Friday, April 29, 2005
Today's LA Times breaks the news that the Governator will name Alan Bersin as the next state education secretary in California. Bersin is a former Clinton Administration official and is currently superintendent of schools in San Diego (though he's leaving in June).
A lot of implications here as a commentary on national education politics, not just CA. Bersin, lifelong Democrat working for the Governator...Joel Klein, lifelong Democrat (and another Clinton official) depending on a Republican winning reelection to keep his job...and more than a few Democrats populating the Bush Department of Education...it's an issue that Ds must confront.
More on San Diego from 'I'm Rick Hess Bit*h' who has studied San Diego in-depth. (Though Joanne Jacobs characterizes Bersin's tenure as unsuccessful??? The story is a lot more complicated than that.)
Update: Second day LA Times take here. Note the acid comments from the CTA. That's what they call foreshadowing…
It's a telling irony.
The Boston Teachers Union, through its obstruction, may just succeed in doing something the charter schools haven't done with their successes: Make a charter supporter of Mayor Thomas Menino.
A microcosm of things to come?
In today's NYT, Tom Friedman weighs-in on Bill Gates' recent speech about high schools. He's right that it should occasion more action (and it's telling that the most noteworthy educational happening since the speech is the NEA lawsuit against No Child). Yet Friedman plays up the economic competitiveness angle (which is obviously an issue) while Gates was really getting at equity. In the speech he pivoted from the economic challenge to the, in his words, "moral" one and focused on disparities by race in today's system. And, he concluded not by raising the specter of global competitiveness but by saying:
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 the income of their parents. That is offensive to our values, and it’s an insult to who we are.
Today's system doesn't work well for poor and minority kids. In terms of our way of life that seems like more of an immediate problem than overseas competition.
The Broad Academy is now recruiting for its 2006 class of aspiring urban school leaders and executives. High caliber program and they're looking for high caliber individuals.
Economic Diversity In Higher Ed
Great piece by Justin Ewers in US News.
From today's NYT, blind quoted lobbyist:
"Margaret Spellings terrifies me," said a Washington lobbyist who has known Ms. Spellings since she joined the Bush White House in 2001.
Mickey Kaus: Margaret Spellings, Gangsta!
ABC's Note is also perplexed at the NYT overkill.
Matt Yglesias makes a very good point (and dons a beret at the end).
Why "less federal intervention in education?" Because the NEA doesn't like No Child Left Behind and in order to make common cause with conservative NCLB critics they've decreed that liberals should start pretending to believe in federalism?
...The federalism critique of the Bush education policy is, perhaps, good politics. If so, then fair enough. But it has no place in liberalism.
Whole post very worth reading.
Is up at the EdWonk's site.
It's no great secret that there is not a lot of love and warm feelings between some top Bush Administration folks and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. The disagreements go deeper than just sensible shoes versus Birkenstocks. Fordham head Chester Finn had the temerity to criticize them in the early days, and while this Administration may countenance a lot of things public dissent doesn't seem to be one of them.
But here's a stunner, former Secretary of Education Rod Paige is joining the Fordham Foundation board of trustees. This won't help the frosty relations because Earth Mother Spellings is on record as being less than enamored of Paige's tenure at ED and the Austin - Houston riff is at full throttle these days. The Spellings op-ed drew blood.
Will Fordham become another edugovernment in exile with Austin ascendant? You decide, Mike Petrilli, now deputy at the Office of Innovation at ED is heading to Fordham as well.
In USA Today, DeWayne Wickham writes about the potential adverse consequences of the NEA's new
Here's another one. The NEA strategy which is basically anti-accountability in terms of NCLB (yes, yes, they support the goals, everyone supports the goals...) and anti-choice overall, even including public school choice and charters, puts Democrats in the position of essentially championing a role for public schools that doesn't focus on either student learning (especially for disadvantaged students) or parental preference. Politically this leaves the field pretty wide open for Republicans but intellectually it leaves Democrats in a position of championing public education more or less as a day care or jobs program rather than an educational project. Over time, that's not a good place to be politically or substantively. There are certainly legitimate arguments against choice in all its forms and also against accountability both in theory and practice today. But, in terms of today's educational challenges, it's really ridiculous to be against both.
Hang on! This can't be right…the NEA wouldn't give Democrats self-serving but bad political advice would they? According to last year's USA Today exclusive, yes they would!
Also, more from Boston on related politics.
It's Tuesday, let's go to the mailbag! Per this post a reader writes:
To be fair, this is not just a union problem. At the last school at which I taught in NYC, teachers get/got letters from the administration threatening to dock pay if they worked too late (past 5pm). Yes. Threatening to dock pay. Something like $100 each time.
(The given reason was that the custodians had to lock up the school, they couldn't do that while anyone was still there, and if they had to stay late because a teacher was working late, the teacher would have to pay for their additional time.)
Per recent Teach For America news, two notes:
Here's my little story about TFA and putting teachers in underserved areas....I am a recently accepted TFA corps member. I'll be teaching high school English in [redacted at writer's request] in the fall.
I got a call yesterday from the guy who interviewed me. I asked him how many of the people with whom I interviewed were accepted. He couldn't quote specific numbers for my day, but overall, less than a third of the people he interviewed were accepted.
I'm new to all of this TFA stuff, but I was impressed with the other people who interviewed with me. I know what most ed college graduates are like, and I'drather have my kid taught by one of the people who interviewed with me. What's more, most of the people who interviewed with me planned to teach in an underserved area regardless of whether they were accepted to TFA (in many cases, areas that are alreadyserved by TFA--New Orleans and Baton Rouge). Given the teacher shortage in those areas, I doubt they'll have a problem getting in.
For students next year in underserved areas in Louisiana, the only difference in their rookie teachers with emergency certification or TFA will be that some have taken a crash course in pedagogy and also whatever the state of Louisiana requires in additionto having access to an independent support network. The others will have just gone through whatever Louisiana requires. I'm glad those people with whom I interviewed are going to teach. BR and NO need them.
My problem is the dream world in which some of these critics seem to be living. It seems to me they'd like to kill all of the chickens themselves instead of hunting the fox.
Another reader writes:
Thanks for raising the issue (April 18 Eduwonk) of why Teach For America is facing so many attacks. I spent two years (2001-2003) teaching middle school in the Arkansas Delta. It is crucial that people discussing these issues realize that the schools where TFA places GENERALLY HAVE NO OTHER TEACHERS. During my first year, I spent most of my day teaching French to students who did not need certain remediation and therefore had opportunity to be challenged in new ways through foreign language and culture studies. Who knows what they would have done otherwise.
Another corps member at my school spent her second year teaching math to the entire sixth grade and seeing them make significant progress. The next year, that group of students went through a series of seventh grade math teachers and substitutes. It is completely unrealistic to suggest that schools should keep out a hardworking TFA corps member who pushes kids to higher achievement for two years simply because that teacher hasn’t completed an “ideal” level of preparation or may not stay for many years. TFA does an outstanding job of motivating, preparing, and supporting corps members to teach well for at least two years and, whether they remain in that classroom or not, to continue impacting precious children who deserve the best.
Spellings On Paige
Hard hit from Earth Mother...
Per this dispute, is Earth Mother kicking ass or slapping wrists? You decide. The TX penalty is less than 1/1000th of TX's total 2004 NCLB allocation (pdf) of about $1.965 billion from the feds, but a larger percentage of the state education agency's share of that funding (though still likely less than one percent of that).