« Who's Going to Apply for i3 Grants This Year? | Main | Early Learning Challenge: Where are the Foundations? »

Fox Mulder, Charlie Barone, and the Early Learning Challenge

DFER's Charlie Barone has written a really phenomenal post on the ESEA waivers issue and broader state of play on NCLB (seriously, if you haven't read it yet, click here and don't return until you have). But in addition to his excellent points on those issues, Charlie's post also helps frame why I have very mixed feelings about the new RTT Early Learning Challenge Program. Charlie writes:

Likewise, on Race to the Top, at the beginning of their terms in 2009 President Obama and Secretary Duncan knew and made clear what they wanted states to do: repeal state laws that barred the use of student data in teacher evaluations, develop better teacher evaluation systems, lift arbitrary state caps that barred the expansion of high-quality public charter schools, and leverage fundamental reforms in schools that perform persistently poorly. By this time last year, they had gotten those things from more states than most naysayers hoped or thought was possible.

I'm concerned because I can't say the same thing about the early learning RTT competition. I don't think anyone can honestly say the administration has made clear what they want states to do. Sure, if you look at the administration's paper and listen to their rhetoric so far, you know that the purpose of the RTT build statewide early learning systems. But what, concretely does that mean? That's like if the administration had said, with the original RTT, that they wanted states to narrow achievement gaps and make their education systems better. It's an extremely broad and diffuse goal that lacks the precision of the original RTT's crisp mandates to eliminate barriers to linking teacher evaluations to student achievement, adopt common core standards, implement new teacher evaluation systems, and eliminate or raise charter school caps. And without that degree of definition around desired outcomes, it's far less likely the administration is going to see the same results from early learning challenge, in terms of driving changes in state policy, that it did with the original program. (Not to mention, that there are good reasons to think the original RTT was already too diffuse in its aims, in ways that undermined its ultimate outcomes.)

To be fair, the administration has not yet released detailed criteria for the early learning challenge grant applications, which will most likely provide much great definition around desired goals and outcomes than we've seen to date. But recall that, with the original RTT, the administration made darn clear what the bright lines would be long before the criteria came out. The fact that we don't know that yet with early learning challenge is a cause for concern--particularly since states will be working on a tight timeline to draft the applications, and really need to begin working now (or yesterday) if they're going to craft truly robust and aggressive plans.

The more I think about early learning challenge, the more I feel like Fox Mulder--I want to believe, but I'm still looking for evidence.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login |  Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

AFT
Alex Grodd
Ana Menezes
Andrew Kelly
appropriations
ARRA
Aspire Public Schools
authorizing
Better Lesson
Bill Ferguson
certification
charter schools
child care
children's literature
choice
civil rights
CLASS
Core Knowledge
curriculum
D.C.
democracy
early childhood
Early Learning Challenge Grant
economics
elections
English language learners
entrepreneurship
equity
Evan Stone
fathers
finance
fix poverty first
Hailly Korman
harlem children's zone
HEA
Head Start
head start
health care
Higher Education
home-based child care
homeschooling
housing
How we think and talk about pre-k evidence
i3
IDEA
income inequality
instruction
international
Jason Chaffetz
Jen Medbery
just for fun
Justin Cohen
Kaya Henderson
Kenya
kindergarten
KIPP
Kirabo Jackson
Kwame Brown
land use
LearnBoost
libertarians
LIFO
literacy
Los Angeles
Louise Stoney
Mark Zuckerberg
Maryland
Massachusetts
Memphis
Michelle Rhee
Michigan
Mickey Muldoon
Neerav Kingsland
New Jersey
New Orleans
NewtownReaction
Next Gen leaders
Next Gen Leaders
nonsense
NSVF Summit
NYT
organizing
parent engagement
parenting
parking
pell grants
politics
poverty
PreK-3rd
presidents
principals
productivity
QRIS
Race to the Top
Rafael Corrales
redshirting
regulation
religion
rick hess
Roxanna Elden
RTT
san francisco
school choice
social services
SOTU
special education
Stephanie Wilson
stimulus
story
Sydney Morris
tax credits
Teacher Prep
teachers
technology
Title I
unions
urban issues
Vincent Gray
vouchers
Waiting for Superman
Washington
West Virginia
zoning