Wrong about SES

In a "Friday Guest Column" at Edbizbuzz, the AFT's Nancy Van Meter goes on the attack against supplemental services providers. Actually, she stays on the attack, as her day job for at least five years has been to criticize and question the one tiny part of No Child Left Behind that gives parents choices.

Still, she's right that just because "established interests" don't like the program doesn't mean there aren't problems, as one tutoring company executive recently argued. Most SES companies are struggling to demonstrate effects on student achievement. The industry's explanation--that the programs are too short to have an impact on state test scores--is unlikely to persuade people that we should be spending several billion dollars a year on this initiative.

Nancy is right that there should be "accountability" for results--but she's wrong that government officials should pile on regulations such as those requiring particular credentials for tutors, as her organization has been advocating. Let's take a page from charter schools--another reform that Nancy gets paid to hate--and expect achievement in return for autonomy. If providers aren't willing to sign on to that deal, they should get out of this business. And if established interests don't like that deal, well, let's just call them what they are: lobbyists for the status quo.

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