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Is This Really The Kind Of Educational Reform Missouri Wants?

February 1, 2011

I wanted to take the opportunity to provide some simple and clear definition concerning educational reform as the debate heats up in Missouri. As I see it, Missouri is a poster child for some of the legislative misinformation that is circulating concerning Race To The Top and the national, bipartisan buy-in to educational reform. Homeschooling United has done an extensive comparison between RT3, Educated Citizenry, and Common Core Standards so that folks in Missouri can understand the extent of the smoke and mirrors/shell game being played by Missouri legislators. Culture Vigilant will provide the condensed version here. You can link back to HU for the documenting back up if you like.

In Missouri’s January 2010 application to the government for Race To The Top funding, they state a desire to follow the lead of Thaler and Sunstein and the need for “choice architects” to bring educational reform to Missouri:

Our vision for reform embraces the notion advanced in the book, Nudge, where Thaler and Sunstein outline the need for “choice architects” to subtly steer choices toward positive results while leaving people, districts and schools “free to choose.” We know that if Missouri’s public schools are to be the best choice for our citizens, they must produce the best results. This Race to the Top competition has provided the “nudge” Missouri needed to pick up the pace.

There is an obvious consensus from DESE, and perhaps legislators as well, that the constituency needs to be led or nudged into the kind of reform they are proposing. I contend, if the reform has substance and merit, it doesn’t need to be sold or nudged into the hearts of the taxpayers.

Common Core Standards are one of the cornerstones of EC2020 and Race to the top. CCS’s are educational standards designed by a consortium of states. This adoption of standards will eliminate local districts and the state’s ability to craft its own set of standards. School Board authority will greatly diminish, and parents with any concerns will have no local entity with whom they may address these issues in their schools. Missouri has already adopted Common Core Standards even though RT3 funding for such has not been awarded to them. In a state that is scrambling to address huge budget shortfalls, this certainly creates a potential for financial chaos in the state. In the first RT3 proposal from Missouri, it was estimated this cost would be $400,000,000 over four years.  It is unclear if Missouri has received any federal funding for implementation of these mandates. As it stands now, the adoption and implementation of these standards will leave the state nearly $150 million dollars in the red, over 4 years, after previously identified cuts are made to the budget. These figures are based on the understanding that the $248 million dollar stimulus would only partially fund the standards implementation and state funding would make up the rest. And while Missouri has statutes allowing local control to take precedent over MO DESE edicts, DESE does control the assessment process. So, schools will have no choice but to adopt the curriculum tailored to the assessments in order for students to pass them, or they may lose funding. DESE made it very clear, in their application, that their intent was to adopt the standards with or without approval of RT3 funding:

Implementation of the reform plan described in this proposal will not stop if the State does not win Race to the Top funding.

Charter Schools are the other cornerstone in RT3 and EC2020.

RT3:

  • Demonstrating and sustaining education reform, by promoting collaborations between business leaders, educators, and other stakeholders to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps, and by expanding support for high-performing public charter schools, reinvigorating math and science education, and promoting other conditions favorable to innovation and reform.

Educated Citizenry 2020: On page 6 you will find:

Provide access to high-quality charter schools to all Missouri students. Allow any public school district to sponsor a charter school within the district.

Most wonder “What’s wrong with Charter Schools?” Well, nothing if they remain independent and free from CCS. These will not. Hedge fund operators are taking over the charter management business. And Missouri charters are not immune from hedge fund interests.

The P20 Pipline/P20 System refers to coordinating common core curriculum pre-k through college.

RT3:

Participating agencies will agree upon a core of data elements to contribute to the common P-20 system.

Educated Citizenry 2020:

Individual members offered ideas affecting early childhood through higher education, including the need to strengthen the P-20 pipeline and cooperation among stakeholders.

Merit pay and teacher tenure are both issues of concern in Race To The Top and Educated Citizenry 2020.

EC2020:

Develop a statewide system for evaluating teacher effectiveness to be used in performance-based compensation.

