The education election

The status quo was a big winner, writes Rick Hess in his election wrap-up.

Those edu-advocates who’ve been telling themselves that an Obama win would mean a big infusion of dollars are going to be disappointed– the size of the deficit, the GOP majority in the House, the need to deal with Pell, the impending costs of the Affordable Care Act, and the rest mean that there won’t be big new dollars for education initiatives, no matter how often the President says nice things about edu-investment and workforce initiatives.

. . . The next few years may be something of a slog for folks at ED, as they have to do the tedious work of trying to monitor Race to the Top and waiver commitments, while figuring out how to be impactful when they don’t have much new money to spend . . .

It will be interesting to see who quits the Education Department, Hess writes.

If Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett’s re-election campaign was “a referendum on reform,”  as Fordham’s Mike Petrilli put it, reform lost. Bennett, a Republican who championed tougher teacher evaluations and school accountability, was upset by teacher Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.

Bennett was a reform “stud,” writes Hess. Teachers’ union opposition wouldn’t have been enough to defeat Bennett in “deep red” Indiana. He also faced opposition from Tea Party conservatives over his support for Common Core State Standards, which they call “Obamacore.”

Intentionally or not, the Obama administration has politicized the Common Core and, in so doing, is making it dangerous for elected Republicans in red states to support it. And, trust me, a lot of GOP state school board members, education committee members, and state chiefs are aware of what happened to Bennett.

Ed Week looks at Arne Duncan’s five big challenges in the next term. “Duncan will have to walk a fine line between supporting states as they implement common standards and tests, and, in the words of Checker Finn, not ”loving them to death.”

The Obama-Duncan education reforms are at risk, writes Rishawn Biddle on Dropout Nation. No ChIld Left Behind waivers are letting traditionalists and suburban districts gut accountability. He hopes Obama and Duncan will work with congressional leaders on both sides to revise No Child and expand accountability. But he’s not holding his breath.

School choice lost in Florida, where voters rejected a measure that would have let parents use school vouchers at religious schools.

However, Georgia approved a special commission to authorize new charters.

After turning down charter schools three times, voters in Washington state narrowly passed a charter school measure which will let 40 charters open statewide in the next five years. A majority of parents or teachers could “trigger” the conversion of a traditional public school into a charter.

In Idaho, where Romney won in a landslide, voters repealed the “Students Come First” laws, agreeing with teachers’ unions. It was “a stunning rebuke” to Republican Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent Tom Luna, writes the Idaho Statesman.

– 57 percent opposed to restrictions on teachers unions in Prop 1.

– 58 percent voted no on Prop 2, which paid teacher bonuses based on student test scores and other measures.

– 67 percent rejected a mandate for laptops and online credits for every Idaho high school student.

In red-hot South Dakota, two-thirds of voters rejected Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s plan to “give bonuses to top teachers, phase out tenure and recruit candidates for critical teaching jobs,” reports KSFY-ABC.

Michigan voters rejected a union-sponsored measure protecting collective-bargaining rights.

Maryland voters approved in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

To my surprise, California voters approved a tax increase billed as the only way to keep schools open. A political contributions initiative aimed at unions failed.

In Arizona, a sales tax extension to fund schools went down to defeat.

Cuban kids get pro-tax videogame

Cuba’s children can look forward to a new video game on the joy of paying taxes, reports Reuters.

Dubbed “Tributin,” or “Little Tax,” by its creators at the Superior Pedagogic Institute . . .  the game is meant to support economic reforms by Fidel Castro’s brother, President Raul Castro, who is expanding Cuba’s tiny private sector. The game is expected to roll out in October.

Cuba’s new entrepreneurs are expected to pay between 25 and 50 percent in taxes, which the cash-strapped government will use to keep financing generous social programs.

. . . “Tributin” would show children how the money they spend when they buy candy puts in motion mechanisms that benefit their communities in the form of school improvements.

Raul Castro is laying off government workers and hopes the private sector will provide jobs. People who start businesses must get a self-employment license and then pay income tax, sales tax and employment tax on workers they hire. Fun for the whole family!

Stimulating minds

Spending $1 trillion for highways, bridges and school repairs won’t stimulate the economy in the long run, argues New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. We need to stimulate learning, creating “more Google-ready jobs and Windows-ready and knowledge-ready workers.”

How?

Barack Obama is talking about preparing for global competition by  “investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries and entire new industries.”

But, again, how?

Friedman proposes:

. . . give everyone who is academically eligible and willing a quick $5,000 to go back to school. . . .

.  . .  eliminate federal income taxes on all public schoolteachers so more talented people would choose these careers. I’d also double the salaries of all highly qualified math and science teachers, staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from any U.S. university in math or science — instead of subsidizing their educations and then sending them home — and offer full scholarships to needy students who want to go to a public university or community college for the next four years.

Academically eligible students — and quite a few who aren’t eligible — already go to college in the U.S.  Where we lose potential scientists and innovators is in the K-12 system. There’s no quick fix for that, though it would make sense to pay more to competent math and science teachers — and to other teachers with high-demand skills, such as special ed specialists. Exempting all public teachers from income taxes is a bad idea: We’re all in this together.

I back allowing foreign math and science graduates to stay in the U.S.

It’s also important to ensure that community colleges have the funds to offer  classes to laid-off workers who need to improve their skills.

Eduwonk has more on compensating teachers.