Say what, Secretary Duncan?
One-fifth of the states chose not to participate in the first round of Race to the Top--in which Tennessee and Delaware won--and others have dropped out for the current second round.
A refusal to try to win millions of dollars does not constitute opposition to Duncan? See why I say he's got to be kidding?
A letter from 14 states to Duncan, posted by Jim Horn on the blog Schools Matter, makes plain some of the opposition to his grand plans. The letter says that some of the primary requirements to win Race to the Top money are impossible for rural school districts to implement. A push for charter schools is one of them.
Here's some of the letter, and you can go to Schools Matter to see the rest.
That sounds like opposition to me, but maybe Duncan view state officials as being part of the public.
All Duncan has to do is read some of the latest books on education to understand the opposition to his proposals.
Those would include Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System, and Linda Darling-Hammond's The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future.
Taken together, the books effectively skewer Duncan's vision of education reform with actual evidence.
Of course, it can be hard to see things as they really are when you flip flop on your core beliefs.
That's what Duncan appears to be doing with what he considers important in Race to the Top.
Early on, Duncan said that it was important for states to win consensus from stakeholders, which would include teachers who are the adults most affected by his plans. In fact, Florida didn't win money in the first round because, the judges said, the state didn't have enough buy-in from teachers.
But in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, he gave a different impression.
"Watered-down proposals with lots of consensus won't win," he said. "And proposals that drive real reform will win."
Huh? Does "lots of consensus" inherently mean to Duncan that the proposal is watered-down?
What is a proposal that drives real reform?
It would not look like the education secretary's vision. It would involve the creation of a learning environment in which teachers and administrators were adequately supported and had real collaboration so they could do their best work for kids, where school officials worked with health care workers to make sure that students were healthy enough to learn, and where standardized tests did not drive work in the classroom.
There are existing models. The James Comer's School Development Program, also known as the Comer Process, for example, has been helping poor minority youth in schools for years by concentrating on the things that really help achievement. (I'll be writing more about this soon.)
Do you think that Duncan or Obama have spoken to Comer about his program?
If you said yes, you would be wrong.
So, is Duncan not actually seeing the opposition, or seeing it but ignoring it? What, do you think, is going on?
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