RT3:

Attracting and keeping great teachers and leaders in America’s classrooms, by expanding effective support to teachers and principals; reforming and improving teacher preparation; revising teacher evaluation, compensation, and retention policies to encourage and reward effectiveness; and working to ensure that our most talented teachers are placed in the schools and subjects where they are needed the most.

School readiness is also addressed in both formats.

EC2020:

Advance efforts to support voluntary, universal pre-kindergarten. Explore potential funding sources for pre-kindergarten education including federal funding.

RT3:

2. Provide quality, universal early childhood educational opportunities to all three and four-year olds;

Homeschooling United lists other areas of similarity, but I wanted to give you a condensed version for your reading pleasure.

The following bills have been introduced to the Missouri legislature, this year, to advance the Race To The Top/Educated Citizenry 2020 agenda. These bills are not packaged under one complete bundle, as we saw in last year’s Health Care reform initiative. They are much more stealthily disguised in various areas of the House and Senate bill lists.

SB 13 Requires the Joint Committee on Education to oversee a task force on teacher compensation and effectiveness. This bill has received 2 readings and a hearing conducted in the S Education Committee on 1/26/2011

SB 14 Requires the State Board of Education to establish criteria for the transfer of students from an unaccredited school district to an accredited district in the same or an adjoining county. This bill received 2 readings and was referred  to the S Education Committee.

SB 20 This act changes the age at which children in the St. Louis City School District must begin attending school from seven years of age to five years of age. This change does not apply to students intending to enroll in a home school. In addition, it increases the compulsory attendance age to eighteen years of age for the St. Louis City School District. This bill has received 2 readings and is scheduled for a hearing on 2/2/2011 in the S Education Committee.

SB 21 This act requires any child who attains the age of five at any time during the calendar year be enrolled in kindergarten at the beginning of the school year in that calendar year. The parent or guardian of any child who will attain the age of five in the subsequent calendar year may request that the child’s school district of residence conduct an assessment program to determine the child’s readiness for kindergarten. If the school district determines that the child is ready, he or she may begin kindergarten. This bill has received 2 readings and is scheduled for a hearing on 2/2/2011 in the S Education Committee.

SB 184 Allows the Special Administrative Board governing the St. Louis City School District to sponsor charter schools under certain circumstances. Received its second reading on 1/27/2011

SB 128 Allows the mayor of the City of St. Louis to be a charter school sponsor. 1/27/2011 – Received second reading and referred S Education Committee on 1/27/2011

SB 129 Exempts the St. Louis City School District from the requirement that it pay tuition and transportation for students who attend an accredited school under certain circumstances. Has received 2 readings referred to the S Education Committee on 1/27/2011.

There has been a couple of recent legislative introductions to the House to help facilitate open enrollment and freer flowing tax dollars to charter schools.

HJR 10 Proposes a constitutional amendment repealing the prohibition against state funds being used to support any religion or religious school and specifies that parents have the right to choose any school. Received 2 readings and has been referred to the S Education committee on 1/27/2011

This week, Representative Tim Jones, will introduce the “Parent Trigger” to Missouri in the name of the Parent Power and Choice Act. This initiative further advances the charter school movement by allowing parents to have a say in closing ill performing public schools and redistributing students to charters as one of three options. Several other states, including California are pursuing the Parent Trigger.

 

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One Comment
  1. 4commonground permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:06 pm

    CV.. I have a niece who is Wall Street stock broker. The hedge fund operators and investment bankers are all over the charter schools. Your NY Times hedge funder managers article is nothing compared to the comments in this one….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/fashion/06charter.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

    “In a recent New York Times interview, one hedge fund manager from New York, Ravenel Boykin Curry IV of Eagle Capital Management, who founded two schools in the Bronx, was quoted in the article as saying, these schools are “exactly the kind of investment people in our industry spend our days trying to stumble on,” . Curry said, “with incredible cash flow.”

    I don’t know why this doesn’t disturb other people.

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