Education Roundup: What's the Stimulus Doing For Schools?
- 2012's budget proposal is in, and President Obama is pushing for $77.4 billion to go to education, reports The New York Times. The GOP? Not so much. If some conservatives have their way, the Head Start program can wave goodbye to $1.1 billion, meaning services for more than 200,000 children and the jobs of more than 50,000 Head Start employees will get eliminated. What's the GOP's rationale for proposing such harsh education cuts? "Throwing more money at our nation's broken education system ignores reality and does a disservice to students and taxpayers," Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) told the NY Times. "Over the last 45 years we have increased our investment in education, but the return on that investment has failed to improve student achievement."
- That's not entirely true. American schools are actually better than they were 50 years ago, writes MoJo's Kevin Drum, citing scores in a recent report by the Brookings Institute. Sure, when compared to kids in other advanced countries, US students aren't exactly making the international honor roll, but they're still beating the country's personal average in the First International Mathematics Study. That's a boost, right?
- Whether stimulus funds are boosting student performance remains to be seen, according to a 3-month investigation by The Hechinger Report, the Education Writers Association, and reporters from 36 news outlets in 27 states. Two years and $79 billion later, it turns out that the one-time investment in the nation's public schools was largely spent on saving or creating 368,000 school-related jobs. The grants that it financed are promoting charter schools, tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, and enacting common academic standards for math and English. Click here to find out which education projects your state is spending its stimulus money on.
- By the way, this presentation just might offer the best explanation of why our current education system isn't making the grade, according to MoJo's Julia Whitty. And it's animated.
- Speaking of animated debate, Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp spoke to MoJo's education reporter Kristina Rizga on why busting unions or increasing the number of charters won't "save" schools.
- Via Washington Post's Valerie Strauss, veteran teachers laid out their problems with Teach for America's focus on test scores and two-year teaching commitments, prompting educator Nancy Flanagan to ask why teachers who choose to work in classrooms for the long haul don't receive the same amount of recruitment, training, and on-site support as TFA.
- Meanwhile, Kristina Rizga actually talked to the kids everyone else just talks about, and Click here to discover what 23 Mission High School students really think of the achievement gap and "Waiting for Superman."
- Last but not least, parents in Mansfield, Texas made news by pushing their school district to turn down (indefinitely) a $1.3 billion federal grant that would have provided an Arabic language course in schools. MoJo's Tim Murphy covers the reasoning behind the hysteria, while Texas Insider's Dan Flynn writes the course will "sensitize" children to a different culture.