Baumol by Design

October 25, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Part four of the Baumol Disease series is up over at the EdFly Blog, including spectacular new Baumol charts from the Heritage Foundation and an excerpt from Terry Moe’s book Special Interest regarding the history of the Florida Education Association hijacking the Florida Democratic Party during the 2002 election.

Also be sure to check out the Friedman Foundation’s incredibly cool K-12 Baumol Map by State. How bad is the disease where you live?

 


Heritage Foundation on Education Savings Accounts

October 5, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Heritage Foundation has published a new web memo on Education Savings Accounts as a vehicle for parental choice. At this point, Arizona has passed an ESA program for special needs students, a proposal is under consideration in Ohio, Florida lawmakers considered a provision last year, and Utah has a whopper of a proposal on the way.

I had the opportunity to speak to Utah legislator John Dougall about his forthcoming proposal.  Rep. Dougall plans to file a bill that would send all education funding into Education Savings Accounts controlled by parents and guardians, but does not intend to make private school tuition a permissable expense for funds in the account. Dougall in essence plans to have a discussion about customized learning rather than a public vs. private school debate.

Being a Longhorn, this of course brings to mind a scene from the master thespian of our era, the great Matthew McConaughey:

McConaughey: Hey man, you got some private school choice in that ESA proposal?

Passenger: No man, not in this proposal.

McConaughey: Well, it would be alot cooler if you did!

Seriously though, Dougall’s proposal is sufficiently mind-blowing that it doesn’t really bother me that he is choosing to leave private schools out of the mix. If ten years from now Utah is funding district and virtual schooling through an ESA system and the private choice options available were going through tax credit and voucher mechanisms, you won’t hear any complaints from me.


New Heritage Brief on the Racial Achievement Gap

September 18, 2010

 

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Back in 1997, Professor Lawrence Stedman wrote:

Twelfth-grade black students are performing at the level of middle school white students. These students are about to graduate, yet they lag four or more years behind in every area including math, science, writing, history, and geography. Latino seniors do somewhat better than 8th-grade white students in math and writing but, in other areas, are also four years behind white 12th graders…. Schools and society remains divided into two different worlds, one black, one white, separate and unequal.

Thirteen years later, sadly not much has changed with the national numbers, but some states have proven that far-reaching policy changes can reduce achievement gaps.

Lindsey Burke and I sing a new duet celebrating Florida’s reduction of the racial achievement gap  in a new Heritage brief.  Let’s just say the evidence from Florida is fairly compelling:

From the brief:

If trends since 1998 were to hold nationally, it would be about 33 years before we could expect Hispanics to close the gap with their white peers. In Florida, however, black students could catch up in half that time, and Hispanics could exceed the national average for white students as early as 2011.

This is just the sort of progress that the “Broader-Bolder” crowd would like us to believe is not possible without a vast expansion of the welfare state.

OOOOOOOOPS! Do you think we’re stupid Hans? It is accountability with teeth, real transparency and expanded parental choice that is making this happen. Cue the slo-mo fall scene-and please try not to make too big of a mess on the sidewalk.

 


Burke and Ladner Sing the real “Empire State of Mind” Duet on NRO

June 9, 2010

Now you’re in New York FLOR-I-DA!  Our minority children outscore your WHOLE STATE! There’s nothing we can’t do! 

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke and I hit National Review Online on Florida’s K-12 success in raising minority academic achievement.

In California, Meg Whitman won the Republican nomination for governor in overwhelming fashion on Tuesday. As you can see on her campaign site, Whitman wants to bring Florida reforms to California, which desperately needs them. California is a gigantic state that scores like an urban school district on NAEP. Without large improvements in California, it is unlikely that we will see the United States even begin to close the academic gap with European and Asian nations.


Heritage and WaPo Bring the Pain

April 20, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation published the results of the latest survey of where members of Congress sent/send their own children to school. The survey finds:

 • 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives had ever sent their children to private schools. Among the general public, only 11 percent of American students attend private school.

• While members of the 111th Congress practice school choice for their own families, they should also support school choice policies for all of America’s families. A failed amendment offered by Senator John Ensign (R–NV) on behalf of the popular and successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program would have passed if Members of Congress who exercised school choice for theirown children had voted in favor of the amendment. The future of the D.C. voucher program is now uncertain.Approximately 20 percent of Members of the 111th Congress attended private high school themselves—nearly twice the rate of the American public.

