Friday, January 12, 2007
What Is The Matter With Kansas?
Leave aside the specifics of this particular story in The Times, isn't this public - private thing a little tired in the context of school management? Public schools provide a public service and it can be provided in a variety of ways through a variety of governance arrangements. In fact, under the reductionist definition that if it's not run by the school district then it's private, then the United Federation of Teachers' charter schools are "privately" managed, too...Isn't the real issue less the management as an absolute issue than whether there is accountability to the public and the public interest?
And I know, I’m asking for a treatise here on how the UFT is completely different than some school management company, but it’s really not in the analytic or public policy sense, only as a value issue. The question is really whether in terms of managing schools either can be held accountable to the public, and of course both can.
The prospect of more No Child Left Behind has conservatives terrified...good primer on the real politics of NCLB on the Republican side...
Geezer War action on NPR.
Are you now reading, or have you ever read, a book or article by Rick Hess...
New big thinky report from Mott about time and learning (pdf). They're hosting a DC confab on the 17th to hash it all out. Look for a report on time from ES later this month.
This is a powerful look at how education matters to a people.
The new Carnival of Edublogs is up, enjoy.
And, don't miss this outstanding debate at Edspresso between Roger Clegg and Joseph Olchefske about Race-Based School Assignments.
And, word is, Diane Ravitch is headed for the blogosphere, stay tuned for that.
Update: In the category of bloggy news, this is an interesting article. Check out the chart at the bottom, I do all those things but don't think that makes this journalism...
What's The Matter With The NYT?
NYT’s Schemo manages to miss a really interesting story (two of them actually). First, the NCLB tension evidenced in this story is less Republican and Democrat than differences between the Democratic committee chairs on the House and Senate education committees and their leadership. The money issue can be resolved in the context of a deal, the bigger problem is that while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks NCLB is punitive, George Miller and Ted Kennedy don’t. That’s the story and it's not about more or less money for NCLB...*
Second interesting tension, Kennedy and Senator Dodd are in different places over this national standards business…Gonna be plenty of that going around since several of Kennedy’s committee members seem to have their eye on running for President, Dodd, Obama, and Clinton. He’s going to be as much zookeeper as chairman. Let’s hope though that they have better luck than the Republican committee members who already went down that road, Hatch and Alexander…Is HELP a launch pad or graveyard?
*They almost always write the story through the welfare state prism, more money, less money, Republicans against Democrats, but this isn't the 1980s and Reagan is not President...
I said this was signal, and its rejection, even if it’s reversed, also is. More here.
There is some tension between the two (though not in my view mutually exclusive). Rick Hess and I look at that issue in the new Kappan.
Important column about the evolution of education policymaking in CA...it's not all honey and roses but still something. Perhaps the most interesting question is the process one, is any progress possible without everything that preceded this? Let's hope so.
Kit Bond, Punster
How well is NCLB doing?
U.S. Senator Christopher 'Kit' Bond (D-Mo.) says it's "satisfactory.""Not failing, not suburb," he adds.
Update: Heads-up reader KL notes that Bond is an R not a D, too.
A lot of chatter about this WaPo story on D.C.'s Catholic schools. Though it flirts at it, not sure the story really does justice to the voucher angle. Clearly the schools have done some good stuff, but how much of the renaissance is due to the availability of publicly and privately funded vouchers in the city? One can argue the public benefit there either way, but it's worth discussing...
In term of the bigger picture, the quiet tension here, incidentally, is not public - private though so much as public charter - private. Meaning that parents want alternatives to traditional urban public schools and public charter schools give them tuition-free alternatives. Privately a lot of Catholic officials express real concern about this and the demographics of Catholic schools illustrate that plenty of non-Catholics avail themselves of the schools now...
Conversely though, could Catholic schools deliver a secular education program and qualify for charter status? That's an interesting question that could get really tested at some point...
New ES report by school finance guru Marguerite Roza makes the uncomfortable but important point that there is a lot of money in education now that could be repurposed to greater effect within education. WaPo here. Similar to the point made by the recent Skills Commission report. To some this could appear as picking on teachers, and it will be framed that way, but the simple fact is that education is, by it's nature, pretty labor intensive, and most of the $500 billion spent annually is tied up in labor costs. Consequently, pace our good friend Willie Sutton, that's one place policymakers are going to have to look for funds. In other words, we need to get serious about financing education, but also about refinancing it as well. And, we have to take on what is a four letter word in many education circles, productivity. PS--Should have mentioned more clearly, repurposing money like this could mean more not less money for teacher salaries, this isn't about slashing teacher pay…
Last we heard from NRO's John Derbyshire he was on a jingoistic tirade against dual-language schools, but now Sara Mead reports that he's endorsing the views of Alfie Kohn...as Sara notes, you go far enough right and who knows where you'll end up...