As I've alluded to a number of times, I'm convinced that turnarounds are not a scalable strategy for fixing America's struggling urban school systems. There is simply too much data from the world of education and other industries showing that the success rate of turnaround initiatives aimed at persistently failing entities is staggeringly low.
The answer is not trying endlessly to fix failing schools; it's closing them down and starting new schools. This is how other industries improve over time.
This is a big subject in the book I'm currently writing, hence my current fixation and????irascibility????on this issue. But the reason I'm belaboring this point on Flypaper is because I worry the new administration may be heading in the wrong direction.
They put $3 billion in the ARRA for the School Improvement Fund (under Title I) and they are proposing this program get another $1.5 billion in the 2010 budget. Moreover they are encouraging states to use dollars from the ARRA stabilization fund for school turnarounds.
Long-time antagonists????Eva Moskowitz????(former NYC education committee chair and founder of Harlem Success Academy charter schools) and Randi Weingarten (AFT and UFT president) debated on NYC television. ????It's gripping in parts.
This panel discussion on national education standards across the world was sponsored by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute at our "International Lessons About National Standards" even on Tuesday, May 5, 2009.
William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor and Co-Director of the Education Policy Center, Michigan State University
Sigrid Bl??meke, Full Professor, Humboldt University of Berlin and National Research Coordinator, TEDS-M and MT21
John Hayton, Counsellor (Education) and Director, Australian Education International-North America, Embassy of Australia, Washington, DC (Australia)
Doo-Jung Kim, Professor of Education, Chungnam National University (Korea) and past President, Korean Society for Curriculum Studies
Moderated by: Ben Wildavsky, Senior Fellow, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation...
Yesterday I reported on the New Yorker profile of Green Dot founder Steve Barr, and speculated that it might inspire a movie version. That led one intrepid Flypaper reader to ask the obvious question: Who would play him? Here are the leading contenders; Rock the Vote below. And if you want to suggest another (or provide a rationale), leave a comment.
The administration released its 2010 budget proposal yesterday.????Check out the specifics here.
Just a few highlights???????
First, it has slightly higher discretionary spending than the 2009 budget (but remember that the ARRA is pumping nearly $100 billion through ED on top of 2009 and 2010 funds).
Second, in non-K-12 news, it includes a small increase in the maximum Pell grant award and adds lots of new money for early childhood programs.
Third, there is a relatively small $10 million for the ???????Promise Neighborhoods??????? initiative.???? This is the administration's attempt to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone.???? This money will support planning grants for cities that want to create their own versions.????I'm VERY skeptical of this initiative because HCZ is extraordinarily expensive, its early results were very questionable (it took lots of rethinking and reworking to get it right), and such extensive wrap-around services are neither necessary nor sufficient to bring about improved student achievement.????I would prefer the feds stay out of this business.
Fourth, there's a big increase for the Teacher Incentive Fund (up to $517 million from under $100 million in 2009), which incentives states and districts to experiment with performance/merit pay.????This...
The debate over progress in NYC is a microcosm of a much bigger discussion in ed reform circles: For all of the money and effort expended, have America's schools really gotten any better?
At a recent conference, two veteran reformers suggested that, no, we've made very little progress since A Nation At Risk in 1983. Then there's news out today that Newt Gingrich said largely the same thing to the press after meeting with the President on education issues.
I wonder if this is just alarmist talk to get folks more motivated to take on change, because from where I sit, things are immeasurably better than they were 10, 20, or 30 years ago, especially for our most disadvantaged kids. We have a national consensus that the achievement gap matters, we have educational entrepreneurs starting invaluable projects, we have more and more high-performing high-poverty schools thanks to chartering, and on and on and on. ????Yes, there are still challenges and groups standing in the way of reform, but as a wise man once said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
Or do they? ????Read to the bottom of the article and you'll see that Mike P, among others, is skeptical.
Fordham trustee Diane Ravitch has continuously argued against claims of significant improvement in NYC. See her recent NYT op-ed here. Klein's team responded with this memo. ????A big part of the debate is about which test scores to use--the state's or NAEP. ????(Check out????for yourself????what????NAEP TUDA has to say about NYC????here????and here.)
Although Ravitch raises fair points about the lack of progress on NAEP, I side with the pro-Klein camp, both because the state data is rather convincing and because the systemic changes he's implemented are the best I've seen in any US city.
But if Klein's gains are real, they should be reflected in better scores on the 2009 TUDA, the results of which are due this year....
BTW, what's with some DC-based politicians' hostility toward education programs that are working? ????The evidence shows that both DC charters????and vouchers are succeeding. ????Why cut funding for the first and stop new enrollment for the second?
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.