Monday, February 1, 2010

NY Times: Administration Outlines Proposed Changes to ‘No Child’ Law

This from the NY Times:
The Obama administration said on Monday that it would ask Congress to raise education spending by about $3.5 billion, a 7.5 percent increase, for the 2011 fiscal year, even as it sought to limit other categories of domestic spending.

In outlining its budget request, the administration also said it would seek an extensive rewrite of the main federal law governing public schools, known as No Child Left Behind, and would seek to replace the law’s much-criticized system for rating schools based on student test scores.

The administration proposed replacing that system, known as adequate yearly progress, with a new accountability system that officials said would more fairly characterize schools’ academic progress.

“We want accountability reforms that factor in student growth, progress in closing achievement gaps, proficiency towards college and career-ready standards, high school graduation and college enrollment rates,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in announcing the proposed changes. “We know that’s a lot to track, but if we want to be smarter about accountability, more fair to students and teachers and more effective in the classroom, we need to look at all of these factors.”

The administration asked for $49.7 billion in discretionary spending increases for the Department of Education for the 2011 fiscal year, up from $46.2 billion in the current year. Those figures do not include mandatory spending on programs that require no annual Congressional appropriation, a category that includes Pell grants for college students. The administration’s budget includes an additional $34.9 billion request for Pell grants.

A total of $1.3 billion of the additional money requested for the department would finance a third round of Race to the Top, a competitive school improvement grant program. The department said the rest of the increase, about $2.2 billion, would go toward, among other things, efforts intended to intervene in failing schools, encouragement of charter schools and programs for teacher recruiting and training.

About 40 states are competing in the first round of Race to the Top, and a second round begins this year. Congress has approved $4 billion to finance those two rounds.

The adequate yearly progress system issues the equivalent of a pass-fail report card for every school each year. Critics say the system fails to differentiate among chaotic, chronically failing schools, those that are helping low-scoring students improve, and better-scoring schools that may, nonetheless, be failing to help raise some students’ achievement.

Read the full story


  1. Race to the Top is many things. Among those things the promotion of charters has the most far reaching consequences. According to this article RTTT funding is increasing and that is an affirmation for charter promoters. The charter debate has yet to make it's way to SFUSD in the fashion that it has in LA. Log into the LAUSD and SFUSD homepage to see the difference in the way the two districts approach the issue.

  2. I think that because SFUSD has more successful schools, there isn't a market for charters the way there is in LA. But we've had our share of combustion on the issue. You missed the really explosive charter debates, Don -- Edison Schools in 2001 and Urban Pioneer in 2003.

  3. California races to the bottom....

  4. As an aside to RttT, thanks Caroline for all your work towards balance in charter school reporting and in the debate on-line, especially now that you are closing your Examiner blog. The efforts you made to expose the shenanigans among certain corporate charters was necessary important and I can appreciate the strength you showed in sticking to your guns.

    The fundamental question is not how academically competitive are the 6,000 or so charter schools at this relatively early stage in their evolution, though that is an important question, - it is whether the public school industry should function as a sole provider? That is to say, should public education be a monopoly or should it be diversified and regulated?

    It's clear that federal and state policy is leaning more in the direction of diversification (privatization), despite the President's liberal credentials. At the same time it is disturbing not to see an emphasis on increasing regulation of the newcomers so that the standards that are being imposed, whether we like them or not, are applied equitably. We shouldn't have to argue which schools are increasing achievement and which are not. We have to play by the same rules and make all schools accountable, traditional and charter.

    I'm for opening the doors of public education to the vitality of ideas afforded by the private sector and to provide more choice for parents. But we want those choices to be quality ones and, with equal importance, we want to make sure that educators are treated and compensated in the manner they deserve as unparalleled advocates for children. It is essential that, as the charter movement grows, it is held to the highest standards of accountability. It is also somewhat heartening to see the for-profit operators on the decline while the non-profits gain traction. That is a good trend.

    It is my belief that boards ought to be the primary authorizers rather than having charters approved by the SBE on appeal. I say this because I believe, first, that decision-making is better closer to those served by it and, second, district boards are relatively less likely to be influenced by charter lobbying. If the trigger legislation does take off in SF as it is destined to in LA, we must be sure that the charters we authorize are true partners of our district and the children they serve.

  5. I'm still not convinced that the Parent Trigger will have any success, in the absence of, well, incentives (unrelated to their actual views and desires)for parents to sign "dismantle my school" petitions.

    In New York City, the waves of school closures implemented by Mayor Bloomberg are incredibly unpopular, even though these are schools described (including by the press, without quotation marks) as failing. More than 2,000 protesters jammed into a meeting last week at which Bloomberg's school panel voted to shut 19 more schools, with 350 speakers opposing the closures at a meeting that ran from 6 p.m. to after 3 a.m. Parents are not asking to have their kids' schools shut down or outsourced -- they're fighting to keep them open.

    (In one sadly emblematic note, the Paul Robeson High School is being closed and replaced by the Carl Icahn Charter School. If anyone is not 100% clear on whom those two schools are named after, please look them up on Wikipedia and weep.)

    I know this is New York, but it could be all of us next.

    Here's one alt-press account of the issue and the protest:

    And here's one 5-minute snippet, with hundreds of outraged parents and students booing Bloomberg's school director, Joel Klein:

  6. I hate to disagree with Caroline, but I have family in New York City with kids in school there and, yes there are folks upset about closures, but there is much more excitement about all the possibilities that Bloomberg and Klein have created with the approach of "let a thousand new ideas bloom." Bloomberg and Klein have seen the obvious -- these schools are failing -- and they are opening up the floodgates to millions of different ideas for new schools. Last night on Frontline, for example, there was a show about the new Digital Age, and several NYC schools were profiled for their cutting edge approaches to bringing computers into the classroom. Watching the show about those schools, I couldn't help but say -- why isn't that happening here in SF? Yes, some school closings are putting people out, but NYC is embarked on a noble effort to create successful public schools where there was only failure before. I wish SFUSD would at least take some stabs at looking at some of the ideas that are being floated in the NYC experiments!

  7. Well, my perspective is shaped by the contacts I have in NYC, but I have to wonder how any of us would feel if it was our kids' school. Bloomberg has closed 91 schools, which is not chopped liver -- including some that he was praising as successful not long before.

    At the same time, I guess everyone else can learn from it when one district takes a radical approach like that -- we can watch from afar and see what the results are. In NYC the focus is closing schools; in D.C. it's currently putting the onus on teachers and principals, and firing a lot of them; in LAUSD, there are some serious efforts to pull the "parent trigger." And of course New Orleans is also relying heavily on replacing regular public schools with charters.

    As for cutting-edge approaches, one of the things my many New York contacts complain about is the fact that money is being poured into the newly opened schools, for things like cutting-edge digital approaches -- while the old schools are left deprived and starved. Obviously, it would be wonderful to be able to afford that here in SF, but we allknow what the situation is.

    Also, there are lots of education advocates in NYC who would disagree with a statement that there was "only failure" in their schools previously.