It’s Political Incompetence, Not Public Education

The unending cacophony of stories of public education failure and a need to reform it for the future has been ongoing since before the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2002). Education bureaucrats, pundits, business profiteers, and policymakers dispense fraudulent claims about how the performance of teachers, school administrators, students, higher education faculty, and parents are causing economic Armageddon for the United States. State and federal policymakers, appointed bureaucrats and some business elites claim a need to save America’s children from ineffective teachers and lazy school administrators through education corporatization, privatization, centralization, and curricular standardization of public education via programs like the Common Core State Standards, and national testing. But who is failing whom? The stories of public education failure by those who view education from a quarterly profit margin standpoint do not hold up well to empirical scrutiny. In this writing, I use the 2013-2014 rankings and data from the World Economic Forum ([WEF], Schwab, 2013) and the Programme for International Student Assessment ([PISA] OECD, 2014) that question the claims of (a) the impending cataclysmic decline of U.S. economic performance and (b) the accusation that public school educators are to blame for any economic shortcomings in the U.S. economy. I argue that it is ineffective political and bureaucratic leadership that is really to blame for any economic issues faced by the U.S.

See the full article here.

Ford-supported research on “New Regionalism”

My colleagues Profs. Kara Finnigan, Jennifer Jellison Holme, and Sarah Diem, received a grant from the Ford Foundation between 2011 and 2013 to lead a study of selected inter-district school transfer policies, as well as one regional plan in Omaha, Nebraska.  I wanted to draw attention to some of the papers they have written, both conceptual and empirical.

Much has already been written about the growing inter-district school segregation, which now accounts for the majority of school segregation in the United States – it was estimated at 67% of all white-non-white segregation in 2009 (by Kori Stroub and Meredith Richards in2013 in the American Educational ResearchJournal) -- and the challenges it presents for equality of educational opportunity.   What this new work does is apply contemporary scholarship about metropolitan and regional governance to that of K-12 education policy.  They don’t shrink away at all from describing what the obstacles have been and will be; at the same time, they challenge us to think about what could encourage more metro-wide agreements.

Philanthropies and Intermediary Organizations in Denver, Colorado: Incentivist-Oriented Advocacy Coalitions

Note: This blog is adapted from paper presented by our research team at the 2014 AERA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. This research is funded by the William T. Grant Foundation’s program on Understanding the Acquisition, Interpretation, and Use of Research Evidence in Policy and Practice. The Principal Investigators of this project are Drs. Elizabeth DeBray, Chris Lubienski, and Janelle Scott. Please contact Priya La Londe with any questions.

Philanthropies and Intermediary Organizations in Denver, Colorado: Incentivist-Oriented Advocacy Coalitions

Philanthropist involvement in education policy has contributed to the emergence of a dynamic sector of intermediary organizations (IOs). These IOs broker the production and use of research evidence targeted at government and education policymakers. We frame this relationship between foundations and intermediary organizations by drawing on the analogy of a hub and spoke structure, whereby parts of a wheel work together to move an incentivist policy agenda forward. Philanthropists see their investments in IOs as a way to realize more promising and effective educational interventions whose “profit” is understood to be a scaling up of reforms they favor. Foundations exercise investment in the following ways: