Monday, June 29, 2009

Another look at Duncan's Chicago "model"

Arne Duncan continues his tour, touting over and over again, his own Chicago miracle and threatening to withhold badly needed Stim 2 dollars from districts that don't accept the model.

That model is built on top-down mayoral control of the schools, widespread and often arbitrary school closings, mainly in black neighborhoods, and replacement with replicable, privately-managed charter schools.

There is no data to support most of Duncan's wild claims, Chicago's test scores remained flat during his term as CEO. More importantly, despite the best efforts of teachers, parents and community members, the devastating effects of Duncan/Daley's education and social policies on community life don't speak well for the model.

  • CPS and Cook County lead the nation in reported cases of gonorrhea, and has the third highest number of Chlamydia cases. Teenagers account for more than 60 percent of new cases in Chicago. Only after these grim statistics were duly reported in the media did Duncan's replacement, Roh Huberman announce a 6-school "pilot program" aimed at testing and treating kids for STDs. Since the program runs at no cost to CPS, one can only wonder why it wasn't included in Duncan's model?
  • CPS also leads the nation in suspension rates of black, male students, a statistic that speaks for itself. Studies show a strong link between suspensions and dropouts.
Don't expect Duncan or Daley to take any responsibility for these numbers. You can't blame them, they will argue. How ironic, especially coming from Duncan who has now joined forces with the "no excuses" policy coalition that puts blame for low standardized test scores squarely on the shoulders of neighborhood schools.

To my way of thinking, if you want to judge or compare school systems, start with a look at the lives of the students and see how that system has helped improved the conditions of life for them--or not.

Turnarounds--more business for 'charter execs'

The turnaround model could be a road to greater growth for the charter-school movement which, after 16 years, comprises 1.4 million students in 4,600 schools — still only about 4% of all public schools. Charters, which are funded with public dollars but are typically free of school-district and teacher-union restrictions, have typically been regarded as labs of innovation (though a recent Stanford University study makes the case that charter-school quality can range greatly, from great to not so great). (Time)
A break from the past?

Obama has nominated Brenda Dann-Messier, the leader of a Rhode Island nonprofit who has a background in adult education, workforce, and literacy issues, to serve as his assistant secretary for vocational and adult education. Sean Cavanaugh at Curriculum Matters, calls Obama's pick, "something of a departure" from Bush administration policy on voc-ed.
Bush repeatedly tried to eliminate funding for the federal vocational program, arguing that it has not been successful in raising academic achievement and setting high expectations for students.

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