john_king   5

Would Newt Out-Debate Obama? It Wouldn't Matter Anyway
Back in October, I went up to Cambridge, Massachusetts to watch the eighth Republican primary debate of the season with Mark McKinnon, the Republican media strategist who had served as debate coach for George W. Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. I was interested in McKinnon’s professional assessment of a Republican field whose succession of frontrunners, from Tim Pawlenty to Herman Cain, had nearly all been made or unmade by debate performances. At the time, Rick Perry was hurtling toward the abyss, Cain was bafflingly ascendant, and Mitt Romney was performing as advertised. But McKinnon called my attention to the darkest of the dark horses among them: Newt Gingrich.

“Gingrich is doing what Perry should’ve been doing—jumping in, interrupting people, taking on the media, taking on Obama,” McKinnon explained. Gingrich’s place on the risible margins of the contest, he argued, was paradoxically the source of his strength: “Look at his career—Gingrich was the ultimate back bencher. That was when he was at his most effective.”

At the time this struck me as deeply improbable, but I have to concede now that McKinnon was well ahead of the curve. More than any previous occupant of the GOP’s Anyone But Romney seat, Gingrich owes his recent ascendance to his debate performances, to the primary voters who thrilled to his flaying of Juan Williams and John King on Fox News and CNN last week. A lackluster performance in Monday night’s faceoff in Tampa notwithstanding, it remains central to his appeal headed into Jacksonville tonight. Writing from South Carolina on Saturday, Slate’s David Weigel described the archetypal Gingrich voter he had met in the days leading up to Gingrich’s decisive victory there:

The Gingrich voter proudly announced who he’d voted for, saying that he made up his mind in the last week, or after the last debate. (Exit polls backed this up: Voters who decided in “the last few days” went 44-22 for Newt over Romney.) After a while, the only differences between their endorsements were the verbs they used to describe what Gingrich would do to Barack Obama in debates.

In Charleston, a voter named Jayne Harmon claimed that Gingrich would “dismantle” the president.

In Monck’s Corner, I learned that Gingrich would “humiliate” him. In Columbia, I was told that Obama would be “lacerated” or “annihilated.” When Gingrich spoke, and repeated his promise to challenge Obama to seven debates, a biker named Vincent Sbraccia hoisted his sign and screamed: “Wipe the floor with him! Wipe the floor with him!”

A lot of these people considered Gingrich a genius, or at least a first-class intellectual. […] He’d outdebate Obama because he didn’t accept the notion that Obama was a competent, eloquent president. They didn’t accept it, either.

This belief may be inextricable from the web of conservative conspiracy theories about Teleprompters and so forth, but for the sake of argument, let’s grant the nub of the Gingrich voters’ point: The speaker, first-class intellectual or no, is a consistently entertaining presence in the debates, and Obama is somewhat less so. The president was stiff and a bit dour compared to his adversaries in the 2008 primaries; his relative victories in the general election debates had more to do with John McCain’s flaws—the anger, the strange wanderings around the stage—than with his own performances.

But Gingrich’s supporters, surely big fans of history, might want to consult it. Since the advent of television, there have been just two presidential elections that were arguably decided by debates: elections in which the candidate leading in the polls going into the debates ultimately lost the race. The first was 1960, when a sweating and sickly-looking Richard Nixon saw his lead evaporate in the bronzed glow of John F. Kennedy. The second was the 2000 election.

There is only one moment that anyone really remembers from the first debate between Al Gore and Bush that October: the moment when Gore, listening to Bush answer a question about his litmus test or lack thereof for judicial appointees, leaned over his podium and sighed heavily into the microphone. Voters polled immediately after the debate actually gave the match to Gore. But by then the sigh had begun to percolate through the media ecosystem, fueled by the enterprising efforts of Bush’s media team (“I don’t think it really would’ve become an issue if we hadn’t built it into one,” McKinnon told me). “I thought if you looked at Al Gore there,” William Kristol said that night on Fox News, “you thought back to the smartest kid in class who was always raising his hand, sighing audibly when you made a mistake.”

