Archive for the ‘vouchers’ Category

Obama: Really Wants to “Fix Schools”? Try The China Or Singapore Model

March 16, 2009

Every time I read about “fixing schools” and improving the performance of America’s students, I think about the schools I’ve seen in Singapore and China.

In China: passing exams and getting into the right schools is a life and death proposition.  It is do or die.  So the students work.  And work and work and work.

A young friend of mine practiced the piano for many hours each day beause the communist state said that was her “gift,” that is what the state decided she was good at.  She would also walk about two miles and attend three hours of state piano instruction; then walk home and play more piano.

The last time I was in Singapore I noticed that the taxi driver shared the same sirname with the Prime Minister.  When I asked how that could possibly be, he said, “I’m his son.  It’s my own doing, really, I didn’t want to work in school….”  He was assigned to drive the cab: that was his reward for not being a good student.

We Americans seem to think that money will solve our student education woes: but that hasn’t always worked and in China and Singapore they buy way less and get way more than we do, per student.

But you have to face a certain rigid truth if you go to school in China and Singapore: you might be allowed to fail.

D.C. Mayor Breaks with Democrats on Hill, Wants School Vouchers

Obama on Education: What’s Good For You Is Wrong for Sasha, Malia
Obama’s Schools Will Have To Follow Federal Rules, Like Socialist, Communist Schools

Thowing Money Around Isn’t Always the Cure

March 16, 2009

Is it just me or is there some irony in the air when Congress complains about bad performance after so much money is spent by corporations like AIG: even when there is lots of bad performance to behold in the congress itself despite the money being thrown around — and the self enacted pay raises.

Auto industry executives with jets are bad.  Nancy Pelosi: O.K.?

It seems like Team Obama has decided that money wasted by the Defense Department, AIG , GM and banks is really the height of evil; but for every single part of the federal budget they want to pour money into they only seem ready to pay lip service to better money management and offer larger government to help solve the problem.

Even though Barack Obama allowed Nancy Pelosi and her crowd to draft the stimulus package and has thrown them the red meat of the health care overhaul bill to draft, some nameless White House team will come up with a grand strategy to spend billions on education.  Never mind that just about every federal billion dollar effort for schools has almost always benefitted teachers and staff more than students…..


By Jay Mathews
The Washington Post

I doubt we will get much school improvement out of the roughly $100 billion in stimulus funds the Obama administration is about to spend on education. The windfall will save the jobs of many hardworking educators, which is good, but we already know that dumping big pots of money on schools tends to help adults more than kids.

Read the rest:


Obama’s Schools Will Have To Follow Federal Rules, Like Socialist, Communist Schools
Obama: Really Want to “Fix Schools”? Try The China Or Singapore Model


My friend that is a health care professional sees people that need “care” for one hour and then fills out paperwork for another 2 hours.  Why?  To satisfy government and insurance requirements.  A doctor I know already gave up his profession — it is too hard and he spends too much time on the computer and with paperwork, far too little on health care, and he just doesn’t make enough money.  Undoubtedly, Obama’s huge change promised for health care will make this problem worse but not to worry: we’ll pay even more to put all this work into computers!

Not enough care and not enough health!  Just visit a hospital or nursing home: health, care and money in conflict all over the place.  And more money doesn’t make for more “care.”

Or “health.”

 Government Health Care Often Means Waiting Lines, Rationed “Care”

Obama’s Health Care Show Stopper?

 Health Care: Computerized Records Just Won’t Lead to Better “Care” or Cost Savings

Don’t forget: Hillary tried to overhaul health care
 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Obama’s War On Banks: Backlash Stirring

In Conservative Alaska, Banks Aren’t Full of “Toxic Assets”

 Republicans: If You Can’t Agree On Core Values Now, Commit Harakiri

 D.C. Mayor Breaks with Democrats on Hill, Wants School Vouchers

Obama on Education: What’s Good For You Is Wrong for Sasha, Malia

D.C. Mayor Breaks with Democrats on Hill, Wants School Vouchers

March 13, 2009

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty called for continued federal funding for a program that permits underprivileged children to attend private school, breaking with the congressional leaders of his own Democratic Party who ended the initiative.

By Elizabeth Hillgrove and Kara Rowland
The Washington Times

“Political leaders can debate the merits of vouchers, but we should not disrupt the education of children who are presently enrolled in private schools through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program,” Mr. Fenty said in his first public comment on the issue.

The remark, in a Wednesday night e-mail to The Washington Times, puts the mayor at odds with Democrats on Capitol Hill, who late last week circulated a document indicating that they have no plans to reconsider the program, which loses its funding next year in the $410 billion omnibus spending package.

“The committee does not anticipate reauthorizing the program,” a Democratic staffer on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said in the document obtained by The Times.

A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the committee’s ranking member, accused Democrats of being disingenuous when they said during debate on the bill that they were open to reconsidering the program.

