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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 07/27/2010

Duncan being too 'modest'

By Valerie Strauss

Education Secretary Arne Duncan was being too modest when he said in a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club that the Obama administration is playing a “modest role” in sparking a “quiet” revolution in education.

There is nothing modest about the administration’s role in driving reform, and there is nothing “quiet” about the change process, not in Washington or in state legislatures that rushed to change laws for a chance to win federal dollars.

The administration is Bigfoot, driving change with billions of dollars in the Race to the Top competition. In fact, Race to the Top, which started with $4.35 billion, is doling out the largest pot of discretionary federal education money ever. How’s that for modest?

Duncan announced the finalists for Round 2 -- 18 states and the District of Columbia -- each of which will send teams to Washinton, D.C., in August to explain why they deserve to be on top.

(The finalists are Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.)

Duncan spoke about many things: assessments and teacher evaluation and teachers and principals who are “producing miracles in the classroom every day... [and] “are the heroes of the Quiet Revolution.”

He said education was “the civil rights issue” of our generation. And he said:

“We have reached this stage of education reform after decades of trying, failing, succeeding and learning. We’re building on what we know works -- and doesn’t work -- and while there are still some honest policy disagreements among key stakeholders, there is far more consensus than people think.”

Really?

The “Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn” released yesterday by a coalition of civil rights groups speaks directly to fundamental differences over education policy, including those over charter schools, teacher evaluation, and, perhaps most importantly, resource equity.

It said about the competitive nature of Race to the Top, the adminstration's chief education initiative to date:

"If education is a civil right, children in 'winning' states should not be the only ones who have the opportunity to learn in high-quality environments. Such an approach reinstates the antiquated and highly politicized frame for distributing federal support to states that civil rights organizations fought to remove in 1965.”

The Education Department sent me some facts after Duncan’s speech today that speak to this issue. Here they are:


*The 19 finalists for Race to the Top Round 2 alone enroll nearly two-thirds of all African American and Hispanic students in the United States. Put another way, this 37 percent of US states (including D.C.) enroll 63 percent of our African American and Hispanic students.

*The 21 states (19 finalists plus Tennessee and Delaware, which won Race funding in the first round] have 5.4 million black students and 6.5 million Hispanic students. This represents 66 percent of black students and 64 percent of Hispanic students nationwide.

*Aggregated: 65 percent of the nation’s minority students are in these 21 states.

So if all 19 finalists actually are eventually declared winners in the second round (which is not expected), then we’ll only have to worry about the other 35 percent of minority students being left out of the funding spree. So much for equity.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | July 27, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Equity, Race to the Top  | Tags:  duncan and finalists, duncan and race to the top, duncan names race to the top finalists, race finalists, race to the top, race to the top and round 2, race to the top finalists, round 2 finalists and race to the top, rttt finalists  
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Comments

It sounds like Joann Armao and karl Rove are writing Duncan's speeches.

This whole thing makes me sick.

Posted by: efavorite | July 27, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree w Ms. Strauss about Arne's "modesty." The speech was pretty bad--for ignoring most of the top issues, pushback by teachers, the slowness of Ed. to supercede NCLB, and yesterday's civil rights group pronouncement. In addition, his answer to the pop-up question about the District firings was vacant, but public officials of all types and qualities are trained pretty well to contain their reactions and answer a "different" question when this happens. He did seemed displeased for an instant. If he spoke his mind, he almost certaintly would be very supportive of Ms. Rhee and her approach.

Posted by: axolotl | July 27, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Typical speech from Duncan. He talks his way down the middle of the road, but the policy ideas and levers are mostly coming from one side. Interesting to see who's lining up on the other side, saying "enough already!" - the civil rights coalition, the church coalition, most teachers, and a growing number of parent activists.

Posted by: DavidBCohen | July 27, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

When he announced Race-to-the-Trough in a WaPo OpEd many months back, he called it "Education's Moonshot." Now with all the grassroots pushback -- and the soon-to-be many angry states starved of both their spot at the trough and edujobs funds -- he's trying to make it sound like a velvet revolution.

Posted by: dz159 | July 27, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

It's time to get the federal government out of education. All's they do is damage it.

Posted by: educationlover54 | July 27, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Strauss has taken way out of context what Duncan referred to as "quiet" to include not providing link where reference Duncan's "quiet" referance was made:

The Quiet Revolution

From journalists and educators to politicians and parents, there is a growing sense that a quiet revolution is underway in our homes and schools, classrooms and communities.

