Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Duncan rationale

According to Sec. Duncan,
"2,000 high schools produce half of the dropouts in the country...They are perpetuating poverty and social failure... But if we agree that the adults in these schools are failing these children then we have to find the right people and we can't let our rules and regulations get in the way."
By rules and regulations, Duncan means collective bargaining agreements. Forget the rules negotiated between teachers and districts. Fire 'em all. Let God sort 'em out, says Arne.

Okay, now fast forward to a report cited by the Hechinger Institute at Columbia Teachers College, which says: "17 states produce some 70 percent of the students who don’t graduate." Never mind, as Sherman Dorn is quick to point out, that 17 states also enroll 70 percent of the nation's students. The question is, using Duncan's logic, aren't these states guilty of perpetuating poverty and social failure? Shouldn't we fire all the teachers in those 17 states and replace them with teachers from the remaining 33?

Actually, the Hechinger folks are asking the right questions, including:
  • What investments can states make to turnaround lagging schools in a time of economic crisis?
  • How will funds from the stimulus package help transform underperforming high schools and how can government and school officials be held accountable?
  • Are changes needed in federal education law?
  • What can and should state policymakers do to make sure that increasing graduation rates will become a top priority?
  • What interventions and are most effective in improving high school graduation rates?

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