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Re: Congressional Progressive Caucus

My take as of now:

- Duncan's scheme for turnarounds (4 models in the 'blueprint') is pretty much dead. What results will be more locally controlled, provided schools focus on a set of items for improvement (curriculum, prof dev, school climate, parent involvement and such). No doubt charters will continue to be funded and remain, and nothing will stop state/district from closing schools (so we in MA will remain stuck with the 'teachers reapply for jobs' model being imposed in Boston). Test scores likely to remain the major criterion for identifying schools.

- Some sort of progress requirements/expectations will be set, but likely not to be connected to any specific sanctions or actions, outside the turnarounds. AYP as we know it is likely gone, with a softer version in its place.

- The push for funding and OTL is unlikely to go very far. As I pointed out yesterday, too many Dems including Obama have agreed with R's to not spend more money, except on the military. Tens of thousands of school staff will be laid off, etc etc. They will be asking for more OTL data, maybe ask states to plan how they will enhance equity (both called for by FEA), but neither strong pressure on states nor big fed $ are likely. Money for wraparound services will be there, but again hard to see enough money to make enough difference in enough places.

- evaluating teachers based on student test scores - this is in 'negotiation' between Miller and the NEA and AFT. Whether there will be any kind of resolution or a real fight over it, making a bill impossible now and perhaps for some time to come, I do not know. Miller wanted this in 2007, NEA and AFT made sure it did not happen. I really don't know what the Senate discussion even is on this.

- rolling back the amount of tests - while there are a few members of Congress who agree, right now this does not have traction in any real way. Just seems not doable, esp now with the multi-state consortia applications that will expand testing, and the belief in evaluating teachers by kids score gains - to rate teachers you need annual scores, for schools you would not. Never mind that the test-score-gain stuff is constantly criticized, including Nat Acad of Science and now a report from the US govt itself - on this sort of stuff, too many members seem impervious to evidence.

- local assessing - significant support for professional development, but what that will mean is not known (top down? pay teachers to work together? long laundry list of good and useless things?). Some interest still exists for helping states incorporate local, including classroom, evidence in public reporting - Miller may continue to support it, albeit cautiously, as he did in 2007. This will need a lot of work, to happen and to structure it so it does good, not more damage.


On 7/30/2010 2:55 PM, George Sheridan wrote:

Did you see the June 14 announcement of the official position of the
Congressional Progressive Caucus on reauthorization of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act? Portions look like they were copied from CTA/NEA
statements on ESEA. The document, entitled "CPC Principles for the
Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act," is online at<
If you are unable to use this link, go to< http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/> and
click on "Official Positions." Representative Lynn Woolsey of California is one
of the co-chairs of the caucus. She recently hosted a town hall in her district
in which Secretary Duncan got an earful from educators and community members.
California Representative George Miller (Chair of the Committee on Education and
Labor) is also one of the 81 members of the CPC, so the fact that the caucus has
issued an official statement may indicate a shift in his position, or at least
that he no longer is in a position to impose his views on his committee.

Combine the Progressive Caucus position with the two important reports issued
this week,* and it appears that momentum may have shifted. After years in which
neo-liberal "reformers" pushed high-stakes testing, school choice and merit pay
as the moral equivalent of voting rights, fair housing and Brown v Board,
important parts of the establishment are backing away from the assault on public
education. As Winston Churchill said, this is not the end. It is not even the
beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning. Diane Ravitch's
book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has also had a
major role in creating a window for serious criticism of the Obama-Duncan agenda.

* The first report, by a coalition of civil rights groups, said the government
should stop using low-income neighborhoods as laboratories for education
experiments and criticized the administration's education policies on a number of
issues -- including funding equity and charter schools. "Framework for Providing
All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act" is available at<
The second, entitled "Our Communities Left Behind: An Analysis of the
Administration's School Turnaround Policies," was published by a national
coalition of 24 community-based groups and includes a proposal for a new school
transformation model that emphasizes community involvement.<
So far, the Administration is not modifying its position. But that line may not
be sustainable much longer, as illustrated by Monty's trenchant comments on
President Obama's speech to the Urban League.

George Sheridan

Monty Neill, Ed.D.; Interim Executive Director, FairTest; 15 Court Sq., Ste. 820; Boston, MA 02108; 857-350-8207 x 101; fax 857-350-8209; monty@fairtest.org; http://www.fairtest.org; Donate to FairTest: https://secure.entango.com/donate/MnrXjT8MQqk