Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released an analysis of the federal School Improvement Grants program, which invests in persistently underperforming schools with the expectation that they will turn around. The early results of its most recent $3-billion infusion? “Mixed.”
And yesterday, we were joined by three leading voices on urban schooling for a full-on SIG Smackdown: the Department of Education's Carmel Martin, Bellwether Education and Fordham edu-wonk Andy Smarick, and former Chicago schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.
Checker is punchy this AM--he's already jabbed fed, state, AND local govt. efficiency #SIGSmackdown— Fordham Institute (@educationgadfly) December 17, 2012
Carmel boarded the carousel first, making the claim that the SIG program has the potential to turn schools around—if we give it more time:
Carmel Martin: I view the SIG program with pragmatic realism--cautious optimism #SIGSmackdown— Fordham Institute (@educationgadfly) December 17, 2012
.@educationgadfly: I'm curious for Carmel's take on the new SIG models that were proposed under the Senate ESEA renewal bill.— Politics K-12 (@PoliticsK12) December 17, 2012
Martin pre-rebuts @smarick: Charters need to be a part of the solution, but can't
Commanding General Tommy Franks didn’t appreciate that military action is one thread of an intricate tapestry.
Photo by djwhelan via photopin cc.
I had planned to write about the Atlantic Monthly’s valedictory interview with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg because of its interesting edu-tidbits. But the magazine’s article on the performance of U.S. generals over the last decade is haunting me. I think it has far more important lessons for our sector.
In “General Failure,” Thomas Ricks argues that the American military leaders in charge of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan performed far more poorly than the public has been led to believe.
There’s much for ed reformers to take away from Ricks’ analysis—the importance of holding executives accountable, the lurking dangers when those on the ground are disconnected from those in policy positions, etc.
But what I found most illuminating—and foreboding—is the author’s discussion of the tragic consequences when leaders are unable to discern the difference between tactics and strategy, activities and systems, the short-term and long-term.
For example, Ricks argues that Commanding General Tommy Franks didn’t appreciate that military action is one thread of an intricate tapestry. The general “fundamentally misunderstood generalship, which at its topmost levels must link military action to political results.”
Franks did not, in Ricks’ estimation,
What does right-to-work mean for teacher unions?
Photo from the Washington Post.
It’s been merely a month since Michigan voters defeated Proposal 1; if passed, it would have amended the state constitution to permanently protect the unions’ right to collect agency fees. And the state legislature wasted no time at all, approving legislation yesterday that officially makes Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation—an astounding turn of events in a former bastion of collective bargaining. So what does this mean for teacher unions?
First off, Michigan teachers will still have the right to unionize and bargain collectively. Contrary to popular misconception, collective-bargaining rights and right-to-work laws are not the same thing. In a nutshell, there are three important parts of public-sector labor law: First, collective bargaining rights dictate whether employers must, may, or cannot recognize an employee organization as a union. Teachers are always free to organize no matter in which state they teach, but in Michigan—as in thirty other states—if employees want to negotiate a binding contract (also called a collective-bargaining agreement, or CBA) with their employer, the employer must recognize them as a union and enter into a CBA. (Fourteen states leave the decision up to the district, and five states prohibit collective bargaining in
This afternoon, Sec. Duncan announced the winners of RTTT-D. The results are quite surprising.* Though the official announcement is noticeably devoid of both specifics and overarching themes, four things jump out immediately.
While some of the nation’s largest urban districts made the 61-member finalist list, virtually none of them won.
The first is that while some of the nation’s largest urban districts made the 61-member finalist list, virtually none of them won: Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Nashville, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, and St. Louis all came up short. (Miami is the lone representative of big-city school systems.)
This is a bit puzzling because large districts generally fare well in these grant competitions. They have more central-office staff to task with grant-writing, they can more easily raise private funds, and so on.
It is conspicuous that they got boxed out.
Some might argue that, assuming scale is among our considerations, their exclusion from the winner’s circle is lamentable. They serve many students, so the types of changes envisioned by this grant would have touched more kids had these big urbans won.
The counter argument, of course, is that city districts get plenty of money and attention as is, so no one should cry them a river for losing. Moreover, if the lessons of these grants are ultimately disseminated widely and adopted elsewhere, the same kind of scale can be accomplished, though over a longer period of time.
Smaller districts, consortia, and charters did quite well.
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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