Re: Obama Bribes States to Misuse Tests
I like the way you changed "coaxes" to "bribes", you old spin-master smoothy you.
From: Bob Schaeffer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com; ARN State <ARNfirstname.lastname@example.org>; ARN State <ARNemail@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Sent: Wed, Nov 4, 2009 4:09 am
Subject: [arn-l] Obama Bribes States to Misuse Tests
OBAMA COAXES STATES TO CHANGE WITH SCHOOL DOLLARS
Associated Press -- November 3, 2009
By Libby Quaid
Washington -- Using stimulus dollars as bait, President Barack Obama is
coaxing states to rewrite education laws and cut deals with unions as
they compete for $5 billion in school reform grants, the most money a
president has ever had for overhauling schools. And it may end up going
to only a few states.
In Wisconsin, where Obama will visit Wednesday, lawmakers are poised to
change a law to boost their state's chances. Nine other states have
taken similar steps.
And states can't even apply for the money yet.
"There is an appetite out there for change," Education Secretary Arne
Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"There's been really dramatic movement in a number of states," said
Duncan, who will travel to Madison, Wis., with the president. "This was
the goal, but we didn't know if anyone was going to respond."
Respond they have.
Wisconsin lawmakers planned to vote Thursday to lift a ban on using
student test scores to judge teachers. That helps clear the way for an
Obama priority, teacher pay tied to student performance.
California lifted a similar ban last month. And before that, charter
school restrictions or budget cuts were eased in eight states â
Louisiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Delaware, Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut and
Duncan had repeatedly warned that such restrictions would hurt a state's
chances at the money. The administration can't really tell states and
schools what to do, since education has been largely a state and local
responsibility throughout the history of the U.S.
But Obama has considerable leverage in his nearly $5 billion competitive
grant fund, dubbed the "Race to the Top," that was set aside in the
economic stimulus law.
"If you put a very large, $5 billion program in front of the entire
country, everyone eyes that as an opportunity," said Wisconsin state
Sen. John Lehman, a Democrat who chairs the state's Senate Education
Committee and a former high school teacher.
No president has ever had that much money for schools at his discretion.
Only Duncan â not Congress â has control over who gets it. And only some
states, perhaps 10 to 20, will actually get the money.
Obama will use the trip to Wisconsin to call attention to the actions
states are taking, one year after his election, to put his vision of
reform in place, Melody Barnes, Obama's domestic policy director, told
reporters Wednesday on a conference call.
Obama sees the test score data and charter schools, which are publicly
funded but independent of local school boards, as solutions to the
problems that plague public education.
The national teachers' unions disagree. They say student achievement is
much more than a score on a standardized test and that it's a mistake to
rely so heavily on charter schools.
"Despite growing evidence to the contrary, it appears the administration
has decided that charter schools are the only answer to what ails
America's public schools," the National Education Association, the
largest teachers' union, said in comments submitted to the Education
The NEA added: "We should not continue the unhealthy focus on
standardized tests as the primary evidence of student success."
At the state level, unions have made deals with lawmakers on test
scores. In Wisconsin, the state teachers' union agreed that test scores
could be used to evaluate teachers â as long as they couldn't be used to
fire or discipline teachers.
Teachers' unions are an influential segment of Obama's Democratic base.
Obama is encouraging states to get their support; the Education
Department says a state can win extra points in the "Race to the Top" if
unions support their efforts.
The Wisconsin agreement is only half a loaf, said Amy Wilkins, a
lobbyist for Education Trust, a children's advocacy group.
"There are lots of ways to use the data aside from firing and
discipline," Wilkins said. "That said, unless you figure out a fair but
fast way to remove truly incompetent teachers from classrooms, they're
going to continue to be cycled into the highest poverty schools."
Charter schools and test scores fit into four broad goals that Obama
wants states to pursue â tougher academic standards, better ways to
recruit and keep effective teachers, a method of tracking student
performance and a plan of action to turn around failing schools.
A state will have to meet a series of conditions to earn points and
boost its chances. Applications will be available this month, and the
first round of grants will be awarded early next year.
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