On Tuesday, July 27, Secretary Arne Duncan will talk about this quiet revolution in a major speech at the National Press Club at 12:30 pm ET.

This quiet revolution is driven by motivated parents who want better educational options for their children and is driven by educators and administrators who are challenging the inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools.

The Obama administration is playing a modest role in sparking this quiet revolution through Race to the Top and other reform initiatives that are giving states the incentive to raise standards, improve teacher effectiveness, build data systems, and turn around low-performing schools.

During the speech, Duncan will announce Race to the Top finalists.

http://www.ed.gov/

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 27, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

and YES Education Reform IS driven by:

"... Driven by motivated parents who want better educational options for their children and is driven by educators and administrators who are challenging the inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools."

It seems to me Stauss is way more comfortable with national education systemic failure (i.e. remaining the status quo).

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 27, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes Duncan is being too 'modest'.

How else explain a man who solved all the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools of class rooms that are in mayhem with disruptive students by telling educators at teaching college to stress class room management for teaching in the Title 1 poverty public schools?

I would not be surprised if Mr. Duncan this year told the educators at teaching college to stress safety management for teaching in the Title 1 poverty public schools to deal with the problems of high violence at these schools.

The Title 1 poverty public schools need Federal funds to provide the basic standards that all Americas expect in public schools such as safe schools and class rooms where the disruptive are removed allowing teachers to teach and children to learn.

These are the basic standards that should be in all public schools in the nation.

There is no need for public charter schools, standardized testing, or data system when Title 1 poverty public schools lack the basic standards of public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me Stauss is way more comfortable with national education systemic failure (i.e. remaining the status quo).

Posted by: PGCResident1
............................
And how many Title 1 poverty public schools will now be safe after the spending of these billions of dollars?

And how many Title 1 poverty public schools will have classrooms where the disruptive have been removed and teachers can teach while the children that want to learn can learn?

The answer to both of these questions is none since Race To The Top is doing nothing in regard to the real problems of Title 1 poverty public schools.

Any American would not want to send their child to a Title 1 poverty public schools because these schools are unsafe and the disruptive instead of being removed are allowed to create mayhem in the class room. Middle class Americans would be outraged if their local public schools had these problems.

Time for honesty by white Americans with recognition that even the poor deserve to have the basic standards of public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

The entire education system requires reform from Advanced to Comprehensive to Title 1 classroom environments.

There are true reasons while students who are successful (or close to being so) within traditional classrooms are not prepared for college level rigor, study nor research abilities and we can go as far as not have basic as adequate organizational skills as well.

These kids require taking remidiation classes in language arts and math their first year in college. The fact of the matter is that majority of student graduates that leave public education facilities are NOT prepared for post-secondary education standards and these same students come from diverse income level households, i.e., the working class.

What is also very troubling is the fact that working class famalies provides the larger tax base toward our local public school systems yet our kids do not receive what we've paid our taxes to provide.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 27, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

This quiet revolution is driven by motivated parents who want better educational options for their children and is driven by educators and administrators who are challenging the inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools.
Posted by: PGCResident1
....................................
This quiet revolution is driven by politicians who do not want to provide Title 1 poverty public schools with the basic requirements of safe schools and class rooms without mayhem from disruptive students.

All those parents in neighborhoods of Title 1 poverty public schools that apply for public charter schools that are safe and get rid of the disruptive, would rate have safe public schools that get rid of the disruptive, instead of gambling on the education of their children on a lottery.

Title 1 poverty public schools like any public school in this nation should have the basic requirements of safe schools and class rooms without mayhem from disruptive students.

No white or black middle class American would accept the idea of the education of their child based upon a lottery.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

The entire education system requires reform from Advanced to Comprehensive to Title 1 classroom environments.
Posted by: PGCResident1
.............................
Stop with this nonsense.

The national test clearly show that the problem is with the Title 1 poverty public schools.

Middle class and affluent public schools do not have failure rates of 56 percent for 4th grade reading which is the rate for Title 1 poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I cannot agree. Parents want reform.

Working class America cannot afford (literally) the level of quality education (or lack thereof) our children are receiving.

The Title 1 schools (in PGCPS) receive much higher resources and a few of the same were just recently were removed from needing improvement status.

