Education reform comes home: the state of the states

'Twas the day before the State of the Union, and all through the House, not an educator was stirring, not even a teacher union louse...

We shall see tomorrow night, but this is already looking to be the Year of the Education Governor. With NCLB being pummeled from left and right
and Race to the Top in suspended inanimation, the feds seem unusually quiet, if
not on the run.

In an essay this morning in The
Hill,
Juan
Williams
, who is hosting a new video documentary about how Chicago mayor
Rahm Emanuel is “risking his political life by fighting the city’s teachers’
union to improve schools,” says “there is little urgency [about education
reform] in the halls of Congress.”

And New York Times education columnist Michael
Winerip
, also this morning, calls attention to the incredibly difficult
work of figuring out how to evaluate the 175,000 teachers in New York State,
79 percent of the state's total teacher population, who will be subject to the new RTTT-driven
rules. He points out that the state education department, its budget slashed by
40 percent in the last few years, won’t be able to do much, according to state
commissioner John King, except “provide guidance and models.” Concludes
Winerip, “the ultimate responsibility for monitoring would be left to
principals, superintendents and school boards.”

Kathleen explored the
implementation challenges
for the Common Core last week, remaining
cautiously optimistic that “states are taking CCSS implementation seriously and
that they are working to reorient their education systems to the new
standards.”

The point seems to be that, ready or not, education reform is coming
back to the states.

I’ve
covered
Andrew Cuomo’s bold moves in New
York. And RiShawn
Biddle
is of the opinion that governors can make a difference: “No matter
what happens, Cuomo is showing, as outgoing colleague Mitch Daniels has done in
Indiana, that
governors without direct oversight of education can actually foster and sustain
reform.”

Here is a quick list of links to some of what the nation’s governors
are saying about education:

  • Louisiana.
    Bobby Jindal is shaking things up in the Bayou State.
    See Biddle’s essay referenced above and his State of the State address here.
    (Also, here.)
  • Florida. Rick Scott called for $1 billion more in education funds in his State of the State
    address.
  • Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback proposed
    giving high schools $1,000
    credit
    for every student who earns a technical education certificate.
  • California. In his State of the State address, former “Governor
    Moonbeam” Jerry Brown, facing a huge budget deficit, called for reducing
    standardized testing and the federal and state role in local education.
  • Wisconsin. Scott Walker proposed ed reforms focused on teacher
    evaluation and improving literacy skills, but his attentions may be turned
    to winning a recall vote.

It promises to be an exciting year.

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