Friday, July 14, 2006
Per the Cash Controversy, a journo writes (edited for anonymity and to achieve a PG-13 rating, the mouths on these folks...):
I was just talking with one of my editors. He was noting how much easier it is for USA Today to write a story based on an Ed Sector report than it is to do the legwork on their own. And he wasn't talking about the hassle of tracking down the info, but the political risk in biting the hand that feeds you. Since the union controls a lot of the below-the-radar information flow, most newspapers --especially smaller ones-- don't want to f**k with them. But if someone else comes forward and is willing to take the heat, they'll run with it 9 times out of 10.
Lax standards for athletes at a big D-1 school, who would've thunk it? Still, seems like this story is going to have legs...
ABCTE hopes so!
Joe Williams weighs-in about the controversy over his recent ES report about the money the NEA is spreading around to undermine NCLB. Worth reading. The NEA is now peddling a ridiculous myths-facts sheet around the Hill which seeks to debunk claims the report didn't even make in the first place and falsely notes that there are no public sector employees on Education Sector's board of directors (in fact there are two currently practicing educators, including a former building rep for his teachers' union, and three members who hold official public sector roles -- maybe it is good that the NEA outsources its "research!").
But more to the point, no institution is above examination and it's ludicrous to suggest that questioning the activities of a teachers' union makes one "anti-union." Besides, in this case the report didn't even insinuate any wrongdoing (and went out of its way to make sure no one else could use it to make that claim) merely a lack of transparency around an important educational debate. All the hullabaloo has more to do with concern about the curtain being pulled back than any grand principles. Best thing to do: Read it for yourself and decide.
Just in case you were not convinced that Rick Hess, known around these parts as I'm Rick Hess Bi*ch, is just a really mean guy...now he's against summer break for kids in the WaPo! Are there no limits to what he'll do? Seriously, Hess makes a good point here and it falls under this broader banner of moving away from uniformity.
Philly Inquirer's Graham takes a look at the bigger stakes in the New Jersey voucher case:
"This lawsuit today is as important as the Montgomery bus boycott of the mid-1950s," said the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, which joined in the suit. "This, too, will launch a national effort."
Don't know about all that but this gambit does seem like a win-win for Bolick and company. If the case holds up it's a big legal win, almost regardless it's a political win. And don't underestimate 'ol Clint Bolick, he's proven again and again to be really effective. I can remember all the wise men saying how the SCOTUS couldn't possibly rule that vouchers do not run afoul of the establishment clause. The strategy that pulled that off was pure Clint...
Blog And Spend
Per yesterday's rosier than expected budget news my colleague Kevin Carey goes all drunken sailor on us. But isn't the punchline here, at the federal level, that we're not in quite as serious a jam as originally thought but the fiscal house this Administration has created is still pretty much a mess?
He said he was going to do it, and he did it! All you need to know about the New Jersey voucher litigation can be found at Edpresso where the place is basically an orgasm cult today. And if you don't know about it you haven't been paying attention. This is potentially very significant. The political significance is obvious, just more caffeine headache, but these cases could impact the school finance landscape in some unpredictable ways. For instance which actors in today's school finance litigation would trade more funding for vouchers? Philly Inq. here.
Chronicle of Philanthropy says Harvard is paying a price ($390m) for the ouster of Larry Summers.
Uh oh! Those hatchet men at RAND are up to it again...this time maligning the Pittsburgh schools! New RAND study says that, like most other urban districts, Pittsburgh has a dropout problem. It's apparently a devastating problem for the
"It's very incendiary to put something like this out there when there's so much gray area and speculation," board member Randall Taylor said at a meeting last night. "For us to tell the city we are not graduating this many students, this is devastating to the city."
The report also offers a nice walk-through of some of the issues surrounding calculating grad rates.
Update: This post should have mentioned that Brian Gill of RAND, an author of the report, is on the ES Research Advisory Board.
