Read Tomorrow's News Today
Through the magic of the World Wide Web, you can read my story that will appear in the Sept. 5 issue of Education Week. Check back at edweek.org today for sidebars on English Language Learners and special education students. They should be up Friday afternoon.
One of the subtexts to this story is that it occurred during the last week of August, a week that many Washingtonians reserve for vacation. Over the course of the week, I talked to one person who was at his house on the Chesapeake Bay and another at his second home in Colorado. I heard through the grapevine that one woman didn't respond to my e-mail because she was taking her son to college, and received a voice mail from another who was preparing to leave town for the same reason. When Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings scheduled her trip to Alaska for this week, she probably figured that she wouldn't miss much back home. But eduflack is questioning that call in hindsight.
That's one reason why groups aren't taking definitive stands on the draft. They couldn't get all of their leadership in the same room to decide what they think of everything in all of the 435 pages put out by the House committee. Groups will probably stake out their positions by the middle of next week.
Some groups already have some firm opinions. The Education Trust isn't enamored with the accountability measures, as I point out in the story. This statement on their Web site differs from the one sent out in an e-mail blast on Wednesday. The original statement had Amy Wilkins saying the draft is "flawed, fllimsy, and phony." That's an alliterative response to Rep. George Miller's promise that the current law is "not fair, not flexible, and is not funded."
The Alliance for Excellent Education said House leaders have been "thoughtful and deliberate" in their treatment of high schools. The Knowledge Alliance says the bill is "a step in the right direction for the next generation of reform."
Here are some quotes I collected that never made it into the story:
"We want to make sure the multiple indicators do not adversely impact the current accountability system," said Arthur Rothkopf, the senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"It creates these new strong incentives to overidentify kids [as English Language Learners or in special education], leave them there, and never let them out," said Dan Soifer, the education analyst at the Lexington Institute.
"This working draft is a base that can go either way," said Gary Huggins, the director of the Commission on No Child Left Behind run by the Aspen Institute. "We need to push further to accelerate progress rather than pull back."
Finally, I refer you to this Q&A between Sec. Spelling at the USA Today editorial board. No mention of the House draft so the interview must have happened before the draft came out.