Thursday, December 18, 2008

Perhaps A Reason To Like The Incoming Secretary of Education

With a school system in as bad a shape as is Chicago's, you have to wonder about putting its superintendent in charge of the US Department of Education--but that's what a President Obama will do, by nominating Arne Duncan to be Secretary of Education.

Via EIA (see blogroll) we learn, though, that the communists don't like this choice. Why not, you ask?

Other practices carried out under his direction include performance pay for teachers, the promotion of charter schools and forcing failing students to repeat years.

The horror! Perhaps they want a Five Year Plan.


Mrs. C said...

FWIW, I've read that he has been trying to get homeschoolers to submit to a bunch of stuff not required by law:

"No Statements of Assurance, no Home School Registration Forms, no "instructional services" hours need be recorded, no "course materials" need be attached, no birth dates, annual reports or other such invasions of homeschoolers’ time and rights are mandated by law."

"Unless I’m missing something and Chicago is exempt from Illinois homeschooling rights."

From the Corn and Oil blog.

I know that's kind of a narrow look at things from your perspective (because most people don't homeschool, yep, I know that!), but I do wonder if this signals that there will be more regulation or animosity there. I'd LIKE to think they'll leave us alone and/or not put more restrictions on public schools than there already are, but there you go. :]

I think many of the forms we're asked to fill out for our public school children ask totally irrelevant questions to begin with and wonder where this is heading... I think privacy is an issue for public and private school children.

mazenko said...

I'd only question the appointment of Arne Duncan if he took a good or even average school district and made it worse. In taking on the task of running CPS and actually making significant progress, appealing to reformers and teachers unions alike, Duncan has earned considerable respect. It's nearly impossible to take on those jobs and look good, yet people like Arne Duncan, Paul Vallas, Michelle Rhee, and Michael Bennett have done so, and they should be admired for the earnest pragmatic approaches they have taken.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Would the SecEd be in any position to suppress home-schooling? Not obviously so. Certainly the SecEd doesn't have any direct power to make life tougher for home-schoolers so an anti-home schooling SedEd would have to go about it indirectly.

Given the willingness of home-schooling organizations to confront threats I don't see the SecEd being much of a threat.

rightwingprof said...

"forcing failing students to repeat years"

Would somebody please explain what is controversial about this, and when, exactly, it became controversial?

Ellen K said...

Rtwing-because it makes the assumption that students are responsible for their own education. Heaven forbid we make students responsible for anything. As for the appointment, I would much rather see someone who was from a highly successful public school district in the position. The last thing we need is more Chicago cronies in the cabinet.

allen (in Michigan) said...

My guess is the advent of NCLB.

Social promotion's been a scandal for a long time but other then the occasional scolding from the media carried no real bite.

Now, at least theoretically, it does.

Thus the recently-discovered baleful effects of repeating a year.

For what it's worth, I agree that repeating a grade is a lousy way to solve the problem although the defenders of the status quo will get no comfort from my reasoning.

Repeating a year isn't just evidence of the failure of the system, it's evidence of the failure of the means of identifying whether education's occurring.

You don't put up a building and wait until the last switchplate is screwed into place before determining whether the foundation's sound. Inspection is an ongoing process and problems are caught as early as possible when they're easiest to fix.

If you have to wait to the end of the year to determine whether the kid's on track that's a problem with the testing/record-keeping system and the damage that's been done is much greater then if the problem had been caught earlier. If it doesn't matter whether education's occurring then you put off making that determination until it can't be put off any longer.

Anonymous said...

well, allen, let's say that all along a student's teachers have been monitering progress and adjusting as needed. let's just say that this kid gets all the accomodations and extra support (regardless if the student has an iep or not) that could be provided -- but still fails. (this happens in my school.) no one waited until the end of the year and then said,"oh ps, you're failing." is it okay to fail them and hold them back then?

i agree that there are is a danger of teachers waiting until the end of the year to alert parents/students that they may fail for the year. but, there are also times when supports have been put in place and a student does not do their part. in that case -- they definitely should not be promoted.