Friday, September 16, 2011

Beyond Teachers

Steve Perry, CNN education contributor and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, pillories teachers’ unions as the major culprit for schools failing poor kids. Teachers’ unions are the system. Controlling everything from the length of the school day to the salaries paid. “Education is the antidote, and great teachers are the syringe through which the antidote is delivered.”

This interview is worth a read. It comes from a place of sincerity –getting the students most in need the best education possible. But Perry ultimately misses the mark. Perry is overly selective in his facts. Choosing to see only those that point the villainous dagger at teachers while excusing a host of other realities. He denies disparities in spending. Though your naked eye might be enough to allow you to see the difference in spending from a wealthy suburban district to a poor urban district, you can also depend on significant data. The OECD’s study on brick and mortar spending in public education to within district disparities in spending to inter-state spending – money matters.
Perry illuminates the problem we face in “fixing” education. He’s in the schools and fed-up. He advocates for vouchers because he sees parents and kids stuck in bad schools. He knocks teacher unions because they may be the main force he encounters day to day when trying to “fix” his school. This is not how good public policy should be made. It’s akin to having victims of violence set death penalty policy. They know a great deal about violence, but may not see the big picture. That’s where federal policy must have a broader view. One that can take Perry’s passion to fix schools and channel it beyond vouchers to a system designed to meet the needs of all students. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tavis Smiley on Education Outcomes for Black Boys

A longtime advocate for public policy to meet the disproportionate needs of the African American community, Tavis Smiley has turned his focus to Black boys in public education. He cites the ironic fact of that America now has its first Black president, meanwhile the graduation rate for Black boys hovers around 50%. He's taking his message to the public via an upcoming PBS special, "Too Important to Fail". For the most part he sounds right on target when defining the problem. We look forward to seeing what solutions his special may pose. Here's a good interview he did with TheGrio.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

School’s Back in Session…Is Congress?

Although Congress is back in session, very little business is likely to take place on ESEA. What looms before the education community is the prospect of budgetary cuts as the Congressional Super-committee commences its work. Education Week’s Allyson Klein gives a great overview of the issues at hand.