Thursday, July 06, 2006
Apparently the states are not really rolling up their sleeves on No Child Left Behind's teacher quality provisions. So says the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights in a new report (pdf). Ed Week's Olson reports here. This could emerge as an issue in '08 if candidates start vying to produce the best ideas to address the teacher quality problems. Solid recommendations in this report but the field is open for some big ideas.
The outstanding Citizen Schools is hiring for a National Partnership Manager and a Boston regional volunteer manager.
An interesting idea for a public library remembrance of 9-11.
NYC Educator is hosting the Carnival of Edublogs.
NYT ed board says states are gaming NCLB's testing requirements so we should be more like other countries. More relevant to the U.S., in a federal system like ours, enforcement is ultimately key. The will to enforce has proven difficult under the existing "partnership" approach with the states and there is no guarantee that a national system of standards would make it any easier (and could make it harder, right now the feds are just trying to get the states to enforce their own standards). Politically, here's an indicator to watch: When a prominent national politician, from either party, steps up and embraces national standards as an NCLB remedy, then you should start paying attention to this issue. Until then, the politics on Capitol Hill are just too far out of alignment with the elite rhetoric on this issue.*
Related, from FL, the state is threatening to buck No Child Left Behind. Will get some attention because no one can resist some good Bush on Bush action. But, we'll know that an understanding of the achievement gap has finally sunk in when states can no longer just say that because a school does well under its rating system but not with the feds, the problem must lie with the feds. Also, here, no attention being paid to the fact that states don't have to overhaul entire schools because they're missing one target. As this article shows, the discussion is still at the political level, not the how can we seriously help these schools level. It's too bad that FL Democrats have spent so much time attacking NCLB, too, that they're out of position to criticize the Jeb Bush Administration on that point.
*Though keep an eye on Hannibal, he's got a plan on this one, too.
Now they want to work in schools where they have control over their professional lives and are treated with respect! What will they want next?
It's an annual event. The NEA says at its national convention that it's really going to get No Child Left Behind changed soon, politically, in the courts, through old-fashioned organizing, etc...And each year the press dutifully reports the story and the big action about to happen. Yet it's been five years and not much has happened. Isn't that the story? Not as fun to write about the dog that didn't bark. But at least so far, that's the story on this dog. And when one of the most powerful interest groups in the country can't get a lot done on a key issue like this, seems worth analyzing why...
A little while back I related this odd experience where I was invited by the Department of Education to cover a small briefing from the Secretary of Education as a blogger. It was the first time they'd done that, had a blogger in with the real reporters, so everyone was on 8th-grade dance behavior. But it went fine. However, I was actually wearing a third hat in addition to this blog and my day job because I'm on the Virginia Board of Education so some of the regulatory decisions she was discussing would impact my state and my work there. Yet it's certainly not just me with more than one hat.
Spellings' main agenda was announcing the two states that would participate in the growth model pilot and was discussing the review board that evaluated the plans, which included Kati Haycock and Bill Taylor. Both Haycock and Taylor head organizations with views on the pilot, and Haycock's Ed Trust even did a lot of work evaluating the various state proposals independent of her service on the review panel. That was all confusing enough that NYT's Diana Jean Schemo mistakenly reported that the Ed Trust as an institution rather than Haycock as a peer reviewer had evaluated the pilot programs for the Department. It's understandable, a lot of overlapping roles.
In a larger sense, all this shows that perhaps No Child Left Behind is accomplishing one of the larger goals that broad general interest reforms sometimes do: Shaking up the constellation of policy actors around various issues. Essentially, as Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones have shown, while cozy stable policymaking arrangements are the norm, when they change it is often with intense punctuated rapidity. In the wake of these changes a new set of players emerge and eventually the process repeats itself again.
What makes No Child interesting to watch, however, are the complicated federal-state relationships embodied in the law. While NCLB may have stirred things up at the federal level, it didn't change the policymaking apparatus at the state and local level. In fact, a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Senators (and former governors) Evan Bayh (D-IN) and George Voinovich (R-OH) that would have given governors sign-off authority on NCLB plans and consequently more leverage over state departments of education, failed 58-40. So it's an awkward marriage there still and one worth watching going forward.
In terms of the multiple hats, if there ever was a time for attention to disclosure and transparency, now is it. In the long run, it's for the good.
If you have a problem, if no one else can help...Call Mike Petrilli!
A while back I noted that Rick Hess is the Duran Duran of ed policy. Now I think that Mike Petrilli is the Colonel "Hannibal" Smith of the ed policy world. Like this recent finance initiative, he loves it when a plan comes together.
Q and E and Joe Williams have all the links to the various comments about this situation in NYC last week. I didn't think there was much to add, and still really don't. It's bad and if true, as it seems, then there should be consequences. But, as I understand it, those consequences are already specified under state law. Where I come down on this is that, like other workers, teachers in charter schools should be able to choose to join unions just as they're able to exercise choice in the school they work at. And they should be able to decide whether they want to be an independent bargaining unit with their own contract or join the one in their school district. But, I don't buy the idea that charters are somehow more hostile work places than other schools or places of business and consequently demand special regulations that don't extend more generally to other workplaces. I also think that it would be a little anti-climatic if the law were changed dramatically. Sure, there are some schools where, as Joe Williams put it, you wonder why there are any teachers left, but they're a real minority.