The 50-state strategy [to ensure equitable distribution of effective teachers] should have been started 12 years ago. [The new waiver renewal guidance is] disappointing, and it sends a message that it's not at the top of their agenda. -- EdTrust's Kate Tromble in EdWeek (Civil Rights Groups Wary on Waiver-Renewal Guidelines
Going to the PIE Policy Summit in Boston later this month? Me, too -- finally. Not invited? Too bad, it's invite-only and I had to bother them for months to get invited. Not already registered? Tough luck. It's sold out.
Then again, the event is off the record so it's not like I can tweet out whatever juicy tidbits I find without specific approval. All the more reason to come up and say hello if you're there. I'm hoping to learn a lot.
Doing publicity for his new film, Elsyium, actor and celebrity school reform critic Matt Damon revealed to the Guardian that he couldn't find a public school that was progressive enough in LA and was sending his kids to private school.
"Sending our kids in my family to private school was a big, big, big deal. And it was a giant family discussion. But it was a circular conversation, really, because ultimately we don't have a choice. I mean, I pay for a private education and I'm trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It's unfair." Damon has campaigned against teachers' pay being pegged to children's test results: "So we agitate about those things, and try to change them, and try to change the policy, but you know, it's a tough one."
Conservatives outlets like Brietbart.com picked up the tidbit and slammed Damon for hypocrisy. Damon defenders defended Damon, or said it didn't matter, etc. Image via Breitbart.
I don't think there are a lot of things I would have done differently, other than maybe put the budget caps on earlier, which meant Delaware and Tennessee got more money than maybe one would have liked to have seen. - Joanne Weiss, soon-departing Chief of Staff to EdSec Duncan (in EdWeek)
Heading over to the Bloomberg Philanthropies-sponsored reception to start the NewSchools Venture Fund education summit, I thought there was no time like the present to update you on my progress figuring out the ins and outs of outside spending on local school board elections like that being done by NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
As you may recall, Bloomberg and others have been giving funds to various local school board candidates over the past few years, either directly to the candidates or via an independent expenditure committee. The funding is intended to provide a counterbalance to union contributions, local and otherwise, and is entirely legal but raises lots of issues when it is so new and novel (for a school board race) and also when it comes from outside the city or state where the race is taking place.
My issue is not with the campaign contributions themselves, which are perfectly legal, or even with the need for a counterbalance to union power in low turnout events. The AFT spent $1M to get rid of Adrien Fenty, and the CTA spent $300K to block board members favorable to former San Diego superintendent Alan Bersin.
My question is whether the funding is worth the blowback, and whether reform advocates like Bloomberg (and DFER, and StudentsFirst) will ever figure out a way to tell their story and give their money without spending all their time defending themselves. I also want to know how much of it is out there, on both sides.
It's not just reform critics and professional opponents who are seeking to define Michelle Rhee's school reform advocacy as predominantly right-leaning and Republican -- and so far at least StudentsFirst seems to be going along with it.
There's no argument that some of the organization's biggest funders like the Walton Family Foundation have Republican roots, or that Rhee will work with Republicans to get policy priorities moved ahead.
But increasingly, mainstream media press accounts of StudentsFirst are describing StudentsFirst's political advocacy (campaign endorsements and contributions) as Republican, too.
The latest example is today's LA Times piece: "Nationwide, StudentsFirst has overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates, because they best match its policy platform."
The first part of that sentence is where I'm confused. (About the second half of the sentence, I'd observe that only Rhee's support for the trigger and vouchers -- and her willingness to work across the aisle -- mark her as anything other than a mainstream Democrat.)
The question about Rhee's endorsements and contributions first started coming up for me last Fall, when readers started noting that SF's endorsees in Florida were Republican (See Eighty Candidates Endorsed By StudentsFirst). It came up again after the general election when I was trying to tally the advocacy groups' performance (See So How'd The Advocacy Groups Do?*).
