Tuesday, April 05, 2005

National Voucher Initiative Hires New Research Director

Kofi Annan, soon to be the new director of the U.S. National Voucher Initiative, has been busy this week naming the new staff for this newly established organization. Annan recently announced his plans to step down from the United Nations to head up the American effort to bring educational vouchers and tax credits to every state.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005, Annan announced that Ward Churchill will be appointed to the Initiative's top research post.

"We think that Ward Churchill is uniquely qualified to lead this prestigious organization's research efforts. His rigorous background in academic research will make him a very nice fit with our organization. He is well known for his rigorous standards and attention to detail in academic research. We believe that Ward Churchill is uniquely qualified to lead our charter school supporters in combating the emerging research on charter school performance with research of our own," stated Annan.

Ward Churchill indicated he is anxious to develop a research agenda on the behalf of children. "I am looking forward to working with the " little Tykemanns," he deadpanned.

14 Comments:

At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous ny times editorial said...

4-5-05 NYT EDITORIAL
Fixing 'No Child Left Behind'

The United States has historically viewed public education as a local issue, so the federal government has looked the other way when the states have damaged the national interest by failing to educate large swaths of the population. That approach has left us with one of the weakest educational systems in the developed world.

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law three years ago, marked a recognition by Congress that things had to change. The key provisions of the law are aimed at the current system's weakest points: it requires the states to improve teachers' training and to erase the achievement gap between white and minority students in exchange for federal dollars. But the reform effort will collapse if the Bush administration gives in to the state governments that are invoking the principle of states' rights and embracing the bad old status quo.

Local school systems have plenty of good reasons for impatience with No Child Left Behind - particularly on the critical issue of money. The government's failure to fully finance the law has made it harder for cash-strapped states to comply, and provided a ready excuse for critics who don't believe in the principle of equal education in the first place. In addition, districts that were already trying hard to provide excellent education to every student are understandably dismayed at having to navigate confusing federal laws that need to be made clearer. And slipshod administration from Washington during the inept administration of Rod Paige when he was the education secretary added another layer of bad feeling.

It was inevitable that a law this ambitious, dealing with an issue as close to home as public schools, would have a rough start. When it comes up for reauthorization, there will undoubtedly be refinements in the formula that determines whether schools are making "adequate yearly progress" - particularly when it comes to special education students and children who are learning English as a second language. Advocates must mobilize all their resources to fight for better financing. And the Education Department, under its new secretary, Margaret Spellings, has to listen closely to the needs of well-intentioned communities that support the goals of the law but are finding it difficult to penetrate the bureaucracy that has grown up around it.

But the core part of the law, which requires the states to close the achievement gap between white and minority students, must remain sacrosanct, and the Bush administration must stand firm against the districts that simply don't want to make the effort.

That is the kind of challenge looming from the State of Utah, which is leading a rebellion against the basic principles of No Child Left Behind. Utah wants to dump the law's accountability system in favor of the state's own system, which is one of the weakest in the country. The Utah system as a whole does not collect student data based on race and ethnicity, something that is required by federal law and is crucial for determining whether state schools are closing the achievement gap. This is especially troubling because Utah's Hispanic fourth graders rank near the bottom among such students nationwide. The white-Hispanic gap in Utah is among the widest in the nation - a grim disparity, given that the state's white fourth graders also lag behind the national average in reading. If any state needs federal prodding to achieve better results, Utah does.

Americans who have watched underachieving school systems struggle with failure are familiar with the depressing pattern of educational reform: a dramatic new plan to set benchmarks and hold everyone accountable is announced with great fanfare, then quietly dropped a few years later when achievement turns out to be harder than anticipated. With No Child Left Behind, the federal government has set exactly the right goals. It cannot backtrack because the early progress has been rocky. If Washington wavers and begins to cut deals with recalcitrant states like Utah, the effort to remake the country's public schools will fail.

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like a lot of NY Times articles, this one starts out bad and gets worse.

"The United States has historically viewed public education as a local issue, so the federal government has looked the other way when the states have damaged the national interest by failing to educate large swaths of the population. That approach has left us with one of the weakest educational systems in the developed world."

The federal government is SUPPOSED to look the other way - or at least stay OUT of the way. Education is never mentioned in the federal constitution and is therefore a state responsibility.

Sorry, but states haven't damaged any national interest by not educating swaths of students. Some students and families have chosen to not educate THEMSELVES. Name a state that doesn't have compulsory attendance. Sitting next to an "uneducated student" will be a very well-educated student who took advantage of his/her oportunities in the same classrooms.

As far as the statement that we are left with one of the weakest educational systems in the world....that's just crazy talk.

How in the world does the greatest nation in the world, with the greatest diversity and a standard of living unparalleled in the history of the world, end up getting there with "the weakest education system in the world."

