Sunday, June 12, 2011

Robbing Schools to Fatten Central Administration

There seems to be a need for greater DC Council scrutiny over the DCPS budget. Either DCPS budget expert Mary Levy is right and the proposed school system budget for next year is growing by $77 Million, none of it targeted for schools, or there is over $50 Million unaccounted-for in the DCPS budget for the current year. Mark Simon and Mary Levy's Op-Ed in the Washington Post today points out that the only publicly available data shows a massive transfer of funds from schools to central administration. Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson says however that such a conclusion is drawn comparing the Budget Books for the two years, but that the "real budget" is in conflict with the "Budget Books" that Mary Levy and the DC Council have used. Spending in the current year, she says is actually $823 MIllion, $50 Million higher, making the increase for next year not so much. But... neither the DC Council nor the general public are allowed to see the "real budget." Is the school system leadership allowed to do this? Does Mayoral Control mean "trust us" and we don't have to account for monies spent anymore? And what did happen to all that extra money in the current year that never made it to the budget books?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Teacher Evaluation that Works -- Designed Together With Teachers

Doug Prouty, MCEA President
The NY Times reported today on the Montgomery County teacher evaluation system, built collaboratively with the union, and working perhaps better than anywhere else in the country. Although it is praised by Secretary Duncan as ..."where the country needs to go," it stands in stark contrast to what school districts are being incentivized to do. Praised by State superintendent Nancy Grasmick as "an excellent system for professional development," Montgomery is nevertheless locked in a major conflict with the state because the district refuses to use student test scores as any percentage of a teacher's evaluation, and Maryland got $250 Million premised on all teachers being evaluated using standardized student test scores for 50% of the judgment.

Meanwhile, in DCPS, the system continues with the IMPACT evaluation, unchanged, even though teachers have voted overwhelmingly that it be ended. The district is planning to greatly increase both the amount of student standardized testing and its use in teacher evaluation, and a scandal of possibly widespread cheating by administrators and teachers over the past two years is waiting for a thorough investigation. What a difference in the approach. What works seems irrelvant to the policy makers. Full-speed ahead.

Read the NY Times piece here.