- Center for Education Reform Newswire March 20, 2012
A weekly report on education news and commentary you won’t find anywhere else, spiced with a dash of irreverence, from the nation’s leading voice in school reform.
- Education’s Missing Apple: The Free Enterprise Solution? – Spotlight On Poverty
The problem is not that we lack models of excellence for serving low-income students, but rather that we lack a means of bringing those models to scale. Education reformers have spent the last half century searching for and trying to invent teaching methods and materials that would bring educational excellence to America’s poorest and most troubled neighborhoods. The assumption has been that once a recipe for success was demonstrated in one place, schools around the nation would inevitably adopt it, discarding their old, less effective practices. It hasn’t happened.
- Review & Outlook: School Reform’s Establishment Turn
The Council on Foreign Relations is the clubhouse of America’s establishment, a land of pinstripe suits and typically polite, status-quo thinking. Yet today CFR will publish a report that examines the national-security impact of America’s broken education system—and prescribes school choice as a primary antidote. Do you believe in miracles? American schools have several national-security duties, the report notes. Performance on all these fronts is grim. The military can’t tap the 25% of American kids who drop out of high school, and 30% of those who graduate can’t pass the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. The good news is that this grim data is helping to change the education debate, moving away from the dogma that fixing schools requires more money. Even excluding teacher pensions and other benefits, per-pupil spending today is more than three times what it was in 1960 (in 2008 dollars). The CFR reports says this “suggests a misallocation of resources and a lack of productivity-enhancing innovations. . . . U.S. elementary and secondary schools are not organized to promote competition, choice, and innovation—the factors that catalyze success in other U.S. sectors.” There are caveats. Beyond school choice, the task force also recommends that states adopt certain “common core” standards and expand them beyond reading and math to science, technology and foreign languages; and that Governors work with the feds to create a “national security readiness audit” of educational outcomes. The latter in particular sounds like a gimmick. Five members out of 30—including Ms. Weingarten, no surprise—offer dissenting views with familiar complaints that charter schools can’t grow “to scale” and that private vouchers undermine the ethos of common schooling. As if failing public schools don’t undermine far more. But the real story is how much progress the reform movement has made when pillars of the establishment are willing to endorse a choice movement that would have been too controversial even a few years ago.
- Proposed $722M schools budget would be a $48M increase
Metro Director of Schools Jesse Register has proposed a $722.4 million budget for the next fiscal year, a sizeable $48.3 million increase over current education spending to account for a combination of mandatory and proposed new expenditures. Register’s budget is the subject of a public hearing Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the district’s school board meeting room. From there, it goes before the nine-member school board for a vote on April 10 before budget hearings begin with Mayor Karl Dean’s administration.
- Senate Votes to Replace ‘No Child Left Behind’ Provisions | Tennessee Report
Tennessee Senators overwhelmingly approved legislation that officially gives No Child Left Behind the boot and gives teachers more leverage to banish unruly students to the principal’s office. SB2208 officially embraces a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education exempting Tennessee and nine other states from NCLB standards she called “unreasonably high proficiency targets.” Lawmakers also voted overwhelmingly, 31-0, to ban principals from returning disorderly students back to the classroom without the teachers’ permission. SB3122 requires all school districts to set policies for how principals deal with students exiled from class. At minimum, principals could not send students back to their teachers that same day without the instructors’ permission.