Sunday, April 11, 2010

Status Quo is Loser

Strib Editorial on

Race to the Top

I post this being a strong supporter of unions.

Excellent teachers are difficult to produce by any method. Such teachers should be willing to accept others into their ranks, regardless of their method of production...

And please remember that most college and university faculty have never had any formal training in educational methods. Some of them ARE lousy. But some are very good.

There are many ways to Nirvana.

From the Strib:

Disappointment was widespread last month when Minnesota failed to make the list of finalists for federal Race to the Top education funds. For a state accustomed to being a national leader in education, it was a rude awakening to be bested by winners Delaware and Tennessee and eight other finalists.

Still, the poor showing can be the kick in the teeth Minnesota needs to jump-start educational reforms, and it should serve as a wake-up call for a teachers union that has wielded too much power in preserving the status quo. Minnesota lost points in the competition for poor plans to produce better educators and close the achievement gap, and for not having more support from its teachers unions.

The criticism from federal reviewers makes it clear that if Minnesota is serious about education reform and wants a legitimate shot at getting up to $150 million in Round 2 Race to the Top funds, two things must happen: The Legislature must get off the dime and approve several proposals that would improve teaching and learning and give the state more authority to intervene in the lowest-performing schools, and leaders of Education Minnesota, the state's leading teachers union, must no longer stand in the way of reforms that will strengthen teaching and improve achievement.

If those changes don't occur by the June reapplication deadline, there's no point in submitting a bid.

More than a dozen states have already passed new laws to fit federal grant criteria, and regardless of which states win the remaining $3.5 billion in federal funding, the program has been successful. The competition has intensified interest in national standards and improving teaching and learning. It has pushed states, school districts and unions to work together in new ways. And it has focused attention on education strategies that work and on scaling them up to reach more students.

Minnesota failed to meet the challenge in Round 1 of Race to the Top. For the sake of its students and its future, it must do better in Round 2.

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