Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Education reform in a new ARRA

These are notes taken from a recent webinar that a colleague participated in. I thought it was worth sharing...

In listening to Walter Isaacson on education reform yesterday he stressed several point. He was appearing on one of the morning talk shows with Mayor Fenty (Washington D.C.)

His point was that we had a fundamental problem with NCLB in that you had to make children proficient to get federal $$. The United States already spends more per pupil than any industrialized nation, and yet continues to get less of a result in terms of student achievement. He was proposing that we need innovative new types of schools, trying innovative new approaches to learning. Among other things they think we will begin to see:
  • National standards – linked to international benchmarks
  • New approaches to testing – more relevant, more real-world context
  • Merit pay for teachers – particularly those evidencing success in high poverty, low income settings
  • Willingness to take on the teacher unions to bring about positive reforms
  • day, extended year, extended support mechanisms for students/families
  • Greater sense of urgency to turn around failing schools
  • Embracing of charter schools that work (Isaacson referenced Kipp Academies and their academic/support structure)
Governors and cities that they mentioned were worth watching: Sonny Purdue (Georgia), Illinois, Chicago school system, Washington DC, NYC, Recovery District in New Orleans

They also suggested that in the next several weeks we will see Duncan rewarding states for voluntarily signing on the concept of embracing/developing/implementing national standards. Rewards would come from the $5B “Race to the Top” fund in the Stimulus package and will likely go to states that have been working with the standards project being coordinated through Achieve, CCSSO and NGA .

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