Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In my mailbox

To: Supporters of the campaign for a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (BBA).
From: BBA Co-Chairs Helen Ladd, Pedro Noguera, and Tom Payzant
Date: August 4, 2010
     Job Search for BBA Coordinator;
     Civil Rights Groups Criticize Administration Policy
     Media Coverage of BBA Newark Pilot Site
1. We have now secured funding from several foundations that permits us to hire a full time national coordinator for the BBA campaign. By filling this position, we hope to expand our efforts to persuade policymakers that education improvement must be complemented by improvements in the socioeconomic conditions impeding children's ability to benefit from what schools can offer (particularly the lack of high-quality early childhood services, limited access to routine and preventive health care, and the unavailability of high-quality programs for out-of-school time); and that schools accountability for providing a quality education cannot be defined primarily by standardized tests of basic skills, but most include a holistic qualitative review of schools' resources and outcomes.

A job description for this new position is now on our website at:
If you know of anyone who would be suitable for this position, please urge him or her to apply, and let us know of your recommendation as well.

2. An important statement was issued last week by a coalition of civil rights organizations, criticizing Administration education policies for failing to provide sufficient resources (opportunities to learn) to schools serving disadvantaged children, while demanding that these schools perform at high levels. The statement calls attention to the Administration's shifting of funds from formula grants to competitive grants that benefit only a minority of children whose schools are in need of additional resources, while allowing the majority of disadvantaged children to languish in schools that have insufficient resources.

The statement also critiques other aspects of the Administration's education policy, and aligns itself with BBA's call for schools that are rooted in their communities and provide "wraparound services."
Until now, the civil rights groups have been hesitant to publicly criticize the Administration's education policies, despite private misgivings. The significance of this new statement is that the groups have apparently given up hope that private discussions alone can dissuade the Administration from its present course.

The civil rights groups that sponsored this statement include: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law, National Action Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., National Council for Educating Black Children, National Urban League, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Schott Foundation for Public Education.

The civil rights group's statement can be found at:

3. Another important statement was also issued last week by a coalition of community organizations in minority and low-income communities, pulled together by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. This statement also denounces the Administration's education program, focusing on the failure of the Administration's school turnaround strategies to involve parents and other community representatives in decisions about drastic measures to turn around schools deemed to be low performing. The statement observes that the Administration's policies are "both time-tested and flawed." It insists that low-performance is not solely attributable to school quality, because "both internal and external obstacles" contribute to this low performance: "The Administration's interventions lay the burden of failure on the schools themselves, and do not encourage an analysis of other factors that may be contributing to poor performance." The coalition's statement can be found at:
The combination of BBA, the civil rights statement, and the Annenberg statement can add new momentum to efforts to chart a more reasonable framework for the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act over the next year.

4. For over a year, BBA Co-chair Pedro Noguera has led an effort to demonstrate, in a pilot project in Newark, NJ., that BBA principles can be effective. An article in the New York Times recently described this effort. In the long run, we hope to establish a few more pilot projects along these lines, in other cities and in other parts of the country. The Times article is at:

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