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

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The 100% Solution Is 100% Same Old Thing

The so-called "100% Solution" is a very clever strategy. Former Education Secretary Rod Paige had this to say about it in an op-ed in yesterday's NY Times:

"Our schools are failing our most at-risk students. Only 30 percent of eighth graders are 'proficient' or 'advanced' in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Math scores are nearly as bad. The No Child Left Behind Act is helping, by focusing attention on our neediest students, but it will succeed only if we recognize that certain children require more resources to educate than others."

Fairly enlightened thinking. It would seem that Hot Rod has learned a few things since he left the helm of ED to Maggie Spellings.

Indeed, if you read the first part of the proposal, you'd never believe that this came from the likes of Paige and Fordham. For example:

"Money alone does not explain the success of these schools. But high expectations and a rigorous commitment to fulfilling them, especially with disadvantaged children, costs money—more money than it takes to educate children who don't face the challenges of poverty or disability. Achievement for all students will require more time on task (meaning longer school days and years), and it will require excellent teachers. Our chances of meeting ambitious achievement goals for all children will be greatly enhanced if we allocate resources equitably to all students based on the resources needed to educate them. Despite clear evidence that some students require more resources than others, less money often flows to schools serving children who need these extra resources most."

Holy cow! Amazing, right??

But then the other shoes drop.

Shoe 1 - The argument for more funding for charters, i.e., that more money follow children to charter schools.

"(U)nder the antiquated school financing structures in place today, students who opt out of their assigned district schools are often opting into schools that receive lower levels of funding. One example of these disparities emerged in a recent Fordham Institute study of funding differences between public charter schools and district schools in 16 states and the District of Columbia. With just one exception, charter schools received less revenue than district schools, with the per-pupil funding gap ranging from 4.8 percent in New Mexico to 39.5 percent in South Carolina. In dollars, the gap ranged from $414 in North Carolina to $3,638 in Missouri."

Shoe 2 - More money follow kids to private schools. The argument for "choice" and private schools is in an endnote (#38) right here.

"Some signers of this proposal would extend the solutions and principles discussed here beyond public schools. They favor a system in which public dollars follow children on a weighted basis to all schools, including those operated under private auspices, so long as schools receiving such funds agree to be held publicly accountable for their academic results."

Old wine. New Bottles.
Smoke. Mirrors.
You know the drill.

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