These are amazing times in public education. For openers, there’s the huge competition for $4.35 billion in federal money. Of the 41 competitors in the Race to the Top, only two were chosen in the first round. The message seems clear: go home and clean up your act.
Now, I don’t know how many of you out there looked at any of the original proposals. I read into four of them and can tell you that the writers (using that term loosely) have invented a wonderful substitute for Ambien, a perfect cure for insomnia. I think the average proposal came in at somewhere between 800-900 pages—of turgid prose. Had I been sentenced to read all of that stuff, I think I would have thrown up my hands, torn out my hair, screamed, and then given the money to the states with the shortest proposals.
I hope this time the Duncan team will tell the competitors in the second round: “30 pages max! If you can’t say it in 30 pages or less, don’t bother. Put all the rest in appendices, thank you.” (I recall the wisdom of “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter,” attributed to Mark Twain and others.)
A second remarkable event is the new contract between the Washington Teachers Union and Michelle Rhee. It took 2+ years, but it may have been worth the wait. Continue reading