Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Spellings Report: More Choice Words

US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings made some remarks recently about school choice. The venue was "The School Choice Forum," which was held in Jamaica, New York. It makes for some interesting reading. Here's a few key excerpts that caught my eye:
Today, my department released a new report that showed only 17 percent of eligible students nationwide signed up for free tutoring. And of the four million students in the country eligible for school choice, only 38,000 students—less than one percent—actually transferred to a higher-performing school.

More than half of school districts didn't even tell parents that their children were eligible for these options until after the school year had already started. That delay makes it virtually impossible for students to transfer schools without disrupting their education. And that's unacceptable.

As some of you know, recently, two advocacy groups filed a complaint against two California school districts for failing to give parents the chance to take advantage of transfer options. And while I can't comment on the specifics of the case, the fact that we're even talking about holding districts and schools accountable shows No Child Left Behind is doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

This law is meant to shine the spotlight on how well districts are serving students and parents. Without No Child Left Behind, we wouldn't know which schools are falling short of standards ... we wouldn't know who is eligible for options under the law... and we wouldn't be able to hold school districts accountable when they fail to deliver those options to parents. This law calls on us all to pony up and live up to our responsibilities. And when we don't, there's a day of reckoning.
I was shocked! Shocked to see that Ms. Spellings almost said that some parents weren't doing their part in ensuring their children's academic success:
And too many parents never hear about these options because they don't see the letter that comes home in their child's backpack or they can't attend the informational meeting at the school.
But then Spellings goes on to remind all of us that it's the school's job to ensure that the parent asked the kid if there are any notes from the school:
All of us—from the federal government to the states to districts to schools—must do a better job of reaching out to inform parents about their options.
Prediction: Spellings will soon begin saying that teachers must be held "accountable" for providing rides to parents in their personal automobiles.

Spellings couldn't resist using one of her favorite oft-repeated phrases: "In God we trust; all others bring data."

Gosh. I wonder if She could bring me a reduction of my student-load from 175 to 150 or so?

Thankfully, the Secretary didn't use her other sarcastic trite flippant trademarked phrase, "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it."
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