CNN) – It’s hard to watch Robert Griffin III play football and not think about education policy.
RG3, as fans call him, is a rookie who has been playing in the National Football League for all of 18 weeks, but led the Washington Redskins to twice as many victories as they had last year, their first winning season since 2007 and their first divisional championship in 13 years. Now imagine if the Redskins had a little less money to pay salaries next year and cut Griffin from the team, keeping instead a handful of bench-warmers. It sounds ridiculous, but that practice is exactly what happens in most school districts where policies require teachers to be laid off based on seniority, not talent.
Here’s another nonsensical example: There’s overwhelming evidence that quality public charter schools provide a viable education option, particularly for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, test scores released in July 2012 showed New York City public charter schools outperforming traditional schools throughout the entire state, despite poverty rates 150% of that of the rest of the state and far greater numbers of minorities. Incredibly, eight states still do not allow public charter schools to exist. That means children assigned to low-performing schools in places such as Birmingham, Alabama, Louisville, Kentucky, and Omaha, Nebraska, are trapped without a choice or a way out.
These aren’t teacher problems, or student problems. These are policy problems. In far too many states, the laws and policies in place that govern education put up significant barriers to higher student achievement.
In fact, according to a first-of-its-kind report card that we published this week, nearly 90% of states earned less than a “C” grade on the subject of education policy. Ours is a new type of education report card that doesn’t look at teacher performance or students’ test scores, but instead focuses solely on the laws in place determining how our schools are allowed to operate. StudentsFirst will publish it annually, and this year no state earned higher than a B-minus
How you get from RG III to vouchers is beyond me, but it somehow makes sense in the minds of shameless education privatization hacks like Rhee and Klein. It’s a pathetic suck-up that the two would rate Louisiana and Florida highest. Perhaps they’re looking to have photo ops with Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and curry favor with the Godfather, Jeb Bush in Florida. Not everyone will be pleased. The dynamic duo gave out 12 F’s. This from a New York Times story by Mitoko Rich:
Richard Zeiger, California’s chief deputy superintendent, called the state’s F rating a “badge of honor.”
“This is an organization that frankly makes its living by asserting that schools are failing,” Mr. Zeiger said of StudentsFirst. “I would have been surprised if we had got anything else.”
StudentsFirst gave California the low rating despite the fact that it has a so-called parent trigger law that the advocacy group favors. Such laws allow parents at underperforming schools to vote to change the leadership or faculty.
What were they thinking? The state with the only successful parent trigger pull and home of the law’s agitation agent in Parent Revolution?
But the grades reveal just how fast the Bush-Rhee-Klein version is collapsing onto itself. From the Times:
Although StudentsFirst’s report card does not explicitly state that standardized tests be used in teacher evaluations, the group says that “objective” measures of “student academic growth” must be a primary component.
So not “standardized test” now, but that objective” measures of “student academic growth” must be a primary component. They must realize how toxic their test fetish has become and are looking for other, um, “choices” in how to describe their test fetish.
UDATE: Here’s a scathing review of Joel Klein’s book