Friday, February 09, 2007
A Gifted Argument...
When Rick Hess and I argued that there are some tensions between the equity and competitiveness agendas once you got into the level of specifics some people said we were bonkers! But along comes this NYT article about how gifted programs are being hurt by No Child Left Behind...not exactly the same but very much related. Sherman Dorn is all over this.
But here's the thing that The Times story and the debate overlooks: While black kids are over-represented in special education (and not just because disability tracks poverty) they are under-represented in gifted education. The data are really quite striking. That's why I was surprised to see Fordham heir apparent Mike Petrilli's quote on the issue with no apparent attention to the broader context. There is an equity issue here but it's not at the expense of gifted kids.
And, if you understand the demographics of gifted programs, it's also one reason why this entire argument seems less like a grand issue of maximizing potential and more like thinly veiled concern about how the resource pie is going to be sliced. In other words, there is a romancing of gifted programs that obscures some important issues.
Full disclosure: Lest you think I'm manifesting, “Social resentment toward gifted kids [stemming] from a basic aversion to the notion that some children are better than others,” as one source in the article argues, I'm actually a self-loathing gifted kid!!! I was in gifted programs myself from grade 3 through AP so I know the policy and the reality. I was in a very diverse school district (that celebrated that fact constantly, aren't we all great liberals here!) but almost all my classmates were white and pretty much just like me. That's one anecdote borne out by the data...
The White House has made official what's been on the edustreet for weeks: Hoover's Bill Evers is being nominated to be the new Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department of Education. This was the new/old Tom Luce job. Choiceniks happy, usual suspects horrified etc...outside chance this could be interesting because people with the bad habit of actually expressing what they think or even worse yet writing about it can make challenging nominees...And Evers was in Iraq! It's what I think they would call there, a 'target rich environment.'
Kevin Carey and I explain why President Bush isn't doing his part to get No Child reauthorized. More here and here.
Wendy Kopp takes on Stephen Colbert.
Here's your chance to come to Washington and work on education policy.
Everyone chatters about whether charters will lead to vouchers and so forth but I think a much more interesting and complicated issue is the overlooked tension between charter schools and homeschoolers, especially virtual schools. The Homies don't like 'em. Hard to see charter foes pivoting to take advantage of this - "Parents stay free! Keep away from public regulation!" - but still interesting especially because some Homies would like to organize as charter schools to take advantage of public funding but that raises some very complicated questions about publicness.
In the WaPo Michael Dannenberg and Phillip Longman lay out a plan to reform college loans.
Pretty succinct column laying out the political and policy landscape.
President Bush's FY 2008 Budget Request is out. Eduhighlights here.
You'll hear a lot of back and forth about the funding levels, though it's hard to really say that education has been shortchanged relative to other non-defense discretionary programs over the past six years. Rather, the critique I'd level is that this budget is pretty unimaginative. There are plenty of little initiatives but where are the big ideas on par with the scale of the problem?
Increases for Title I are nice, and trying to put a bit more into the Teacher Incentive Fund is fine, too, (though it's being used as an offset in the battle on FY07 approps now, not a great sign). But what about some big investments in creating new public schools*, R and D, or really attacking the human capital problem? Sort of a snoozer on those issues and they're hardly minor issues. Leaves the door open for an '08 candidate to hit Bush not on spending small but on thinking small...
All that said, money matters to the possibility of any NCLB deal this year so keep an eye on the back and forth in that context.
Ying-Yang: One juxtaposition worth nothing, the growing emphasis on school improvement is good albeit overdue, but flat funding IDEA is not. Funding IDEA is a good way to free up some funds at the local level.
*For instance an investment in charter school authorizing which is not only a new schools piece but also an accountability piece as well because it gets at different ways to hold small schools accountable.
There seems to be a test security issue in Ohio...Scott Elliot is on the case. Two quick thoughts: First, standardized tests are often anything but in terms of how they’re administered, and related, test security is a big issue if even a very small fraction of the rumors and anecdotes you hear are true.
The SAT may be under attack, but not in Maine.
Wade through this and you can see the President's signals on the contours of the debate this year.
The New Teacher Project strikes again with a California website that should serve as a model for elsewhere. Slow and lumbering versus fast and nimble...why do those words keep bouncing around the eduhead...
Patricia Graham weighs-in on the Oxford Press blog.