Thursday, September 10, 2009

Federalizing State Education Policy

Leaving aside most of the actual policies in Commissioner Gist's Transforming RI Education: Our Five Priorities, it is depressing just how generic it is. It doesn't reflect Rhode Island's specific issues at all. It's just Race to the Top boilerplate.

Priority one in RI for state education policy has to be a fair and equitable funding formula for state aid to districts. Actually, that's number two. Number one is any predictable funding formula. Fairness would be a bonus, but I'd take being predictably and consistently screwed than the annual circus we have now. This is not only a huge problem it is actually a state-level issue, so it is an appropriate focus for state leadership. And yes, it is in the longer report, but it should be at the top, not the bottom.

Also, "Establish World Class Standards and Assessments?" We just got done doing that, with specific praise from Duncan for being leaders in multi-state collaboration on NECAP. By my count, since NCLB started, Providence has operated under three different sets of standards. For better or worse, the district is 100% committed to rolling out a full curriculum aligned to the current standards and in the middle of that process. Changing again would be a disaster.

With state policy like this, we might as well just turn the operation over to the feds. Or maybe cut out the middle man and let the Broad Foundation run things directly.

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