Still Struggling to Get Out of the Starting Blocks

Remember all that talk of reform so that we could get some of the Race to the Top educational funds?  And how we’re going to really kick some butt of the teachers? Yeah, well, after we made a bunch of “reforms,” we’re still sitting in our shiny new prom dress, just waiting for somebody to pick us up.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have advanced to the finals of the Obama Administration’s $4.35 billion “Race To The Top” stimulus funding competition -but California is not among them. The Obama administration announced the finalists Thursday.

The state’s failure to even make the first cut seemed to validate those who pushed hardest to reform laws in order to submit a competitive application. Chief among those advocates was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“We need to be more aggressive and bolder in reforming our education system. While the reforms we passed did move our state forward, they did not go far enough because other states were more competitive,” the governor said in a written statement. (SJ Merc)

Or, instead of validating those who pushed for reform laws, perhaps it validates those who said, screw this? Race to the Top is just another bad continuation of No Child Left Behind’s over-emphasis on testing at the expense of actually educating our students. As Robert said a few months ago:

So, just to be clear, Duncan is using the Race to the Top funds as bait to force all 50 states to adopt his crazy reforms designed to even further emphasize testing, link teacher pay and performance to those tests (regardless of the other qualifications and achievements of those teachers) – all without any guarantee that states will get a dime for their trouble.

California ought to call BS on Duncan’s Race to the Bottom. We should drop out of the contest for these funds, as they come at too high a cost – undermining our schools’ ability to properly teach our children for a shot at a small amount of one-time funds. It’s like taking the mortgage payment and buying lotto tickets with it.

Our schools are in serious trouble, thanks to $10 billion in unacceptable cuts made during the 2009 budget deals. Duncan’s bait money won’t make much of a dent in rehiring teachers or improving educational equality. Since the Obama Administration has gone AWOL on the education crisis, California is going to have to seize on public support for schools funding and resolve this problem on our own. We certainly should go no further in implementing Duncan’s reforms.

The ridiculous amount of testing isn’t making our children more prepared for the future, it is simply making adults feel good about themselves.  There must be some place for basic testing, but the incessant testing that today’s students have to go through is ridiculous.  Back in the day, we had to take one day of tests every couple of years. Now there are several days per year dedicated to tests that end up teaching kids more about the format of some stupid test than the subject matter.

I hate to relate this to a television show, but check out the fourth season of The Wire.  Instead of running a rat race, we need to focus on holistic education, from cradle to graduation as preached by the Harlem Children’s Zone. We need to provide our students with not only a better 6 hours of education per day, but help ensure that they come prepared to learn every day. Our future depends not on what a standardized test result says, but on how prepared these students are when they graduate.  Tests alone can’t answer those questions.

8 thoughts on “Still Struggling to Get Out of the Starting Blocks”

  1. Thanks for quoting my prescient words while I was out at the Monterey “save public education rally” bemoaning the entirely predictable outcome of this whole “Race to the Top” charade with local education union leaders.

    Arne Duncan is a charlatan. Woe betide he or she who ever falls for his nonsense again.

  2. of instruction to meet his budget squeeze.

    Everyone knows that is going to affect learning negatively.

    Of course, we could cut the week devoted to STAR testing…

  3. Thousands of teachers being laid off, students crowded in classes with no room to sit down, college classes evaporating before the eyes of graduating seniors and Obama thinks it’s time to fire some teachers and close schools, pretty much willy nilly.

    I got some news for Obama and Duncan, administrators and principals need to learn how to lead and manage their schools better. When a teacher is truly underperforming, there are ways to help that teacher and if necessary, document lack of progress and yes, let them go. But this almost never happens the way it’s supposed to. Meanwhile the mindless mantra “get rid of bad teachers” undermines the all the teachers working thoughtfully and with a whole lot of heart (and quite a lot of their own money spent on supplies) day after day.

    Duncan has NO personal experience as a teacher or administrator in the trenches. I think he means well, he truly does, but he simply hasn’t the chops for this job. He has no business imposing his fly by night “ideas” on America’s schools.

  4. Those are just more lies from the union-parroting media that crop up whenever anyone talks about “cutting” (i.e., trimming scheduled increases to) the education budget behemoth. But since the CTA, the single largest impediment to our children’s education, can’t stand teachers actually having to perform well in their jobs, like the rest of us idiots who pay their enormous salaries, California can kiss this federal money goodbye.

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