Monday, July 20, 2009

States Open to Education Reform See Stimulus Money

Attention states: Allow for education reforms, and you will see stimulus dollars. Expanding charter school options and allowing for merit pay are two ways the stimulus dollars will make way into states. Many states have changed laws in order to make this an option. By allowing merit pay, lifting caps on charter schools, or overhaul troubled schools; certain states will reap the benefits. Now...when will Missouri do this???

From the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Duncan has warned states in recent months that they are unlikely to qualify for the grants if they don't move toward changes such as merit pay for teachers and lifting caps on charter schools -- measures that unions have either opposed or tried to limit.

"We have been talking about these gaps for years while children wait," Gov. Patrick said Thursday....

Teachers are starting to adjust to the new landscape. They are "both feeling the pressure and willing to think about doing new things," said Jane Hannaway, director of education policy at the Urban Institute, a left-leaning research group. "It's a new world."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Race to the Top

As Arne Duncan came out saying states need to be more charter friendly to get access to some stimulus money, states have been getting their act together. Perhaps Missouri will see the light too!

– Illinois. On Tuesday, April 14th, Duncan kicked off his nationwide “listening tour” in Chicago, saying “business as usual, to be clear, would basically eliminate Illinois from [Race the Top] competition” and citing funding inequity, a limit on the number of charter schools, and marginal efforts to police teacher quality as the biggest areas in need of change. In the wee of hours of June 1st, the Illinois state legislature answered Duncan’s call and ended its session by approving 45 new charter schools for Chicago, 5 of which would reserved for high school dropouts, and an additional 15 charter schools for the rest of the state. As a result, about 13,000 students now on charter school waiting lists or in otherwise low-performing schools will be enrolled in high-quality charters subject to stricter accountability requirements than other Illinois schools.

– Colorado. Gov. Bill Ritter took the unusual step of appointing Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien (a member of the DFER-Colorado advisory board) to serve as “Race To The Top Czar,” to make sure the state was positioned with enough progressive education policies to win the race outright.

– Tennessee. In late May, Duncan said Tennessee would “not be helping its chances” for Race to the Top funds if it continued arbitrary caps limiting the growth of charter schools. This set off a chain of events in which the state legislature held a special session and Democrats were freed to reverse their positions against charter school expansion from their leadership (and given a pass from the Tennessee Education Association), culminating in approval of charter school expansions in six school systems on a lopsided vote of 79-15.

– Rhode Island. On Monday, June 22 at a conference attended by thousands of charter school parents, teachers, and Administrators, Duncan said, in response to a question from the audience, that Rhode Island risked eligibility for Race to the Top funding if it continued to roadblock efforts to establish and equitably fund charter schools. On Friday June 26, just after 2 a.m. the Rhode Island legislature approved a final budget deal that fully restored funding for a system of “mayoral academies” that will serve students attending some of the lowest-performing schools in Providence. The first school, set to open this Fall, will be run by Democracy Prep, a Harlem charter operator. The lottery for slots will be held the first week of July.

– Connecticut. Duncan’s comments regarding Rhode Island rippled out to Connecticut, when on June 26, virtually simultaneous with Rhode Island’s action, Connecticut reversed its decision to cut charter school budgets, and moved toward an agreement that would fully restore charter school funding.

The victory was hailed not only by charter school advocates, but also by those who are working on behalf of statewide school reform efforts, like Alex Johnston, Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN): “The education reform movement in Connecticut is gratified that this budget averts the tragedy of half-completed public charter schools so that they can continue their work to close Connecticut’s largest-in-the-nation achievement gap.”

– Massachusetts. On Monday, June 29, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville announced that Gov. Deval Patrick will soon introduce legislation to lift the cap on charter schools in school districts in the lowest 10 percent on performance exams. Earlier this year Patrick said he was opposed to lifting the cap on the number of charter schools – proposing instead to increase spending on them in the lowest-performing districts.

– Louisiana. On Thursday, June 25, on the last day of Louisiana’s legislative session, Rep. Walt Leger III, a New Orleans Democrat, introduced legislation lifting the cap on charter schools. The state Education Department’s press release indicated that states that lift caps on charter schools will be viewed more favorably by the federal government in the Race To The Top.

– Indiana. The new state budget approved by the Legislature this week lifted the cap on charter schools and allows student performance to be used in teacher evaluations. Duncan had warned Indiana legislators that a failure to remove obstacles to reform, like charter caps, would jeopardize the state’s standing in the contest. These are encouraging developments.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cartel, the Movie

A new movie to be released soon demonstrates the many failures of the public education system in the U.S. "Cartel: A Feature Documentary on How American Public Education Serves Its Employees, Not Its Children" shows how the American public schools have been growing worse and worse.
"According to the U.S. Department of Education national testing, only 35% of American high school seniors are proficient in reading. And fewer than one-in-four, 23%, are proficient in math. On the global stage, America ranks last in educational effectiveness among large industrialized countries despite the highest spending per student in the world."
Check out to watch the trailer and read the many other destructing yet motivating facts about the US public school system.