Federal Education Policy Changes Afoot?

creature-1529281_640I have avoided posting all of the speculation about possible changes in education leadership and policy in the new administration.  It is just plain hard on my peace of mind, especially when most of it will not happen.  I firmly believe that the real changes will be through the change in leadership in the Florida legislature.  As you know, I am not sanguine on those.   You can see previous posts.

This morning, however, I ran across an article that helps us think more realistically about what change at the federal level would take.  This Ed Week article reviews legislation that would have to be amended to redirect funding.  It also points toward a likely push for school choice funding in the Congress.  It is worth a read.

 

Florida State School Board 2017 Priorities

priority-1714375_640What is important to the Florida State Board of Education (SBE) this year?  According to this report, the SBE is focusing on capital outlay funding, charter expansion priorities, streamlining teacher preparation programs, and online education.  As priorities from different stake holders emerge, the negotiation with the legislature will intensify.

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Bright Futures not so Bright

power-money-trap-5441169I knew that the qualifications for Bright Futures scholarships had gone up.  Now I understand the impact.  In order for the State to save money, the rich get richer.  The Florida lottery supports these scholarships.  While the revenue for the lottery is still increasing, the percentage allocated to education is decreasing.  It would be interesting to know why and how much.

 

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K-12 Education Projected to Lose in Florida Funding Battle

power-money-trap-5441169The Ocala Star Banner reports that funding priorities are changing.  PreK 12 has received small increases in per student funding for the past couple of years.  Florida is almost back to 2008 levels, if you do not count the increase in costs due to inflation.  (The Consumer Price Index during that period rose 12.72%.)   In the next legislative session, incoming Senate President Joe Negron has already announced his plan to increase budgets for colleges and universities, but not for K12.  Richard Corcoran, incoming Speaker of the  House has made his priorities clear.

 

 

 

 

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Why for-profit education fails

power-money-trap-5441169“Should anyone care that a bunch of very rich people have failed on these (for-profit) ventures?” asked Jonathan Knee in this month’s Atlantic.  Failed for-profit educational investments abound.  Rupert Murdoch’s one billion dollar investment in the Knowledge Universe companies is gone.  Last year, Murdoch and Joel Klein, the former Chancellor of New York City schools sold what was left of Amplify to Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.  She is scaling what was to be the transformation of education down to a company specializing in middle school reading materials.

Other would be entrepreneurs have also lost their shirts.  JP Morgan and Golden Sachs came up empty.  Knee explains that their vision was simply too large.  The educational market is regional, not national.  What works in one area does not work in another.  The breadth of investments also is a weakness as evidenced by the decline of K12 Inc. the Milliken distance education company.  Companies are attempting to control too many different parts of the educational enterprise.

Some investors are simply ego driven. The desire to reform education based on beliefs about what is wrong and must be changed is itself a threat to wise investment.  Knee gives some logical advice:

The possibility of doing good would expand exponentially if more investors and managers would shift their attention toward the question of what qualities are most important in building a successful educational franchise.

Private companies can target tools that help the instructional process rather than trying to design a process they know little about.  Any educator can explain that there is no single process.  Children learn in many different ways is a truism any teacher knows.

There is a “free-for-all” mentality in the education sector these days.  Some for-profit companies are making money off the backs of teachers who are now fleeing the profession.  Other more successful but limited reformers are frustrated with their inability to scale up expensive programs.  The long term impact of an unfocused educational reform movement based solely on outcomes measured by test scores is emerging.  Without enabling schools to thrive by ensuring equitable funding for low income areas and targeted instructional opportunities for at risk children, not much will change.  One wonders if educational reform is a ‘something for nothing’ example of wishful thinking.

Yet as columnist Herb Caen used to say, out of the mud grows a lotus.  Responsible, well managed, publically managed choice systems could evolve.  Magnet schools can serve to balance diverse socio-economic areas and increase access to quality education.  School programs are becoming  more flexible.  Instruction is enhanced not replaced by technology in classrooms.  Community services are working more directly with schools.  These are the goals toward which education policy is moving.

 

Charters are the Cheap Choice, not the Best Choice

power-money-trap-5441169Today’s New York Times urges the NAACP to oppose a moratorium on charter schools.  The NAACP does not want to settle for second best.  The Times argues that while some charters are mismanaged, well run charters are a better option for struggling students.  This is a weak argument and one wonders if it is really a political one.  Who benefits?

 

 

 

 

 

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