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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Duncan to America's Public Schools: Give Us What We Want Or You're Dead

There is a time bomb in your basement, and it is set to explode in 2014, maybe sooner.  Only two people have the ability to disarm it without it going off, and one of them is crazy and doesn't care if your house blows up with your children in it.  The other one offers to disarm the bomb if you and your family are willing to hand over a set of keys for him and his pals to do as they please at your house, whether its running your household to arranging the furniture, to deciding how you raise your kids, to deciding what you eat and put in your pantry.

So who are you going to deal with?  Do you want to lose everything or just lose your autonomy, your freedom, your soul?

This is the deal being offered now by the Gates and Broad Foundations through their "dummied-down" stooge, Arne Duncan.  Give your permission, public educators, for unlimited growth of segregated corporate welfare charter schools, sign up for evalutating your teachers to be deprofessionalized and evaluated by student test scores, pay the billionaire tech boys to stock you up with data systems for constant surveillance, monitoring and year-round testing, and dump your curriculum and instruction for the Bill Gates's national plan, and sure--Arne will come right down into your basement and make the ticking stop.  Otherwise?  Well, Arne knows how much you love your children and your job and your house.

From National Journal:
. . . Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Sunday that the administration is preparing a new set of regulations that will offer federal waivers to states that commit to certain education reforms. The regulations will give states relief from some of the more onerous requirements under No Child Left Behind while at the same time nudging them to adopt policies similar to those the administration has championed under its Race to the Top competitive grant program.

It’s a regulatory patch job for a problem that Congress is better equipped to solve. It also illustrates the sheer frustration of people in Washington who want to see policymaking in action but are stymied by the lack of willpower in Congress.

Education isn’t the only place where this is happening. A bipartisan, revenue-neutral aviation bill (you read that right—it means people in both parties agree, and it costs no taxpayer money) has been languishing on Capitol Hill all year and has endured 19 stopgap extensions since it expired in 2005. A six-year surface transportation bill is headed for the same fate, likely needing another extension at the end of September.

When it comes to education, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have given no indication that they will come even close to meeting Obama’s deadline in drafting—let alone passing—the complex law before they go home in August. The House and Senate education committees have been talking to each other for years about such a measure, but they have since stopped. It’s hard to get a clearer warning sign that the bill is going nowhere.

Even if lawmakers showed progress on a No Child Left Behind update (which also passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis), the bill could prove politically contentious if it touches sensitive sacred cows like vouchers, charter schools, or merit pay for teachers.

That leaves the administration scrambling for a regulatory scheme that accomplishes at least some of the same goals in updating the law. Even Duncan admits it’s not the perfect solution. “My top priority is to reauthorize No Child Left Behind through the legislative process,” Duncan said. On that point, at least, there is no disagreement with Congress. “I believe that the best way to address this issue is with legislation to fix No Child Left Behind and remain committed to that legislative approach,” said Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee ranking member Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Education Department officials say they are giving lawmakers fair warning. It will take a few months to finalize the waiver criteria for states, although it’s a safe bet that the standards will look a lot like the criteria for the Race to the Top program. In theory, Congress could get on the stick and pass something before then. . .

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