By the following day, the sigh had warranted a segment on the Daily Show. By the next, it was appearing in headlines, and polls showed viewers reconsidering, giving the debate to Bush. The vice president who faced Bush again ten days later had lost the air of aggressive intellectualism, but in the house-of-mirrors logic of political commentary this only mired him further in an unflattering narrative: he was now a man flailing to escape his own mistakes.

The thing people tend to forget about this saga is that Gore’s sigh wasn’t really a gaffe—it was part of his strategy. At the time, Gore was widely considered one of the toughest rhetorical combatants in the Democratic Party, and he had gone into the debate aiming to intimidate Bush the way he had successfully rattled Bill Bradley during the primaries. Where Gore, like Gingrich’s partisans, erred was in believing that this mattered. What Bush and McKinnon understood was that the general election debates were not really about winning on the merits—they were about trying on Bush’s commander-in-chief persona, and undermining his opponent’s. James Fallows, an ardent student of presidential rhetoric, has noted that Bush was in fact a dexterous debater in his gubernatorial races back in Texas. But by the fall of 2000, he had sanded his presence at the podium down to a blunt object: he projected strength, certainty, and little else. And it worked.

That Bush was able to close the gap with Gore in the debates was also because an unusually large number of voters, rightly or (in retrospect) wrongly, saw little difference between the two candidates. The stakes were thought to be so low, the actual issues hashed out in the first debate—judicial appointments, long-term funding plans for Social Security—so arcane to the average viewer, that an unusually large number of voters were actually in the position of having their vote swayed by a sigh.

Ironically, the Republican hopefuls’ anti-Obama hyperbole has all but guaranteed that this will not be the kind of election Gingrich or anyone else could actually win with a debate. It’s unthinkable that by the October showdowns, anyone remotely sympathetic to claims about socialism and shariah law would not have decided who to vote for.

Charles Homans is a special correspondent for The New Republic.
Politics  Cambridge  Jacksonville  Tampa  CNN  Al_Gore  Barack_Obama  David_Weigel  George_W._Bush  Herman_Cain  John_King  John_King  John_McCain  Juan_Williams  Look  Mark_McKinnon  Massachusetts  Newt_Gingrich  Republican_Party  Rick_Perry  Sarah_Palin  South_Carolina  Tim_Pawlenty  from google
january 2012 by Shanebrain
NEWS: Required to help ELLs, city to open 125 new bilingual programs
The city will launch 125 new bilingual programs under the terms of a required plan to improve the treatment of students who are classified as English language learners.

Test scores and high school graduation rates for ELLs lag far behind the city average, and last summer the state told then-Chancellor Joel Klein to produce a “corrective action plan” for how to serve the students better.

That plan, released today and posted below, sets out an ambitious remediation schedule — and also highlights just how much the city has lagged in providing legally mandated services to ELLs.

In the plan, the city promises to reduce the number of ELLs whose teachers are not trained to work with them and to punish schools that fail to provide services to which ELLs are entitled.

It also promises to launch 125 new bilingual programs by 2013, including 20 this school year, on top of the 397 that are already open. The new programs will open in districts with many ELLs and where parents say they prefer their children placed in classrooms where instruction takes place in two languages, rather than in English-only classes with extra help for non-native speakers. The city has hired Ernst & Young, an auditing group, to monitor whether parents’ choices are honored.

Some of the new programs will open in high school campuses where no bilingual instruction currently takes place. When he approved several school closures in July, State Education Commissioner John King expressed concern about whether new high schools would serve the same students who attended the schools that closed. The plan commits to opening new programs when existing ones phase out along with their schools.

In the plan, the city says it will withhold funding from schools that fall short and penalize their principals. State officials did not indicate what consequences the DOE itself would face if it does not meet its year-by-year benchmarks.

Advocates for ELLs called the state’s intervention in ELL issues “unprecedented” and said they are hopeful that the city and state would follow through on the plan’s commitments.

