefully though, problematic methodology aside, some intrepid reporter will take a look at the broader question, why all the attacks on TFA anyway?
See also TFA founder Wendy Kopp here, USA Today here. The Kopp piece is noteworthy, she's previously kept a low profile on this stuff, perhaps enough is enough? And, background on the recent Mathematica study on TFA here.
In a new PPI paper Asia Society's Levine says we need more of one in K-12 education.
NYT's Staples lays a complicated and important issue on the table in a must-read column from today's paper that already has folks buzzing. Well worth a moment of your time to read...
This is a difficult moment for the civil rights movement, which is understandably fearful of taking positions that would discomfit the teachers among its supporters. But standing silently on the sidelines of the debate about teacher preparedness and No Child Left Behind is hardly the answer. Unless the civil rights establishment adopts a stronger and more public position, it will inevitably be viewed as having missed the most important civil rights battle of the last half-century.