Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rabbits, rebels, and laggards

Tom VanderArk, as much as anyone, helped set the Gates Foundation's education program on its current tragic course. It was VDA who, before he was bounced from leadership, claimed that high school transformation was "too difficult," pushing instead for closing 1,000 high schools, devastating entire neighborhoods, and replacing them with privately-managed charters. The latter have been shown to perform no better on average, than the former. It was also VDA who created the conditions for Gates' abandonment of small schools.

Now he's at it again. Writing on Huffington, VDA gives Obama's Race-to-The-Top (RTT) reforms their worst possible spin. RTT's 8 major points are broad enough to unite blue-dog republicrats with the leadership of the teacher unions. But VDA can't resist putting his own divisive stamp on them.

In his words, the $4.35 billion in RTT money should be be used to "feed the rabbits" (the states ready to move) and not "the rebel, laggard, and the complacent states" [let's just call them RLCs-mk.]. I guess the RLC states are any who question things like the willy-nilly expansion of privately-managed charters or more testing madness.

To give you an indication of where VDA is going with this, one of the rabbits he wants to feed, the only one he mentions by name, is Florida, the state with the largest high schools in the nation to go along with the lowest high school completion rate. Florida's school grading system, using ABCDF letter grades to label districts based solely on FCAT scores, became the laughing stock of the nation when dozens of A and B districts were punished by the feds for failing to make AYP under No Child Left Behind.

RTT demands that districts develop high quality data systems. If Florida with its Jeb Bush/FCAT legacy, becomes the model for rabbits, one can better understand the RLC's. Thanks for clarifying, Tom.


  1. I love this line:

    "The definition of low-performing doesn't include graduation rates and it must--how else will we target and replace the 2,000 drop out factories?"

    VanderArk then goes on to praise the state with the lowest high school completion rate in the nation.

  2. How does this guy keep landing on his feet? What's his connection? Hasn't he been a flop at everything he's done, including as a small district school supt? I thought he was giving away free prizes for some group in California.


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