Forget the D.C. pipedreams; from Utah to Maine, states showed their smarts this week
- President Obama's education budget proposal would boost federal spending, double down on Race to the Top, and create the RESPECT Project (seriously), a new $5 billion competitive grant program aimed at spurring states to reform teacher policies. The new competition has some appealing goals—tenure reform, pay-for-performance—but in the current budget crunch it’s politically DOA. Does all this posturing hint that the President gearing up to run on education?
- NCLB waivers may yet backfire. Maine and New Hampshire have already decided that the feds' hoops aren't worth the hassle and abandoned their application plans; how many others will follow suit?
- A Chicago charter network is taking heat for collecting almost $400 grand over the last couple years by fining students for behavioral infractions. To which we say: So what? Everyone in the school is there voluntarily, it’s got a great reputation for a strong culture, it’s under-funded by the state and city, and its academic results are stellar. Go find some other problem to solve.
- Lawmakers in several states are seriously considering holding back third-graders who can't pass state tests. More than a decade after Florida demonstrated the positive impact of such a policy, it’s about time.
- Brookings Institution’s Brown Center released its annual report on American education this morning; it was chockfull of provocative findings, including challenging the likely efficacy of the Common Core. If its author, Tom Loveless, wants to argue that standards alone won’t lead to increased student achievement, we’ll join right along with him. (Duh!) But as we’ll explain in more detail next week, rigorous standards are an essential building block for a comprehensive system of reform.
- Utah’s legislature is considering a bill that would tie secondary education funding to the student, not the school. This is exactly the kind of forward-thinking school finance structure needed to meet 21st-century student needs. Dilly-dallying with pilot programs would be a disappointment; here’s hoping the Beehive State goes big and creates a national model for school finance reform.
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