Picture this: A Nation Full of Over-weight Idiots. Is “Race to the Top” Education Reform Under Obama the “Cure”?- Look What’s Under- Reported for October 24, 2009

Posted on October 24, 2009

secretary of educationLook What’s Under-Reported

For October 24, 2009

By SamHenry

OK parents, do you know who this man is?  It is the President’ s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  Former college hoop player (and of course a player on Obama’s court) he has left his post as CEO of Chicago’s School System to help formulate and oversee the implementation of the Administration’s “Race to the Top” program in public schools nationwide.

CNN’s Rowland Martin spoke up quickly and loudly that the panel he was on could have been discussing something really worthwhile rather than mindless soft news (the Balloon Boy; the war between Obama and FOX News). He virtually blurted out that the Administration’s education program, “Race to the Top” was at last having some impact.

Poor benighted Rowland.  He forgot for a moment that soft news sells; what you suggested was really a documantary?  Haven’t you read CNN.com some mornings to see 3/4 soft news?  But you eschewed what you have labeled the “entertainment” news network and did not benefit from the FOX hard news stories with analysis to rival the news wires.

Well America, we can’t and shouldn’t wait for management of the fringe media to have board meetings about viable documentary topics.  OK so I’ll just have to bring you parents up to date. After all, I myself am highly educated and understand the import of reform in the public schools.  I also have a stake in the outcome: I am terrified I’ll end up frustrated and bored in a nursing home under the care of a generation of badly educated people who misread doctors’ instructions, talk in inscrutable sentences and figure they cannot learn anything more in life, most definitely from me.

So, parents, here’s your required reading on the internet – starting with articles that date from the act that provided the funding to rollout of the program and finally to the  up to the minute progress report.  Hey, I was a librarian.  We love to hand out bibliographies and lists of all kinds, really.

1. U.S. Department of Education

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education
March 7, 2009

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity— it is a pre-requisite. The countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.
—President Barack Obama, Feb. 24, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides approximately $100 billion for education, creating a historic opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of jobs, support states and school districts, and advance reforms and improvements that will create long-lasting results for our students and our nation including early learning, K-12, and post-secondary education. This document describes the principles and strategy that will guide the distribution and implementation of the ARRA funds appropriated to the U.S. Department of Education. Accompanying documents provide initial guidelines for three components of ARRA education funding: the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title I), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Separately, we will issue guidelines on other ARRA funds as they are developed. The Department will periodically provide updated information at www.ed.gov.

2. The Wall Street Journal – Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ – Who’ll blink first: the unions, or the White House?

[Proposal and degree of difficulty in implementation]

Obama Administration claims will reward only those states that raise their academic standards, improve teacher quality and expand the reach of charter schools. “This competition will not be based on politics, ideology or the preferences of a particular interest group,” said President Obama on Friday. “Instead, it will be based on a simple principle—whether a state is ready to do what works. We will use the best data available to determine whether a state can meet a few key benchmarks for reform, and states that outperform the rest will be rewarded with a grant.”Sounds great, though this White House is, at the behest of the unions, also shuttering a popular school voucher program that its own evaluation shows is improving test scores for low-income minorities in Washington, D.C. The Administration can expect more such opposition to “Race to the Top.” School choice is anathema to the nation’s two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, which also oppose paying teachers for performance rather than for seniority and credentials.

3. The Wall Street Journal – Obama Wins a Battle as a Teachers’ Union Shows Flexibility (October 19, 2009)

A showdown between the White House and the powerful teachers’ unions looks, for the moment, a little less likely.

This week in New Haven, Conn., the local teachers union agreed, in a 21-1 vote, to changes widely resisted by unions elsewhere, including tough performance evaluations and fewer job protections for bad teachers.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as well as the unions, said the New Haven contract could be repeated in other school districts.

“I rarely say that something is a model or a template for something else, but this is both,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who helped broker the New Haven deal.

“This shows a willingness to go into areas that used to be seen as untouchable,” Mr. Duncan said.

His cause for optimism is this: If teachers’ unions start showing flexibility in other cities, the administration’s high-stakes push to boost graduation rates and improve test scores at public schools could get a lot easier. That might even spare the administration an unwanted fight with a labor force that gave Mr. Obama a big lift in his election.

Aren’t you amazed?  A conservative produced a reading list that is “fair and balanced.”  If you want other points of view or to fill in some blanks, like any good retired librarian, I feel it imperative for you to participate in this and to do yourown  good resesarch.  Like your whole educational experience, it is just a starting point. I know, I know, you  are having the reaction of this bored kid at his school. bored student

Class dismissed.  Questions?  Leave me a comment.  It will be moderated but if it’s reasonable and civilized, I’ll be there for you.  You should know in advance that good librarians, even those who are retired, rarely give information from other than printed sources.  Exercise a little patience.  Thanks for checking in.  I’m impressed.  Oh, and remember to keep the idea close to your heart that Conservatives are capable of open-minded discussion and research.  We haven’t forgotten the program “No Child Left Behind” formulated and launched under former President Bush. Shhhhhh.  It’s our secret.


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