For much of the summer, we’ve been handicapping the future of Race to the Top and which states are going to be the beneficiaries of the $4.35 billion honeypot. As of this morning, more than 1,500 comments and suggestions have officially be submitted with regard to the draft regs. To date, the media highlight has been the statement issued by the National Education Association, making clear that effective teaching needs to focus on good, well-supported teachers. As noted last week, Eduflack was most taken by the remarks jointly submitted by EdTrust, DFER, CAP, and EEP, which provided a broad-brush approach to many of the issues keeping us up at night.
For months now, Eduflack has been asked the same question from a growing group of education policy observers and a great many of those who are looking to get out of the stands and into the game. The question focuses on why a number of groups have been relatively silent on issues like the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Race to the Top, and other new funding streams coming out of the U.S. Department of Education.
The news broke overnight. U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy passed away last night, after a courageous battle against brain cancer. A fighter to the very end, the senior senator from Massachusetts spent his final week focused on the people of the Bay State and of the entire United States, lobbying to ensure that Massachusetts would have two votes in the U.S. Senate after his passing, fighting for the governor to have the right to appoint a temporary replacement for the Senate seat until a special election could be held. Most appropriately, the story of Kennedy’s passing can be found in the Boston Globe here.
According to The Washington Post, 37,000 students are expected to start in DC Public Schools today. That number is down 17 percent from those who ended the year back in June, and it falls about 17 percent short of the 44,681 DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee has been targeting for the 2009-2010 academic year (and the number on which this year’s budget is based). The full story can be found here.
In our zeal to find out which states have the inside track with regard to Race to the Top (and the good folks over at EdWeek’s Politics K-12 blog have given us the list of the 15 states getting a quarter million from Gates to “help” with their applications, providing the most inside of inside tracks) we seem to have lost sight of the Gates Foundation’s big plans for a “deep dive” into school district-based professional development and teacher support.
Over the weekend, Eduflack was fortunate enough to break from the mugginess of our nation’s capital to enjoy the mugginess of the capital of the world — New York City. After a busy and tough summer, I was fortunate enough to take in my fourth Mets game at Citi Field, this time preceded by the opportunity to be down on that perfect brown dirt and beautiful green grass, with my Fred Flintstone feet touching the same hallowed ground as my beloved New York Mets (before they all took to the DL this year). I even got to meet David Wright, a great treat (though odd since he is a few years younger than my youngest sister).
In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of attention with regard to firewalls and the linkages between the evaluation of teachers and the achievement of students. The current draft criteria for Race to the Top proclaims that states must be able to use student performance data from their respective state assessments, crosswalking it back to the classroom to determine which teachers have been effective (and which have not). In a new era of teacher incentives and merit pay, the trickledown of federal law will soon demand that good teachers “show” their effectiveness, and that there is no stronger measure for it than how well their students achieve.
;Parental involvement. Principal and administrator support. All play a role in driving student achievement and ultimately closing the achievement gap. How do all get factored into the formula that student achievement plus teacher incentives equals effective educators?
Politics, and education reform, do indeed make strange bedfellows. When the Education Equality Project launched last year, many were left scratching their heads with regard to the Rev. Al Sharpton and NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein teaming up to improve the quality and results of our nation’s public schools. Since then, their list of signatories reads like a who’s who in both Democratic politics and education reform circles, including many leading urban mayors and superintendents.
I too want to see these proposals succeed, but I also know that if support is merely on the surface, real change will never take hold once good ideas are moved into status quo implementation and decisions are made that leave many states and districts in the cold when it comes to new innovation money. Are we playing for the love of the game, or will pay to play take effect, with SEAs and LEAs quickly losing interest when there isn’t a U.S. Treasury check there to reward their “loyalty?”
The drumbeat toward reform continues. Wisconsin’s Democratic governor is now calling for changes to the state law to tear down the firewall preventing the tie between teachers and student achievement. Indiana continues its push to “reform” teacher certification, with the state superintendent looking to more fully embrace the alternative certification pathways advocated by the U.S. Department of Education and its Race to the Top guidance. Even states like New York and California are looking for ways to show they are “reformers” and not the status quoers they have long been known as.
e child advocates and proponents for local control? Where are our defenders of the status quo and of the whole child? Where are our critics of “high-stakes” tests and federal mandates? Where are our doubting Thomases and cynical Samanthas?