Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There's A Reason They Call It The "Consumer Model"

OK so now that Michigan governor Rick (I'd rather be called a nerd than a republican) Snyder has fixed the economic problems in the state (the poverty rate has risen from 13.5% in 2009 to 16.8% in 2010; we have the ninth largest homeless population of all 50 states and DC; our infant mortality rate is almost 9% higher than the rest of the country; and the unemployment rate is 1.5% higher than the national average) he's ready to turn his attention to our schools.

We don't find that to be a comforting development, and it seems we are not alone.
Michigan Board of Education President John Austin calls it a “nuclear bomb.”
National education reformer Diane Ravitch proclaims “Michigan is on its way to ending public education.” Michigan Future Inc. President Lou Glazer warns that local school districts won’t survive.
Well sure, it sounds bad when you say it like that, but let's hear what the supporters have to say:
Richard McLellan, the Lansing attorney at the center of legislation, says critics should focus more on improving education than their debating points: “I think it will potentially drive real change for better learning. So, in that respect, if you believe schools are not doing a very good job today and you believe they do a better job afterward, then yes, it could be disruptive for some people’s careers.” He wishes, “People spent as much time analyzing the reforms as they spend with rhetoric.”
Are we the only ones who find it a tad odd that educational reform in Michigan is being driven by an attorney? Especially an attorney who heads up an organization called the Oxford Foundation, whose motto is to “lessen the burdens of government.” Public education, a burden on government. Who knew? Oh, and Mr. McLellan? While you're waiting for people to analyze your reforms, you might want to analyze your sentence structure. That second sentence there? You are saying the point of your reforms is to disrupt people's careers. Not sure that's the angle you want to go with. Just saying.

So what exactly are these reforms of which you speak sir?
A coordinated series of draft and introduced bills could reshape public education in Michigan, giving students more options and re-routing taxpayer money.
OK, other than reversing the order of those two adverbial phrases at the end there so they better reflect your priorities we don't see the the problem. After all, when we go to buy a toaster, we want a lot of options. If we are having a heart attack, we want to know what our options for physicians are before we call 911. Choice is always good. Hey, it works for dating services, why not education?
House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358 expand the powers of the Educational Achievement Authority, which was established to run low-performing schools. The EAA is state-operated school district that this year is running 15 Detroit schools, with plans to expand next year to schools across the state scoring in the bottom 5 percent of all schools.
Now we're getting somewhere. See, this is the governor's genius. He created the EAA, then brought in John Covington who had been the superintendent of Kansas City Schools to run it. This Covington guy has a proven track record:
While his teachers and other staff labor on the front lines trying to make a success of Superintendent John Covington’s far-reaching plans for the Kansas City School District, Covington has been entertaining at least one job offer. He’s a candidate to run a collection of low-performing schools in Michigan. In this light, his sudden and mysterious resignation Wednesday makes more sense. He knew there’s a good chance he’ll be leaving, and I guess he decided to take down his adversary, school board President Airick Leonard West, on his way out, by leveling meddling accusations.
Superintendent John Covington owes the Kansas City School District and the city an apology. In an abrupt resignation Wednesday that shocked the community and his own board, the Kansas City superintendent offered no reason for breaking his contract. But now it appears he resigned to take another job as chancellor of Michigan’s Education Achievement System in Michigan. As a result, it’s abundantly clear that Covington has misled his board and the public about his intentions.
Roy Roberts and the Education Achievement Authority/System may have thought they were getting the proverbial Superman when they hired John Covington away from Kansas City with a four-year, $1.5 million contract as EAS superintendent. It appears—with Kansas City schools losing state accreditation—what Michigan really got was a lesser Kent from back in Smallville.
Former Kansas City Schools Superintendent John Covington rewrote his top administrators' contracts to sweeten their severance before resigning and taking three of them with him to lead a new agency overseeing Michigan's poorest-performing schools, according to correspondence obtained The Kansas City Star.
Umm...yeah. On this reading that doesn't seem as impressive as it did before, but surely Mr. Covington must have some supporters.
Michigan School Superintendent Mike Flanagan is in favor of reform, but thinks the state should slow down until we know how current reforms, such as lifting the cap on charters and increasing online education options, work.
Well said, Mr. Flanagan, except we already know how charters work.
Research on charter schools paints a mixed picture. A number of recent national studies have reached the same conclusion: charter schools do not, on average, show greater levels of student achievement, typically measured by standardized test scores, than public schools, and may even perform worse.
Oh, and online schools too.
Students attending Colorado’s full-time online education programs have typically lagged their peers on virtually every academic indicator, from state test scores to student growth measures to high school graduation rates.
Of course, student achievement isn't the only concern these professional educators, who only have the students' best interests at heart care about, right Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies?
Quisenberry said this new chapter in school reform is “asking some important questions” that will potentially provide “a richer experience for students.” However, he said, the administrative infrastructure required to allow funding to follow student activities, perhaps over multiple districts, could prove to be a challenge.
Ha! Not so great now that you're in the same boat as the public schools is it Mr. Quisenberry? Back when charters were taking money from the public schools you were all like For the children! and  Choice is the answer! Karma's a bitch innit?

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