Wednesday, February 26, 2014

UPDATE: CURMUDGUCATION: Duncan, Civil Rights, & Highly Qualified Teachers + Duncan's Pre-K Top 10

CURMUDGUCATION: Duncan's Pre-K Top 10:

Duncan, Civil Rights, & Highly Qualified Teachers

Whether you're David Welch (StudentsMatter) financing the Vergara lawsuit in California, or Arne Duncan, crafting new shiny policies and talking points in DC, turning classroom teachers into a civil rights issue is all the rage. I owe thanks to Michele McNeil and Alyson Klein for some of the reporting on which this column is based.

Coming Attraction and Policy Balloons

Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle did some talking shortly after the State of the Union address about the new 50-state strategy regarding highly qualified teachers, presenting a kind of coming attractions trailer of possible policy. Fans of reformy stuff will remember that NCLB put a deadline on putting a highly-qualified teacher in front of every student in the country, and NCLB waivers initially kept that requirement in place, but the Obama administration has since quietly dropped that. George Miller, retiring top Democrat of House Education committee, NCLB co-architect, andbi-partisan educational twit, even squawked a bit about that.

This notion has floated to the surface of reformy soup at various points. There are folks who believe that we just find the Highly Effective Teachers and move them around so that they are covering the most challenging classrooms, and then a million education flowers will bloom. This 

Duncan's Pre-K Top 10

On Monday, February 23, Arne Duncan laid down some speaks on the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting. His prepared remarks touched on many areas of education, but he devoted much of his speaking to the issue of Pre-K.

Mind you, Duncan did not speak about why Pre-K is a good idea or a valuable idea, nor did he speak about what Pre-K done right would look like. In fact, he didn't really talk about the educational aspects of Pre-K at all. What he addressed was its political inevitability.

So let's see what the compelling reasons for welcoming Pre-K might be. Here's Arne's Top Ten List.

#10: There is much greater public awareness today of the importance of the early years to the long-term health, learning, and success of our children and our communities--and it is coupled with widespread public support for a big expansion of early learning.

The political ground is fertile for the planting of Pre-K support. Lots of people believe this is a good thing, although most of them are imagining something completely different from our vision. You can win votes by backing this. Also, doesn't this sound much more attractive then testing and drilling four-year-olds?

#9: A powerful, bipartisan coalition of governors are funding expansions in the states—in some cases, big expansions—of high-quality early learning programs.

There is a big bunch of money pushing this. People are going to want to be your buddy when you have the power to make them rich. Also, note the new buzzword "high-quality," which means