Crazy talk. But if you say it long enough and loud enough, someone who can't think for themselves will believe it just because they want to.

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NY Times is the voice of the Democratic Party and generally anti-Bush.

I would have expected this from the Wall Street Journal, but the NY Times??

Something fundamental is going on when NYT and WSJ both agree on NCLB.

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

What is going on is Chicken Little....."The sky is falling, the sky is falling...."

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But how did the Republican's co-opt the NYT?

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NYT is not going to admit the obvious. The highest percentage of low performing students are in the poverty pockets of mostly urban America and no one will admit it. Not PC.

So instead, we pass an onerous law that affects every single school system with an unreasonable and unobtainable goal of 100% pass rates on standardized tests by 2013-2014 or your school fails.

Presto, now everyone is bad and we don't have to acknowledge the elephant in the living room.

 
At Tuesday, April 05, 2005, Anonymous the real elephant in the room said...

From NYT Sunday -- "In 2000, some three billion people who were out of the game walked, and often ran, onto the playing field. I am talking about the people of China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Central Asia."

"be advised: the Indians and Chinese are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top. What China's leaders really want is that the next generation of underwear and airplane wings not just be ''made in China'' but also be ''designed in China.''

"The main challenge to America today is from those practicing extreme capitalism, namely China, India and South Korea."

"Here is the dirty little secret that no C.E.O. wants to tell you: they are not just outsourcing to save on salary. They are doing it because they can often get better-skilled and more productive people than their American workers."

"In 1998, Microsoft sent teams to Chinese universities to administer I.Q. tests in order to recruit the best brains from China's 1.3 billion people. Out of the 2,000 top Chinese engineering and science students tested, Microsoft hired 20.

"They have a saying at Microsoft about their Asia center, which captures the intensity of competition it takes to win a job there and explains why it is already the most productive research team at Microsoft: ''Remember, in China, when you are one in a million, there are 1,300 other people just like you.''

So the blog poster above said -- "As far as the statement that we are left with one of the weakest educational systems in the world....that's just crazy talk."

I'm starting to doubt if it is as crazy as they think or ...

 
At Wednesday, April 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

or........they have great charter schools.

 
At Wednesday, April 06, 2005, Anonymous old retired businessman said...

I've done business in China and India for several decades -- they don't spend much time worrying about equality of opportunity or trying not to leave any child behind.

They are Darwinian in their educational approach, in their economic approach and very entrepreneurial in their culture.

I won't live to see it, but I'll bet India and China are the dominant economies in 25 years and they won't spend a minute debating the issues that seem to dominate this blog.

Of course, Americans will still "feel" superior.

 
At Wednesday, April 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been said that no true democracy will last much more than 200 years, because it has within it the seeds of its own destruction...We have a "feel good" society that wants to be consoled by the fact that we are declaring all unequals equal. The conflict is that the pie is only so large, yet we want to make sure that we get ours!

 
At Wednesday, April 06, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Old Retired Business Man

Maybe Americans will still be superior whether or not they have the world's dominant economy.

Depends on what superior really means I guess.

Darwin wasn't right in my book anyway.

 
At Thursday, April 07, 2005, Anonymous Old retired businessman said...

I was traveling in France in early 2004, and I had a long elegant dinner with several highly educated Frenchmen who had been out of work for over a year (unemployment runs about 12%). They felt morally, culturally and intellectually superior to the crass, militaristic, financially superior (employed) Americans.

And who knows, maybe the Frenchmen have it right. They certainly seemed very relaxed and happy. And they could sleep late the next day while I had to go to a business meeting (someone had to pay for dinner).

In 25 years, maybe Americans will be more French-like in their attitudes.

Meanwhile, I'm investing in Emerging Market Index funds, just in case India and China are successful.

 
At Saturday, April 09, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Old Retired Business Man:

You may have it right, only time will tell.

I was in Japan in 1990-1991 when Japan was buying up businesses, properties and golf courses all over America. The talk all over our country was that maybe Japan won the war after all. Their economy was soaring and the yen to dollar was so strong that Japanese tourists were everywhere.

But then their markets hit rough spots like all markets do and brought them back to reality.

Now we don't hear much as much about Japan as we used to. Now it's India and China as the up-and-comers.

I will agree with you though. Our continued economic dominance is no longer a sure thing.

However, I don't believe our education system is the primary reason. (I don't think you have ever claimed on this board that it was though.) But it seems like people always gravitate to easy answers and easy solutions.

I still think public education is swimming against the tide of popular culture.

My prediction is that a few decades from now it will it be realized that education is way overrated when it comes to it's ability to struggle against culture, mores, and societal norms.

I find your observation about the French perspective to be interesting and probably closer to home than Americans want to admit.

 

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