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NCLB: Reporters, Advocates, Respond to Obama Proposal

Educationx-largeHard to get all that excited about the Administration's NCLB replacement proposal, aka "the blueprint" or the "college- and career-ready" act, though I have to admit being curious and having nothing better to do than read over the coverage so far. As usual, initial coverage is all about reporters madly trying to understand and explain something new on a short deadline (and get good quotes), and advocates and bloggers positioning themselves to their best advantage (and give good quotes).  Some of it's pretty yawny.  Or maybe that's just me.  But there are a couple of errors or mis-statements slipping in already, it seems. 

Reactions, interesting and otherwise:  The NEA head slams the proposal in every outlet he can get to quote him (Education groups vary in response to White House plan).  Ditto Weingarten.  Mike Petrilli at Fordham mis-steps in going with an obscure old man blind elephant metaphor rather than something more zippy and immediately graspable.  The Ed Trust's Amy Wilkins seems to be the Duncan team's go-to supporter, besides Miller (Obama promise: Brighter education futures for kids).  However Rep. Kline, Miller's counterpart, is mad about the removal of choice and SES from the mix (Administration Unveils ESEA Renewal Blueprint).  Less expected is former Clinton official Chris Edley's criticism of the new plan on civil rights grounds in the New York Times (Obama Calls for Major Change in Education Law). 

Coverage, right and wrong:  The new rating system doesn't seem all that much more nuanced than the old one, which as you'll recall included several different categories of school improvement based on how long a school had missed AYP.  "High performing" is the new "makes AYP" despite the Administration's efforts to make it seem different (Duncan wants 3 ratings for schools in education overhaul) The $4 billion request for additional funding seems like not that much of a deal, since requests and authorizing language aren't commitments to secure real dollars. And getting rid of the 2014 deadline doesn't mean much until we know what the new college and career ready goals mean and look like.  The new proposal isn't all that much of a break from the old one, much as Duncan et al would like to make it seem so.  Just because they say it is....


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Public education in America is in dire need of real reform, not another round of punitive tinkering. Our system was designed to produce factory workers, and since we have very few factories left in the U.S.A., we might want to consider an update designed to fill our real needs. If that new design focuses first on how to make school relevant to the largest number of students, then there might actually be some hope.

Not every kid is going to go to college, but they are all going to be adults. Let our schools teach them how to read as part of a program that teaches them how to be productive citizens, how to earn a living, how to have a voice in their government. Let them learn math as it applies to their interests: music, mechanics, money and finances — all have the capacity to foster a sense of relevancy for both math and reading.
Let’s prepare our students to be responsible adults, and while we’re at it, let’s revisit the best means to promote real learning (not test scoring). Let’s apply what we know to be true: parents and teachers are important, but the most important influence on a student’s learning is their peer group. Increasing relevancy for more students is the quick route to a virtuous circle of ascent for all.

Some students will be small business owners, and others will be mechanics. They will be teachers and politicians and nurses, and they will be carpenters and actors and clerks. Some will be scientists and others engineers, but they won’t all need to be college graduates.

America needs people to fill a wide variety of occupations, why not do everything we can to match them with their vocation. Academics have driven the objectives for education for far too long. It’s time for our society to step up and demand the reform we need to overhaul public education and serve the real needs of our country.

Dave has some great points, however what is missing is funding for the career and technical education (CTE). Florida did away with the extra weighting for students enrolled in CTE many years ago. It takes the extra funds for these programs to buy the materials for carpentry, the latest technology for business education, and the list goes on. While there has been a move to link CTE with industry certification testing (a good thing), the cost of one test for a business student can be around $300 dollars. Maybe we could use that as a realworld and relavent problem for the aspiring accountant or school finance director to figure out?

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