Our world-leading mathematics, Russian, Chinese and Spanish programs are now accepting applications…
Free global mathematics education for students in specific Grades in thousands of locations…
– Against social promotion.
– Backed “back to basics” – but no mention of content rigor and depth.
– Supporter of charter schools (Renaissance 2010 – now 75 charter schools out of 625), sees himself as portfolio manager.
– Authorized site-wide Principal and teacher replacement where required.
– Extended school day and year.
– Promoted use of schools as greatly-extended-day resource centers.
– Increased Principal standards (specifics?).
– Applications per teacher position increased greatly during his tenure.
– 3-year teacher retention increased to 85% under his tenure.
– Supports hard goals, flexible processes.
– Recognizes that status quo public schooling perpetuates poverty.
– Literacy (and perhaps superficial arithmetic) over analytical training/actual mathematics?
– Performance pay – but apparently only in poorest schools and with union approval, not parent-choice driven.
– “Relative performance more important than absolute performance”??
Too much emphasis on plant relative to content – it comes through why he would sign the “Broader, Bolder” statement, in addition to the historic Education Equality manifesto.
Wall Street Journal
Paul Gigot, Jason Riley, Collin Levy, Dan Henninger
School funding as civil rights issue?? Chicago: several charter school campuses per charter, “cap” not increased.
Andrew Campanella and Washington Post article on vouchers:
“I want to share an excellent editorial from today’s Washington Post (see below). The Post’s full support of school vouchers in D.C., especially in the middle of the presidential campaign, is important.
The Post accurately calls for leaders to “look past these tired political arguments to the real needs of real children.””
Vouching for Vouchers
Would a President Obama listen to the D.C. parents and students benefiting from school choice?
Saturday, October 18, 2008; A14
IT WOULD be nice if facts, not ideology, framed the discussion over the District’s school voucher program. In an exchange during this week’s presidential debate, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama airily dismissed the program, while Republican Sen. John McCain offered a somewhat jumbled defense of it. Lost was this: 1,903 poor children have educational opportunities because of a unique program that detracts not a whit from either public or charter schools.
The stance of the two candidates is not surprising, given the history of their respective parties. Democrats loathe any suggestion of sending public money to private schools, while Republicans see the free market as a solution to the woes of urban education. It’s important, though, that the next president — and if the polls are to be believed, that will be Mr. Obama — look past these tired political arguments to the real needs of real children served by the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The next president and incoming Congress will decide whether to continue a program that gives low-income families up to $7,500 per child for their children to attend private schools of each family’s choosing.
Mr. Obama’s contention that data show that vouchers don’t work should be reexamined. The most in-depth study into the impact of vouchers involves the D.C. program, and it is far from complete. Federal researchers in early studies have found no statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered scholarships and those who were not, but they are encouraged by signs showing improved reading by children with the scholarships. It would be wrong to end the program before all the results are known. Then, too, it is undisputed that parents participating in the program believe their children are in better, safer schools. And, as Mr. McCain pointed out, shouldn’t parents have the same choice “that Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama had and Cindy and I had” to send their children to a school of their choosing? Mr. McCain’s numbers were off, but in a city with deplorable public schools, there’s demand and support for this program.
Mr. Obama is right that vouchers alone won’t solve the ills of education, but if he is elected, he should listen to poor people who are benefiting from this program and to local leaders who support it. Those leaders include, in his words, Washington’s “wonderful new superintendent” and “young mayor” who, in trying to improve the city’s troubled schools, would never think to limit a parent’s options. When all is said and done, they favor a program that brings money to public and charter schools while giving some poor parents what many others take for granted: a choice.
Barack Obama extrapolating the near-monopolistic, big-government education system of the 1970s instead of embracing the global education system of the 21st century, of which vouchers are a key and automatic element. John McCain consistently supporting sector-changing choice.
Since the year 2000, median family income has been dropping, adjusted for inflation. One of the main reasons the typical family has taken on more debt has been to maintain its living standards in the face of these declining real incomes.
It’s not as if the typical family suddenly went on a spending binge — buying yachts and fancy cars and taking ocean cruises. No, the typical family just tried to keep going as it had before. But with real incomes dropping, and the costs of necessities like gas, heating oil, food, health insurance, and even college tuitions all soaring, the only way to keep going as before was to borrow more. You might see this as a moral failure, but I think it’s more accurate to view it as an ongoing struggle to stay afloat when the boat’s sinking.
The “living beyond our means” argument suggests that the answer over the long term is for American families to become more responsible and not spend more than they earn. Well, that may be necessary but it’s hardly sufficient.