More recently, StudentsFirst keeps telling me that endorsements are one thing, campaign contributions are another. But so far, at least, they've not provided any documentation about the direct contributions and superPAC contributions in the states they're involved with. All we have are lists of endorsements, which do indeed skew Republican.
The reason I've been asking is that my own limited experience with StudentsFirst and campaign contributions is that they're mostly Democratic. This includes giving to LAUSD school board candidates, and trying to get Brian Johnson and others elected. (See CA StudentsFirst Candidate Squeaks Through*).
Is the press getting this wrong and falling for an attack that isn't accurate, or am I just working off of incomplete information?
This post is mostly just an excuse to use the Washington Post's parent trigger image (a riff on the famous "Easy" button from Staples), and to link to some recent stories on LA School Report. But it's also a chance to rebut Valerie Strauss's highly selective and inaccurate post about the parent trigger, which ignores all the career Democrats who are involved with and support the trigger and bypasses the latest events in Los Angeles where the trigger is being used in interesting new ways that don't involve lawsuits or ousting school board members.
There were lots of interesting tidbits thrown out during the Yale School of Management education summit session on mobilization, and no shortage of quips from panelists including Jeremiah Kittredge and Derrell Bradford, Kristen Wiegand, and Derwin Sisnett (moderated by Suzanne Tacheny Kubach).
Some of the topics that were touched on included the power of storytelling, the difference between mobilizing a community and engaging or organizing it for the long run, the struggle to mesh what advocates want and what low-income communities can and should do. You should really skip the rest of this post and just start listening at the 5 minute mark where the session begins (WS600022).
But the conversation at the end about the parent trigger was to me fascinating, revealing differences among organizers in terms of how they view the trigger, even as they admire its power and pull.
"The best hook anybody has found is parent trigger," said Kittredge -- even as he listed its flaws. "There's no better piece of persuasion to get people to come back out than the concept of parent trigger."
Curious about how the parent trigger is evolving in Los Angeles and nationwide? Here's the audio from a Friday morning panel at Yale University on the parent trigger featuring Parent Trigger's Ben Austin and former state Senator Gloria Romero, who authored the controversial law, along with the Fordham Foundation's Adam Emerson and moderator Andy Rotherham.
The most interesting tidbits include Austin's description of how the 24th Street parents came up with the idea of having LAUSD and a charter school operator share control of the school -- and how the mere threat of a trigger has persuaded teachers at some schools to approach parents about making changes -- and Emerson's description of how civil rights groups in Florida have come out strongly against the trigger idea there -- a sharp contrast to their role in favor of the trigger legislation in California. [Cross-posted from LA School Report]
It's hard for me not to think education when the topic of same-sex marriage comes up. I mean, Secretary Duncan practically made President Obama revise his position on the issue, and thereby won the 2012 campaign (right?). What more do you need?
It's a connection I've been making on and off since last year: More Lessons From The 2012 Gay Equality Campaign; Learning From The Gay Rights ...; How Vouchers Are Like Same-Sex Marriage; In Defense Of Arne ("Same-Sex") Duncan; Duncan Gets Ambushed
However, the connections only go so far, according to Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who in this new post (What can education reformers learn from the gay rights movement?) says it's understandable that folks like me (are there others?) want to make the connection but that school reform is more comparable to health care reform than a social/rights issue that doesn't cost money or have as many immediate programmatic concerns. (I'm paraphrasing.)
Petrilli's right that the same-sex/school reform comparison is a stretch -- that is sort of the point -- and education and health care are more readily conceived and compared in relation to each other. However, I'm not sure that this is always or necessarily the case.
If and when the current programmatic, policy-focused attempts to improve public education have run their course for good or ill, I can imagine a return to a more rights-focused approach to school reform, centered around parental rights or the right to equal treatment.
School integration was to my simplistic understanding fueled by a focus on student rights. The private school voucher issue is already discussed in terms of rights and equity. Law enforcement actions against parents seeking better education for their children brings up some of the same issues.