“Previous to this commissioner we didn’t get a lot of movement on ELLs at the state level,” said Gisela Alvarez, an attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. “It’s a good opportunity to take the spotlight and press forward with all the things we know need to be done.”

The state officially accepted the plan yesterday and the city will start acting on it immediately, first by publishing updated compliance numbers, according to a DOE spokesman, Matthew Mittenthal.
Newsroom  bilingual_programs  English_Language_Learners  gisela_alvarez  Joel_Klein  john_king  under_pressure  from google
october 2011 by jasonpbecker
NEWS: Bruised by suit, advocates try persuasion to boost school funds
Panelists discuss a slate of new papers about school funding in New York at Teachers College Tuesday night.

Michael Rebell led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s landmark school finance lawsuit for 13 years, but for a long time the lawyer was conflicted about the case.

He believed what he ultimately convinced the courts: that the state had given New York City schools less than their fair share of funding. But he was also persuaded by a counter-argument that he heard during the litigation: that more money wouldn’t help schools whose biggest problem was poverty. And the lawsuit itself wasn’t helping him reconcile the tension.

“We have this adversary system for dealing with legal matters in our courts, where two warring sides take firm and opposite opinions,” he said. “The truth is sometimes more complicated than that.”

Now, months after CFE laid off its last employee and the state trimmed the equity dollars for the second time, Rebell is trying a different approach to advocate for poor students. As the director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, a think tank housed at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Rebell is setting out to win not a legal victory but the hearts and minds of policymakers.

His first step: To solicit a set of academic papers, released this week and discussed at Teachers College Tuesday night, that make the case for what he calls “comprehensive educational equity.” A main point of the papers is, as the CFE lawsuit contended and the New York Times reported earlier this week, that the state should give more to its schools — $4,750 per poor student, to be precise. But they also sketch out a policy platform that Rebell said could help close racial and class achievement gaps.

By redirecting existing funding streams and selling state bonds, the state could offer poor children health care, prekindergarten, and extended school days, the papers argue. Another paper costs out the up-front investment and found it would  pay off multiple times over because better educated people contribute more in taxes and require fewer social services.

In an interview yesterday, AFT President Randi Weingarten, who touted “community schools” that offer wraparound services in her first speech after taking over the national union in 2008, said deploying existing resources more efficiently could go a long way toward equalizing educational opportunity.

“In places like New York where you have mayoral control, there’s no reason why the mayor cannot manage the services that are directly under the mayor’s control,” she said.

But at a time when the state and many cities are cutting school funding, not augmenting it, convincing taxpayers to pitch in for children’s services could be a tough sell, panelists said at the presentation.

That’s especially true given that increases in school funding haven’t always translated into performance gains in the past, said State Education Commissioner John King.

“We have work to do to create a culture to support some of the research that’s here. We have work to do to convince people that another dollar invested will translate into better opportunities for kids,” he said. “And unfortunately in our sector that is not always the case. Part of that culture change will also be proving to people that we can deliver that.”

Rebell said he doesn’t expect new funding to start to flow overnight. Instead, he said, the research is meant to spark a conversation that could take years to have an impact.

Tomorrow, Rebell is set to give a lecture at Harvard Law School, whose flagship journal will publish his paper arguing that students have a legal right to educational equity. Massachusetts’ education chief will be in the audience, Rebell said, and that’s exactly the goal, at least for now.

“We’re not currently thinking in terms of a lawsuit,” he said. “I do think there is a real issue in terms of a legal right, but we’d rather see if we can get a positive reaction from public officials. … These are new ideas and we have an obligation to air the ideas.”
Newsroom  campaign_for_educational_equity  campaign_for_fiscal_equity  john_king  Michael_Rebell  Randi_Weingarten  school_funding  the_long_sell  from google
october 2011 by jasonpbecker
Follow the Money: Winerip Takes Out After Education Philanthropists
The other day Michael Winerip raised what has come to be an increasingly contentious question in the public education reform debate – the use of private money for public purposes. Though he unfortunately veers off into a spat between long-time contenders for control of New York State’s public school system (and doesn’t touch the deeper questions), Winerip’s story is nonetheless a good one: a state education department whose budget has been slashed 35 percent in the last two years, solicits  private donations to set up a panel of 13 “research fellows,” paid as much as $189,000 each, to advise the state’s education commissioner on matters of education policy.  As Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch, herself one of New York’s richest, told Winerip:

People in the department were burning out…. This was a great way to enhance our capacity.

