Earlier conversations about whether the existence of school councils would convince federal authorities that the kinds of innovative out-of-the-box (or should we say, extra-regulatory) efforts are being made in Kentucky left this observer unimpressed. Apparently federal RTTT judges were unimpressed as well.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday came away “very positive” after Tuesday afternoon’s Washington, D.C. presentation on Kentucky’s application for $175 million in federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funds.
“I think we are strong in every area of our application,” Holliday said in an interview after he and four others were questioned by a review panel of the U.S. Department of Education.
The other team members were Kenton County Superintendent Tim Hanner; Dr. Aaron Thompson, vice-president of the state Council on Post-Secondary Education; Kentucky Education Association Executive Director Mary Ann Blankenship; and David Cook, director of the Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement in the state education department and the agency’s RTTT point person...
“This time, we had a much clearer response to the teacher evaluation piece (one of the Obama administration’s focal points in school reform),” the commissioner said. “We showed a real strong plan on teacher evaluation and student growth.
“This time it wasn’t theoretical. We’ve done a lot of things from the teacher and principal evaluation committees to our ‘District 180’ initiative (to direct KDE assistance to low-performing schools),” Holliday said. “We showed them the really concrete things we are doing.” ...
Holliday also felt a major benefit in Tuesday’s questioning was the ability to discuss how Kentucky leaders feel they are handling many charter school-related issues without having actual charter schools. In RTTT’s first round, Kentucky received a much lower point total than other finalist states in the section dealing with charter schools.
“What was very different is that this time we had the last five minutes to address the charter issue. If that means points, we were able to make points,” he said.
“Our key messages was that Kentucky’s site-based decision making councils predate all charter school laws in terms of greater parental involvement in schools,” the commissioner said.
“There’s nothing a charter school can do that site-based councils can’t do.”
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Holliday's Second Effort
This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:
Kentucky’s second Race to the Top
has more active elements
The kinds of exemptions granted thus far by the Kentucky Board of Education have been small, piecemeal efforts that would seem to fall well short of the charter school notion of waiving regulations to allow for innovative, or even experimental, practices.
If there is more to the twenty exemptions granted so far (13 from one district) than meets the eye, KDE should be aggressively advertising the fact that such charter-like innovations are underway to the public. More importantly, someone from KDE should have testified about them at Monday's hearing before the Interim Joint Committee on Education, because that conversation about school councils was unconvincing as well.
But still, I have a sense that things will go better this time around.
First, Kentucky finished 9th the first time around and charter schools alone would have made Kentucky second.
Second, Duncan made his point when only Delaware and Tennessee were declared winners in that initial round of the competition. He is looking to make ten or so awards this time around.
Points three through .... what, eight....is the rest of Kentucky's application. Clearly the state is onboard with the Obama administration and Duncan is looking for states to prove that the administration's philosophy will produce the promised results. Assessment, Teacher quality, national standards.....and more appear solid. The reviewers are not US Office of Education staff, but the final judgment is apparently Duncan's. Based on feelings alone, I think he wants Kentucky to win.
I also think outscoring New York, Florida and the other big states is the whole game at this point.