Typically tendentious and hysterical AFTie John post about this report. Kevin Carey responds here and pretty much says all that needs to be said in a post well worth reading. You’d think they’d see that this strategy of demanding 100 percent fealty is a loser over time considering the dynamics of the industry we’re in, but apparently not.
Can't say he didn't go out in consistent style: Praising class size reduction with no attention to the trade-offs, ripping NCLB, and putting forth odd ideas (in this case holding politicians accountable for not addressing poverty...great idea that I'm all for, but I'm pretty sure there is a mechanism for doing that, it's called elections).
I'll use this occasion to float my old idea: Rather than have an education columnist, why not use the space to publish pieces by people in the education world from teachers, students, and parents to policymakers, experts, and politicians. Someone would have to sift through the submissions, someone else make the final call, someone else edit, and I'm sure the unusable would far outweigh the usable. Yet I'm equally sure that there would be some real gems buried in the submissions that each week would engage, provoke, and spark good conversations.
There is another study on National Board certified teachers floating around (pdf). Ed Knows Policy reviews it here, NCTQ* reviews it here. And this time the National Board reviews it in full, posts it on their site, and is otherwise transparent about it here...
Just kidding about that last part! Apparently the National Board learned little from L'affaire Sanders where they took a beating in the press for not being open about a study by Bill Sanders of national board certified teachers. And again the new study isn't even completely damning (though for my money the reality is somewhere between the NCTQ condemnation and Ed Knows Policy's "nothing to see here" deconstruction) but is going to become seen that way because of the board's posture...I should note that the Nat'l Board has redone their website and the research section is more confusing than it used to be and doesn’t show ongoing studies, only completed ones. But I might be missing something and perhaps this study is up somewhere on their site, if it is please send a link ASAP! All I can find is the overview. *Disc -- I'm on the Board of Directors.
The new issue of the always worth reading American Educator is online now, everything you might want to know about teacher retention. Also reprises one side of this debate and gives an AFTie shout out to this NCTQ report (pdf). A strange item reports on the ongoing grad rate debate but then says there is no evidence that high stakes tests might be creating a downward pressure on grad rates. I think Sherman Dorn might disagree with that and I'd say the research is more mixed. Check it all out, for free no less!
Turns out the NEA is spreading a lot of cash around to undermine NCLB, so says journo Joe Williams in a new ES Connecting The Dots report. The report doesn’t allege any illegality, so this is somewhat different than the Armstrong Williams situation, but it does raise some questions about whether the media has been sufficiently diligent in relaying these connections to readers to help them understand the context.
Bart Peterson, Winner (And Cash)
Indy's charter school initiative, spearheaded by Bart Peterson the city's mayor, wins the Harvard Innovations in Government Award. $100K plus priceless prestige. Charter school initiatives have won this more than once...I know I'm supposed to hate them but...
Uh oh...well, we'll see how all that pro-union rhetoric plays now...Steve Barr has founded a parents union to demand some changes in the LA public schools. Months ago I mentioned that Steve is no rank amateur when it comes to organizing, believe me now? To be perfectly blunt he's kicking their asses out there (and privately the powers that be admit it...). For my money I still think deploying the Piscalnator is a more cost-effective way to accomplish the same thing, less than$500 as I score it, but regardless change is coming.
Also, seems the teachers' union in LA is spreading money around on the street and it's closely correlated with support for their agenda from all these "community groups." A lot of that seemingly going on...
LA Daily News weighs-in here and Susan Estrich says Barr is no Coulter!
In CO, some school districts are suing to get back their exclusive control over public schooling. At issue is the statewide charter institute championed by Democrat Terrance Carroll. Carroll, a friend, championed the institute as a way to ensure that more minority kids were served by charter schools in CO and that there was more attention to quality. Two larger issues: First, again racing to court isn't in the best interest of public education. Second, not to put too fine a point on it but Carroll, an African-American Democrat, is largely fighting white liberals here. Considering the demographic trends in the country, not to mention the equity issues, that sure seems like a potential political problem.