Fordham Institute President Chester Finn, has an interesting op-ed in the NY Daily News today. He writes about the prospect of teacher layoffs in NYC due to budget woes. I'll highlight a few of his points here.
Finn says no one likes to see teachers lose their jobs, since most are ?hardworking, committed, decent individuals who care about kids.? He notes, however, that salaries and benefits constitute at least 70% of every school system budget, and most of those paychecks go to teachers, so it's nearly impossible to attempt serious budget cuts without looking in that direction.
If layoffs do have to happen, much hinges on which teachers are let go, Finn warns. Classroom effectiveness ?should be the main criterion,? he writes.
He also writes that when it comes to the issue of class size, ?there is no persuasive evidence that smaller classes yield higher student achievement. Class size doesn't begin to compare with teacher effectiveness.?
Finn says much more. Get the full picture by reading the piece here.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is a new name in education circles, but not to me. Having lived in the state my whole life, I proudly supported him from the days his popular, ?One Tough Nerd,? ads started popping on TV in early 2010. In the August primaries he pulled a shocking upset and went on to win the general election by a landslide. But since taking office, his efforts to erase deficits through drastic budget cuts have left him a villainous figure to many Michiganders. These are many of the same people you hear decrying his new education plan. By introducing these reforms while trimming the state's K-12 education budget by 4%, Snyder is hoping to do more with less. Personally, I couldn't be more in favor of the breath of fresh air he's blowing into the Michigan education system, but there's a lot more at play.
Snyder's plans, while promising, will take time to enact; schools, on the other hand, must act on his budget restrictions immediately. In Michigan, a state where union membership is mandatory for public school teachers, archaic ?last hired ? first fired? policies are still controlling who gets laid off. By not addressing collective bargaining, Snyder's education cutbacks will end up dealing an unintended blow: the jobs of young teachers. I know this because it could
This morning, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released our ESEA Briefing Book. The report serves two purposes: First, to provide helpful background for reporters, analysts, and even hill staffers following the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka, No Child Left Behind). Hence, we identify 10 of the key issues that Congress must resolve to get a bill across the finish line, and offer the major options on the table (and their pros and cons) for each one.
The second purpose is to offer our own recommendations, in line with what we've been calling "Reform Realism" for two years now. Reform Realism--a pro-school-reform orientation that is also realistic about what the federal government can (and cannot) do well in K-12 education--entails three main principles:
?Tight-loose? ? Greater national clarity about our goals and expectations for students (i.e., standards linked to real-world demands of college and career), but much greater flexibility around how states, communities, and schools actually get their students there.
Transparency instead of Accountability ? Results-based accountability in education is vital, but it can't successfully be imposed from Washington. Instead, Uncle Sam should ensure that our education system's results?and finances?are transparent to the public, to parents, to local and state officials (and voters), and, of course, to educators.
Incentives over Mandates ?When Uncle Sam seeks to promote specific reforms in education, he should do so through carrots rather
Recent pieces by Jay Greene and Kevin Carey serve as effective bookends on the current ESEA debate picking up steam in Congress. They both appear to dislike the ?tight-loose? formulation to federal policymaking that was first championed by Fordham and is now heralded by Secretary Duncan and others?though of course for opposite reasons.
Let's start with Jay. In a witty and amusing blog post yesterday, he proposed a drinking game for readers of Fordham's new ESEA proposal, due out next week. (Clearly Jay has seen it?or at least heard about it?or else simply knows us very well.) From Jay's post:
Tight-Loose ? The Fordham folks will say that they favor being tight on the ends of education, but loose on the means. ?Never mind?that dictating the ends with a national set of standards, curriculum, and assessments will necessarily dictate much of the means. ?My instruction for the drinking game is that every time you see the phrase ?tight-loose? you can take a shot of your choice. ?We are loose about the means but tight on the requirement that you numb yourself to this edu-babble.
Let me give you a little hint: If you play this game, you will get very, very drunk indeed.
But I'm at a loss for why the concept of ?tight-loose? strikes Jay as so preposterous. Try this: Start by looking at the list of potential mandates that Congress could attach to federal Title I funding in the
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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