"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, May 9, 2011

The Department of Education's Theme Song to the Missouri Legislature: "Might As Well Face it, You're Addicted to Bucks"

Lyrics Adapted from Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love":

Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another buck is what it takes

You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another bailout is all you need

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you
know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to bucks

You see the signs, but you can't read
You're runnin' at a different speed
You heart beats in double time
Another bailout and you'll be mine, a one track mind

You can't be saved
Oblivion is all you crave
If there's some left for you
You don't mind if you do

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you
know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to bucks
Might as well face it, you're addicted to bucks (x 5)


Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your will is not your own
You're heart sweats and teeth grind
Another bailout and you'll be mine

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough, you
know you're
Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to bucks

Might as well face it, you're addicted to bucks (x 5)

This is a fitting song for an additional (announced May 5, 2011) $9,000,000 grant Missouri received for "turnaround" schools from the Federal government. Here's the PDF from DESE dated December 2, 2010 applying for School Improvement Grant (SIG) money. What does the grant provide?

The $8.9 million made available to Missouri is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. Missouri's application, which includes its list of persistently lowest-achieving schools, as defined by the state, can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary2010/index.html.

School districts will apply to the state for the funds this spring. When a school district applies, it must indicate that it will implement one of four school intervention models in each of its persistently lowest-achieving schools for which it receives SIG funds, based on school needs:

  • TURNAROUND MODEL: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

  • RESTART MODEL: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.

  • SCHOOL CLOSURE: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.

  • TRANSFORMATION MODEL: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

This will cost $9,000,000 for these implementations? Closing schools, hiring/firing and reopening will cost that much money? Why is the Federal Government giving money to states and MANDATING how the states will address the problem of turning around failing schools? The Federal Government is not given the constitutional authority for such mandates.

Coincidentally, Missouri was addressing this same issue in HB393 during the current session: it was a STATE bill for a turnaround model. The House bill is almost identical to the turnaround model Missouri will now adopt under the federal mandates, except the federal money doesn't include tuition to private schools or vouchers, as the state bill listed. What happened to HB393 (the "Trigger Option" bill)? It stalled in the House and the last activity was February 16, 2011.

Could the representatives have known DESE had applied for federal funding in 2010 for these "turnaround" mandates? Could the representatives have decided it was easier and cheaper for the Federal government to bypass the legislature and secure these initiatives? Have our representatives decided to take money from the Federal government, thereby giving additional educational control to the Federal government? Do the people have no legislative redress for yet ANOTHER round of educational federal mandates?

Are the politicians accepting this money the ones who believe in state sovereignty or are these the politicians willing to cede sovereignty for federal dollars...which ultimately means more federal control? Is there group of "sovereignty minded" elected officials in the legislature willing to say NO to more federal money and send this money back before it is doled out and spent? Do the people have no say in how the schools are run any longer? If the running of the schools is decided on the Federal level, we might as well abolish school boards.

This is yet another step toward total federal control of the schools. And you thought the state legislators were going to protect us from the power grab? They seem to be "addicted to bucks". However, when you talk to them, they say they are for "local control". You might let your representative know this "turnaround model" was first introduced in...Race to the Top:

E. Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools
Reform Plan Criteria
(E)(2) Turning around the lowest-achieving schools (40 points)
The extent to which the State has a high-quality plan and ambitious yet achievable annual targets to—
(i) Identify the persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this notice) and, at its discretion, any non-Title I eligible secondary schools that would be considered persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this notice) if they were eligible to receive Title I funds; and (5 points)
(ii) Support its LEAs in turning around these schools by implementing one of the four school intervention models (as described in Appendix C): turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformation model (provided that an LEA with more than nine persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the transformation model for more than 50 percent of its schools). (35 points)

Race to the Top is nothing less than the Federal Government mandating all aspects of public education. Now it is renamed in the package of School Improvement Grant (SIG).

Where exactly is local control in the current construct of public education?
Local school boards can only hire/fire personnel, set salaries and provide maintenance on buildings. Curriculum is being crafted by the federal government, standards and assessments are crafted by the consortia which is funded by the federal government. Call or write your representatives. See if you get an answer to your questions on local control and that latest Federal government mandate of "turnaround schools"...which was ONCE a House bill that morphed into the Federal realm.

Here's one other question you might want to ask. The shortfall for next year's DESE budget was expected to be at least $9,000,000. Is any of this SIG grant going to plug up budget holes?

**And if you don't live in Missouri, you might want to check to see how much YOUR state applied for and how much it received from the SIG fund. Missouri is just one state that can't "get enough". The Department of Education is more than happy to provide the "guidance" the states need: they are all in deep.

1 comment:

  1. Something everyone needs to see:
    (Check out the numerous signatures!)
    Because we are deeply committed to improving this country’s schools and increasing all students’ academic achievement, we cannot support this effort to undermine control of public school curriculum and instruction at the local and state level—the historic locus for effective innovation and reform in education—and transfer control to an elephantine, inside-the-Beltway bureaucracy.


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