“Talk of hearings, assertions that no final decision had been made, were deceptive double-talk,” spokesman Frederick Hill said. “Democrats on the House committee that would have to reauthorize the program had already decided poor D.C. children shouldn’t be in private schools.”

Mr. Fenty now joins President Obama in arguing for allowing children now in the program to stay in it through graduation.

“The president has repeatedly said that school vouchers are not a long-term solution to our educational challenges, but in this instance believes that we should try to find a way to keep from disrupting the students currently enrolled in this program,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday. “He looks forward to working with Congress to find a solution.”

The omnibus package calls for the program, which provides $12.1 million annually for about 1,700 city students, to end after the 2009-10 school year unless Congress and the D.C. Council reauthorize it.

President Bush started the program five years ago, the only federally funded voucher system in the country. It has since been a target for Democrats, who draw support from the teachers unions that oppose it.

Read the rest:


Obama’s School Plan

By David Brooks
The New York Times

In his education speech this week, Barack Obama retold a by-now familiar story. When he was a boy, his mother would wake him up at 4:30 to tutor him for a few hours before he went off to school. When young Barry complained about getting up so early, his mother responded: “This is no picnic for me either, Buster.”

That experience was the perfect preparation for reforming American education because it underlines the two traits necessary for academic success: relationships and rigor. The young Obama had a loving relationship with an adult passionate about his future. He also had at least one teacher, his mom, disinclined to put up with any crap.

The reform vision Obama sketched out in his speech flows from that experience. The Obama approach would make it more likely that young Americans grow up in relationships with teaching adults. It would expand nurse visits to disorganized homes. It would improve early education. It would extend the school year. Most important, it would increase merit pay for good teachers (the ones who develop emotional bonds with students) and dismiss bad teachers (the ones who treat students like cattle to be processed).

We’ve spent years working on ways to restructure schools, but what matters most is the relationship between one student and one teacher. You ask a kid who has graduated from high school to list the teachers who mattered in his life, and he will reel off names. You ask a kid who dropped out, and he will not even understand the question. Relationships like that are beyond his experience.

In his speech, Obama actually put more emphasis on the other side of the equation: rigor. In this context, that means testing and accountability.

Thanks in part to No Child Left Behind, we’re a lot better at measuring each student’s progress. Today, tests can tell you which students are on track and which aren’t. They can tell you which teachers are bringing their students’ achievement up by two grades in a single year and which are bringing their students’ levels up by only half a grade. They can tell you which education schools produce good teachers and which do not.

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has data showing that progress on tests between the third and eighth grades powerfully predicts high school graduation rates years later — a clear demonstration of the importance of these assessments.

The problem is that as our ability to get data has improved, the education establishment’s ability to evade the consequences of data has improved, too. Most districts don’t use data to reward good teachers. States have watered down their proficiency standards so parents think their own schools are much better than they are.

As Education Secretary Arne Duncan told me, “We’ve seen a race to the bottom. States are lying to children. They are lying to parents. They’re ignoring failure, and that’s unacceptable. We have to be fierce.”

Obama’s goal is to make sure results have consequences. He praises data sets that “tell us which students had which teachers so we can assess what’s working and what’s not.” He also aims to reward states that use data to make decisions. He will build on a Bush program that gives states money for merit pay so long as they measure teachers based on real results. He will reward states that expand charter schools, which are drivers of innovation, so long as they use data to figure out which charters are working.

The administration also will give money to states like Massachusetts that have rigorous proficiency standards. The goal is to replace the race to the bottom with a race to the top, as states are compelled to raise their standards if they hope to get federal money.

In short, Obama hopes to change incentives so districts do the effective and hard things instead of the easy and mediocre things. The question is whether he has the courage to follow through. Many doubt he does. They point to the way the president has already caved in on the D.C. vouchers case.

Democrats in Congress just killed an experiment that gives 1,700 poor Washington kids school vouchers. They even refused to grandfather in the kids already in the program, so those children will be ripped away from their mentors and friends. The idea was to cause maximum suffering, and 58 Senators voted for it.

Obama has, in fact, been shamefully quiet about this. But in the next weeks he’ll at least try to protect the kids now in the program. And more broadly, there’s reason for hope. Education is close to his heart. He has broken with liberal orthodoxy on school reform more than any other policy. He’s naturally inclined to be data driven. There’s reason to think that this week’s impressive speech will be followed by real and potentially historic action.

Schools Have To Face Facts: Your Tax Base is Deteriorated So Your Have To Cut Costs

March 11, 2009

City and county officials all over the United States are coming to grips with the grim reality that school funding has to be cut.  The housing crisis and foreclosures have lowered home values everywhere and the local community revenue from taxes is lower than once expected.

The rampant spending at the national level by the Congress and the Obama Administration along with hoped for stimulus and other federal money just won’t make school budgets what they once were: so now it it time for the tough decisions about what to cut without hurting the education of our youth.

But everyone should take heart in knowing that more money spent has not always (I want to say never) translated into better learning — by most fair measures.