Sounds reasonable. These are tough times and deep-pocketed individuals are stepping up to the plate to help out. Is that a good idea?  Aside from Jay Greene’s recent advice (which is old advice), that “Philanthropists with billions of dollars to devote to education reform should build new institutions and stop trying to fix old ones,” the question posed, by innuendo, by Winerip, is whether this sort of private  salting of the bureaucracy is kosher.  The Board of Regents had no say in the selection of the research fellows, who went on to make a number of recommendations, the most contentious of which was to increase the importance of student test scores to teacher and principal evaluations – from 20 percent to 40 percent of the total score. The ensuing fight, as Winerip describes it, was one that is all too familiar to governance watchers —  the losers cried foul – and so dilutes the case that Winerip seems to be trying to build. (In fact, unstated here is that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo also weighed in on behalf of the 40 percent bar and the Regents voted overwhelmingly, 14 to 3, to adopt it.)

John Bierwirth, a Long Island school superintendent and part of a task force of 63 educators that had met many times and recommended a 20 percent evaluation ceiling, said he “felt used,” “irrelevant.”

Welcome to New York!

Winerip does a decent job of airing complaints from the dissenters, whom he calls “The Bottoms” (those who call the Obama administration’s singular education law a Race to the Bottom), but also gives space to “The Tops” (proponents of Race to the Top). But he doesn’t say much about what the researchers actually did, nor does he get to the fundamental question of how exactly private money can and should be used by public officials. (Perhaps because The Bottoms have their own deep pockets; see below.)  There doesn’t appear to be any suggestion of laws being broken. Commissioner John King, according to Winerip, “said that picking the fellows was the commissioner’s decision and that there was no legal requirement to consult the Regents.”

Still, shouldn’t there be limits on “gifts” to public education? More strings, perhaps?  More hoops to jump through rather than fewer?  The question seems to have become more pointed now that more wealthy individuals care about reform and more reformers are showing up in leadership roles.  (I’m waiting for one of them to show up in my district; there’s no more pleasant phrase to a school board’s ears than, “at no cost to the district.” Is snake oil good for you?  Is it “free”?)

Winerip implies that Bill Gates contributed $892,000 to the research fellows effort (though it’s unclear if that was a personal donation and whether it went to the fellows program).  But the reporter also mentions the National Association of Charter School Administrators, the Robbins Foundation and the Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation as private organizations that fund education causes they believe in.  Is that bad?

Gates and Mayor Michael Bloomberg “are expert at using philanthropy in a way that pressures government to follow their public policy agendas,” writes Winerip. But he doesn’t define “pressure” and doesn’t say that the efforts are bad for education.

There is, indeed a long list of philanthropic flops, and such mainstays of the charitable giving world as Ford and Rockefeller and Carnegie  and Annenberg have been trying to influence public education for many years. Lately, the money has come from names like Gates and Walton and Broad, not to mention Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who gave a cool $100 million to Newark last year (coincidentally, at about the same time as an unflattering movie about him was released). Yes, the money seems increasingly aimed at leveraging change (“impact investing” is in Wikipedia), despite Jay Greene’s longstanding contention that it’s all “Buckets into the Sea,” the title of his chapter in Rick Hess’s 2005 book With the Best of Intentions.

But there is no doubt that the education reform movement has been jolted to life by the interest of major money. (See my story in Ed Next about the creation of Albany charter powerhouse Brighter Choice, thanks in large part to Wall Street mogul George Gilder and his wife Virginia.)   And no matter what your politics, you must appreciate the huge impact of the billionaire education Mayor himself, Michael Bloomberg, who made no secret of his desire to break some education furniture in New York City and who recently kicked in $250,000 to help save New York State’s Regents tests — and then gave $30 million for a publicly run program to help the city’s black and latino men.

