Education Gadfly Weekly
Volume 11, Number 31
August 11, 2011
Opinion + Analysis
Indiana is America's Education Reform Idol
And one reformer to rule them all
Lessons from 2011's Education Reform Idol
If you support Common Core, oppose Arne Duncan's "waivers"
Arnius Duncanus is at it again
We can't predict the future
We can teach the essentials
Sock it to the kids
And your total bill for public school comes to...
There's more than one way to save a middle class
Technical education, anyone?
Teacher Characteristics and Student Achievement: Evidence from Teach For America
They could be onto something here
Mapping State Proficiency Standards onto the NAEP Scales: Variation and Change in State Standards for Reading and Mathematics, 2005-2009
State proficiency rates: Still misleading
I Used to Think???And Now I Think???
Well, the same thing
Real-life Breaking Bad
Mike and Rick get down to brass tacks on Duncan?s waivers and Wisconsin?s recall elections before making wagers on Education Reform Idol 2011. Amber maps state proficiency cut scores (again) and Chris calls out a principal who wishes he was on ?Breaking Bad.?
August 11, 2011
Editor’s Note: This morning, Fordham hosted Education Reform Idol 2011—an event that pitted Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin against each other to see which state made the most legislative gains in this year’s session. The debate was lively and the contestants compelling. But only one could emerge victorious. The following (which originally appeared on Fordham’s Flypaper blog) was written by the 2011 Ed Reform Idol trophy-holder, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. Indiana’s reforms have been about competition, freedom, and accountability. But most importantly, they’ve stayed focused on implementation: In the five weeks since the program began, over 2,500 low-income students have gained access to schools of their choice. And there’s no stopping this superstar state. As Bennett explained during the contest, “you can bet your life we’re not finished.”
Curious as to where the other states stand on education reform? Hear from the contestants from second-place Illinois, third-place Florida, and the joint fourth-place states Ohio and Wisconsin—or check out the research that members of the Fordham team have done regarding advancements made on the school-choice, teacher-effectiveness, and collective-bargaining and pension-reform fronts.
In what has been a monumental year in education reform for many states, Indiana has seen the most impactful and far reaching reforms passed and enacted. No one has been more successful in providing a more comprehensive reform plan for a system that is failing America’s children. The Indiana General Assembly passed and Governor Daniels signed legislation expanding high-quality charter
Michael J. Petrilli / August 11, 2011
It was hardly a surprise that Indiana took home the Education Reform Idol trophy today. Pundits from across the ideological spectrum have lauded the Hoosier State for its comprehensive reforms enacted this spring—including a best-in-the-nation teacher bill, an expansive private-school-choice program, and a serious effort at collective-bargaining and benefits reform.
But why 2011? Mitch Daniels has been in office since 2005; Tony Bennett since 2009. While they haven’t been twiddling their thumbs (last year, Bennett enacted new regulations revamping teacher professional development, for instance), legislators didn’t get religion on reform until now. How come?
The answer is obvious: the 2010 elections, which gave Indiana Republicans control of the House and a super-majority in the Senate. The same thing happened in Ohio, where the House and governor’s office both switched from blue to red. Big GOP victories in Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and other states led to similar dynamics. Though it’s not an ironclad law, it’s still generally true that when Republicans take power, reforms take root.
This point might be obvious, but it bears repeating, because so much of the energy within the reform movement today is about moving Democratic legislators toward more reform-friendly positions. That’s certainly worthwhile, and the work of groups like Democrats for Education Reform and Stand for Children deserve support and encouragement. But let’s not be naïve: Getting rank and file Dems to buck their union patrons is a quixotic quest. Asking Republicans to embrace significant reform is a no-brainer. That’s why most of
Michael J. Petrilli / August 11, 2011
Unmoved by pleas that he “first do no harm” when it comes to worthwhile reforms like the Common Core State Standards Initiative, Arnius Duncanus seems compelled to attach mandates to his forthcoming NCLB waivers that will require adoption of the standards nonetheless. (Of course, his team won’t mention the Common Core by name, but everybody knows that’s what he’s talking about when he calls for “college and career-ready” expectations.)
Duncan says that he doesn’t want to be tone-deaf to state officials’ concerns about No Child Left Behind proficiency mandates. Fair enough. But then why choose to be so tone-deaf to the politics around the Common Core?
I once heard Arne talking about winning gracefully. That’s what’s called for now. Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core. Most are deeply engaged in developing assessments related to the standards. During the past legislative session, no state backed out: Proponents of the Common Core have won a great victory. The only possible outcome of Secretary Duncan putting more federal pressure on the holdout states to adopt the CCSS is to stoke the fires of conservative backlash—and to lose many of the states that have already signed on.
Walk away from this one, Mr. Secretary. Please, those of us who support the Common Core are begging you.
|Click to listen to commentary
Kathleen Porter-Magee / August 11, 2011
Every so often educators and reformers think, if we’re educating kids for the future, we need to do a better job of adapting our education system to meet the needs of tomorrow. That our education systems needs to, in some sense, “get with the times” so that we can better serve our students today. The latest argument to that effect comes from a book (Now You See It: How the Brain of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn) written by Cathy N. Davidson and a related blog post by Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times. In her piece, Heffernan argues that “fully 65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet…For those two-thirds of grade-school kids, if for no one else, it’s high time we redesigned American education.”And so, because today’s students will be doing things that we can’t imagine, we need to rethink the kinds of work we’re assigning today: including research papers, which Heffernan argues have outlived their usefulness.
Thing is, we’re no better at predicting what today’s elementary students will be doing in twenty years than Hanna-Barbera was at depicting twenty-first century life in the Jetsons. Our job as educators is not to hitch our wagons to the latest education fad
August 11, 2011
Bullying isn’t just a problem amongst students at your local middle school. Too often, when states and districts find themselves in a financially strapped space (a reality from Atlantic to Pacific), they pass along the suffering to students and families. In California, for example, recent legislation has unilaterally barred teacher layoffs for the 2011-12 school year. In order to mitigate the burden that this will place on already cash-strapped districts, the law will allow them to shorten the school year by seven days—over a week of instructional time. Districts in Illinois (and other states) have taken another route—though one equally detrimental to kids: Pushing costs onto students by charging fees for textbooks, extracurriculars, even required classes like English and physical education. (Some families are writing checks to the tune of $600-plus per child.) This meme may seem repetitive to the avid Gadfly reader, but it bears repeating: There are alternative ways to stretch that school dollar—ones that don’t harm the individuals for which the system exists in the first place.