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Social and Political Context of Public EducationGlen Thomas Who is the “public” in public education? What is the essential purpose of public education?
CA’s Huge Educational Systemand Significant Changes/Stresses to System • Growth: 4.1 million students in CA public schools in 1980; 6.3 million in 2009 (more than 50% increase) • Diversity: CA schools now have more than 50% Latino; growth of 190% • Language: 1980 326,000 students needing to learn English; 2009 1.5 million (350% increase) • Special Education: 1980: 360,000 kids; 2009 678,000 (88% increase) • But what has occurred during this time re budget?
Progress(appreciation to John Mocker for data) • Schools making significant progress in language arts and mathematics - including results for Hispanics, Blacks & those in Special Education • Minority enrollments in AP classes doubled in last five years (most doing well) • API – 1999 31% schools with APIs above 700. 2009 77% above 700 • Focus on individual students ***
Some Movement toward Evidence Based Reform • VanderArk/Gates “create small schools” • Class size reduction • Teacher evaluation RTTT & 5% lowest teachers • Charter schools (innovation versus improvement of system) • New technologies “It is easy to take our eye off the essentials, as guided by research and evidence…” *Leadership is about maneuvering with the constraints of the day… and keeping an eye on what is essential…
Priorities for the S. Administration(last two years) • Stimulus money (CA was first) • Local flexibility/categorical collapse • Technology/Free Digital Textbooks • Parent Trigger laws • Balance state budget/cuts to K-12 and higher education • Race to the Top
Who is ultimately responsible for public education? • State Superintendent of Public Education? • Federal government/DOE? • Congress? • State Legislature? • References: US Constitution Tenth Amendment • CA STATE Constitution
Curriculum Case Studies • Two biggest “triggers” for concern about the curriculum: • Textbooks • Testing
Primary Historical Social and Political Influences • Religious • Witness: Yoga is inherently religious The trial concerning the legality of a public-school yoga program in Encinitas continued Tuesday, with testimony from a religious scholar who said the curriculum remains religious despite efforts to strip away any spiritual elements. “I see it all over the place,” Candy Brown said when asked if she sees religious aspects to the yoga program in the Encinitas Union School District. The district introduced yoga as a pilot program in 2011 and expanded it to all nine of its schools in January. Funding comes from the KP Jois Foundation, which champions a style of yoga called Ashtanga. San Diego Union-TribuneBy Gary Warth • Political(i.e., language; integration; special education) • Governmental • Now – add Technology
What are the roles of the various state entities, and why should we care? • Role of SPI • Role of State Board of Education • Role of legislature • Role of Governor • Role of Commission on Teacher Credentialing, STRS, etc.
CA Curriculum Commission(1984-1995) • Developed eight curriculum frameworks • Used those as base to align teacher development, textbooks, testing, professional development • But . . . Politics? • Honig – Dukemejian
The Role of the SPI and the GovernorInfluence of Politics & the State Budget • Eastin–Wilson • Class size reduction, standards • O’Connell–Davis/Schwarzenegger • Accountability, budget, press, federal (state education agency) • Torlakson–Brown • Budget (1B for common core), local funding formula changes and collapse of categoricals
Evolution of Ed Reform Strategies(with thanks to M. Kirst) • Local control/elected school boards 1900-1960 • 1965-1990 Categorical programs for special needs • Intensification of system 1980-1990 (more time; more required courses for graduation; teacher credentials; testing) • 1990-present Systemic standards-based alignment • Plus markets, choice, charters, vouchers • RTTT
Political Implications of Trends • Progressive loss of confidence in local educators • States copying each other (esp. CA) • Progressive loss of policy influence of education interest groups (i.e., CA Education Coalition) • Biggest political loser: local school boards • 1982 (CA Senator Hart) - still focus on inputs • Now: focus on outputs
What comes first? Testing or teaching? • Clear on what students are supposed to learn • Curriculum developed to implement • Training on curriculum • Instructional resources/texts/technology aligned • Teach/facilitate learning • Assessments and data • Improve instruction to support individual learning • State accountability? • Continuing professional development for teachers
Case Study: CLAS • Learning from the Past: Drawing on California’s CLAS Experience to Inform Assessment of the Common CoreAIR Authors: Joel Knudson, Stephanie Hannan, and Jennifer O’Day • The Common Core State Standards represent an exciting step forward for California and for the nation as a whole in supporting strong instruction that can better prepare students for college and career success. • To realize the benefits of the Common Core, however, educators must implement the standards well, applying lessons gleaned over two decades of standards-based reform. In this vein, forward-thinking districts have already started building capacity and adapting instructional materials and practices to prepare students to master this new set of college- and career-readiness standards. Because assessment tasks not only provide evidence of student learning, but can also help teachers understand the nature of learning embodied in the Common Core, these district activities often focus on student assessment as an essential component of the implementation and instructional process.
Case Study: CLAS (continued) • This is not the first time that California has transitioned to a new system of academic standards, instruction, and assessment; in particular, potential parallels exist between the assessment the SBAC is developing and the short-lived California Learning Assessment System (CLAS) from the early 1990s. • Though the CLAS received praise from many educators as being “cutting edge,” it was plagued by both technical flaws and political controversies that led to its discontinuation after only two years. As educators embrace the challenges associated with assessment of the Common Core, it is instructive to learn from the CLAS experience—both to build on its successes and to avoid the mistakes that led to its demise.
Possible Lessons: CLAS and SMARTER BALANCE, and how to avoid pitfalls in implementation • Public engagement • Teacher preparedness • Principals and district folks ability to explain and answer questions • Trying to separate “politics” from testing • Cost overruns and technical problems • Parents’ understanding of scores and scoring
Is a “Revolution” building? • The Revolution Is HereMay 17, 2013, The Washington Post by Valerie Strauss • Common Core Clash: AFT president fires back at state education officialsMay 21, 2013, The Washington Post by Lyndsey Layton • Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S. May 08, 2013, Education Week by Michele McNeil • Rapid change in education–and society–has intensifiedthe debate to a level not seen since the battles overschool desegregation.
Components of possible “revolution” • Reform should be integrated (not just class size or small schools) • Teacher discontent • Mayors • Parent “revolution” • Students • No “overarching voice” of direction, leadership • Corporate/big money involvement (Walden; Gates; Broad)
Warren Buffet on Leadership • In a leader, character is everything. A leader doesn’t have to be brilliant; you can hire genius. He doesn’t have to be clever; it is easy to hire quick-witted people with advice on how to do this or that. You can hire pragmatic. • but you can’t buy courage and decency . . . you can’t rent a strong moral sense.