Obama has long way to go on education reform #NCLB #RTTT #commonsense #Noguera

By Pedro Noguera, Special to CNN


President Obama should be applauded for keeping education at the top of the nation’s policy agenda at a time when so many other important issues — the ongoing recession, two wars, health care, etc. — demand his attention.

He was right to urge parents to do their part to reinforce the importance of education with their children, and he is to be commended for recognizing the important role of teachers who so often are blamed for the failings of our nation’s schools.

But Obama should be less boastful and more circumspect in describing what his administration has accomplished in education. When he declared that Race to the Top was “the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation,” he clearly went a bit too far.

First of all, only a dozen states received funding under this initiative, and there is evidence that rural states and states that lacked the resources to put together applications that met the federal government’s requirements — and in time for the deadline — were at a disadvantage.

Since the recession has forced several states to lay off teachers, close schools, increase class size and take other drastic measures to close budget deficits, the competitive approach to the grants created winners and losers at a time when students and schools are in need of help. It’s hard to imagine how schools can support the type of innovation the president wants when so many are struggling to do more with considerably less.

The president could have pointed out that as important as it is to raise academic standards, as 40 states have done in response to Race to the Top, that is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out how to help schools perform at that higher level.

There is no reason to believe that simply by raising standards, academic performance among students will increase, followed by higher graduation and college attendance rates. The hundreds of schools that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has labeled “dropout factories” are unlikely to be transformed simply because the bar has been raised.

The president must realize that in cities where the economy has collapsed and there is a shortage of good jobs — as in Detroit; Cleveland; St. Louis; Buffalo, New York; and Erie, Pennsylvania — schools lack the resources to improve and students increasingly lack the will to achieve.

Many don’t believe that if they do well in school, they will go to college and find a good-paying job. Those who haven’t given up know that if they are to have any chance at success, they will have to leave their communities and seek opportunity elsewhere.

These students and the schools they attend need help, not just higher standards. They need guidance and support on how to improve and transform — like Bruce Randolph High School in Denver, the school cited by the president for its remarkable turnaround. That may not be the job of the president or the federal government, but it better be someone’s job; otherwise, the educational renewal called for by the president will not occur.

Nine years after No Child Left Behind, we are still falling further behind. The law does not need to be tweaked and renamed, it needs to be scrapped entirely and replaced by a set of strategies that aim to replicate the successful schools that already exist in various parts of the country.

During his address, the president applauded South Korea, where teachers are referred to as “nation builders,” and he encouraged Americans to learn from their example. We should. Twenty years ago, South Korea was not even ranked among the leading nations for its educational performance. Today, it is near the top and surpasses the U.S. on most indicators of performance.

How did the South Koreans make so much progress so quickly? By recognizing that if you want great schools, you must make wise investments in personnel. Teachers there are held in high regard because they are very well trained. They don’t judge teachers by student test scores as does Race to the Top, and they don’t make it easy for those who are unqualified to enter the profession.

Rather, they provide robust training in the subjects they teach and in instruction. Senior teachers with a track record of effectiveness provide guidance, feedback and support to their junior peers. We should learn from the South Koreans.

To be clear: There was much that was good about the president’s speech. I particularly appreciate his call for fair treatment of young undocumented immigrants who are being denied a college education and the ability to contribute to the country they call home because their parents entered our nation illegally. Calling for a just immigration policy took courage and foresight, and I appreciate Obama’s willingness to take an unequivocal stand.

We need the president to take as strong and as clear a stand on education reform, one that goes beyond broad exhortations and begins to tackle the difficult social and economic issues that have contributed to our steady decline. I believe he can do it, and I know that as a nation, we need it.



Edreform in a nutshell.


As CSD moves closer to transparency, the state may be following our (Red Clay and Christina) lead….



