Gales are blowing and defenses are up

GadflySnaps to Gov. Jerry Brown for his fierce defense of a weighted-student-funding plan for California’s schools, one that would reform the state’s questionable financing system by directing more—and much more flexible—funds to districts with high numbers of English learners and low-income families. We only hope that, behind the bluster, he’s willing to talk shop with his state Senate; the kids of California need a win.

A new report out of Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research heralded an uproar over pre-K financing: We spend $1,100 less per student than we did 2001, blared the headlines. But before you go building an ark and gathering all your pets onto it, note that preschool enrollment increased from 14 percent of four-year-olds to 28 percent during this period. The money increased, too, just not as fast as the headcount, meaning that per pupil funding edged downward even as total pre-school spending rose. What we’re seeing here is dubious policy, not disappearing dollars: Schools should be targeting these dollars at the neediest kids.

The Florida Senate killed a proposed parent trigger for the state just the way it did last year—in a 20–20 vote, this time with six Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition. The bill had been diluted during the legislative session to give school boards the final say over parent-triggered turnaround options, yet the compromise failed to win over skeptics, including one Republican who called the legislation “hopelessly bad.”

AFT president Randi Weingarten warned this week that implementation of the Common Core hasn’t fully ramped up and called for a moratorium on the high stakes related to testing while it does. We don’t see states suspending their tests, nor should they, but a one- or two-year pause in test-based, high-stakes teacher accountability might give instructors a bit of an opportunity to focus on learning how to teach to the new standards rather than watching over their shoulders lest they be dinged by the old ones.

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