Related posts: Same-Sex Marriage Cases Hold Implications for Schools EdWeek
This is a story by LA School Report contributor Hillel Aron:
The Coalition for School Reform has been running TV ads and hitting voters with a blizzard of glossy flyers.
But — having closely lost 2011′s big-money campaign between Bennett Kayser and Luis Sanchez — the reform-oriented campaign committee is also taking its field organization very seriously.
“These campaigns are, in many instances, won and lost in the field,” said Sean Clegg, the Coalition’s political consultant. “And the Coalition for School Reform has put together a state-of-the-art field program that is really zeroing in on our voters with pinpoint accuracy.”
To run its 2013 field campaign, the Coalition has hired a firm called 50+1 Strategies, headed by former Obama campaign operative Adissu Demissie, who’s bringing some high-tech tools and techniques to the familiar process of walking streets, knocking on doors, and making phone calls.
“We’re really running a very data-driven, metrics-based, technologically advanced field campaign,” said Demissie, who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 “get-out-the-vote” campaign in Ohio. ”We’re trying to talk to the right people in the right way.”
Read the rest of the story here.
For a long time, gay marriage was nearly unthinkable. Then it went down in defeat 31 times in a row -- including 2008's massive failure in California (Proposition 8). Advocates couldn't agree on what to focus on, or who should lead.
Four years later, however, gay marriage laws are being passed in bunches (Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota), the Democratic candidate for President of the United States felt it was politically advantageous to announce his support, Congress might reverse DOMA, and tthe Supreme Court might overturn the California law.
What can education advocates learn from recent successes of the gay rights campaign? Here are some of the preliminary answers I got out of this Atlantic Magazine article (Inside This Year's Epic Campaign for Gay Equality). Maybe you'll find more or different.
You need a single, dedicated national organization able to operate across multiple states and multiple election cycles (in the case of gay marriage, it was a small outfit called Freedom to Marry). You need a tireless but not ego-driven leader who's willing to herd the cats and let the issue be the star (in this case, someone you've never heard of named Evan Wolfson). And -- this may be the hardest part for reform proponents and opponents to grasp -- you need to pick an issue that unites the diverse coalition of interested parties who are prone to disagreement, research the most compelling emotional rather than intellectual appeals, and then force everyone to keep working together even when they want to spin off in different directions.
He's not the head of a reform organization, or an elected figure, or a foundation officer. He's not even really an education guy, and actually sort of looks like one of my favorite MMA fighters. But folks in and around the education world often mention Bradley Tusk (top left) for the work he does helping reform groups get their message out. Somehow, I've never done a post about him.
A former campaign manager for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tusk has been mentioned in several past education news pieces, including this one from the NYT in 2010, this one from New York Magazine in 2011, this Washington DC City Paper sidebar [from which this image is taken] and a slew of mentions at GothamSchools. Before founding Tusk Strategies, he also did stints working for Chuck Schumer and Rod Blagojevich.
According to his website (Education Reform), Tusk has had enormous successes working on "some of the most innovative and successful education reform initiatives across the country," including ERN (aka DFER), NBC News (aka Education Nation), StudentsFirst (aka Michelle Rhee), the Partnership for Education in Newark (aka Zuckerland), and Success Charter Network (aka Eva Moskowitz).
Whether he does a good job or not is up for debate, as with most things. I get the sense that he's expensive, and not truly an education specialist. No problem with that -- there are lots of non-education conultants and strategists opererating in EducationLand™ -- including on the left, where folks like Kombiz Lavasany work for AFT. That can be a good thing, given the quality dropoff or lack of quality alternatives. There isn't really any political shop that specializes in education exclusively that I can think of -- at least not yet.