Good or bad?

In a recent interview with Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal, Gates admits to some missteps in his “record-breaking philanthropic push for school reform,” as Riley writes.  And so Gates – his foundation – is now turning to “higher leverage” charity, notably, doing what state and the federal governments aren’t doing: research and development.  None of the 50 states do R&D, Gates says. Why can’t he help? His foundation is now spending $335 million to figure out what makes an effective teacher, an initiative that includes videotaping 3,000 elementary teachers in classrooms across the country.  Indeed, teachers and teaching are a hot topic on the philanthropic circuit. The Walton Foundation just announced that it was donating $49 million to Teach for America and the Carnegie Corporation last year launched its “Elusive Teacher Strategy” initiative.

I could go on.  (See Richard Lee Colvin’s The New Philanthropists in the 2005 Education Next. Colvin concludes that, “Despite the sometimes gloomy assessments of philanthropy’s impact, there is reason for hope.”)

My question is not Jay Greene’s question about whether the best bang for the buck is in the tributaries of the education system.  My question is whether a mogul’s million is any different than the million gathered from thousands of taxpayers – and do we need more regulation and policing over it?  It’s sure easier to raise a million from a few people — especially if you’re a billionaire chancellor or mayor –  than raise the taxes of a million people.  But can’t the former be construed as unfair influence over the public’s purse, broadly defined.  What happened to one person, one vote?

The Daily News, for instance, was not comfortable with “six deep-pocketed individuals” buying New York students their Regents exams:

New York doles out more than $19 billion in education aid annually, pushing school spending above $18,000 per pupil versus the national average of $10,500. Yet Gov. Cuomo, the Legislature and the department could not find the $1.5 million for the January Regents, or $6.5 million more for further testing. Even at a time of severe budgetary stress, these numbers do not add up….  Albany’s priorities are out of whack. At a time when desperately needed school reforms demand more and better exams, cutting funding for testing is a bad policy choice. And that’s something no rich benefactor can fix.

This starts to get to the point that Diane Ravitch consistently makes in her warnings about  the “privatization” of public schools and her criticisms of “Astroturf” philanthropists: their excessive influence over public institutions that, by right and law, are owned by voters, each of whom has, in theory, an equivalent share of stock in the “company.”

“Reform groups such as Stand for Children, and Teach for America, Ravitch said,” according to a recent story on Ravitch by Politico’s Abby Phillip,

take money and policy directions from corporate foundations like Gates, Walton and the Broad Foundation whose interests don’t line up with what is best for schools and teachers. The real goal of these groups is to erode teachers’ collective bargaining rights, improve education for a select minority of students rather than all children, and tie teachers’ evaluations to flawed standardized tests.

Or so the theory goes.

The blind spot – it’s actually a big black hole — in this analysis is that it leaves out the billions of private dollars already coursing through the system’s veins.  As Rishawn Biddle pointed out about the recent recall effort in Wisconsin,

more money [was] spent on the recall elections than on the entire state legislative campaign last year, most of it coming from public-sector unions…  And when the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers weigh in — including spending $400,000 on radio ads supporting Democratic opponents alone — the elections are also a referendum on the influence of teachers unions in education policy.

