The Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Program (MTO), the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s twenty-year attempt at a real-life Pygmalion, has failed. The department experimentally relocated low-income families and children out of poverty-stricken areas and into ones populated by the middle class. Unfortunately, these children did not achieve better schooling results. As said by the journal Cityscape, “MTO’s effects on achievement and related schooling outcomes were disappointing, particularly among the youngest cohort of children.” The results, while disappointing, are no big shocker. This program takes an approach that is far too hands-off for comfort. Imagine Pygmalion’s Mr. Higgins asking Eliza Doolittle to come live in his house but neglecting to provide her with lessons in grammar or etiquette.
MTO provided 4,600 families in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York with housing vouchers and additional housing counseling to help them move out of impoverished neighborhoods. The goal of the program is to help these families “choose modestly priced private housing in neighborhoods that can offer ample educational, employment, and social opportunities.” But there is no guarantee that the schools in the new neighborhood will be much better or more affluent than the ones in the school districts they left. The Cityscape analysis found that the socioeconomic makeup of the schools to which the program moved children was still very similar to the schools in their old neighborhood; for example, youth in the control group, on average, attended schools
How are districts supposed to pay for all these new extracurricular options?
Photo by y.accesslab.
Let me acknowledge—sincerely—that I love wheelchair basketball. I would vote for candidates to public office who would provide funding for “inclusive athletics” and would be proud if my sons’ schools offered such programs to their special-needs students.
Yet it boggles my mind that the Obama Administration, without an ounce of public debate or deliberation, without an iota of Congressional authorization or approval, could declare by fiat that public schools nationwide must provide such programs or risk their federal education funding. Talk about executive overreach! Talk about a regulatory rampage! Talk about an enormous unfunded mandate!
At issue is the 1973 Rehabilitation Act’s insistence that public schools not discriminate against students with disabilities. Longstanding regulations clarify that this requirement applies to extracurricular activities, too. A 2010 Government Accountability Office report highlighted confusion in the field about what exactly was expected of schools, particularly with regards to participation in sports, and urged the Department of Education to clarify the issue by publishing new “guidance.”
This is what’s happened today. And some of that guidance (still not on the Department’s website, as far as I can tell) is pragmatic enough. Schools must allow “reasonable” accommodations for
Spanning a manageable 2,000 pages, this sixth edition of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ’s) annual teacher-policy yearbook focuses attention on states’ teacher-preparation policies (one of five areas tracked by NCTQ as part of this initiative). And, once again, NCTQ finds them wanting. Across the items investigated (including the rigor of admission requirements in teaching programs, student-teaching expectations, and accountability systems linked to the performance of prep programs’ alumni when they reach the classroom), the U.S. averages a D-plus. Only four states earn respectable marks (still a meager B-minus): Alabama, Florida, Indiana, and Tennessee. Three others (Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming) earn Fs. Looking closely at specific policies is even more depressing: Just three states (Indiana, Minnesota, and Tennessee) require high school teachers to pass content-area tests in their subjects without allowing loopholes (most of which are for math and science teachers). And Texas is the only state that norms its admissions exam to the general college-bound population (all others norm it to the prospective teaching population, setting a lower bar than for other college and university students). Still, NCTQ acknowledges that states are slowly moving in the right direction. In 2007, when the organization began scrutinizing these data, no state held its prep programs accountable for the quality of their graduates; today, eight do. And since 2011, fourteen states (including Ohio) have improved their teacher-preparation policies in some way. Kudos to NCTQ for continuing to spotlight one of
Our 37th president is largely persona non grata to the right—and worse to the left.
Photo from the National Archives.
We Republicans seldom miss an opportunity to point out that Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan are part of our pedigree.
Nods to Richard Nixon?
Not so much.
Because of the catastrophic ripples of the Watergate break-in, galling recordings from the Oval Office, and much more, our 37th president is largely persona non grata to the right and even worse to the left.
It seems that Mr. Nixon only receives even grudging appreciation in two instances. A “Nixon-goes-to-China moment” is now shorthand for a political leader’s courageously turning partisan expectations on their head for the public good.
Second, some progressives actually laud, even if reluctantly, his activist domestic policy agenda, including the creation of the EPA. (In fact, I had a liberal grad school professor in 2000 who would tell anyone willing to listen that he refused to vote for Gore—choosing Nader instead—because he couldn’t support anyone campaigning to the right of Nixon in 1972.)
My guess is that most readers simply clicked away from this post as soon as they read, “Richard Nixon.” Time is valuable, and his administration, defined by scandal, even 40-plus years hence, doesn’t merit the investment, they’d
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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