Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lynne Varner editorial on Education Reform

I don't pay much attention to education reform bills in Olympia. First, I don't think there is much I can do about them. Second, I don't think they have much impact on what happens in schools. Third, I don't think that state legislators have any idea of what should be done or how to do it. Fourth, the legislators will write education reform legislation in response to political pressures, not to improve education.

Yet the League of Education Voters and a lot of other groups are all very involved in these education reform battles in Olympia and a lot of other people seem to think that they are important. So, just in case I'm wrong, reading this editorial may give you some insight into what the fight is over.

2 comments:

Joan NE said...

Here is an EASY WAY to send Education Reform Legislation letters to the State Legislature through the LEV website

LEV website form: http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/5892/t/5529/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3109

League of Education Voters has a form on their website to facilitate letting legislators know that you support the Education Reform bills being contemplated.

Use the LEV default form, or copy/paste/edit one of FIVE ALTERNATE form letters below into the LEV website form.

==ALTERNATIVE LETTER # 1==

Subject: Pro-RTT Leag.of Edu.Voters does NOT represent the common voter

I am writing from the League of Education Voters (LEV) website form.

I do not agree with the LEV pro-RTT position.

I have many grave concerns about the priorities in the RTT final program announcement.

Please understand the LEV is NOT a grassroots organization, as they claim to be.

If you look at the LEV annual report for 2008, you will see that

1) Only 10% of their funding came from small contributions.

2) more than 50% of their funding in 2008 came from

*Nick and Leslie Hanuer
> venture capitalist
> Tier 1 Donor to LEV (>=$250,000)
> co-found of League of Education Voters

*Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
>reform advocate extraordinare
>founder of Microsoft Corporation
> Tier 1 Donor to LEV (>=$250,000)

*Microsoft Corporation
>a corporation that stands to gain tremendously from education reform).
> Tier 2 Donor to LEV (beween $25,000 & $250,000)


== ALTERNATIVE LETTER # 2 ==

Subject: $250 Million is poor justification for RTT-friendly Bills

I am writing from the League of Education Voters (LEV) website form.

I do not agree with the LEV pro-RTT position.

These RTT-oriented education-reform bills are controversial for a reason. There is NO strong peer-reviewed scientific research base that showing that these reforms are in the best interest of kids.

The trend in National Assesssment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, in fact, stand as strong evidence that reform efforts in other states have been UNSUCCESSFUL.

In states and districts that have pursued a strong reform agenda, with emphasis on promoting student score growth on state standardized assessments, these are the typical results:

1) Districts show strong growth in student scores on STATE standardized assessement

2) The Same District is showing NO progress on the National Assesssment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NAEP is the "gold-standard" for measuring academic achievement.

I feel that the representatives of the people are not doing their job right if they vote in favor of legislation that the people don't support.

If you really believe that these bills are in the best interest of students, schools, and community, then work harder to convince the people. Wait until the people are convinced before you support these bills.

The possible winnings from the RTT competition are NOT sufficient justification for passing the Education reform bills.

Joan NE said...

== ALTERNATIVE LETTER #3 ==

Subject: $250 Million is poor justification for RTT-friendly Eduction Reform Bills

I am writing from the League of Education Voters (LEV) website form.

I do not agree with the LEV pro-RTT position.

These RTT-oriented education-reform bills are controversial.

To suggest that the legislature should pass these bills in order to win RTT funds, in spite of lack of popular support for these bills MAKES NO SENSE. Why?

1) A one-time infusion of $250 M in the context of the magnitude of this state's spending on K-12 in one year, and more appropriately over several decades, is absolutely inconsequential.

2) The RTT winings have to be used as SEED money for NEW reform-oriented programs: This money can NOT be used to fill holes formed in the State's K-12 budget by the state revenue crisis.

3) The state has to commit to sustaining the new programs in future years, which means the RTT winnings will, after the 1st year actually have a NEGATIVE impact on K-12 funding.

If we don't go after RTT, the legislature is not precluded from passing such education reform bill.

My point is that the Legislature should NOT pass such legislation until it FIRST wins the public's support for these reforms.


== ALTERNATIVE LETTER #4 ==

Subject: Education Reform Bills favor private interests over parents' interests: Vote NO

I am writing from the League of Education Voters (LEV) website form.

I do not agree with the LEV pro-RTT position.

I am very concerned that Education Reform is going to degrade our public schools.

I do NOT favor the Education Reform Bills being contemplated by this legislature.

It is very clear to me, however, that these bills will greatly advance the interests of people who want to deprofessionalize K-12 public education, and channel public K-12 dollars into private hands in the most profit-friendly ways.

Please do not sell out public education to private interests. Vote NO on the education reform bills before the Legislature in this session.

== ALTERNATIVE LETTER #5 ==

Subject: Education Reform Bills are an assault on civil rights

I am writing from the League of Education Voters (LEV) website form.

I do not agree with the LEV pro-RTT position.

One area that concerns me is the reforms in RTT that target "Title I" schools. These are schools serving high proportions of economically disadvantaged children. RTT puts a high priority in "turning around" persistently low achieving Title I schools through a mechanism called "intervention."

I favor school intervention in weak schools, provided that it is humane, fair, and constructive. The four school intervention models described in RTT, are not fair, humane, and constructive.

In fact, these conventional models of intervention, and especially the three most extreme forms of intervention listed therein, are severely disruptive to the socio-academic lives of the directly affected students.

There is no strong evidence to show that the interventions described in RTT are anything but socially and academically disruptive to the affected students.

There is very good reason to believe that socioacademic disruption is a strong negative correlate of on-time graduation rate.

In the larger cities, the student populations are disproportionately minority. Thus it is minority students that will be disproportionately affected by school interventsions. This is why these Education Reform bills constitute an assault on civil rights.