"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Maggie--You're doing a heckuva job!

The spirit (and management) of Brownie's FEMA lives on at ED. Here is a piece sent by Nancy Patterson that offers the perfect example of ED rhetoric vs. ED reality.

One of the latest pushes under NCLB is secondary literacy, and to address that the U.S. Department of Ed sent out a September request for grant proposals. The grant proposal for "Striving Readers" had to be submitted by school districts and had to be 60 pages long. Those districts interested in this funding were required to get an external evaluation of the reading program that was to be funded. So, school districts hoping to receive money from this grant (between 1 and 5 million dollars) had to produce 60 pages, including a large section of "scientifically rigorous" evaluation, develop a program that would be funded, and seek outside evaluators before the November 14 deadline. Ok. Not fun, but not impossible. However, the grant proposal had to be submitted electronically by 4:30 on November 14.

Unfortunately, it looks like the DOE could not handle the electronic submissions and schools trying to upload their proposals found that the submit button disappeared before the 4:30 deadline. And districts trying to get further information about the grant in the weeks prior to the deadline could not get help from the DOE. Individuals calling the DOE to ask about the Striving Readers Grant got a voice mail message saying that the voice mail was full.

Katherine Doherty at the DOE admitted to individuals at one school district that many districts had difficulty meeting the deadline because of computer glitches, although apparently she claimed the glitches did not originate at the DOE end. But if many districts were trying to upload at about the same time, which is par for the course when submitting a grant, and the DOE server couldn't handle the traffic, not everyone would be able to submit by the 4:30 deadline. Transmissions begun before the deadline would not have made it. And, in fact, they did not. The "submit" button for one urban district in Michigan was no longer available at the very moment (4:29) they were going to upload the grant request. And, of course, districts applying for the Striving Readers Grant would not be districts that had the strongest technology infrastructure.

Seems like the Department of Ed has once again left people behind, not only in its failure to address the realities of on-line grant submissions, but in meeting the needs of districts attempting to get clarification on the grant requirements. And their questions went unanswered weeks before the grant deadline because the DOE couldn't handle the calls.

Announcements about the Striving Readers grant recipients should be coming out in a few weeks. I wonder how many districts should be on that list but won't be because of DOE foul-ups.

Nancy Patterson, PhD
Literacy Studies Program Chair
College of Education
Grand Valley State University
patterna@gvsu.edu
http://faculty.gvsu.edu/patterna
Exposure of the incompetence, hypocrisy, collusion, and corruption at ED, the corporate media, and the "think tanks" (why do I think of the septic systems my dad used to install?) is one of the weapons we have to fight back the ed privatizers and the corporate socialists intent upon control of the American education system.

If you have documented stories that fit any of the above criteria, send them along to Schools Matter at the email address shown here.

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