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Morning Shots

Extreme Makeover: AFT Edition

Folks have been fawning over Randi Weingarten’s seeming embrace of education reform since her National Press Club speech in November, and Dana Goldstein has a must-read profile of the AFT/UFT president in the latest American Prospect.

Weingarten’s media makeover has served her well, leading many to do as Goldstein has and give her credit for talking the talk.

But that’s not the whole story.

For reformers, the real definition of reform – which we helped give life to in 1993 – is much more cut and dry than what is expounded here. Quite simply:

– The status quo embraces the existing system, and while members of the status quo will often advocate for policy or program changes, none of what they endorse will fundamentally change the balance of power between producer and consumer.

– Conversely, real reformers seek to fundamentally replace what is known as the school system with a system of schools that is accountable to those in power at each school, as well as to the parents, in whose hands the ultimate fate of their children depends.

By this definition, Randi Weingarten doesn’t even approach the notion of a reformer. On the continuum between status quo and reform, she has barely passed go.

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Please read that last bit back to me…

court-reporterThe education chatterers are all a twitter this evening over Sec. Arne Duncan’s “support” for a “continuation” of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Wonk #1: Tee-hee. Is the Obama Administration really going to go up against Congress on D.C. OSP?

Wonk #2: Ooooh. Is Duncan all about the choice now?

Wonk #3: I’ve got 10 bucks on Obama/Duncan. They’ve given everything but the kitchen sink to Pelosi and her Congress. It’s payback time!

Hold on a second everyone. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Read the story again.

Nowhere in Libby Quaid’s piece is a there call for continuation of the scholarship program. Let’s take a look:

Duncan opposes vouchers, he said in an interview with The Associated Press. But he said Washington is a special case, and kids already in private schools on the public dime should be allowed to continue.

“I don’t think it makes sense to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning,” Duncan told said. “I think those kids need to stay in their school.”

Allowing existing kids to remain in the program is not a continuation of it, merely a longer phase out – a kinder, gentler demise, if you will. In this scenario, when the youngest current OSP scholar has graduated, there will be no more.

There is no silver lining in the words of Sec. Duncan. Unfortunately, even voucher supporters in Congress have been duped:

When asked about Duncan’s remarks, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the education secretary was “exactly right.”

“Senators should listen to him by voting this week to continue funding vouchers for DC schoolchildren,” Alexander said.

Too bad that’s not what Duncan said. It would have been nice if he had…

(Maria Glod and Bill Turque

Read More …

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Opportunity Knocks

It looks like Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), a longtime proponent of D.C. voting rights, would like to hinge his support of District residents winning a voice in Congress on further renewal of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a voucher system allowing more than 1,700 D.C. children to attend schools of their choosing after having been failed by those to which they are traditionally assigned.

Perhaps the Senator read this.

Or, he could have watched this:

(h/t to Flypaper)

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