Most graduate public school students, within the US, that entered college within the past 5-10 years, that required their taking remediation language arts and courses, did not come from Title 1 learning environments which contained issues you've identified.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 27, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Middle class and affluent public schools do not have failure rates of 56 percent for 4th grade reading which is the rate for Title 1 poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse
______________________

then please explain why there are such very high percentage rates of students from middle income/affluent schools required to take language arts and math remediation courses?

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 27, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

PGCResident1 says,

"then please explain why there are such very high percentage rates of students from middle income/affluent schools required to take language arts and math remediation courses?"

I can only speak about one reaosn why so many California students need remediation in English. Part of the reason is that high school standards don't correspond to college standards. High schools spend a lot of time and effort on literature while colleges want students to be able to analyze informational texts. Furthermore, the so-called Common Core Standards don't address this fundamental disconnect between secondary and post secondary expectations.

I myself needed remediation in math when I got to college. Why? Not because of the failings of my teachers or the educational system, although I blamed my teachers at the time. The bottom line is that math didn't come easy so I blew it off. Students bare some responsibility for their own failures.

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 28, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

In a classroom of 30+ students (albeit Advanced, Comprehensive or Title 1), any student requiring remediation is not surprising yet discouraging for teachers and students.

There are tons of studies relating to this factor/issue as well.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 28, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I can only speak about one reaosn why so many California students need remediation in English. Part of the reason is that high school standards don't correspond to
Posted by: stevendphoto:

college standards. High schools spend a lot of time and effort on literature while colleges want students to be able to analyze informational texts. Furthermore, the so-called Common Core Standards don't address this fundamental disconnect between secondary and post secondary expectations.
___________________________

Absolutely correct.

Common Core Standards should begin to be applied (grade appropriate) during primary education years.

Preparing students for post secondary education during secondary education years (only) is ineffective.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | July 28, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse

stevendphoto

PGCResident1 is obviously the type of American that if only had enough money for 1 repair of a plumber would have the plumber to fix the leaking faucet when the toilet is overflowing.

Either that or he an individual who believes himself so clever that he will argue any point.

Then again perhaps he does believes in the need for basic standards and believes that a jacuzzi in a location without out the the basics of plumbing.


Posted by: bsallamack | July 28, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely correct.

Common Core Standards should begin to be applied (grade appropriate) during primary education years.

Preparing students for post secondary education during secondary education years (only) is ineffective.

Posted by: PGCResident1
..................................
Accepting a new entire set of standards means revising all of the curriculum and all lesson plans of teachers to be in agreement with these new standards. Current textbooks also need to be reviewed. This requires an enormous amount of money,work and time.

Simply revising a single standard requires money, work and time.

The acceptance of the Common Core State Standards by states that have high standards was only an indication of the desperate need of states for public education funds, since these states are fully aware of the enormous amount of money, work and time that would be required to implement a new set of standards.
................................
PGCResident1 reminds me of person who used to say "correct" to me as though he always knew beforehand something when I was training this person.

I could have said up is down and this person would have said "correct" as though he always knew up was down.

PGCResident1 did I ever train you?

Posted by: bsallamack | July 28, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Common Core Standards should begin to be applied (grade appropriate) during primary education years.

Preparing students for post secondary education during secondary education years (only) is ineffective.

Posted by: PGCResident1
..............................
Great to know that standard should be applied during primary education. I guess the educators were not aware of this even though there are standards for primary education.

"grade appropriate"
Good to know PGCResident1 believes to use the standards as specified by grade. Apparently he believes there is the probability of educators using 9th grade standards for those in the 6th grade.

"Preparing students for post secondary education during secondary education years (only) is ineffective."

Apparently PGCResident1 does not believe college course such as the AP program are effective.

Of course this assumes that PGCResident1 actually knows that post secondary education is college.

"Correct."

Posted by: bsallamack | July 28, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: PGCResident1
..
It is late and I am tired.

I see that my writing and thinking has become as poor as PGCResident1.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 28, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

And the thing is that the Common Core Standards don't truly correlate with post-secondary standards. Why is that? Because we have certain criteria that students need to pass the California Exit Exam (or other state proficiency exam) for graduation and another set of criteria for what it means to be college-ready. That's why so many college bound students need remediation. We already have a 30% high school dropout rate (approx.). If we raise the standard for high school graduation to be truly college-ready the dropout rate would likely increase. Currently students dropout due to insufficient credits (failing courses) more than failing to meet skill levels necessary for high school graduation (10th grade math/English). The point is (most) secondary education doesn't come close to preparing students for the rigors of college, without or without Common Core Standards.