Last week I told you about the substantive differences between pro-reform Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and pro-teacher Betsy Butler (Showdown In Santa Monica). Over the weekend, I found out that it wasn't just the teachers unions fighting to protect Butler, the incumbent. The California Democratic Party joined in paying for negative flyers against Bloom. Yep, the California Democrats, who are closely allied with the teachers unions.
Endorsements between Democratic candidates are pretty common. We know from recent news accounts that teachers unions sometimes fund anti-charter candidates even if they're Tea Party Republicans. Still, this kind of friendly fire isn't common, according to FireDogLake writer David Dayen, who has been carefully following these races: “As far as I know, the negative attacks against non-endorsed Democrats didn’t happen beyond the Bloom-Butler race.” Read all about it here: Dems. Joined Attack On Bloom
I've asked StudentsFirst and DFER whether they were involved in helping Bloom fend off Butler, and asked CalDems whether there were other examples where they felt it necessary to go beyond endorsing one candidate over another.
I know this makes me a sentimental geek, and I have issues with at least some of the policies they all pursued, but I thought it was great to see the last four education secretaries together onstage earlier this week at Education Nation. (Riley's chair should have been a little higher than the others' given he served two terms, no?) Courtesy NBC News.
What to name an ed reform super PAC?:
2pac for urban youth
PAC to Class
Pick your favorite or suggest your own idea. Thanks to Ken Libby@kenmlibby, Stephen Sawchuk @TeacherBeat, Rachael Brown @rachaelbrown, Jacob W @skepticspol, Alpa @teawithsoccer, and others for their contributions. The good ones are theirs, the bad ones are mine. *Reposted from after hours last night, in case you missed it.
My favorite response to the piece so far has been Craig Jerald's observation that he proposed something like the empty chairs on the Mall that was done last week by the College Board's "Don't Forget Ed" campaign (" This reminded me of a stunt I pitched while I was with ED in 08 but couldn't get permission to do.") Seems like that was par for the course. He's at @breakthecurve.
Andy Rotherham admonished that the lack of education debate this time around doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the absence of a campaign to promote education issues. ("Someone needs explanation of correlation & causation.")
Education researcher Kevin Kosar said he'd liked the way the piece showed that "Big money does not equal policy efficacy." (@kevinkosar)
Mike Klonsky called me the "new favorite of AEI. Extreme right-wing group with racist history." @mikeklonsky)
Thanks for the feedback, critical and otherwise. Keep it coming here or on Twitter. (Haven't read it yet? It's 18 pages here.)
Lots of people have asked when the next installment is going to appear, and I'm happy to say that there are at least a couple more in the works -- one about some important and generally misunderstood dynamics that took shape during the NCLB debate and continue to the present, and the other about some new variations on reform that reform refugees and others are trying around the country.
On January 15, 2012, veteran education researcher Craig Jerald was feeling a little frustrated by the lack of discussion about education in the Republican primary debates. So he logged into his Twitter account to vent to his four hundred–plus followers:
“Presidential debate moderators have mostly ignored education. Anyone miss ED in ’08 now???”
ED in ’08 (Education in 2008) was an effort to make education a big part of the 2008 presidential campaign—to make the candidates take education seriously and talk about it during debates and on the campaign stump. Four years later, most others remembered it as a costly failure, if they remembered it at all. It didn’t take long for longtime thinktanker Andy (“Eduwonk”) Rotherham to respond to Jerald’s tweet:
“OK, but what’s a good price per question? Those were expensive.”
The largest single-issue advocacy campaign in the history of education reform, ED in '08 was shuttered after just sixteen months and written off by outside observers and the funders themselves. Rotherham was referring to the mere twenty education-related questions that moderators had asked the candidates in 2007 and 2008.
Heading into the 2012 campaign season, no one gave any serious thought to repeating the experiment. And yet, education advocacy organizations very much like ED in ’08 have proliferated in the years following the 2008 elections, as has philanthropic support for political advocacy. The Obama administration’s education priorities have resembled those pushed by ED in ’08 in several key regards. And, as Jerald noted, the 2012 campaign has been thus far devoid of much substantive discussion about education reform.
