This proposal makes a lot of sense and should appeal to those who favor standardized variables to measure student performance as well as those who favor local control of all school activities.
• Provide flexible dollars targeted at disadvantaged children. Principals and superintendents, facing the sunshine of transparency around their schools’ results, should be free to spend Washington’s dollars as they see fit.
• Foster common standards and tests. While asking federal bureaucrats or politicians themselves to set standards and create tests would be perilous, the President could bring governors together and task them with agreeing on what students should know and be able to do in core subjects at various stages of their K-12 schooling.
• Offer cash incentives to states or districts to embark upon promising but politically treacherous reforms. The cleanest way to do this is to enhance the Title I payments to jurisdictions that are pushing hard on important innovations such as performance-linked pay for teachers and quality school choices for families.
• Produce high-quality data and solid research on what does and doesn’t work. Today, education research and statistics is the caboose of federal education policy when it should be the engine.
• Protect the civil rights of individual students and educators. This is a traditional and needed element of the federal role, both at the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and in other agencies.
It offers reward incentive for good teaching and good student progress as well as removes federal mandates for failed projects like No Child Left Behind which will only be a glutton for more spending to make it even plausible.
This also looks like something that newly named, soon to be appointed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan might buy as an alternative to rigid local control versus rigid federal oversight. Moreover, Lisa Snell gives us a couple of good reasons to think Duncan will consider this strategy moving forward.
Chicago’s model does not distinguish between the type of school: charter, contract, traditional public, instead this pilot project attaches dollars to students and lets students vote with their feet by choosing a school. This is the vision of school finance we need to make school funding more transparent and attached to the backs of kids. We need the funding to follow the child and not fund programs, staff, or certain types of schools.
For the purposes of the discussion as it pertains here, what do you judge as a plausible liberaltarian management of education reform? If the liberal idea is to find ways to “bring up the bottom” does this kind of proposal seem to offer a fair way to do it?
Originally posted at Notes From Off Center.