The Washington Post editorialized on the study this morning:

The gap between what Congress practices and what it preaches was best illustrated by the Heritage Foundation’s analysis of a recent vote to preserve the program. The measure was defeated by the Senate 58 to 39; it would have passed if senators who exercised school choice for their own children had voted in favor. Alas, the survey doesn’t name names, save for singling out Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), architect of the language that threatens the program, for sending his children to private school and attending private school himself…

Mr. Duncan, in a recent interview, spoke eloquently of his family’s choice of Arlington as a place to live because of what he called the “determining factor” of schools. He told Science magazine: “My family has given up so much so that I could have the opportunity to serve; I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education.” We don’t think it’s too much to expect our leaders to treat their constituents with the same fairness and regard they demand for their own families.

Next year, I’d love to see Heritage go in to even greater depth. Let’s see how many Congressmen sent their children to Anacostia High, etc. Let’s put the over/under at one.

I’ll take the under.


Dubya’s Failure vs. Jeb’s Success

January 8, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Heritage Foundation released a study by Dan Lips and yours truly today making the case that real education reform needs to come up from the states, rather than down from the federal government.  We focus on the success of Florida’s reforms, the disappointment of NCLB, and note that in fact NCLB threatens Florida’s continued success. Now the Bushies are exiting the Washington scene, can we at long last admit that the 2014 requirement is encouraging states to lower their standards?

Dan explains this better than I can, so I’ll just sit back an marvel at the cool graphics that the Heritage folks came up with, like the one above.


Safe Harbor Won’t Stop the Race to the Bottom

November 5, 2008

head-in-the-sand

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Charlie Barone did an excellent job unpacking NCLB’s safe harbor provision in reaction to a report by the Center on Education Policy warning of the looming 2014 train-wreck (where 100% of students must be proficient).

I co-authored a study for the Heritage Foundation also critical of the 2014 requirement. My concern is that what states will obviously do is to simply dummy down their tests in order to comply. I believe this process has already started, and will accelerate as the passing requirements escalate.

Barone however unpacked the arcane “Safe Harbor” provision on NCLB. Safe Harbor basically gives you a pass on AYP so long as you can reduce the number of children scoring below proficient by 10%. If this represents an obtainable standard, then presumably states would not feel overly pressured to drop their cut scores.

So, I decided to put safe harbor to a test- a very forgiving one. I looked at data from Florida’s 67 school districts over the past six years on 4th grade Reading and Math. The NAEP shows that Florida has been making solid progress on both subjects.

So what happens if you assume that we are at the 2014 100% requirement, an apply safe harbor to the overall performance of Florida districts? Judging them solely on 4th grade math and reading, and without judging any of the required student subgroups- like the various ethnic groups, free and reduced lunch kids, special education children, etc- Florida’s districts failed to make safe harbor 71% of the time based on the overall results alone.

I’ll leave the debate over whether public schools should be able to routinely reduce their passing rates by 10% year after year to others. The point I am making is: they don’t. I am confident that if required to break down results by various subgroups, that not a single Florida district would have made AYP during these six years under safe harbor. The number of individual schools making safe harbor is also likely to be negligible.

This, during a period of strong statewide improvement in both reading and math.

The sad reality is that, unless changed, NCLB will create a tremendous and perverse pressure on the state of Florida and others to dummy down their state accountability exams. In the greatest of ironies, a bill which aspired first and foremost to create transparency in public education contains the seeds of its own destruction in encouraging states to lower passing standards.

Gene Hickok and I endorsed Senator Cornyn and De Mint’s A-Plus concept as a way out of this looming train wreck. Under it, states could negotiate a single set of testing with the feds: preferably one better designed than a one-size-fits-all system with the mother of all perverse incentives built in. The Department would have discretion as whether to accept a state model rather than AYP, so no one is proposing to burn down the Department of Education.

The administration was not enthused. Nor, to my knowledge, have they ever acknowledged that 2014 is a problem. Nor to my knowledge have they ever embraced anything that could be considered a solution. Refusing to recognize a problem and thus failing to take action against it while it is still relatively manageable- ring any bells?

The Democrats will run the department and Congress, and powerful constituencies in their coalition want to vastly increase federal funding and replace testing with “portfolio assessments.” Now would be an outstanding time for all who believe in public school transparency-Democrats and Republicans- to pull their heads out of the sand on this issue. Safe harbor is not a solution. If you don’t like A-Plus- fine, propose another solution. Pretending like there isn’t a problem is a recipe for disaster.


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