Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Give the NEA credit, with their newly discovered 10th Amendment enthusiasm they aggressively venue-shopped for a judge who would likely be friendly to their arguments that NCLB is an unfunded mandate. But even the Reagan-appointed judge they found in Michigan didn't buy their case and tossed it out today on the merits.
Though it was generally agreed that the case was without merit (even among attorneys at the NEA) there are still two takeaways worth mentioning: First, this is still a quasi-victory for the NEA. They got something they wanted which was PR for their anti-NCLB attacks. It's unlikely the dismissal will garner the same press attention the circus about bringing the original case did.
Second, the judge did agree that they did have standing to bring the case (though he rejected some of their specific arguments about why). That helps them going forward and also could mean more litigation from all sides.
New publication from CRPE's National Charter School Research Project about charter schools. Hopes, Fears, & Reality: A Balanced Look at American Charter Schools in 2005 looks at achievement, scale, closures, conversions and other hot-button issues in a sober and evenhanded way. Well worth checking out if you follow this issue. Contributors include Paul Hill, Robin Lake, Todd Ziebarth and The Commodore! Disclosure: Eduwonk's on the advisory board for this project and wrote a section for this report.
When this study first got press, GGW did a nice job unpacking it during his guest blogging stint here on Eduwonk.
In Tuesday's Washington Post Jay Mathews revisits it with some texture but still under the umbrella of whether parents matter. Isn't the real punchline that schools matter, too? And doesn't that have more salience considering the ongoing debate between demographic determinists and accountability hawks right now?
Interesting four-part series from WBUR in Boston on the achievement gap. From NYC, two teaching fellows there survey their colleagues (pdf) about retention. Small n stuff but worth reading. And, from Chicago, Designs for Change looks at improving public schools there (pdf).
Hitting The Rhode
Congrats to Chicago TFA'er Jeremy Robinson who is off to jolly 'ol England on a Rhodes Scholarship.
The "65 percent solution" idea, brainchild of the founder of Overstock.com has caught on in Republican circles. Basically, the idea is that school districts should spend 65 percent of their dollars in the classroom. It's arbitrary sure, but sounds sensible enough if you don't know much or care much about school finance which explains its allure for Republican activists in most states.
Standard and Poor's, who do something about finance, weigh-in with an evenhanded analysis (pdf) that basically shows that it's a boneheaded idea (though S & P doesn't use that exact term). There is no relationship between percentage of spending on various categories and achievement and it's difficult to disentangle instructional and non-instructional expenses anyway in terms of their benefits to kids. There are certainly plenty of efficiencies that could be squeezed out of the current system but this isn't the way to get there.
Incidentally, the real point of this thing is apparently to try to sow discord between school district administrators and teachers' unions over this idea. Not going to happen. Apparently these guys don't get politics either.
Washington Post's usually savvy Anderson turns in a story about all the new NCLB flexibility seemingly oblivious to two inconvenient facts (1) not everyone is happy about it and (2) just 'cause the critics and the interest groups love the changes it's not axiomatic that they're a good idea. In fact, it's a pretty good and obvious clue to dig deeper because it's likely that's not the case! Eduwonk is not an investigative reporter but cooing from the NEA and concern from the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights sure seems like a tip-off to that...
The dynamic Ds, Kennedy and Miller weigh-in with a letter to Earth Mother, CCCR statement here, and AP's Feller updated his story to add a cautionary note from Ed Trust's Haycock.
Word is that Earth Mother thought that this proposal was going to bring everyone together in some sort of harmonic convergence. Can they really be that out of touch or is the Stockholm Syndrome really that ingrained? Maybe the education policy is more like the Iraq policy than Eduwonk first thought.
When this charter school opened it was considered hot stuff, but it didn't make it. Good to see the state charter board in AZ taking its role seriously. AZ background here.
NEA New York Board of Directors member and local teachers' union head Morty Rosenfeld is back with more commentary. This one is well worth reading, too.
Original post here.
If you're into special education law here is a blog for you.