Some of our most expensive dollar per stundet classrooms, in the District of Columbia, as just one example, remain some of our worst at really giving children basic needed skills like reading excellence.

So when community organizations like ACORN and teachers unions demand school funding at previous levels once considered “normal” they are encouraging a denial of the very basic facts of life we should learn to get used to….


Obama on Education: What’s Good For You Is Wrong for Sasha, Malia

From the Wall Street Journal:
Local Economies Seek Revival


By Andrea Billups
Washington Times
Marching bands are silenced. Sports programs, summer school and driver’s education are being slashed. Schools are facing closure and consolidation.

Teachers, many now vacuuming their own classrooms, have been told to do away with space heaters and office refrigerators because they consume expensive electricity. Even the school year is being shortened as districts across the nation are making hard choices amid a worsening recession as they deal with budget woes.

“If school districts think it’s bad now, it’s likely to get worse in the next couple of years,” said Michael Petrilli, vice president of programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Washington, who paints a grim portrait of the economy’s influence on education. He noted that as local revenues from property taxes continue to plummet, many districts likely will lose even more funding as foreclosures mount with increasing job losses.

Even as some hope that the economic stimulus will bring some relief, he said, children are the ones who ultimately lose as education bears a big hit from the downturn.

Read the rest:

Obama on Education: What’s Good For You Is Wrong for Sasha, Malia

March 10, 2009

Obama on Education:

1.  My kids get to go to private schools.

2.  Vouchers for federal school choice program for low-income families in Washington, D.C. are wrong.

Do we hear correctly?

Hope turned into hypocrocy (a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess).

Republicans: If You Can’t Agree On Core Values Now, Commit Harakiri

 Obama’s Schools Will Have To Follow Federal Rules, Like Socialist, Communist Schools

File:Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama at DNC.jpg
A few people with school choice you may not have.  Thanks to you, the taxpayer….


Also: as anyone who understands the schools of Washington DC can attest: money spent on education sometimes means nothing in terms of better student performance.  Two years ago, the Law School of the University of the District of Columbia spent more per student than any other law school in the nation.  The success rate at passing the bar the first time was the nation’s worst….


If you add up the stimulus bill, Obama’s proposed foreclosure fix, and the omnibus spending bill House Democrats are preparing, the administration is kicking off its tenure by spending a whopping $1.4 trillion.

There’s money for green golf carts. There’s money for ACORN. There’s money for weatherizing galore!

But there are some things the Democrat-controlled Congress will not countenance spending money on. Namely, Sakeithia, 12, Rashawn, 16, Paul, 11, Dominique, 14, Breanna, 9, Jordan, 17, Fransoir, 12, and De’Andre, 9.

They’re all Washington, D.C. kids attending private schools thanks in part to a federally funded school-voucher program. The program was enacted five years ago after a heated battle in the Senate, and supporters say it’s unlikely it will be reauthorized by the Democratic Congress unless they’re lobbied something fierce.


The fiscal 2009 omnibus Appropriations bill (HR 1105) would require that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — known as the D.C. voucher program — be reauthorized by Congress and then approved by the D.C. government in order for the program to receive federal funding after the 2009-2010 academic year.

But Republicans and advocates say the program is unlikely to be reauthorized with Democrats controlling Congress.

“It would certainly be a steep hill for supporters of the program to climb given the slim margins this program passed with back when conservatives controlled the Congress,” said Dan Lips, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. The D.C. government may be more willing to support the program, he said.

The D.C. voucher program — the first to provide federally funded vouchers to students — was launched as a five-year pilot program through the 2004 omnibus appropriations law (PL 108-199).


Nancy Pelosi’s office offered a “wait-and-see” soundbite on the program, but the language in the bill is more clear about its fate:

Read the rest from the Weekly Standard:


By Philip Elliott, AP

President Barack Obama on Tuesday embraced a new approach to public education that adds up to merit pay for the better teachers and longer days and school years for students.

These proposals, which constitute the new president’s vision of an education system that meets 21st century challenges, were sure to generate loud criticism, particularly from teachers’ union.

Educators oppose charter schools because they divert tax dollars away from traditional public schools. Merit-based systems for teachers have been anathema to teachers’ unions, a powerful force in Obama’s Democratic Party.

Obama acknowledged this in his talk to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom,” he said, delivering the first major education speech of his presidency. “Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance.”

But he argued that a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s education system is an economic imperative that can’t wait, despite the urgency of the financial crisis and other pressing issues.

“Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us,” Obama said. “The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children. We cannot afford to let it continue. What is at stake is nothing less than the American dream.”

The ideas the president promoted were nearly all elements of his campaign platform last year. He only barely mentioned the reauthorization of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, which introduced sweeping reforms that schools are struggling to meet without the funding to match. Obama said his administration would “later this year” ensure that schools get the funding they need and that the money is conditioned on results.

Among the principles Obama laid out were:

Read the rest: