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Story Archives: Carrot on a stick
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|Carrot on a stick|
Christmas came early this year for school systems around Louisiana in light of Paul Pastorek's plan to partake in a federal stimulus funding program aimed at education.
Known as "The Race to the Top," the motives behind the program seem noble. Improving school performance would lead to monetary rewards for cash-strapped schools throughout the country.
Much like parents who offer their child $5 for an A, $4 for a B and so forth, "Race to the Top" would reward states with grant money for agreeing to improve student performance on standardized tests.
Think of it as a $4.4 billion carrot on a stick. As with all other federal programs and the money that accompanies them, "Race to the Top" has strings attached, too. To put it bluntly, accepting federal stimulus funding means the federal government -- in this case the Obama administration -- will oversee it.
To put it another way, once Uncle Sam takes a seat in the classroom, he's there to stay.
That's where Pastorek's plan to access "Race to the Top" funding comes into play.
Under a proposal floated by Pastorek, the state superintendent of education, and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, a school would be deemed academically unacceptable if less than 80 percent of its students failed to achieve "basic mastery" of the information they're taught.
Currently, some 60 percent of students at a given school must score acceptable to avoid the state sticking its nose in the operations of the school in question. If the school fails to meet the 60 percent standard, the school can be placed on a watch list and must agree to certain performance goals or run the risk of a state take-over by the Recovery School District.
One area school superintendent suggested that participating in "Race to the Top" could be a backdoor attempt by Pastorek to expand BESE's influence over local school districts.
Remember, earlier this year Pastorek attempted to convince the Legislature to approve legislation that would have stripped local school board members of some of their authority. Pastorek's proposals also would have given local superintendents more say-so in running their school districts.
State lawmakers buckled under political pressure and ignored Pastorek.
While it is within reason to suggest that Pastorek's decision to participate in "Race to the Top" could be driven by his desire to exert more influence over local school districts, we suspect money has a great deal to do with it.
To surmise, "Race to the Top" would deliver some $300 million to public schools in Louisiana. That's $300 million the public education community in Louisiana does not currently possess.
After all, haven't we been told that the problem with public education in Louisiana is a lack of money?
|Frank Morris Murder Series|