Student assignment — I spent the weekend fielding calls and emails from parents who did not get a choice in Round I of the 2010-11 assignment process. The highlights on Round I are here; along with five years of demand statistics. While I do believe that the current process generally works out in the long run for people who are willing to stick with it and be a bit flexible in their school choices, I understand that it is frustrating and that in general the mechanism is way too complicated and almost impossible to understand. And in the short run, people who end up with none of their choices feel that they have very few options. That’s why we are changing it! I do think that the new “strategically simple” and “non-wasteful” focus on the choice algorithm will maximize people getting what they want. And if it’s any consolation to people who would like to know *exactly* what their choices will be next year, I’m in the same boat as you, since my daughter will be heading off to middle school in 2011. My family will be among the “guinea pigs” in the first year of the redesigned process (and no, we don’t live in CTIP 1).
Diversions — I saw “Seussical the Musical” at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts over the weekend and it is beyond fabulous. There is one more weekend of performances coming up, so don’t miss this great production! My kids loved the little carnival before the show (come early to enjoy the bounce house and other games), and were utterly enthralled by the beautiful costumes and wonderful performances. It is hard to believe these are high school students! Buy tickets online (click the buy now! link) >>>>>
Good reads – Yesterday New York University’s Diane Ravitch penned a very interesting Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, on the negative effects of “big ideas” on the educational system. Ravitch’s new book is causing quite a stir in education circles. Formerly a supporter of charter schools and the No Child Left Behind legislation, Ravitch now has nothing but contempt for these big conservative reform ideas. In yesterday’s Op-Ed, she writes:
Today there is empirical evidence, and it shows clearly that choice, competition and accountability as education reform levers are not working. But with confidence bordering on recklessness, the Obama administration is plunging ahead, pushing an aggressive program of school reform — codified in its signature Race to the Top program — that relies on the power of incentives and competition. This approach may well make schools worse, not better.
Those who do not follow education closely may be tempted to think that, at long last, we’re finally turning the corner. What could be wrong with promoting charter schools to compete with public schools? Why shouldn’t we demand accountability from educators and use test scores to reward our best teachers and identify those who should find another job?
Of everyone writing about education policy today, Ms. Ravitch is making the most sense. Read the entire article here >>>
Politics — Interesting to note that two of my colleagues on the school board (Commissioners Maufas and Fewer) have joined progressive slates for the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC). This little known committee is tremendously powerful in making endorsements for local elections, because our electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic and generally votes for the Democratic Party endorsements. Full disclosure: I was asked by several members of the City’s political elite to run, but ultimately decided against it — both for personal reasons (in the words of my husband – “You’re kidding, right? Another volunteer position that calls for spending hours in evening meetings?”) and because I wasn’t sure I wanted to politicize my position on the school board to that extent. Of course, being somewhat political is unavoidable — we have to run citywide after all! — but I am not sure it’s such a good idea for me to get so deeply ensconced in deciding who gets the Party nod for Supervisor, School Board and other races, particularly in the City’s current politically-polarized environment.