Monday, May 11, 2009

Duncan to Education Writers on Charters

"Your reporting can be informative, balanced and useful or one-sided, confusing and misleading.

Mark Twain once said that if you don’t read newspapers you are uninformed – but if you do read newspapers, you are misinformed.

That’s a little harsh but there is still more truth there than we want to admit.

---Arne Duncan

This from The Notebook:

Arne Duncan tells Education Writers Association:

NCLB has to go (the name, not the law)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed the annual convention of the Education Writers Association in Washington, DC Thursday night, and he said that the name "No Child Left Behind" has to go.

"The name 'No Child Left Behind' is toxic," he said.

Duncan doesn't want to scrap NCLB by a long shot, but he wants to see some changes, especially in how schools are evaluated. He called himself a big fan of value-added methods of judging school progress -- in other words, looking at growth in test scores -- rather than relying on a basic proficiency rate.

On testing, Duncan said he realizes the limits of standardized tests, but doesn't want to get rid of them. "Test scores don't tell us everything, but they tell us some things. We must use what we have until we come up with something better."

One other indicator he wants to add to NCLB -- or whatever it will be called -- is a measure for high schools of how well they keep ninth graders on track.

Duncan said that he wants all states to have data systems that can tie student progress to individual teachers...

Remarks of Education Secretary Arne Duncan
Education Writers Association -- Wednesday, April 30, 2009

...Too often, we let ideology get in the way of honest conversation. Take charters for example. Depending on what you read, they are either the salvation of public education or the death-knell for unions.

The fact is they are neither. There are good charters and bad ones – there are union charters and non-union charters. Albert Shanker was one of the pioneers of the charter school movement.

Charters don’t take money from public schools. They are public schools – serving our kids with our money and accountable to the same standards.

We have about 4500 charter schools in America today and about 600 have been closed for mismanagement or low performance, so that’s a pretty tough ratio.

Our experience in Chicago is that some charters performed better than neighborhood schools and most of them had waiting lists.

Some had low test scores but terrific graduation rates. We closed down three others because they couldn’t get the job done.

So let’s get beyond the superficial discussion that posits charters against unions and focus only on whether they help kids.

If they do, we should keep them open, help them expand and serve more kids. If they don’t we should close them down. It’s that simple...

Full Text of Speech. Hat Tip to Russo.

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