Rep. Willis & Rep. Lavelle & Rep. Hudson & Sen. Katz & Sen. Lawson & Sen. Simpson ;


Reps. Manolakos, Ramone, Wilson, Kowalko; Sens. Peterson, Sorenson







Section 1.  Amend § 104(b), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by adding a new paragraph (13) to read:

“(13)       Digitally record all public meetings of the State Board of Education and make the recordings available to the public on the Department of Education’s website within one business day of each meeting.  These recordings are not official Board minutes, but are a means to enhance communication to the public and to State legislators.”.

Section 2.  This bill takes effect on September 1, 2011.


This bill requires that all public meetings of the State Board of Education be digitally recorded and made available to the public on the Department of Education’s website within one business day.  The recordings will not be considered the official Board minutes.

Red Clay Consolidated School District has been, as of September 2010, providing the public with digital recordings of their Board public session meetings via the District’s website.  The Christina School District School Board enacted a policy to provide digital recordings of their public session meetings and expects to be online in January 2011.


Medical Facility for the East Side on the way, CSD to grant use of space in School Support Center! #EastSide #BOE #Wilmington

Tonight, I cast one of 7 yes votes to allow Henrietta Johnson clinics establish a sliding scale health care clinic in our Drew Support Center at 600 N. Lombard Street in Wilmington. As I stated in public, this is a fantastic idea and I am very proud our Board decided so decisively to lead on the issue and approve this critical project to help enhance wrap around supports for our Wilmington children, students, familes and community at large. Affordable, accessible health care is a human right in my opinion and tonight the CSD BOE helped get it closer to a community that needs it desperately.

A proud moment indeed!

In honor of being called a coward on the dais again…… #CSD #BOE #Coward #OZ

All I can say is I that forging a new path for CSD is hard work, I am no coward, and I will not be shamed into voting as a rubber stamp. I was elected to oversee our administration and I intend to do the job asked of me by my constituents. Calling me or the new board a coward(s) in a public meeting does not make it so, it just exposes an inability to see the new direction of the BOE. As stated tonight, not by me, actions have consequences….all I can say is so do elections. I have been lied to and ignored frequently for the better part of 19 months, often by BOE members….and I am undeterred and remain ready to help us lead the way towards a viable and rich new governance paradigm.

As an homage……..an oldie but a goodie from May 2010: Leadership and Cowardice. Board Meeting 5/4/10-5/5/10.

Our Regular Board meeting lasted until 12:20AM as the Board had a very full evening, and as it turns out, morning. An auspicious start as we each had the pleasure of bestowing Outstanding Citizenship awards to 7 very worthy Christina community members who make a difference in our district above and beyond the call of duty.

The meeting then shifted to several key decisions and I will focus on 2: Code of Conduct and Teacher Terminations.

The code of conduct revision, the culmination of a 6 month process, was submitted for a second and final reading. A lively debate ensued which covered bus privileges, 24 hour notice rules for accused students at hearings, the appropriate punishment for arson, and a discussion about the fallacious policy of zero tolerance in which the word “optional” was used as a code word to argue that we should maintain the misguided sensibility that treating  each infraction the same is fair, particularly along the lines of disparate racial outcomes, when the statistics simply confirm that zero tolerance does just that: targets minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Late in the debate a motion to table the code of conduct was made, seconded, and carried 4 votes. I voted NOT to table it.

Teacher terminations. The administration recommended that the Board terminate 40+ educators as a move to maintain fiscal soundness for the district. While I take the responsibility to spend within our means wisely very seriously, I also am deeply troubled by the lack of information provided about spending that would fully inform such a decision. Essentially, I am asked to accept the district’s assertion that we operate with “no frills” and that there are no available cuts (even as little a one local share) to save even one job/position. Without access to data to satisfy my need to understand the picture appropriately, I did not support the vote to terminate (4 yes, 2 no, 1 abstain). At one point, my actions were described as lacking courage by a fellow board member. I could not disagree more. I would loved to have secured a third vote, even if designed to make my vote look irresponsible in order to force the district to make these cuts elsewhere. Alas, the vote was along traditional historical lines: business as usual…a position I ran against when I ran for this office.

