Three quick items I’ve been getting questions about and meaning to post.
First, re all all the back and forth about the gender report this week. I actually don’t think the AAUW is all wrong here and there was a Russoian element of, “if the AAUW says it, then it can’t be true” to some of the criticism. And they’re right that racial and economic inequities are a bigger problem. But, as Richard Whitmire pointedly points out, that still doesn’t make their overall case what they say it is. And, more to the point, the educational situation for African-American men is a national travesty. Don’t believe me or the data? Go to some graduations this month and next. On the larger issue lurking here, I don’t see what the big deal about voluntary single-gender education in public elementary and secondary schools is anyway. Also, read Sara Mead on the same.
Second, people want to know what would have made me like the Greg Anrig article on vouchers more. Basically, the split among center-right and conservative policy actors about curriculum vs. choice is again remerging. But, the choice folks have the juice in that fight. They have the money and the organizations and they will push out and marginalize the Sol Sterns of the world. So, while a decade ago people on the left were beating the hell out of E.D. Hirsch and his ideas about curriculum, now they ought to see that he’s an ally here (and not a great example since he’s a lefty to start with) and build some bridges. To its credit the AFT is doing exactly that. Choice within in the public system and the dynamism created by public charter schools plus an emphasis on curriculum and accountability is a pretty progressive and pretty promising reform strategy. Instead, I think Anrig wrote a premature obit for the voucher movement, minimized the disturbing rise in education tax credits, which are even worse public policy and sidestep the regulatory and curricular arguments, and didn’t offer much of a way forward for reformers.
Third, everyone seems to want to know what the odds are on No Child Left Behind reauthorization. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on 2010 now. The next administration is going to have to tackle energy, health care, and the war right out of the box and probably something on the economy, too, because there will be political pressure to, regardless of the actual state of the economy in 2009. Even hitching education to any economic package, not a lot of room in there for a full reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.