“At the time, it seemed irrelevant. Though in retrospect it may have set the groundwork. Little did we know.”
That's the opening to my new report on ED in '08, just out from AEI (here).
Here's a chart from the CT Mirror showing how the non-nion spending on education advocacy (in red) has gone up, and in 2010 advocates outspent unions by a good chunk, but it's not like it's ever been an unfair fight in terms of dollars:
Reform critics are not just helpless parents and teachers crying in the wilderness, though sometimes they seem to believe that is so.
Over all, I find Joanne Barkan’s latest Dissent piece (Hired Guns) to be an overly familiar, frustratingly misleading read -- much less original and interesting than the previous stories she's put out.
Her main premise, that school reformers have gone political, is nothing new at this point. The same is true for most of her main points: Jonah Edelman at Aspen, again? Michelle Rhee being aggressive, again? The unproven nature of RTTT reforms, again? The lack of accountability for nonprofit foundations, again? The fall 2011 Denver school board election, again? Reformers are many of them white and well-educated and arrogant, again? These are all things you’ve read here and elsewhere (ad neauseam) going back months if not years.
Most troubling of all is that in her new piece Barkan (pictured) presents a misleading, misguided, and perhaps even hypocritical vision of how education and democracy are supposed to work. I don't think it's fair to reformers (not that they need me to defend them) or particularly helpful to those who are critical of reform efforts.
Resistance to federal power is now a progressive rallying cry in education. -- Robert Gordon, Class Struggle, The New Republic, 2005
It's not easy to get anything that feels like a complete picture of the current advo-political landscape these days, in education or more broadly. The rules have changed, the organizations are new and named confusingly, and the money is pouring in from everywhere (much of it undisclosed). But some things are becoming clearer. Lots of left-leaning publications are seeking to bring to light the growth and spread of conservative, big-business, and Tea Party money in the American political system -- just as they should be doing (see Mother Jones here). And lots of center- and right-leaning publications understandably like to share details about labor spending (especially when it doesn't seem to have helped). Philanthrogeeks like Lucy Bernholz, who pointed me to the Mother Jones story in a recent blog post, go a little bit farther and describe the connections between political advocacy and social advocacy in an age in which some nonprofits are focusing on political advocacy to help their causes or being created solely for advocacy purposes. In this new world Bernholz describes, foundations and people with lots of money are being asked to choose between three basic options: funding programs and services (so '90s!), funding issue-based advocacy efforts (so 2008!), and partisan/ideological initiatives paid for through traditional channels like the DNC and RNC or new SuperPACs like Priorities USA on the left or American Crossroads on the right (so 2010!). Nonprofit development directors who once had only to compete with each other for money now have to compete with advocacy efforts and political SuperPACs. She calls it the new social economy.
#sosmarch "Teachers in the summer are just lazy and doing nothing anyway. They're just living off the huge salaries and pensions that they suck out of the taxpayers, leaving Wall Street fatcats with very little bonus money." Also Matt Damon here.
Folks remain deeply divided over Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to send his kids to private school and the outburst that occurred when asked about the decision. Some tidbits: Emanuel refused to apologize to the reporter afterward. Lab School is unionized, unlike most other private schools in the nation. Other local and national leaders (Daley, Cristie, et al) have gotten something of a pass for sending their kids to parochial schools. (By that token, Emanuel should have sent his kids to St. Ignatius, the top Catholic school in the city, even though he and his family are Jewish. There is no elite Jewish high school in Chicago.) A roundup below. AP photo via WBEZ
In what many observers describe as a nod to wealthy political patrons like Penny Pritzker, mayor-elect Emanual says he wants more all-girls schools in Chicago despite the reality that the one such school in the city is far from a shining light (Emanuel glosses over academic stats, Emanuel promises expansion of all-girl CPS charter high school). In a bit of what might be described as payback for the teachers union not having supported him in his election efforts, Emanuel says he wants longer school days and extra pay (Rahm Emanuel warns unions about changes ) or he'll support strike limitations in Springfield.