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 28, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack,

I find myself agreeing with you more often than not, lately.

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 28, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Bsallamack is correct to state that the most dysfunctional and lowest performing public schools are intimately associated with high poverty and home/family instability (aka Title 1); however the solutions for improving these toxic school environments are far more complicated than just removing disruptive students from the classroom.

Federal incentive programs such as RTTT are not going to provide well tailored and directed support where it is needed, especially in communities devastated by high concentrations of poverty and crime. And no level of teacher/administrator accountability based on standardized testing metrics is going to solve the underlying systemic reasons that inner-city schools fail.

The "Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn” (presented to Secretary Duncan by a respected coalition of civil rights groups) clearly makes this point. It states, “Rather than addressing inequitable access to research-proven methodologies like high-quality early childhood education and a stable supply of experienced, highly effective teachers, recent education reform proposals have favored “stop gap” quick fixes that may look new on the surface but offer no real long-term strategy for effective systemic change... We therefore urge an end to the federal push to encourage states to adopt federally prescribed methodologies that have little or no evidentiary support – for primary implementation only in low-income and high-minority communities.”

The RTTT criteria is an overly proscriptive to a fault, with requirements that treat all school systems with the same medicines (often unproven or demonstratively harmful), and whether they need it or not. For instance, to meet RTTT requirements, we have locally successful administrators and teachers that have been removed to meet mandated quotas. This one-size-fits-all philosophy neglects the unique qualities of school systems; the coalition report states that the DOE makes, "only cursory mention of parent and community engagement in local school development.”

It has been said that "the neighborhood school" is the most important institution to communities that depend on public education. This collective investment in our children binds us together, and can demonstrate our appreciation and trust in civilization, or our inability to be civilized.

My mother, like most everyone who went to urban public schools during the Great Depression had an strong sense that the only way forward was together, and with an even greater sense of shared sacrifice to a community that supported a basic quality of life, however meager. Until we, as Americans, understand the fundamental inequities in of our urban society and gain a better sense of shared sacrifice, our system of public education will often fail through no fault of it's own. All of us, as Americans, will be accountable; and NOT some faceless teacher in an inner-city school to which we naively and conveniently point.

Posted by: AGAAIA | July 28, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

AGAAIA wrote: The RTTT criteria is an overly proscriptive to a fault, with requirements that treat all school systems with the same medicines (often unproven or demonstratively harmful), and whether they need it or not. For instance, to meet RTTT requirements, we have locally successful administrators and teachers that have been removed to meet mandated quotas. This one-size-fits-all philosophy neglects the unique qualities of school systems; the coalition report states that the DOE makes, "only cursory mention of parent and community engagement in local school development.”
___________________________
Yes! I have been saying that the one-size-fits-all approach of RTTT is a huge problem. I teach in Montgomery County and I was thrilled that MCPS refused to sign on to the state's RTTT plan. We took a lot of heat for that, but MCPS has a comprehensive teacher evaluation plan that they thought was better than what is being pushed by RTTT. Obviously MCPS is doing some things right as their data shows again and again. Why should this be changed to fit a formula which might ultimately be much worse?

Posted by: musiclady | July 28, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: PGCResident1
..
It is late and I am tired.

I see that my writing and thinking has become as poor as PGCResident1.

Posted by: bsallamack
................................
Time for PGCResident1 to start to understand the responsibilities of the Federal government to public schools.

The only responsibility of the Federal government to public schools are responsibilities to Title 1 poverty public schools.

Congress has passed legislation in regard to all Title 1 poverty public schools and this is why there is a Federal responsibilities for the funding of these schools. That legislation was passed to deal with the inequalities in education of Title 1 poverty public schools.

Given this actual responsibility by legislation to Title 1 poverty public schools the Federal government primary and foremost obligation should be to address the educational inequalities of Title 1 poverty public schools.

The fact that Title 1 poverty public schools have glaring problems in safety and class room in mayhem that do not meet the basic standards of the majority of public schools in this nation indicates that the Federal government has done a poor job in regard to the Federal government responsibilities by legislation to address the educational inequalities of Title 1 poverty public schools.

