Friday, December 01, 2006
While all the media buzz this week has been about the borderline hopeless appeals of various anti-NCLB lawsuits, the real story is that the judge in the Connecticut case has allowed the NAACP to intervene in the case there on behalf of the Bush Administration. That's a big deal on substance and politics.
Update: Note the change in tone from the state, can't we all just get along? Someone gave the CT Atty. General some bad political advice here....but we know it wasn't the NEA because they'd never sabotage a Democrat to advance their own goals...must have been Professor Plum...in the library with an amicus brief…
Question: What do Hoosiers like even more than hoops?
Answer: Screwing-over charter school kids!
Here's Doug Levin, he runs the ed policy shop at Cable in the Classroom. That's a big king salmon from Alaska he caught this summer. Doug says about 35lbs, and it looks it. He caught his limit that day and had them flown back to Washington, D.C. That's good eating!
In the LA Times, LAUSD School Board member Julie Korenstein says charter schools, "are still a gamble without really knowing what impact it is going to make on students. You have to start wondering if it's a good idea to gamble with students' education."
By gum, that is a good thing to wonder about! But considering the grim outcomes for students in LA - 258 college graduates a year in South LA from schools serving 60K kids at a half-billion a year cost, charters, despite the variance, somehow don't seem like such bad odds for parents...In fact, Steve Barr's schools, Green Dot Public Schools, which the article is about, have much better numbers, a reasonable parent would be excused for taking that gamble and for thinking it's a good idea! I believe gamblers, should there be any around, would call that a “positive expectation” situation…
It seems pretty indisputable that whatever one thinks of charter schools, they do cause some changes in school districts where they're present in any significant number. It's a legitimate question whether those changes actually get to the level of teaching and learning, but as the dance Washington D.C. Superintendent Janey is doing illustrates, they do shake things up. You could argue, of course, that charters are merely present in large numbers in places where things are really screwed up and so that, not the charters, causes changes. But I think the evidence runs the other way.
In any event, I was thinking about all that reading Janey's remarks and Mike Casserly's interesting op-ed in Sunday's WaPo. Casserly is exactly right that governance changes alone don't solve anything. Paul Hill made that point in greater depth in this paper a few years back. But where I think Mike gets it wrong, or doesn't engage enough, is the question of the best way to get to alignment and clarity in a place like D.C. I think the notion that consolidating power and accountability and reworking the system that way, with that leverage point, rather than trying to do it through a demonstrably dysfunctional governance arrangement is a very plausible theory of action. And, since the process that puts in place a mayoral takeover, the option on the table now, has to be democratic at some level -- mayoral election, state legislature, etc...I don't see it as illegitimate. Likewise, it doesn't have to be permanent, either. Further, in this case, as Mike points out, the redundancy in education governance in Washington is almost comical. D.C. could do a lot worse than look to Hawaii for some ideas on having a unified state/school district structure since there is only one school district in Washington in the first place. So Mike's right about the core issues, but I'm not sure the process question, how to get there, is nearly as encouraging as he makes it out to be. In other words, I don't have much confidence in the current arrangements in D.C. to bring about the changes, even with the pressure of the growing market share of charters.
Update: Sara Mead, who knows much more about D.C.'s education scene than most, makes some good points about going the Hawaii route and I should have been clearer. I'm not saying that D.C. should adopt the HI model whole hog. Rather, I'm merely saying that there is a lot of redundancy and even considering the pluralism around charter schools and the dual responsibilities of being a state and a school district, there are ways to structure governance that are a lot more streamlined, aligned, and effective than the system now and HI shows that.
New Edublog: Early Stories
You probably need another edublog like you need one of these, but here's one worth checking out: Early Stories. It's the blog of Richard Colvin, who runs the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media. Richard's a big wheel in education journalism and knows early-childhood issues so keep your eye on his blog -- especially if you want to know what went wrong/right when a big edustory breaks or if early-childhood is your thing. There's been some hoping Richard would stick his toe in the bloggy swamp, and now he's here. Welcome.
Lindsey Lohan gives new meaning to "Hot For Education"...
I've gotten a slew of emails asking why I haven't written anything about Sunday's NYT mag piece by Paul Tough. Well, what is there to say? Most important education article written this year.
Edspresso is hosting a debate on weighted-student-funding, worth checking out.
I'm the eduversion of Rosie the Riveter, but doing my patriotic duty for Uncle Sam!
ES' Sara Mead says beware the restructuring ruse in the new Ed Next. ES' Joe Williams and Tom Toch look at one effort in San Diego in this report.
BTW--while you're at Ed Next, check the whole thing out. They deserve some credit, creating an interesting mag/journal isn't all that hard in the first 24 months or so when you can clear the shelves of good ideas and writing. But keeping it interesting for a lot longer than that is not such an easy feat and they've done it very well. It's a must read among a wide swath of folks. This issue, Guthrie, Davis, Williams, and Peterson (Julie! But Paul is there, too...), it's great stuff.
It's no wonder they taught me that it was cool to club seals when I was in school....
If you like edupolicy, can edit, and want to work in a deadline oriented environment, then check out this opening at ES.
In his comprehensive write-up of likely Bush Administration targets for more aggressive oversight and investigations in National Journal's election post-mortem issue ($), Brian Friel, who covers the edubeat for NJ, didn't highlight Reading First? The CW is that incoming Chairman Miller wants his committee to look into it, does Friel know something he's not spilling? Or is this issue just considered way too B-list to matter?
All you need to know about where education politics are heading over time can be found in the tag line of this Ed Week commentary...but the whole thing is worth reading. Cue the AFTies to tell us how deluded we all are and what dupes those CA legislators were.
Why actually produce work, when you can go to events, see your friends and colleagues, eat someone else's food, and all under the guise of doing your job? Here are two in the next two weeks for you to check out. First, tomorrow (28th), at the National Press Club, The Century Foundation is hosting a prebut session about race and integration in schools (pdf). With the SCOTUS set to hear arguments on two cases next month, now's your chance to get up to speed. They've compiled a diverse group.
Next week, on Weds the 6th, the National Charter School Research Project at U of W is hosting a release event for this year's issue of Hopes, Fears, and Reality (pdf). It's at the Urban Institute from 11:30AM to 1:30PM. Should be a lively time, last year's was. Disclosures all over the place on this one, I'm on the advisory board and co-wrote a chapter, but go anyway...
Jal covered a lot of ground in three days, read down to see if you missed it. A big thanks for the pinch hitting.