The Chicago Tribune notes that three out of four citizen want an elected school board but they're probably not going to get one since none of the frontrunners supports the move (Schools will be major test for next mayor) and it's not a mayoral call anyway. Meantime, a student-created video slamming frontrunner Rahm Emanuel for claiming that most of the best high schools in the city are charters made it to the Huffington Post (Rahm Emanuel Hit On School Policy). And there's a hilarious and obscene fake Emanuel twitter feed that's got over 22,000 followers ( NSFW here).
"Remember, it's not enough to say what's great about mac 'n' cheese. We've got to go negative on tuna noodle casserole." (From this week's New Yorker)
The things people will do and say to win public office. In an effort to make himself more relatable during a forum of candidates for mayor of Chicago -- a place where school violence means getting shot or beaten going to or from school -- front-runner candidate Rahm Emanuel, raised in the leafy suburbs north of Chicago, claimed to have been physically bullied and the victim of racial slurs for his dark skin -- and had to bring in his taller brother Ari to defend him. Or maybe it was the tights? Seriously -- someone should check this story out. I'm not claiming there's no truth to it but still... it has all the trappings of being overblown. Either that or he needs to make an "It Gets Better" video.
What's the main obstacle to reforming our schools? In Illinois, it's the threat of a strike, apparently. That's the gist of fast-track reform legislation that has the AFT alarmed enough to send out an email urging legislators to oppose it (and the state supe asking for a slowdown). What's the big deal? The legislation (PDF draft here courtesy of State School News) includes pretty much every reformy idea out there: revamping tenure, layoff, and certification rules, plus the strike ban. The editorial page at the Chicago Tribune says "This Could Be Something Special." Labor Notes reports that several of the legislators behind the proposal just received big bucks from Stand For Children. The legislation could get wrapped into a massive bill cutting spending and raising taxes and passed as soon as January 11.
Wow, there are some mightily peeved progressives out there right now, chewing on the White House for going along with hundreds of billions in tax cut extensions for a measly unemployment insurance extension. CAP's Matt Miller weighs in with a Washington Post column noting that the money would have been better spent on better teachers (Tax cuts for the rich, or better teachers in schools?): "The showdown could have been between "the new generation of teachers America needs to compete" vs. "lower taxes for the top," says Miller. Alas, we just spent more than $100 billion on school reform (Stimulus plus SIG plus edujobs) and nothing like that seems likely to come along again anytime soon -- especially if the money we just spent ends up seeming like it went down the drain.
His eligibility to be a mayoral candidate remains up in the air, but former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel still won't commit to sending his kids to public schools if elected mayor of Chicago: Emanuel won't commit to public school for his kids: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wants to increase teacher training programs but says he won't commit to sending his kids to public schools if he's elected mayor of Chicago... Rahm Emanuel Undecided On Whether Kids Will Attend Public Schools AP: Emanuel said Tuesday that's a decision he and his wife will make. His comments came after a news conference where he talked about doubling the number of teacher training academies. [Word in Chicago is that he's planning on sending his kids to Latin.]
One of several conversations going on right now about the current political malaise involves the issue of elitism -- Democratic elitism, in particular (Democrats Have an 'Intellectual Elitism' Problem Atlantic Wire). Though not focused on education politics in particular, it's a relevant question to consider in light of recent setbacks and controversies (the departures of Rhee & Klein, the appointment of Cathie Black, the Waiting For Superman debacle). There's no doubt that education activists, especially the reformy kind, need to engage with teachers, parents, and other non-elites better than they have over the past couple of years. Right now it seems like they're being destroyed by bloggers like Valerie Strauss and critics like Diane Ravitch, who's become the Sarah Palin / Glenn Beck / Julian Assange of the left.
