Friday, October 09, 2009

Is Obama Weak on Equity?

This week, the US Office of Education introduced regulations governing its , "Investing in Innovation," or i3 grant competition. The $650 million fund will award grants to local districts and nonprofits along the same lines as Race to the Top. But for i3, successful recipients must also arrange for a 20 percent private sector matching contribution, typically from either a foundation or corporation.

In his Sept. 24 speech Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged that "many" American children remain racially segregated at school. "We must work together to change that," he said.

Over at the American Prospect blog, Dana Goldstein was hoping Duncan would use Race to the Top and i3 as tools to lessen segregation.

This from Tapped:
After all, we already know what policies would work -- and we know that integrated schools get better teachers in front of poor kids. Yet like the Race to the Top guidelines, the i3 guidelines do nothing to promote the importance of racial or socioeconomic integration.

So far, the Obama administration's commitment to lessening school segregation is no commitment at all -- it's just talk. And by the way, it's not "many" American kids who are segregated, it's nearly half. Forty percent of black children, for example, sit each day in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent black.


Eric Schansberg said...

None of this is Constitutional federally-- or by your standards, at the state level either, right?

Richard Day said...

The standard argument is that under "the reserve clause," it's none of the fed's business what states do about education.

The counter argument is that there's no prohibition against the feds offering grants that "promote the general welfare." States can choose to take money along with whatever restrictions that apply.

The fact is since 1862, at least, the feds have been involved in education - and never more than today.

Eric Schansberg said...

The counter argument runs aground on the claim of "general welfare"-- or else, virtually anything could be motivated by this means.

What about the KY constitution?

Richard Day said...

...many things have been motivated by this means. If the general welfare argument has run aground, few in Congress seem to have noticed.

I'm can't cite anything prohibitive in the Ky
constitution when it comes to accepting federal grants. My observation is that citizens want federal dollars and tend to reward politicians who bring home the bacon.

Eric Schansberg said...

I tried to post this earlier, but to no avail:

I'm sure a lion of the Constitution would protest should a grounding.

I don't understand how this jives with your views about equality in funding and opportunity (as applied to other areas).

On a related matter, what do you think about the connection of federal funding to the existence of charter school legislation within a state? Should Kentucky take advantage of that funding?

Richard Day said...

Sorry I didn't get your first effort. Not intentional.

I'm not quite sure I got your first point...

I assume the "lion of the Constitution" phrase is some kind of set up - if you were referring to me. I certainly have neither earned nor deserve such a moniker.

What I think ought to be true about the Constitutions and what constitutes reality are, at times, miles apart. I would have to be deluded (or an ideologue, perhaps) not to acknowledge reality when it is in opposition with my own views.

I suspect the inconsistencies you sense are related to shifting perspectives on a given question. I do tend to look at multiple sides of an issue. I often present opposing views along with their rationale even if I don't necessarily agree with some of those positions. Sorry if that's confusing.

Charter schooling is a prime example. I can argue both sides of that issue very comfortably.

* I was the first principal in Ky to try to start a charter.
* I was asking for something that was illegal at the time - and still is.
* I was only interested in my own kids - not the state at large.
* Should Ky allow charters now? Probably, yes.
* Ky should certainly not lose out on RTTT funding by being resistant.
* At present, not having charters only costs Ky 3 points on its application - so it's no big whoop from some points of view.
* Will charters improve schooling in Kentucky? I doubt it...but they can't do any worse than some of our schools have done.
* There are some great charters in places - just like public schools - but across the board they are no better.
* There are some real stink-o charter schools too. Nobody wants to replicate them.
* Are charters unconstitutional? Perhaps. If there is no effort by the legislature to ensure equality of educational opportunity throughout the state - probably so.
* But if a charter bill can be crafted to address the needs of our tier 4 & 5 schools...I suspect that would pass muster.
*What we don't need are charters schools draining students from existing successful schools in order to allow a group of parents to create a semi-private situation with selected student population.

I know that in the blogosphere it's supposed to me all about my own ideas - but I try to run KSN&C as more of a news site - with occasional commentary. I'm mostly interested in provoking thought.

Thanks for the comment, Eric.

Eric Schansberg said...

Got it...that clears things up a lot...thanks!