I guess I could possible accept the label as Cowardly Lion for a no vote, but what then for yes votes?

Finally, there was a public comment regard a FOIA petition that fellow board member Elizabeth Scheinberg and myself submitted in March. The comment indicated that the ruling was in our favor. The President responded, as he was targeted by the comment. I just want to say the plain truth is that the AG ruled in our favor and indeed found that the board did hold an illegal meeting and failed to document an otherwise legal meeting on a consistent, recurring, basis. The public commenter, in my opinion, was factually correct.

That’s all I can recall for now, I may edit this entry for more detail later in the week.

Continuing news coverage: http://blogs.delawareonline.com/delawareed/2010/05/05/a-long-night-the-debate-continues/

More: http://blogs.delawareonline.com/delawareed/2010/05/06/protest-planned-at-christiana-high-school/

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Why are outsiders lining up to lobby the New Governor of Rhode Island and why is Rodel a signatory????

Is there any doubt the $$ fix is in when it comes to edreform?

D.C. Schools Insider – Harvard group to evaluate IMPACT #RolandGFryer #Broad #ConflictofInterest #WAPO

D.C. Schools Insider – Harvard group to evaluate IMPACT


The Harvard think tank that experimented with paying D.C. middle schoolers for good grades and behavior will also study the IMPACT teacher evaluation system. DCPS confirmed late Wednesday that the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University, aka EdLabs, is the mutual selection of the District and the Washington Teachers’ Union to conduct an independent evaluation of the evaluation. EdLabs is headed by Roland G. Fryer Jr., the economics professor who has been studying the effects of cash awards on students in D.C., Chicago, Dallas and New York.

An independent look at IMPACT is provided for in a side letter to the collective bargaining agreement signed last year by DCPS and the union, which has major objections to the system. I might be missing something, but on the surface at least, Fryer seems like a peculiar choice. He’s clearly a rising star–one of the youngest Harvard profs to win tenure–but much of his published work involves the achievement gap and race-based economic and social issues. His papers include “An Empirical Analysis of Acting White” and “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names.”

The other issue is EdLab’s “partners,” or financial backers. They include at least two of the private foundations providing some of the tens of millions for the performance pay bonuses that are a central element of IMPACT. They include the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation the John and Laura Arnold Family Fund. They might like IMPACT just the way it is.

While Fryer’s selection may have been a mutual decision by DCPS and the Washington Teachers’ Union, WTU’s sign off apparently came from George Parker before he left office in early December. His successor, Nathan Saunders, said this afternoon he knew nothing about Fryer until a few days ago, when he approached DCPS about starting the process of selecting an independent IMPACT evaluator.

Saunders said he had serious questions about Fryer’s suitability for such a critical task, especially in light of his status as “a recent contractor” with DCPS who is “very friendly toward the Rhee agenda.”

“This is absolutely not a dead issue,” Saunders said.

Fryer’s voice mail at Harvard is full and not taking messages. A phone message to EdLabs was not returned Thursday. Whatever reasons DCPS has for wanting Fryer, it is keeping to itself for the moment.

“We won’t be saying anything more about Fryer at this time,” said spokeswoman Safiya Simmons. That includes any details about exactly how deep Fryer will be diving or how long he’ll take. It matters because the issue is heating up politically, given Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s recent comments questioning IMPACT’s fairness to teachers in high-poverty schools.

The cash-for-grades initiative, called Capital Gains, ran for two school years (2008-09 and 2009-10) and involved about 3,000 middle schoolers, who earned up to $100 a month. Fryer’s assessment of the first year found that the money led to higher reading test scores for Hispanics, boys and students with behavior problems. But the overall effect, however, was less significant and Fryer acknowledged that the relatively small sample made it difficult to draw strong conclusions. Former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who brought Fryer to D.C., said she liked the program but that budget issues made it difficult to continue. Cap Gains is not running in the current school year, although DCPS has never formally announced that it has been discontinued.