Friday, September 23, 2011

SFGate: Obama: Education reform aimed at raising standards

This from SFGate:
Decrying the state of American education, President Barack Obama on Friday said states will get unprecedented freedom to waive basic elements of the sweeping Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, calling it an admirable but flawed effort that has hurt students instead of helping them.

Obama's announcement could fundamentally affect the education of tens of millions of children. It will allow states to scrap the requirement that all children must show they are proficient in reading and math by 2014 — a cornerstone of the law — if states meet conditions designed to better prepare and test students.

And the president took a shot at Congress, saying his executive action was needed only because lawmakers have not stepped in to improve the law for years.

"Congress hasn't been able to do it. So I will," Obama said. "Our kids only get one shot at a decent education."
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  1. Obama has more than supported NCLB. He has expanded it dramatically, upping the anty on many of its programs by providing competitive grants to implement the four turnaround models. Now 3 years later he says education is too important not to scrap many of the law's provisions? If it is so important to reform it why did he spend three years pumping it up with huge grants and why didn't he just change it then by executive order as he is now doing? Why is he blaming Congress for not changing NCLB when his administration was its biggest supporter? In fact I never heard a word from him about wanting to scrap large protions of the bill until now. The only thing he wanted to change was the name so he would not be connected to Bush.

    So why the change now? Because supporting NCLB was a convenient pretext to use stimulus (ARRA) money to keep teachers (his base) employed. Now that that money's gone he's singing another tune.

    I am all in favor of scrapping this monstrosity. It should have been done long ago.

  2. We need testing, we need charters. We need to shake things up. It hasn't happened. 95% of public education is the status quo. Under the current contracts, drastic change is impossible. Maybe letting each district decide will allowfor more innovation and we can later decide what works. I predict whoever focuses most on work ethic will achieve the most. It's not rocket science.

  3. I'm all for change, but NCLB is not it. Change from on high means the federal government deciding what states should do. The more centralized the system the less money for kids. The feds have no business in education. Why should they tax us and then hold a gun to our heads to follow their orders if we want our dollars back? You know why California didn't get the $700 million RTTT grant after jumping through all those hoops? Because the Obama administration figured Calfornia is in the bag for him.

    Anyway, I'm all for charters, but NCLB hasn't done much to promote them. How many schools in Program Improvement have reformed using the charter model in San Francisco? Zero. How many of the 10SIG grant schools opted for the charter model? Zero.

    NCLB is a failure primarily because it is impossible to have a national system without national rules. States are scamming the Feds by lowering the bar. So you have the Feds scamming the states using crony capitalism to dole out funding and the states scamming the Feds to keep their scores uo.

  4. I've come to think you're right, I must admit. I defended this law at first because the opponents sounded like the people who think the SAT Test is racist and testing is bad and automatically assume kids who test poorly are good at something else so testing never makes one kid better than another as kids with good scores are secretly bad at something, which has been patently proven false ('The Perfect Score'), and I strongly believe standardized tests are a good neutral barometer of human quality at a young age, cutting past grades, which can be influenced by the school you go to, the teachers you have, and how likeable you are. However, we could have a national test or even compatible state tests but not have this law, or just let each state decide.

    I've always hated the electoral college, a very stupid idea. Now we're losing money because California isn't a swing state. It is too political.

    If 10k of governmental money is being spent on my child, I want 9k to go straight to their school. We're losing so much with so many layers of useless administration, the list even at the SFUSD headquarters is what, 5,000? Let those people be teachers, enough is enough! I'm sure we need a few but it's gotten way out of hand. Someone should look at each job and think do we really need this, start over. We could have 18 kids in a class in Kindergarten, active tutors at each school, homework clubs, rather than some bureaucrat sitting around complying.

  5. I can't remember exactly how many members are in UESF but it's somewhere between 5 and 6 K. There more than 1100 employees in the central staff. That is a huge amount of administration.

    The word accountablity is thrown around and held up to be the end all to be all. It ends up meaning that the teachers are responsibible for the students, the district is responsible for the teachers, the state is responsible for the districts and the USDE is responsible for the states - massive education buraeucracy employing vast numbers of people who peovide no service to students. But all this is secondary to the primaries involved - the students. You cannot legislate and change by executive order the efforts of the individual.

  6. Are there any charters that are more successful than their regular public school counterparts that are not receiving tons of extra money from billionaires or foundations? In other words, how much success is due to being a charter and how much from extra funds that any school would benefit from?

  7. You have to compare the results by race. KIPP has kids who are from poor and minority backgrounds, and race does matter because poor Asians do better than middle class whites and upper middle class blacks on tests, so it isn't just income, it's racial habits. Charters give kids a chance. People like Geoffrey Canada have taken kids who had very little chance of going to college and gotten them degrees.

    It's unfair to compare KIPP to Presidio, for the middle school years. Most at Presidio wouldn't consider KIPP. If you need extra help, have parents who neglect you and teach you slang and if you're home, you're going to watch TV, you need KIPP. If you're going to do artistic upper middle class activities and have dad help you with homework, you don't need it. It's two demographics. Lower income African Americans and many other similar groups do far better at KIPP than they would otherwise. You have to compare apples with apples. Charters do a lot of good.