Thursday, November 02, 2006
John Roberts: Special Ed Analyst
The SCOTUS sure is hearing a lot of special ed cases lately, almost seems like it's a complicated and contentious statute or something...
The Title I Monitor, a trade paper, is tirelessly covering the Reading First fiasco but if I were a national reporter I might be looking at all the Texan on Texan action in the Houston - Austin split between Bush I and Bush II. It's actually interesting, nuanced, personal, and substantive...in other words, great stuff!
Art Levine and Jay Mathews both scare teacher preparation programs in the Boston Globe and WaPo respectively. If you can't get hired to do PR for the ed schools today, find another job.
The possibility of attention to teacher pensions has the AFTies scared so they're launching a preemptive war on pension reform...it's an issue that is coming soon though...there is a fiscal crisis looming from unfunded liability/demographic shifts and also some legitimate questions about what policies best complement efforts to improve teacher quality.
Research for Action takes a look at what's happened in Philadelphia since the state stepped in (pdf). Well worth checking out focuses on leadership.
In Indianapolis the superintendent, Eugene White*, generally known as a reformer, is calling for a moratorium on public charter schools there saying too many students are choosing the charters instead of traditional public schools and it's undermining his efforts to improve the existing public schools. Looks like the mayor, Bart Peterson, is going to say no, and the local paper is in his corner. It's an interesting situation, couple of takeaways:
First, having watched Indy for a while and been involved with some work there, I think the chain of causation runs the opposite way the superintendent is arguing it does. In other words, the improvements in the traditional public schools are happening primarily because of the growth of charters not despite them. It's hard to miss the increase in urgency since charters came on the scene. They are forcing action and are in part why there is a change-oriented superintendent there in the first place now.
Second, this shows -again- that it's a political logic not an economic logic that governs schools. To oversimplify just slightly, this would be like Blockbuster demanding a moratorium on new providers of movie rentals when Netflix started to gain market share. Instead, Blockbuster had to -gasp- start offering new ways to rent DVDs, too.
Finally, public school supporters should be cheering Indy because it shows that change is possible from stimulus within the public sector not just external to it. Indy isn't changing because of vouchers or privatization in the strict sense of that term but rather through the public sector reforming itself. Why gum that up?
*We're on a board together for one of the mayor's initiatives.
More Reading First!
Two new stories from the dogged Title I Monitor stories about the Reading First controversy just out here and here. Quick reax: (1) Not sure the conflict of interest stuff with Doherty's wife is a big deal, especially because he didn't try to hide it and did initially disclose it, but that's going to get tongues wagging all over again. (2) The stuff on the early assessment report is just more evidence of the sloppiness that characterized this administration's ed efforts in the early going. (3) The Houston - Austin gloves are really off (4) I still think mistakes were made but want to see the other Office of Inspector General reports...some of this sounds worse than it probably was in practice (5) Great that they interviewed Chris Doherty but I'd like to see a full interview with him, q's and a's about all this to hear his side, can someone do that?
Among ed types a favorite parlor game is the when will No Child Left Behind get reauthorized derby. The law is scheduled to be revised next year but I've figured that wouldn't happen until at least 2009 because neither party really wants its various intra-party divisions over education to spill into the open with the White House in play, and there is a lot of quiet support for the performance pressure NCLB is bringing to bear.
But, the White House does keep feebly bleating about wanting to reauthorize the law -though aside from their high school proposal they've put forward few specific ideas and that wasn't a very good one anyway - and God knows there is no shortage of folks who want to