More money, less reform

Flypaper’s Education Reform-0-Meter, which started with a “warm” welcome for Arne Duncan as education secretary, is getting colder.

Senate Democrats have stripped the reformist provisions from the education portion of the House stimulus bill.

The Teacher Incentive Fund (which supports merit pay programs): gone. Charter school facilities dollars: gone. Money for data infrastructure projects: gone. Language ensuring that charter schools have equitable access to the money: gone. The teachers unions firmly in control of the Democratic Party: back with a vengeance.

Where is Obama? We shall see how strongly he’ll back education reform.

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  1. Andy Freeman says:

    > We shall see how strongly he’ll back education reform.

    He put it in the bill. What more do you want?

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    Why is any type of educational funding being included in a stimulus bill? Why wouldn’t it go into the regular ed bills? This stimulus bill is a ginormous crap sandwich. The House and Senate Dems are running over Obama. He needs to yank their chain good and hard.

  3. he doesn’t want to yank them back. why would he? they’re paying off his base.

  4. Stacy, all the worst excess goes into the “stimulus” rather than through the regular annual appropriations bills because anything declared to be an emergency gets through with less scrutiny.

    Greifer, Obama is torn between the fact that he has to appease his base through red-meat socialism, and the fact that funding red-meat socialism is likely to extend and deepen the recession (just as the New Deal turned the Crash of ’29 into the Great Depression), thus causing the Dems to lose seats in 2010 and putting himself at greater risk in four year.

  5. Mark Roulo says:

    …just as the New Deal turned the Crash of ‘29 into the Great Depression…

    I’m no fan of FDR, but he couldn’t *start* his New Deal until 1933. At this point, the great depression had been going for 3 years and the U.S. had 25% unemployment. You can make a case that the New Deal extended the great depression, but we managed to get to 25% unemployment and a cratered economy without it.

    -Mark Roulo

  6. Mark –

    Consider the fact that FDR was continuing many of the same policies instituted by Hoover but with heavier spending and a better ability to inspire confidence among the people, hence the different PR image. One of the great historical myths of the 20th century is that Hoover was a laissez faire capitalist and FDR represented a 180-degree turn in policy.

    Andy –

    One of my biggest concerns about Obama is how much he’ll be willing to ride herd on Pelosi and Reid. If what’s happened so far with the stimulus bill is any indication, Obama’s first term will bear a strong resemblance to the years Bush had a Republican congress. Different party, same tune.

  7. I doubt Obama’ll expend much political capital on education reform. What organized, influential constituency would he be appeasing/satisfying? More likely he’ll join in the effort to both reduce accountability and increase spending while claiming to stand four-square for the opposite.

    The NEA has to re-establish its fearsome reputation which took a beating during the Bush years. There are changes afoot in the public education sphere and they aren’t changes that make the NEA happy so the every opportunity to reverse the slide in fortunes has to be worked to the maximum. The Democratic House, Senate, Presidency and an economic downturn present a golden opportunity and the NEA won’t let it go by.

    What stands against the NEA and all it’s well-organized allies?

    In total a pretty impressive array of interests but without a central drive and much coherence.

    There are a slew of think-tanks that are all over the place ideologically, a fairly noisy coterie of malcontents who’ve been grousing about the public education system for decades, charter parents, particularly poor, black, urban charter parents that ought to be politically potent all out of proportion to their numbers but don’t appear to be the focus of interest of anyone to organize, charter schools whose national organization appears to be interested mostly in increasing funding, less so in raising caps and fending off assault by the educational status quo and hardly at all in plumbing for political influence and then there’s a disparate array of moneybags; Bill Gates and the like along with their attendant foundations.

    That ought to be a pretty impressive bunch and in terms of shear numbers and potential financial resources it is a pretty impressive bunch but without the organizing discipline of self-interest that the educational status quo enjoys it’s a mob. Obama can afford to ignore a mob.

  8. Mark Roulo says:

    Consider the fact that FDR was continuing many of the same policies instituted by Hoover but with heavier spending and a better ability to inspire confidence among the people, hence the different PR image.

    I know that 🙂

    But with 25% unemployment when he took over FDR’s New Deal (a continuation and expansion of Hoover’s policies, sure) was too late to turn the crash into a depression.

    Hoover’s programs didn’t have a nice name like the New Deal did, but those were the policies that got us to 25% unemployment.

    -Mark Roulo

  9. Larry, San Francisco says:

    Obama is a succesful liberal politician. He sends his kids to an expensive private school and supports the NEA which ensures that poor kids are stuck in second rate schools. I wonder how long Michelle Rhee will last in DC.

  10. Thank God we can just blame parents and society for the poor state of our education system — oh, and NCLB. No need to bother with real change. Words are much easier, especially for those who got a good education. Aren’t they the ones with the best tools to go up against entrenched interests?

  11. Mark –

    My quick and dirty analysis of the Great Depression is that Hoover is responsible for the depth of it while FDR is responsible for the length. In remembering why we call it the “Great” depression, one must remember that the length (12 years) is even more extraordinary than the depth. It takes an incredible mass of bad policy to keep an economy on its knees for that long, which is exactly what FDR provided.