The problem with RttT and Its Ilk…


I’ll warn you that this post does reflect some bitterness on my part. While my own situation is settling, I can’t help but realize most of the madness I’ve lived through in just the last two months –I really can’t believe it’s only been two, it feels like ages since this mess started– came about because of larger policy decisions that have been made in the last year, and I can’t see things getting any better until they are addressed.

What’s wrong with RttT? First, we’ll start with the fact that it takes the core duplicity of NCLB, holding schools and districts “accountable” for improving student performance on tests without ever providing full-funding for the program to a whole new level. Rather than screwing over everyone, by shorting them on resources they need to affect change, it picks and chooses some to shower in money, and some to leave to the benign neglect of their state’s budget process. It’s a slight of hand worthy of a Nigerian email con-artist. In order to apply for these grants you need to change state rules, and laws to implement the policies the federal government would like states to follow in education and education reform. This doesn’t guarantee you ANY money, it’s just the foot in the door, you still have to apply and compete with all the other states, eager for the jackpot at the end of the tunnel (which I’m personally convinced is an oncoming train). I guess it’s supposed to evoke images of good pure folks racing to the end of the finish line, ala Chariots of Fire, but instead it has the desperate air of They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, as states with abysmal support for schools score high because they have the best “student data systems”, which are really handy for telling them what a piss poor job they are doing educating students.

Yeah, schools and districts can still apply for the new SIG (School Improvement Grants), but lets look at some of the perversions that is being created in my state with that program. In it’s ongoing futile quest for RttT, and similar grant dollars from the feds, California is now trying to raid EETT money. If that happens, here is a possible result that shows how perverse things are getting. Tittle One schools like, this one, which are using EETT money as a part of their efforts to improve student achievement and stay out of the trouble my school got in, will lose that funding. Meanwhile, schools like mine will be rolling in anything from $50k – 2m to “fix” ourselves. Schools like Reese will get nothing until they hit the retched bottom 5% or Tier 2, when they will be “reformed” for persistently failing. Now Reese may do just fine without EETT money, but the fact is that schools without some of these “special” funds will be getting less and less from the state, and left to wallow until they are in bad enough shape to turnaround. It’s like living in a novel by Swift or Kaftka.

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