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

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A much better way to help education budgets

Posted on LA Times blog: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/03/do-not-post-until-okd-by-jason-songbeth-shuster.html

"Race to the Top was a way for the Obama administration to pressure school districts to take on reforms -- if they had the political will to do so."

This is not correct. Race to the Top (RTTT) is not about "reforms," it is about imposing more standards and tests on children who are already over-tested, while ignoring the real problems in education. The districts and unions who refused to go along with RTTT were the ones with the "political will" to do the right thing: they chose to protect children from an ill-conceived and expensive plan.

If California wants the extra money, they should consider dumping the High School Exit Exam. Analyst Jo Ann Behm has calculated that this exam costs California about 600 million per year, and research shows that such exams have no positive effects. They do not lead to higher employment, higher earnings, or improved academic achievement.

Qualifying for RTTT would give California a one-time payment of 700 million. Dumping the exam would save 600 million every year.

Stephen Krashen

March 4, 2010
California misses out on federal education funds
California was not selected as one of the finalists for a $4.35-billion competitive school-reform grant program, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Officials in the state were notified early Thursday morning.
California legislators, like lawmakers in other states, amended and wrote laws to qualify for a portion of the Race to the Top funding. These included several controversial proposals, including linking teachers' performance to their students' test scores. States were judged on a 500-point scale that examined the applicants' commitment to various reforms, including implementing more sophisticated data systems to track student progress and intervening in low-performing schools.
Several states, including Texas, did not apply for the first round of funding.
California could have received up to $700 million, according to federal officials.
It is unclear why California was not selected, but some experts were pessimistic about the state's chances because fewer than half of school districts and teachers unions agreed to sign an agreement requiring them to abide by the reforms.
The 16 finalists are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.
California can apply for a second phase of funding this summer.
Race to the Top was a way for the Obama administration to pressure school districts to take on reforms -- if they had the political will to do so. Budget cuts to education led many states to make changes to become eligible for the federal dollars.
-- Jason Song and Howard Blume

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