Flypaper

Neither team. By audience applause, and Checker's verdict, it's declared a tie.

Peter Edelman urges us to fight poverty. We're a wealthy nation, after all. Doug Besharov points out that the best way to fight poverty is through better education. And we ought to learn what works best under what conditions. So if there's not enough money for everything, let's spend money wisely, do solid research,??and learn something from it.

And that's a wrap.

Joel Packer of the NEA wants to know if we should expand the idea of accountability under NCLB. For example, should schools and social services agencies be held accountable for making sure kids get their asthma medicine?

Gene Hickok came back with a smack. "It shouldn't take an act of Congress to make sure schools are dealing with their own problems....that's not self-governance, folks."

Mike Smith and Peter Edelman have announced that they are going to be the next education secretary. (They plan to job-share.)

Mike Smith just mentioned that his wife is the principal of a high-poverty charter school. Peter Edelman already mentioned that his son* works on charter school issues for Arne Duncan. Is it just me or is working in a charter school the new badge of a true progressive? Hooray for charter schools!

* Said son previously worked at the SEED charter school, a public boarding school in Washington, DC.

So some friends of mine asked me why we didn't pit the "broader/bolder" folks against the "educational equity" folks. You know, an intra-Democratic party brawl? The real answer was that we were worried that it would turn into a non-debate. Everyone would agree that we should both fight the war on poverty AND work on school reform. We thought by pitching liberals against conservatives we'd get a sharper distinction.

Hmm. So far, not so much.

The "affirmative" team insists that the broader/bolder manifesto signers are completely committed to holding schools accountable. And the "negative" team didn't disagree. Darn. A missed opportunity to argue, as Kevin Carey and others have, that broader/bolder's implicit argument is that we're being unfair to schools by blaming them on poor achievement, and should fight the war on poverty instead.

Doug Besharov is flummoxed. He was going to rebut the broader/bolder manifesto by going left...but Edelman just went SO FAR LEFT that it's going to be tough!

His question: In a stimulus package, or in the federal budget, where does the last dollar go? Should it go to the schools or to these other social services?

Consider pre-school programs, he urges. Head Start, serving 900,000 kids, makes almost no difference in the lives of these children according to serious evaluations. Same with after-school programs. In fact, the evaluations of these show that the after-school programs as implemented do more harm than good.

Let's ask the question: how can we make social service programs at least as effective as the average school?

Besharov: Do we need a broader/bolder approach? Of course we do.

But a program that doesn't address family and race issues head on has a problem.

What about the difference between boys and girls? Girls are doing LOADS better. There must be SOMETHING in the mix that has to do with the experience of low-skilled boys in our society that is a bigger problem than poverty.

If you're going to be bolder...

Peter Edelman just had the best line so far: "I go home every night to a household where the term "leave no child behind" originated." (Referring, of course, to his wife Marian Wright Edelman and her work??leading the Children's Defense Fund.)

Edelman: Our society hasn't been living up to our ideals for the past forty years in terms of reaching??out to the neediest.

Edelman: There is NOTHING in this statement that lets schools off the hook. All of us agree about that. The details may differ. Our concepts of school reform may differ, but those are details. He believes in high standards, choice (not vouchers!). His son works with Arne Duncan (small world!) on charter and contract schools.

He would go broader than broader/bolder. 100 percent emphasis on schools but also 100 percent emphasis on ending poverty, and not just poverty, but go up to 200% of poverty line. A huge percentage (did he say 90 percent?) of our families have a hard time making ends meet.

Five percent of our people have incomes below HALF the poverty line...this is a national crisis and national dereliction. We need jobs that pay wages and wage supplements. Health...

It's Gene Hickok's turn. (Nice professorial glasses and sweater vest, Gene!) Of course, he says, there's a relationship between all of these social factors and achievement. That's why we were so focused on No Child Left Behind.

"Disadvantaged kids are at a disadvantage," he admits.??(What's the opposite of hyperbole?)

OK, now??Hickok is wasting precious time restating broader/bolder's case. Attack, attack, attack!

Ah, here it comes. "What their case comes down to is, let's spend a lot more money."

Their view: "The world in which schools exist has changed dramatically...it's a more difficult, troubling world, thus, we need to change the world...Schools can't get the job done unless we end these problems they bring with them."

Hickok: But haven't we as a country tried to do exactly that for decades? Why should we think that adding a few billions more is going to make a difference? It's not broader/bolder, it's going back to arguments we had a generation ago.

If you want a broader/bolder approach, you need to focus on families and children, not systems...stop with the false dichotomy between public and private schools...give poor parents control over their own destiny and that of their...

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