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Peter Greene: Center for American Progress Calls for Doubling Down on Failed Reforms

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During the Obama years, the Center for American Progress reliably cheered on the administration’s education policies. As one after another failed, CAP never backed down. Charter schools good. Closing schools good. Common Core great. Despite the convergence of evidence that these policies did not work, that they destabilized fragile urban neighborhoods, that they demoralized teachers and created shortages, CAP never wavered.

As Peter Greene shows in this post, the CAP has learned nothing from the past 15 years of failed reforms. They are still pushing policy ideas cribbed from the GOP.

They still are pushing state takeovers and turnarounds.

He writes:

”And what example do folks who support takeovers and turnarounds like to cite? Of course, it’s New Orleans. Do we really have to get into all the ways that the privatization of the New Orleans school system is less than a resounding success? Or let’s discus the Tennessee experiment in a recovery school district, in which the state promised to turn the bottom five percent into the top schools in the state, and they utterly failed. As in, the guy charged with making it happened gave up and admitted that it was way harder than he thought it would be, failed.

“The whole premise of a state takeover is that somebody in the state capital somehow knows more about how to make a school work than the people who work there (or, in most cases, can hire some guy who knows because he graduated from an ivy league school and spent two years in a classroom once). The takeover model still holds onto a premise that many reformsters, to their credit, have moved past: that trained professional educators who have devoted their adult lives to working in schools– those people are the whole problem. It’s insulting, it’s stupid, and it’s a great way to let some folks off the hook, like, say, the policy makers who consistently underfund some schools.

“Most importantly, at this point, there isn’t a lick of evidence that it works.

“We have the results of the School Improvement Grants used by the Obama administration to “fix” schools, and the results were that SIG didn’t accomplish anything (other than, I suppose, keeping a bunch of consultants well-paid). SIG also did damage because it allowed the current administration and their ilk to say, “See? Throwing money at schools doesn’t help.” But the real lesson of SIG, which came with very specific Fix Your School instructions attached, was that when the state or federal government try to tell a local school district exactly how things should be fixed, instead of listening to the people who live and work there, nothing gets better. That same fundamental flaw is part of the DNA of the takeover/turnaround approach.

“But CAP is excited about ESSA because some states have included this model in their plan. So, yay.”

Worst of all, CAP ends it’s paean to ESSA by linking to a paper produced by a Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change.

If proof is needed of a mind meld between “centrist” Democrats and free-market, DeVos-style Republicans, This is it.

 

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