Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Washington D.C. Dispatch: Amina reports on Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Hearing, Washington, D.C.

Witness: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

The Shell Game

It feels a little like a shell game in today’s House Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the reauthorization of ESEA. Duncan’s testimony on the administration’s blueprint presents lots of attractive shells. However, when pressed it’s unclear that anything good lies under them for students of color, their families and communities.

Let’s start with equity. Finally, a proposal that says it will hold states and districts accountable for equitable distribution of resources.  However, the blueprint wording is soft. And Secretary Duncan’s explanation even softer when pressed for details by Senator Harkin. He describes the problem of funding inequity at length, but nothing more. There’s no timeline, no enforcement strategy, no real plan. The shell looks good but there may be nothing under it.

Community what?

Community engagement and parental involvement seem to be under every shell, but so dispersed and lacking in clarity it may not be worth the effort of looking. Senator Dodd asks, Where is it in the blueprint? Yes, yes, yes, this may be the single most important factor in improving schools, Duncan agrees. But clearly the blueprint is out of step with all this importance. The blueprint mentions the word ‘parents’ a total of five times!

More tellingly, community engagement has no dedicated program. It’s mixed in with a potpourri of other good policy ideas with nowhere to go and presumably no real time to dedicate to them. Nutrition, school safety, physical education, mental health, substance abuse, bullying and finally community engagement efforts are all wrapped together with the competitive grant ribbon. 

Community, well specifically community-based organizations are mentioned at length in the Promise Neighborhoods and 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs. The programs beg a distinction that Duncan tends to blur; community-based organizations and actual community engagement are different. One is a thing, the other a process. One can be relied on to provide services, as the blueprint aptly does in the Promise Neighborhoods program and others. The other requires a plan, and an underlying premise and belief that community members must be drawn into discussions of how we talk about schools, teaching and learning. Community engagement--a sprinkle here and there, but really not much anywhere.

Tango with turnarounds

Finally, and perhaps most troubling is the blueprint’s treatment of turnaround schools: schools in which students of color are overrepresented. The blueprint’s approach reminds me of my own childhood in school. There was always that kid in your classroom or grade; the hard one. The one who failed almost every test, disrupted the class at every turn, was constantly in the principal’s office, was warned, sanctioned, and finally expelled. The system just didn’t know what to do with him or her. These students are moved around but are inconsistently engaged. They need the most, but in an overburdened system can get the least. That student seems much akin to how the blueprint treats turnaround schools. Let’s close them, punish the staff and principals, convert them into charters, but not really engage them. To do that we’d have to face what these schools really are: Extreme manifestations of systemic problems. To fix them we may need to revolutionize the whole system, and it takes more than a shell game to accomplish that feat.


oakleyses said...

prada outlet, oakley sunglasses, louboutin, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, jordan shoes, tiffany and co, coach factory outlet, louboutin, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, louis vuitton outlet, air max, oakley sunglasses cheap, coach outlet, gucci outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike free, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, nike shoes, longchamp handbags, michael kors outlet, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, burberry outlet, burberry outlet, louis vuitton, tory burch outlet, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, coach purses, air max, louis vuitton outlet, kate spade handbags, true religion jeans, coach outlet store online, kate spade outlet, louboutin outlet, prada handbags, tiffany and co, louis vuitton handbags, chanel handbags

oakleyses said...

air force, louboutin, vanessa bruno, nike air max, mulberry, nike roshe, air max, oakley pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, new balance pas cher, ralph lauren, north face, true religion outlet, nike trainers, air max pas cher, air jordan, nike free, michael kors pas cher, louis vuitton, vans pas cher, michael kors, hollister, north face, true religion outlet, sac louis vuitton, converse pas cher, hollister, hogan outlet, air max, ray ban pas cher, polo ralph lauren, ray ban sunglasses, sac longchamp, louis vuitton uk, timberland, sac hermes, nike free pas cher, lululemon, michael kors, nike blazer, nike tn, sac burberry, sac louis vuitton, polo lacoste, longchamp, nike roshe run, barbour, sac guess

oakleyses said...

new balance shoes, babyliss pro, valentino shoes, nfl jerseys, longchamp, nike roshe run, soccer shoes, ugg pas cher, moncler, uggs outlet, canada goose, ugg, canada goose, ugg boots, ugg boots, marc jacobs, bottega veneta, ferragamo shoes, mcm handbags, nike huarache, giuseppe zanotti, soccer jerseys, rolex watches, jimmy choo outlet, herve leger, birkin bag, vans shoes, p90x, beats by dre, canada goose outlet, mac cosmetics, hollister, abercrombie and fitch, mont blanc, canada goose jackets, reebok outlet, asics running shoes, wedding dresses, insanity workout, ugg australia, celine handbags, ghd, canada goose, north face jackets, chi flat iron, north face outlet, canada goose uk, lululemon outlet, instyler

oakleyses said...

ugg, supra shoes, iphone 6 cases, karen millen, converse shoes, juicy couture outlet, links of london, hollister, moncler, rolex watches, moncler outlet, canada goose, baseball bats, coach outlet store online, toms shoes, hollister, gucci, pandora charms, vans, louis vuitton, oakley, parajumpers, moncler, pandora charms, wedding dresses, swarovski, moncler, pandora jewelry, moncler, canada goose, louboutin, converse, timberland boots, air max, hollister clothing store, ugg, swarovski crystal, lancel, ray ban, air max, juicy couture outlet, montre homme, moncler, ralph lauren, thomas sabo