Mystery Education Theater 3000

Tag: equity

NCLB Op-Ed: "Get Congress Out of the Classroom"

One of my favorite writers on education, Diane Ravitch, recently had an op-ed published in the New York Times about the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. What’s interesting in her take on this is to look at part of NCLB’s failure as a failure in how federalism should work. Her suggestion is to make the federal role one of defining a common base of information that the states can use in how they run their own school systems. If states want to adopt the millenarian Second Coming approach to education, they could do it on their own, but without being able to blame the federal government.

Site-Based Budgeting

Almost a year ago, the WCCUSD Community Budget Advisory Committee had a great presentation from Barak Ben-Gal from the Oakland school district budget office about their system of site-controlled budgeting within legal and collective-bargaining constraints called Results-Based Budgeting. Here is a link to the presentation he gave us:

Powerpoint and PDF

The Committee members were extremely interested in this approach. Not only did we like the idea of putting financial control as close to the classroom as possible, we were also very interested in this as a way of dealing with the equity issue of experienced teachers migrating “up the hill.” By including actual teacher salaries as part of the allocation to the school it puts a fiscal cap on this migration (only so many experienced teachers can be supported at a school site). And, if the teachers in a flatland school are still mostly inexperienced, the school would at least have more resources from this savings to use on other things in the school.

Anyway, given the complete turnover here (Superintendent, State Trustee, and Chief Budget Officer), I thought this would be a good opportunity to really promote his ideas. But, lo and behold, he had already left. By a coincidence, the next day, a parent directed me to a Wall Street Journal about Mr. Ben-Gal’s sojourn in the public sector. here it is:

Another School Dropout

A lot of the concerns in this article can be reduced to the simple fact that an urban public school district is not a private Internet company (Doh!), but there are still some things that a school district can learn from the business world. Hopefully, the RBB system is still in place in Oakland Unified, so we can study it in our school district.

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