The conventional wisdom among reformers today is that “we know what to do, but we don’t have the political will to do it.” I’d frame it differently: We increasingly have good policies in place, but we don’t know how to turn them into reality. And because most policies aren’t “self-implementing,” we have to solve the problem of “delivery” if reform is going to add up to a hill of beans.
Those of us at the Fordham Institute (and our partners at the Center for American Progress) have been making the case that our governance structures impede our ability to do implementation right. Local school districts—with their elected school boards, susceptibility to interest group capture, and lack of scale—aren’t always inclined or well suited to turn legislative reforms into real change on the ground. I’ve wondered out loud whether we should abolish school districts and run the whole kit and caboodle out of state departments of education.
How about creating a “virtual education ministry” that school districts would choose to associate with voluntarily?
That’s still a tantalizing idea, but probably too radical...
Everyone predicted that Justice Cynthia Kern’s ruling last January to allow the release of the value-added scores for New York City teachers—with the teachers’ names—would set off a firestorm when the names were released (which is what happened when Los Angeles did the same thing in 2010). And it did.
“Teachers will be right in feeling assaulted and compromised,” declared Merryl Tisch, chancellor of New York State’s Board of Regents, just after New York City released some 18,000 teacher evaluations to the public last week.
“The arrogance of some people to say that the parents don't have the ability to look at numbers and put them in context and to make decisions is just astounding to me,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg shot back. “This is about our kids' lives. This is not about anything else.”
It is possible that in a different era, a court might very well have concluded that releasing teachers’ names was quite insane.
That pretty much set the tone for the debate: another assault on teachers versus the public’s right to know. And it turns out that the best ...
Mike and Rick break down the week’s news, from the prospects of John Kline’s ESEA reauthorization proposals to the college-for-all controversy. Amber analyzes the latest report on Milwaukee’s voucher program Chris wonders whether robbing a bank is enough to get a school bus driver fired.
Rethinking Education Governance Session IV: The Way Forward
February 24, 2012
What's next? This panel brings together a group of "big thinkers" to hash out a plan for education governance in the twenty-first century. What should the structure look like? Who should helm the wheel? And how can we bring these thoughts into action? Paul Hill, Kenneth Meier, Jon Schnur, and Paul Pastorek will engage in a roundtable discussion to think through these questions.
Rethinking Education Governance Session III: Alternative Approaches
February 24, 2012
Many lessons on effective governance arrangements can be pulled from other sectors--and other nations. During this panel, authors Michael Mintrom, Barry Rabe, and Richard Walley will explain what insights can (and can't) be drawn from other countries—and from other federal initiatives, like healthcare and environmental policy. Moderator Paul Manna will also present a paper by Sir Michael Barber on lessons from British education-reform efforts.
Moderator: Paul Manna, associate professor, College of William and Mary
Rethinking Education Governance Session II: Traditional Institutions in Flux
February 24, 2012
This panel calls into question the ideal of local control. Its panelists—including Jeffrey Henig, Frederick M. Hess, Kathryn McDermott, and Kenneth Wong—will investigate the rise of mayoral control, the growth of interstate collaboration, and the role of the state and federal governments in education. Discussant Margaret Goertz will prod panelists to explain these shifts--and what they think each means for education in the twenty-first century.
Moderator: Patrick McGuinn, associate professor, Drew University
What governance challenges currently mire efforts to reform education? This panel will tackle the financial systems and governance structures that impede change, drawing on the examples of innovators both within and without the system whose reforms have been stifled or slowed by our curious current structures and policies. It will also explain how our present system has harmed our nation's most disadvantaged youth. Panelists include Cynthia Brown, Michelle Davis, Marguerite Roza, and Steven F. Wilson.
Moderator: Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Rethinking Education Governance Lunchtime Keynote: Chris Cerf
February 24, 2012
During this lunchtime lecture, New Jersey Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf will discuss his thoughts on how to improve our current education-governance structure, drawing from his experiences as deputy chancellor of New York City Department of Education, his current role at the New Jersey Department of Education, and his time working for the federal government.
** We had some technical difficulties during the Q&A which is why the video is out of focus. We apologize for any inconvenience.
From Lin-sanity to charter school discipline, Mike and Rick take on political correctness in this week’s podcast. Amber breaks down the recent Brown Center report and Chris defends Michael Jackson’s dance moves.
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, received some well-deserved praise last week for bringing the state education department and the teachers unions together on a new teacher evaluation rubric. (See here. And here. And here and here and here and here.) As Joe Williams wrote in the Daily News:
Weeks after declaring he would be a “lobbyist for students,” Gov. Cuomo delivered his 2.75 million young clients a major victory Thursday, using the weight of his office to break through the logjam blocking a common-sense mechanism for evaluating teachers based on whether children are learning.
Though there will be much grousing about how common-sensical it is to judge teachers based on how their students do on standardized tests (40 percent of the evaluation)—“it’s a dark day when politicians impose an untested scheme on educators,” wrote Diane Ravitch—the more fascinating part of this story is the New York City subplot.
New York's new 'impartial' observors promise to add yet another layer of bureaucracy to an already bloated system.