Stimulus and strings

Schools will receive an extra $142 billion over two years in the $825 billion stimulus bill, reports USA Today.  Strings include:

• High-quality educational tests.

• Ways to recruit and retain top teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

• Longitudinal data systems that let schools track long-term progress.

On Swift & Change Able, Charles Barone, a former congressonal staffer, analyzes the potential to use the extra money to fund change — or more of the same.

For example, states promise that funds will be used “to improve assessments, more efficiently collect data, and equalize the distribution of qualified teachers,” he writes. But states already have made those “assurances.”

All they will have to do is copy and paste language from their old plans and re-submit them.

This means that with all the complaints we have heard about current assessment systems (the responsibility for which lies solely with the states) and the inequitable distribution of teachers (the responsibility for which lies with both schools and districts) and the promises for change, states and districts can take billions and billions in new federal education dollars and do more or less on these issues exactly what they are doing now.

He’s got a lot more on the way to hand out money without creating a giant slush fund. A congressional committee starts the write- up today.

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  1. Homeschooling Granny says:

    Discouraging. (1) No change from the same old reliance on multiple choice tests w/o addressing the concerns as to the negative impact of such tests on teaching. (2) A top down mandate to get good teachers into hard-to-staff schools with no realistic suggestions as to how this might be done. How about identifying such schools that DO maintain a good staff and copy them. (3)Tracking data is commons sense but if the data input is meaningless (see point 1) it won’t help much.

    The USA has a federal system. It could be used to test different approaches and adopt the ones that are the most productive.

  2. The Crimson Avenger says:

    Let’s leave aside the fact that this is certainly not stimulative spending (the original purpose of the bill), and that, as Barone argues, states can effectively paper over any mandates for changes in operations. My question is: what’s to prevent the states, which are hurting generally, from reducing their allocations to education in the exact amounts of this new federal increase?

  3. The original money was a slush fund. The extra $142 million will not help anyone. It will just make federal spending “slushier.”

  4. So, 142 billion dollars for education. Considering that there are about 36 million school children in the US, that’s almost $4,000 per kid.

    What will we get for it? I don’t know, but I’m sure one of the things we won’t get is measurably better educated kids.

    No “change” there…

  5. I would be willing to bet that here in Texas the Legislature will make a dollar per dollar cut in state funding for every dollar from the feds.


  1. […] Jacobs has more.  Charles Barone at Swift and Change Able, has a detailed analysis and notes this will be the […]