The real answer over the long term is to restore middle-class earnings so families don’t have to go deep into debt to maintain what was a middle-class standard of living. And that requires, among other things, affordable health insurance, tax credits for college tuition, good schools, and an energy policy that’s less dependent on oil, the price of which is going to continue to rise as demand soars in China, India, and elsewhere.
In other words, the way to make sure Americans don’t live beyond their means is to give them back the means.
Shenzhou 7 launch
Guncharan Das: Fund children, not schools
The most striking lesson for India is from Sweden’s education reforms in the early 1990s. They decentralized the system–shifting control of schools from the centre to the municipalities—and gave parents a choice to send their children to state or private schools (but paid by the state with a voucher). As a result, many innovative, for-profit schools have opened up, who compete for the vouchers. The number of students in private schools has gone up ten fold, from less than one to over ten percent.
One of the most successful is a chain of 30 private schools, which encourages children to learn in small groups and lets them progress at their own speed. Children spend 15 minutes each week with a tutor, reviewing last week’s progress, and agreeing to next week’s goals. This information goes up on the website for parents’ review. Successful teachers earn bonuses based on the children’s performance. 90% of the parents stated in a recent survey that “school choice” and competition have improved the overall quality of education. The poorest are the happiest for their children can now go to the best schools for free. The ability to exit a bad school gives a poor child the same chance as a rich one to rise in the world.
Sweden’s school model is made for India, where government schools have failed, teacher absenteeism is rampant, and there is no accountability to parents or the community. As a result even the poor are withdrawing their kids from state schools and putting them into cheap private schools (that charge Rs 100-200 per month). If any politician in India were to advocate Sweden’s model–fund children, don’t fund schools—poor parents would be so grateful that the politician would never lose his seat. The poorest child would have the same opportunity as a middle class one, and government schools would improve because teachers’ salaries would be paid by parents’ vouchers. It would be a Diwali everyday!
In Sweden, the Left’s initial hostility has also diminished. Social Democrat politicians do not dare criticise what is popular with voters. Teachers are happier as they have more opportunities to change schools. Government’s budgets have not been hurt by having to finance children in private schools because municipalities have managed to close or cut expenses of the lower performing government schools.
Sweden’s school reforms are a good example of what is attractive about the Scandinavian model. Unlike India, it is not riddled with red tape, nor is it hostile to private enterprise. Yet, it gives the state an important role in setting a socially responsible context within which private enterprise flourishes. In the case of schooling, the Swedish government provides the resources and sets some basic guidelines — and then lets the private sector go to work. It is the perfect public-private partnership.
In the education sector, too, there’s a history of bailing out organizations deemed “too big to fail.” That’s why states have come to the rescue of huge urban districts, long after they have demonstrated an utter inability to get results or balance their books. It’s only the small fry–tiny, public charter schools–that ever actually go under. As well they should, if they aren’t getting the job done for kids or aren’t spending public funds prudently.
The Detroit Public Schools is the AIG of education. It’s big, it’s bad, and it’s broken. And while its ship sinks, board members and superintendent squabble over “rudeness.” Is there any reason to believe that current governance arrangements, political dynamics, and leadership are conducive to the systemic transformation needed to save Motown’s children from a life of despair?
What’s needed is a fresh start, a do-over, a clean slate for Detroit. Simply put, the state should declare Detroit Public Schools bankrupt. (Just today it declared its intent to oversee its finances.) The Michigan legislature took over in 1999 but returned the city to an elected school board in 2005 without making fundamental changes; now’s their chance to get it right.
Michigan should take the system into receivership and void or renegotiate all of its contracts (including its collective-bargaining agreements with teachers and sundry other unions). It should slice through any red tape that would keep Detroit from creating a world-class system, including Michigan’s cap on new charter schools and its burdensome teacher-certification requirements, not to mention its low academic standards. It should recruit a fearless leader to build, from the bottom-up, a strong curriculum, a culture of excellence, back-office and human resource routines that work–all the elements of a functioning organization. Such an organization would give the public the transparency around spending, processes, and results that has been so lacking on Wall Street lately, and lacking in most big-city school systems forever.
Instead, lawmakers will likely infuse DPS with yet more cash in order to (once again) bring the district out of insolvency. And they will try to “protect” the system by keeping additional charter-school competitors out. (Clearly, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s interest in making Michigan more “competitive” doesn’t extend to its public schools.)
Americans are understandably growing impatient with government bailouts of Wall Street. When will we become just as frustrated with government bailouts of dysfunctional public-school systems?