The latest Education Next poll results are packed-full of interesting findings on topics ranging from choice to merit pay, from NCLB to tenure reform. But particularly timely, in this era of fiscal austerity, are new insights about the public's views on school budgets. And guess what: On education, like everything else, Americans don't want to make tough choices. They want to keep taxes low while boosting school spending. Sound familiar?
Let's start with taxes. Question 25a asked: ?Do you think that local taxes to fund public schools around the nation should increase, decrease, or stay about the same?? Sixty-five percent of the public wanted taxes to remain steady or drop. The numbers were a little lower for African Americans, Hispanics, and parents, but not by much. (Half of teachers even expressed this view.) Interestingly, even more people (73 percent of the public) opposed raising local taxes, even if they were to be targeted to local (instead of national) schools.
OK, Americans don't want higher taxes. So they must want school spending to remain flat, right? Wrong. Question 3b queried: ?Do you think that government funding for public schools in your district should increase, decrease, or stay about the same?? Here, 60 percent of the public wanted increased spending on their schools. (Not surprisingly, the numbers were even higher for teachers, parents, and minorities.) Granted, that sentiment softened significantly when respondents were told how much their local districts actually spend?it kicked
Education Sector is one of my favorite groups in K-12 policy, and not just because I have lots of friends who work there. Since its creation five years ago its analysts have produced a steady stream of thoughtful, thought-provoking papers and posts on the most important issues facing education policymakers today.
Which is why I can't understand why the organization continues to be so wrong about one of the most consequential developments in education today: The National Council on Teacher Quality's review of education schools nationwide.
First there was Chad Adelman (since promoted to the U.S. Department of Education), who complained that NCTQ's study wasn't focused enough on outcomes:
Absent some objective outcome measures, NCTQ will only be assessing inputs to teacher quality?. There will be no mechanism to determine if all of the box-checking that NCTQ will be assessing has actually produced effective teachers.
You don't say! As Chad acknowledges, NCTQ has been at the forefront of the push for states to collect value-added data linking ed schools with their graduates' results in the classroom. A handful of states are starting to do that. But what about the other 45+ states? Should NCTQ sit on its hands until the data become available? Isn't Chad's argument just one for giving the ed schools a pass?
Then, last week, Sarah Rosenberg asked whether ?anyone at home? really cares about this ?report card.?
NCTQ and its supporters believe that clear standards and transparent evaluation will encourage
Answering the phone falls into the wide range of duties I perform as the staff assistant here at Fordham. I've received some peculiar calls over my tenure, but perhaps none as hostile as one that came through today. I thought I'd share the paraphrased transcript:
Me: Thomas B. Fordham Institute, this is Chris
Female Caller: Hello. Are you the group doing the Education Idol event, or whatever it's called?
For those of you that weren't aware, the event she's referring to is the Education Reform Idol, an upcoming panel hosted by the Fordham Institute pitting representatives from Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin against one another in a battle to be named the ?Reformiest State of 2011,? (with the winner being determined by live audience and online vote). The conversation continued,
Me: Yes, Education Reform Idol, that's right. How may I help you?
Female Caller: I just wanted to tell you that your event is NOT the biggest education policy event this summer. That took place this past Saturday on the National Mall?
(referring to the Save Our Schools rally)
Me: Actually, our event is more about education policy?not a rally.
Female Caller: [Raises voice] Well I was there on Saturday and you all could learn an awful lot from what they were saying. I've been a teacher in New York for over twenty years and it's clear you
I talked for a bit last night with a DCPS teacher about IMPACT. While he expressed some concern about the system, he also said he was proof of it's effectiveness. See, he's a third-year elementary teacher at a struggling school in Northeast. He had twenty kids on IEPs in his class last year--which, along with the extra strife that caused in the classroom, meant hours of added administrative work. This spring, he got a job offer to teach at a school in a wealthy Virginia district--with a guarantee of no more than five IEP students per year and a significant salary bump.
He didn't take the deal. Why? Because he was ranked highly effective this past year and earned himself a $15,000 bonus through IMPACT. That bonus was enough to keep this quality new teacher in a classroom at a needy DCPS school. (A big deal when you note that the trajectory of so many strong teachers is to "put in their time" at an urban school and then slide over to a cushy job in a suburban district, draining our cities of teacher talent.)
So on that front, IMPACT seems to be working.
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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