Duncan tells schools how to assign teachers

Uncle Sam shouldn’t try to manage school staffing, writes Rick Hess.

The Obama administration has used its Race to the Top program and unprecedented, far-reaching conditions for states seeking “waivers” from the No Child Left Behind Act’s most destructive requirements as excuses to micromanage what states are doing on teacher evaluation, school turnarounds, and much else. In a new, particularly troubling twist, the administration has announced that states will henceforth have to ensure that “effective” teachers are distributed in a manner Uncle Sam deems equitable.

Arne Duncan, who’s not the school superintendent for the U.S., wants to staff high-poverty schools with more effective teachers, writes Hess. That’s a worthy goal, but it shouldn’t be dictated from Washington.

 Ill-conceived policies might move teachers from schools and classrooms where they are effective to situations when they are less effective. Heavy-handed efforts to reallocate teachers could drive good teachers from the profession. And we are far less able to identify “effective” teachers in any cookie-cutter fashion than federal officials might think.

Some teachers who are effective with easy-to-teach students aren’t effective with hard-to-teach students, Hess points out.

Obama: 4% more for K-12 education

The Obama administration is proposing to spend 4 percent more on education, excluding Pell Grants, in fiscal 2012, reports Ed Week. That includes small boosts to Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education funding and School Improvement (to be renamed School Turnaround) Grants.

And, as part of its proposal for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka the No Child Left Behind Act), the administration is asking for $300 million for a program called Title I rewards, to help give a pat on the back to schools that are making progress in boosting student achievement.

Race to the Top will be directed at districts, not states. And Obama proposes to create an education R&D institute like the Defense Department’s DARPA.

Counting Pell Grants, which go to low-income college students, K-12 and higher education spending would go up by 22 percent.

It’s about the 2012 election, not the kids, grumps Mike Petrilli.

House Republicans want to cut education spending, reports Politics K-12.

The measure, which would continue federal funding for rest of the fiscal year, takes aim at some programs that were previously considered untouchable, including special education spending and Pell Grants to help low-and-moderate income students pay for college. Overall it would cut $4.9 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s fiscal year 2010 budget of $63.7 billion.

Curriculum Matters lists the Republicans’ proposed cuts in adolescent literacy, math and science education, teaching U.S. history and more.