In the end, it may very well be that our philanthropist reformers – including hedge-funders – are simply responding to what has been the outsized influence over the system exercised by private teacher unions, textbook and testing companies, and a web of high-powered lobbyists representing all manner of industry associations. Shouldn’t that be part … [more]
Education_Governance  Bill_Ga  Jay_Greene  John_King  Mark_Zuckerberg  Merryl_Tisch  Michael_Winerip  philanthropy  from google
august 2011 by jasonpbecker
Follow the Money: Winerip Takes Out After Education Philanthropists
The other day Michael Winerip raised what has come to be an increasingly contentious question in the public education reform debate – the use of private money for public purposes. Though he unfortunately veers off into a spat between long-time contenders for control of New York State’s public school system (and doesn’t touch the deeper questions), Winerip’s story is nonetheless a good one: a state education department whose budget has been slashed 35 percent in the last two years, solicits  private donations to set up a panel of 13 “research fellows,” paid as much as $189,000 each, to advise the state’s education commissioner on matters of education policy.  As Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch, herself one of New York’s richest, told Winerip:

People in the department were burning out…. This was a great way to enhance our capacity.

Sounds reasonable. These are tough times and deep-pocketed individuals are stepping up to the plate to help out. Is that a good idea?  Aside from Jay Greene’s recent advice (which is old advice), that “Philanthropists with billions of dollars to devote to education reform should build new institutions and stop trying to fix old ones,” the question posed, by innuendo, by Winerip, is whether this sort of private  salting of the bureaucracy is kosher.  The Board of Regents had no say in the selection of the research fellows, who went on to make a number of recommendations, the most contentious of which was to increase the importance of student test scores to teacher and principal evaluations – from 20 percent to 40 percent of the total score. The ensuing fight, as Winerip describes it, was one that is all too familiar to governance watchers —  the losers cried foul – and so dilutes the case that Winerip seems to be trying to build. (In fact, unstated here is that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo also weighed in on behalf of the 40 percent bar and the Regents voted overwhelmingly, 14 to 3, to adopt it.)

John Bierwirth, a Long Island school superintendent and part of a task force of 63 educators that had met many times and recommended a 20 percent evaluation ceiling, said he “felt used,” “irrelevant.”

Welcome to New York!

Winerip does a decent job of airing complaints from the dissenters, whom he calls “The Bottoms” (those who call the Obama administration’s singular education law a Race to the Bottom), but also gives space to “The Tops” (proponents of Race to the Top). But he doesn’t say much about what the researchers actually did, nor does he get to the fundamental question of how exactly private money can and should be used by public officials. (Perhaps because The Bottoms have their own deep pockets; see below.)  There doesn’t appear to be any suggestion of laws being broken. Commissioner John King, according to Winerip, “said that picking the fellows was the commissioner’s decision and that there was no legal requirement to consult the Regents.”

Still, shouldn’t there be limits on “gifts” to public education? More strings, perhaps?  More hoops to jump through rather than fewer?  The question seems to have become more pointed now that more wealthy individuals care about reform and more reformers are showing up in leadership roles.  (I’m waiting for one of them to show up in my district; there’s no more pleasant phrase to a school board’s ears than, “at no cost to the district.” Is snake oil good for you?  Is it “free”?)

Winerip implies that Bill Gates contributed $892,000 to the research fellows effort (though it’s unclear if that was a personal donation and whether it went to the fellows program).  But the reporter also mentions the National Association of Charter School Administrators, the Robbins Foundation and the Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation as private organizations that fund education causes they believe in.  Is that bad?

Gates and Mayor Michael Bloomberg “are expert at using philanthropy in a way that pressures government to follow their public policy agendas,” writes Winerip. But he doesn’t define “pressure” and doesn’t say that the efforts are bad for education.

There is, indeed a long list of philanthropic flops, and such mainstays of the charitable giving world as Ford and Rockefeller and Carnegie  and Annenberg have been trying to influence public education for many years. Lately, the money has come from names like Gates and Walton and Broad, not to mention Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who gave a cool $100 million to Newark last year (coincidentally, at about the same time as an unflattering movie about him was released). Yes, the money seems increasingly aimed at leveraging change (“impact investing” is in Wikipedia), despite Jay Greene’s longstanding contention that it’s all “Buckets into the Sea,” the title of his chapter in Rick Hess’s 2005 book With the Best of Intentions.