So what can Democrats learn from Bennet? Can they copy it? Mostly, no. - Slate's David Weigel
Last week, Geoff Canada was in Chicago talking about Stand For Children's effort to get the charter caps lifted in Illinois (see here). Next week's he's doing a November 30 event in Denver with Secretary Spellings that's part of the Chamber's 12-city tour to promote Superman. I'm sure he's also networking and recruiting funders, but still I worry about Canada being used to sell agendas that aren't entirely overlapping with his core mission and hope HCZ has a very good COO and CAO who are doing good work while Canada schmoozes. (Does he?)
Whtiney Tilson says that DFER has hired CA State Senator (D-East LA and Senate education committee chair) Gloria Romero to lead the expansion of DFER to California. "Launched in 2007, DFER has active chapters in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Colorado, with others on the way. The organization pushes to make Democratic politicians more active participants in efforts to dramatically improve public schools for students." Add the states where Stand For Children has established outpots and you've got quite a handful of states with pro-charter PACs. How they did in 2010 and how they'll fare in 2012 I have no idea. Presser attached.
Passaic NJ has now suspended an award-winning special education teacher for telling the story of a colleague who used a racial slur to address a student but didn't get in all that much trouble -- effectively paying a greater price for recounting a story (that seemed to disgust her) than the person who actually spoke the racial slur to students in school. Her remarks were caught on tape and uploaded onto YouTube by the folks who did the ACORN videos last year, presented as an expose of the NJEA called "Teachers Unions Gone Wild" that includes footage from a recent leadership conference. Read all about it at GOOD (here). There's lots of rough language -- you've been warned! -- plus annoying steel drum music and voiceover. There's also an interesting tidbit where a union member brags about slipping in changes to the state's RTTT application / legislation.
There's apparently not much about NCLB in the new Bush book out this week, but now's as good as any other time to remember some of what people were thinking way back then when the law first came out. Two of my favorite articles about the law are Nick Lemann's New Yorker piece "Testing Limits" (here) and James Traub's NYT Sunday Magazine "Test Mess" piece about the pushback against annual testing and disaggregated test data (here). But you know that already -- I mention these articles all the time. What do YOU think were the best / most influential articles about NCLB that others should read as we head into what could be (probably not) the reauthorization of the next version of the law?
Previous post: What's Bush Got To Say About NCLB?
Last week's disclosure that MSNB's Keith Olbermann -- and Fox's Joe Scarborough -- had previously undisclosed campaign donations has become Washington's lastest tempest in a teapot, following closely on the NPR Juan Williams / Nina Totenberg debacle -- but it's as good a time as any to ponder the question of how me we know or don't know about the folks we trust to give us the education news and commentary -- print reporters, broadcast folks and regular pundits. Traditionally most fulltime journalists are required not to participate in campaigns (NPR recently told its staff not to go to the Stewart/Colbert rally) but that may not be true for broadcast folks, nonprofit journalists, and pundits. I'm asking around for whether the rules have changed, and what they should be for the new breed of bloggers/ nonprofit journos / pundits / advocates like Hechinger, GothamSchools, Rotherham, etc. My sense is that transparency is better than an outright ban on campaign giving. If you know the guy talking to you gave money to Pelosi or Boehner or whomever then you can make your own call on whether there's credibility there or not. [NB: I didn't give money to anyone.]
The Washington Post's Nick Anderson tried hard to get Hill leaders to say something about education reform but doesn't have much to work with besides Melody Barnes blowing smoke about how important NCLB is to the Obama administration and Jack Jennings saying a polite version of "not gonna happen." The post-election bipartisan momentum story is one we've heard a hundred times before -- usually wishful thinking or an effort to spin or get onto the front page. As often happens, the story doesn't live up to the headline (and the reality's probably even more dim and uncertain than the story being told here). Chances of the Republicans giving Obama a win on a major domestic issue seem pretty small -- Boehner wouldn't allow it even if Kline was all for it. Unless I'm totally wrong and it happens next week.