By law it is the responsibility of the Federal government to address the educational inequalities of Title 1 poverty public schools.

The Federal government has a responsibility to ensure that every Title 1 poverty public schools has at least the basic standards of public schools.

Throughout the nation the basic standards of public schools are safety to students and teachers, and a class room environment where teachers can teach and students can learn. The violence in schools and mayhem in class rooms that exists in so many Title 1 poverty public schools indicates that the Title 1 poverty public schools do not have the basic standards of public high schools.

The first responsibility of the Federal government should be to ensure that the Title 1 poverty public schools meet at least the basic standard of public schools.

It is very dubious whether the Federal government can order the closing and reorganization of Title 1 poverty public schools based upon student performance, but it is clear that the Federal government can order the closing and reorganization of Title 1 poverty public schools that do not provide the basic standards of public schools of safety to students and teachers, and a class room environment where teachers can teach and students can learn.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 28, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Tier I - The lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in a state, or the five lowest-performing Title I schools, whichever number is greater.

Tier II – Equally low-achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds. The secretary proposes targeting some of these extremely low-achieving high schools and their feeder middle schools. There are close to 2,000 high schools in this country in which graduation is at best a 50/50 proposition. U.S. Department of Education data indicates that fewer than half of these schools currently receive Title I Part A funds. If the provisions proposed become final, school districts would not be required to include Tier II schools in proposals. However, including Tier II schools would enhance a school district's likelihood for funding because states would be required to give priority to districts that commit to serve both Tier I and Tier II schools.

Tier III – The remaining Title I schools in improvement, corrective action or restructuring that are not Tier I schools in the state.

In its application to the state, each school district would be required to demonstrate its commitment to raising student achievement by implementing, in each Tier I and Tier II school, one of the following rigorous interventions:

Turnaround Model – This would include among other actions, replacing the principal and at least 50 percent of the school's staff, adopting a new governance structure and implementing a new or revised instructional program.

Restart Model – School districts would close failing schools and reopen them under the management of a charter school operator, a charter management organization or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process. A restart school would be required to admit, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend.

School Closure – The district would close a failing school and enroll the students who attended that school in other high-achieving schools in the district.

Transformational Model – Districts would address four specific areas: 1) developing teacher and school leader effectiveness, which includes replacing the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformational model, 2) implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies, 3) extending learning and teacher planning time and creating community-oriented schools, and 4) providing operating flexibility and sustained support.

Districts should choose the strategy that works best for each school. To ensure districts are choosing a variety of strategies, any district with nine or more schools in school improvement will not be allowed to use any single strategy in more than half of its schools.

Posted by: TwoSons | July 28, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Lofty goals of every American graduating college, and effective teachers of this administration may sound appealing, but these are not the responsibilities by law of the Federal government.

These lofty goals are very hollow sounding while this administration ignore responsibilities by law of the Federal government.

The administration should fulfill the responsibilities by law to Title 1 poverty public schools by ensuring that these public schools meet basic standards.

Given the glaring problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools, and the failure of the administration to take any action to ensure basic standards at these schools, it is clear that this administration has failed in it's responsibilities.

This administration should not be supporting public charter schools that have the basic standards of safety to students and teachers, and a class room environment where teachers can teach and students can learn.

Instead the Federal government should be ensuring that all Title 1 poverty public schools in this nation have the basic standards of safety to students and teachers, and a class room environment where teachers can teach and students can learn.

This is by law the responsibility of the Federal government and this administration.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 28, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Recognizing flexibility is needed, a state may award school improvement funds to a district that has implemented, in whole or in part, one of the interventions proposed in a Tier I school in the last two years. They must fully implement that intervention moving forward. Also, a state could seek a waiver to permit a school that implements a turnaround or restart model to “start over,” exiting school improvement and no longer needing to provide the public school choice option or supplemental educational services.

Additionally, a state could seek a waiver to enable a Tier I school that operates a targeted assistance program to instead implement one of the proposed interventions schoolwide.

In addition to flexibility, providing sufficient resources over several years is critical. The secretary proposes to require that states allocate to each district the maximum per-school amount permitted under ESEA for each Tier I school where one of the four interventions is approved for implementation. The secretary also would waive the period of availability of school improvement grants beyond Sept. 30, 2011, to make funds available to school districts for three years.

http://www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/08/08262009.html

Posted by: TwoSons | July 28, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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