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[Susan notes: It's good to keep hammering that scrambling for the Fed money is neither profitable or in the best interest of local education.]

Published in Oakland Tribune
11/14/2009

To the editor

THIS IS regarding the Nov. 13 article titled "State could get up to $700 million in education funds."



California might get $350 million to $700 million from the Department of Education's Race to the Top ΓΆ€” a one-time chunk of approximately $56 to $112 per pupil (2008-09 enrollment was 6,252,031). Of course, some money will be used on administration.



For Race to the Top eligibility, states must have specific policies in place. Some states have refused to compromise their autonomy for such a small amount of money. Other states, like California, have already made significant changes to comply with the federal requirements.



Prominent education researchers are extremely concerned about flaws in the federal guidelines. Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, wrote, "What is extraordinary about these regulations is that they have no credible basis in research. They just happen to be the programs and approaches favored by the people in power."



The dominant education reformers often view those who differ with them as self-centered obstructionists and frame the conversation as if they are the only ones who truly care. This attitude is quite arrogant.



At this point, education reform means an ever-increasing importance on testing and an expansion of questionable charter schools. The public should inform themselves about alternative ideas that exist for improving public education. The Broader, Bolder approach is a good place to start.



Sharon Higgins


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