Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Equity and the Fight Against Competition

Diane Ravitch has posted a profile of a tireless advocate for public education and equity.

Ravitch, who is a powerful and vocal advocate for public education in her own right, describes Jan Resseger, a lay minister for Public Edcuation and Witness for the United Church of Christ, as
a fearless and tireless advocate for public education and for equity. She has a passion for justice and a deep and loving concern for people. She understands in a visceral sense that a decent society must sustain vibrant public institutions.
Resseger's focus for this year, according to an email she sent to Ravitch and others on her list, is to fight the concept of competition in public education.
My biggest beef is with the Administration’s transformation of Title I from a formula program that delivers federal funds (admittedly so small relative to the need that these dollars don’t accomplish what I wish they did) to schools with large numbers of or concentrations of students in poverty. The goal of this program is to help those schools meet the students’ needs. Title I was created back in 1965 as the cornerstone of the War on Poverty. Its context was expanding civil rights for children who had been shut out or left out or left behind. The current Administration and Congress have frozen the Title I formula program in the last two budgets and re-directed the money into competitive programs like Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants in which the states or districts with the best grant proposal writers can help their states or districts be winners. That means, of course, that a lot of states and school districts and schools are the losers. If you have winners, you always have losers and I don’t think any state or school district or school that serves children in poverty ought to lose the chance to serve those children. You may think this particular issue is way too deep in the weeds of policy to worry about, but for me it is a big, heartfelt worry—and let me warn you, I’ll be mentioning it again and again this year as part of my personal campaign against competition.
You can read more from Jan Resseger here and here.

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