Here are several items about education, the first being of particular importance.
Progressive Democrats are right to hail the new populism in their party driving the debate about the nation’s economic policies and the atrocious inequality those policies have created. Heartened by the bold leadership of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the huge crowds cheering on the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, progressives can truly feel their agenda is driving the national debate and propelling change.
So it’s beyond disappointing when progressive leaders in the Democratic Party who can knock an argument for economic populism out of the park continue to whiff on education populism…
Classroom teacher and popular edu-blogger Steven Singer wrote on his site, “This provision was an attempt to keep as many test and punish policies as possible … The Democrats seem to be committed to the notion that the only way to tell if a school is doing a good job is by reference to its test scores. High test scores — good school. Bad test scores — bad school. This is baloney!”
Fact is, no one has seriously tried appropriate financial investment to deal with the achievement gap.
We know the strategies that help close achievement gaps. Lower class sizes. A broad curriculum. Attraction and retention of highly qualified teachers.
But these strategies are unobtainable without stable, adequate, and equitable funding. And that’s an approach to closing achievement gaps that we’ve never really tried, says Bruce D. Baker, a professor in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University.
Baker is routinely frustrated by the pundits and policymakers who claim that America “pours money into failing schools.” We don’t, and we haven’t.
That’s the first thing you should know about school funding.
The U.S. Department of Education is poised to spend half a billion dollars to help create new charter schools, while the public is being kept in the dark about which states have applied for the lucrative grants, and what their actual track records are when it comes to preventing fraud and misuse.
Already the federal government has spent $3.3 billion in American tax dollars under the Charter Schools Program (CSP), as tallied by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). But the government has done so without requiring any accountability from the states and schools that receive the money, as CMD revealed earlier this year.
Throwing good money after bad, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for a 48 percent increase in federal charter funding earlier this year, and the House and Senate budget proposals also call for an increase—albeit a more modest one—while at the same time slashing education programs for immigrants and language learners.
(Center for Media and Democracy)
From Eric Ferguson: Washington state’s supreme court recently ruled charter schools aren’t actually public schools. It may not be applicable to other states, but in the broad outlines, charters in Washington will lose public funding because they’re in no sense public except for getting public funding. They’re unaccountable to any public body, the public has no say in who runs them, they have no transparency, they can choose their students which public schools mostly can’t, and they don’t take mid-year transfers. That’s a huge difference compared to public schools in low income areas, which tend to see a lot of turnover during the school year. I wonder if Minnesota has better regulation of charter schools, or if we’ve just gotten luckier than other states where charters have turned into fraud magnets.
I recommend reading the last article Dan linked to in the post. Some of it is rather shocking, like the schools that get government grants but never actually open.