Pass some time taking this online survey about Waiting For Superman [#wfs] that's being conducted by the Harmony Institute (presumably on behalf of Paramount or Participant Media) and tell them what you thought of the film. My favorite question was #16, where you're asked to rate the kids (Bianca, Anthony, Francisco, Emily, and Daisy) and their parents in terms of their likability.
Via Whitney Tilson's email blast [email@example.com]
Following up on a Progress Illinois story from a few weeks ago that described the impact of Stand For Children's campaign giving in nine state races (including support for three Republican candidates), the Wall Street Journal's Stephanie Banchero reports that SFC and DFER combined are operating in several states and have generated a whopping $3.5 million on donations this cycle. It sounds like a lot until you find out that the teachers unions have spent about $24 million and remember that there's so much new mystery money in this race (thanks, Citizens United).
“When Democrats win people are using the hope side of their brain, when Republicans win, people are using the lizard side of their brain.” - Joe Scarborough confronting Arianna Huffington on Morning Joe
#dfer #edujobs #rttt There's lots of talk out there on the campaign trail about how "broken" Washington is but not much if anything about if and how our education policy development process might be flawed beyond repair or just within reach of fixing. One reason is that Congress hasn't done much on education lately, or at least since the first flurry that created ARRA and RTTT. Committee folks who've been working on fixes to NCLB have been sitting on their hands for nearly three years now since Miller last toted out a possible bill. Another is that education isn't a big campaign issue. We'll know more when we see the final outcome of the for profit regulations fight that's going on, and when the next budget and appropriations cycles take place. There will be politicking aplenty, that's for for sure. A Republican-run House of Representatives might want to look hard at the Stimulus implementation or even more so at "edujobs." But what we still don't know is how the White House and USDE will deal with Hill Dems and Republicans during a real legislative battle, or how hard relatively newish outside groups like DFER and Stand For Children and the Gates lobbying folks will want to play, and frankly whether they're going to be any good at it.
Here's the profoundly disturbing fixed-grin photo of NJ Gov Chris Cristie, Oprah Winfrey, Cory Booker, and the Facebook guy (Mark Zuckerburg) accompanying this WSJ article rehashing the fight between Cristie and the teachers union (and making a big bolt-on deal out of his supposed presidential ambitions). What makes it interesting is the thought that, in a post Michelle Rhee world, Cristie is reformers' unchosen new champion -- their loudest voice against the status quo, etc. Awkward, no, to be tied to a big blustering white guy -- even if the other side might sort of wish him dead. On the other hand, it may take a Republican to do what reform Democrats want done. Or at least someone who's still going to be in office not too long from now.
Differences in the quality of in-school experiences can explain about one-third of the differences in achievement. -- Richard Rothstein
Stand For Children is joining DFER in finding centrist Dems and Republicans state-level races in places like Illinois where it recently doled out more than half a million dollars to nine candidates (six of them Democrats) according to this Progress Illinois story (A New Player In State Education Politics). The Illinois chapter of SFC joins Advance Illinois, an advocacy shop set up recently to do statewide policy work. Illinois didn't get RTTT but that hasn't stopped folks there from pushing on reforms. Meanwhile, the state's being accused of watering down its state assessments year after year in order to make scores look better.
Maybe it's the looming midterms or the increasingly overheated and ridiculous rhetoric but there are at least a handful of things that suggest maybe the Democratic party has decided against an all-out civil war over school reform: (1) There's the announced labor-management relations summit in early 2011. (2) The profile of Randi Weingarten in the NYT which notably includes no harsh attacks from top officials. (3) The elevation of the term "war on teachers" in the WSJ. (4) The miserable box office returns for WFS compared to Jackass and the Facebook movie. Or, perhaps the inspirtation was sworn enemies Colbert and Stewart burying their differences and combining forces for their upcoming Fear/Sanity rally.