Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are you now or have you ever been...?

With his usual disingenuous I'm-just-saying innuendo, Russo launches a get-to-the-bottom-of-this investigation ("AKA's too powerful in CPS?") of a black sorority with lots of Chicago educators and administrators among its members. Funny, I still remember when Chicago was forced by a deseg consent decree (still in effect) to first hire black/Latino principals.

Russo rallies his readers to name names and tell stories out of school. Several do it gladly, regaling us with tales of a sorority "sistah" being promoted in the bureacracy's ranks, over someone more deserving.

But as Russo well knows, the real power in CPS, doesn't reside in any black or Latino frats or sororities. Not on Daley's plantation, that is. Remember, Huberman was picked over logical choice and sorority member, Barbara Eason Watkins, to run the mayor's schools. Before Huberman, there was Duncan and before Duncan, Vallas. This in a district where 93% of students are children of color. Thousands of black teachers have lost their jobs and dozens of schools in the black community have been closed under Daley's Renaissance 2010.

Maybe it's the Chicago Civic Committee (CCC not AKA) that Russo should be investigating. Does he even have a clue about why black sororities and frats were created in the first place?

Racing to the bottom

California's already ravaged school districts are ineligible for federal Race to the Top dollars, reports Edweek's Michele McNeil. So are states like New York and Wisconsin. The reason? They all have laws barring the use of standardized test scores to determine individual teacher salaries, in violation of RTT guidlines.


Fernando Camberos often comments here on SmallTalk. Check out his compelling piece, "Expected to Fail: Making the Familiar Strange," on the Demockracy blog. I'm adding it to my course syllabus for the fall.


  1. Thanks for the shout out Mike, really appreciate it, and really enjoy the intelligent blog.

  2. You could dump the entire $4.35 billion into California and no child would see a dime because of the state's recklessness in funding education.

    Did you know that the CA Dept of Education receives more than half its funds from the feds? It's a fact, Jack. Did you know that black and Hispanic kids in other states do better than the avg kid (all students combined) in CA? Did you know that because CA mandated smaller class sizes (a good idea, all things beiung equal)the state forced schools to hire 10's of thousands of unqualified and untrained teachers? Do you know that CA asks less of its taxpayers re: funding education than most other states (this all started well before the recession)?

    If anything, Duncan is asking the state to do too little rather than too much. Time for CA to take some responsibility for its problems.

  3. The Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education think tank, claims that the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program for schools aims specifically at harming California – and that it does so with the blessing of liberal East Bay Rep. George Miller, an architect of the reviled Bush-era No Child Left Behind legislation.

    The rest of this post is from Fordham’s Flypaper blog, by Mike Petrilli, who points out that there’s only one absolute requirement for states to apply:

    “States that don’t permit schools to use student achievement data when making teacher tenure or evaluation decisions need not apply.
    It’s not apparent why this is more important to the Obama Administration than, say, lifting charter school caps, or embracing merit pay. But two things are clear. First, it pokes the teachers unions straight in the eye …second, it pokes California straight in the eye, as it is the only state that is indisputably disqualified as a result of this provision. …
    California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has promised to change California’s laws to bring it into compliance, though California teachers unions aren’t happy about that.
    But here’s my question, again: Why did this issue rise to the level of an eligibility requirement? And why pick on California?
    I have two theories. (Actually, I have one theory, and a friend of mine has another.) My theory: George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor committee, is having fun yanking California’s chain, and the CTA/NEA’s chain as well. Miller, a liberal from the Bay Area, has a long history of driving his own state’s officials bonkers, especially around teacher issues. He’s also probably still mad at the NEA for making such a stink about merit pay when Miller’s NCLB reauthorization bill was floated back in 2007. …
    There’s no way that the Administration published the Race to the Top application without running it by Miller; I wouldn’t be surprised if his office pushed the Department to be as tough on California over the firewall issue as possible. At the least, he signed off on it. And he doesn’t regret it; he said in a statement to the LA Times: ” “I hope states that don’t presently meet the eligibility will decide to take the steps necessary to meet it. It’s the right policy to take our education system to the next level.”
    … Here’s what’s interesting: Most members of Congress try to bring home the pork to their home states and districts. (That’s one issue that’s surfaced around healthcare reform—how to keep Congress away from Medicare reimbursement rate decisions.) But here’s George Miller, proud California citizen, doing what he can to keep the Golden State from winning the Race to the Top. (Or, more fairly, trying to browbeat it into changing its laws in order to qualify.) Someone should ask a political scientist to make sense of that."


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.