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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Five Billion for Bribes

From the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary Arne Duncan says schools must make drastic changes to get money from a special $5 billion fund in the economic stimulus bill.

"We're going to reward those states and those districts that are willing to challenge the status quo and get dramatically better," Duncan said Monday at the White House.

Those who keep doing the same old thing, however, won't be eligible for the money, he said. . . .
Remarkably, the $5 billion fund Duncan is salivating over was originally a $15 billion dollar prize. The House stimulus package was changed in the Senate, where it was cut to $7.5 billion and, finally, $5 billion.

Also, the $5 billion is more like $4.25 billion for State incentives. Another $650 million is open for any of the charter chains, provided they have connections to an outside source of funding willing to match any grants from this stash (this started off as only $350 million in the first House version, then increased in the Senate). Of course, this rules out almost everything but the KIPP, TFA, NLNS, Alliance, Green Dot crowd. Is this a handout straight to the Gates/Broad/Walton crowd? Gates is down $18 billion but pledging to up the giving; I'm not sure about Broad; and Wal-mart is posting seriously strong numbers in the economic crunch. Just to add a little more fuel to the fire, check out today's EdWeek story about the number of Gates people working for Duncan.

Jim Shelton not only worked for Gates, he co-started LearnNow, a for-profit education enterprise that was sold to Chris Whittle's Edison group. If Chris Whittle thinks you're running a business worth buying, you definitely have a different view of education than we do.

Ken Libby

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