But there is no doubt that the education reform movement has been jolted to life by the interest of major money. (See my story in Ed Next about the creation of Albany charter powerhouse Brighter Choice, thanks in large part to Wall Street mogul George Gilder and his wife Virginia.)   And no matter what your politics, you must appreciate the huge impact of the billionaire education Mayor himself, Michael Bloomberg, who made no secret of his desire to break some education furniture in New York City and who recently kicked in $250,000 to help save New York State’s Regents tests — and then gave $30 million for a publicly run program to help the city’s black and latino men.

Good or bad?

In a recent interview with Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal, Gates admits to some missteps in his “record-breaking philanthropic push for school reform,” as Riley writes.  And so Gates – his foundation – is now turning to “higher leverage” charity, notably, doing what state and the federal governments aren’t doing: research and development.  None of the 50 states do R&D, Gates says. Why can’t he help? His foundation is now spending $335 million to figure out what makes an effective teacher, an initiative that includes videotaping 3,000 elementary teachers in classrooms across the country.  Indeed, teachers and teaching are a hot topic on the philanthropic circuit. The Walton Foundation just announced that it was donating $49 million to Teach for America and the Carnegie Corporation last year launched its “Elusive Teacher Strategy” initiative.

I could go on.  (See Richard Lee Colvin’s The New Philanthropists in the 2005 Education Next. Colvin concludes that, “Despite the sometimes gloomy assessments of philanthropy’s impact, there is reason for hope.”)

My question is not Jay Greene’s question about whether the best bang for the buck is in the tributaries of the education system.  My question is whether a mogul’s million is any different than the million gathered from thousands of taxpayers – and do we need more regulation and policing over it?  It’s sure easier to raise a million from a few people — especially if you’re a billionaire chancellor or mayor –  than raise the taxes of a million people.  But can’t the former be construed as unfair influence over the public’s purse, broadly defined.  What happened to one person, one vote?

The Daily News, for instance, was not comfortable with “six deep-pocketed individuals” buying New York students their Regents exams:

New York doles out more than $19 billion in education aid annually, pushing school spending above $18,000 per pupil versus the national average of $10,500. Yet Gov. Cuomo, the Legislature and the department could not find the $1.5 million for the January Regents, or $6.5 million more for further testing. Even at a time of severe budgetary stress, these numbers do not add up….  Albany’s priorities are out of whack. At a time when desperately needed school reforms demand more and better exams, cutting funding for testing is a bad policy choice. And that’s something no rich benefactor can fix.

This starts to get to the point that Diane Ravitch consistently makes in her warnings about  the “privatization” of public schools and her criticisms of “Astroturf” philanthropists: their excessive influence over public institutions that, by right and law, are owned by voters, each of whom has, in theory, an equivalent share of stock in the “company.”

“Reform groups such as Stand for Children, and Teach for America, Ravitch said,” according to a recent story on Ravitch by Politico’s Abby Phillip,

take money and policy directions from corporate foundations like Gates, Walton and the Broad Foundation whose interests don’t line up with what is best for schools and teachers. The real goal of these groups is to erode teachers’ collective bargaining rights, improve education for a select minority of students rather than all children, and tie teachers’ evaluations to flawed standardized tests.

Or so the theory goes.

The blind spot – it’s actually a big black hole — in this analysis is that it leaves out the billions of private dollars already coursing through the system’s veins.  As Rishawn Biddle pointed out about the recent recall effort in Wisconsin,

more money [was] spent on the recall elections than on the entire state legislative campaign last year, most of it coming from public-sector unions…  And when the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers weigh in — including spending $400,000 on radio ads supporting Democratic opponents alone — the elections are also a referendum on the influence of teachers unions in education policy.

In the end, it may very well be that our philanthropist reformers – including hedge-funders – are simply responding to what has been the outsized influence over the system exercised by private teacher unions, textbook and testing companies, and a web of high-powered lobbyists representing all manner of industry associations. Shouldn’t that be part … [more]
Education_Governance  Bill_Ga  Jay_Greene  John_King  Mark_Zuckerberg  Merryl_Tisch  Michael_Winerip  philanthropy  from google
august 2011 by jasonpbecker

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