Friday, August 06, 2010

Race To The Top Background

"I'm fascinated with the success Race to the Top is having to get states to do things they never considered doing before ie, more charters, attaching test scores to teacher evaluations, and now national standards. Ravitch writes in her new book that in 10 years there will be a lot written about how bad this was for public education. Problem is we need that critique now." - From a teacher

Susan Ohanian provided this background:

Here's some info on the architect of RTTT

Jon Schnur is credited with being the architect of Race to the Top. He  is to Race to the Top what Sandy Kress was to No Child Left Behind. Here's some background on him .

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of New Leaders for New Schools; Special Assistant to Secretary of Education Richard Riley, President Clinton's White House Associate Director for Educational Policy; Senior Advisor on Education to Vice President Gore; advisor to President Barack Obama, he played a pivotal role in writing the federal stimulus plan for schools. He spearheaded the development of many educational policies in such areas as teacher recruitment and training, after-school programs, school reform and charter schools.

Princeton graduate 1989 (classmate of Wendy Kopp); New Leaders for New Schools was founded in 2000, emerging from the business plan written by Schnur while taking coursework at the Graduate School of Education, the Business School and John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Notable Comment: [Having] more Teach For America corps members who stay in education in some way and continue to play significant leadership roles—whether at the classroom level, the principal level, the school-system level— and devote years and years of their lives in order to help build the capacity of our school systems and communities to deliver a great education for kids, is really crucial.--  One Day Teach for America Alumni Magazine, Winter 2009

Notable Comment:
President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan are extraordinary champions and leaders who are helping our nation invest in our future and dramatically improve education. I have been so honored to advise and support them over the past several months during my leave of absence from New Leaders. This experience has confirmed for me what drove me to create and lead New Leaders in the first place. First, that breakthrough success in education is urgently needed and possible. Second, there is nothing more important in education than demonstrating and codifying how the breakthrough results that have happened in individual classrooms and schools can happen at unprecedented scale for our students in greatest need.—Gotham Schools,  May 1, 2009

Affirmation: . First, I’m not the only one who thinks Jon Schnur has a real shot at being the next education secretary; he’s turning into a bona fide superstar. Second, it’s pretty amazing that a far-left party for Obama would feature an education reformer like Schnur. . . .—Mike Petrilli Thomas B. Fordham Institute Flypaper, Oct. 6, 2008

Refutation: Schnur continues by lecturing us about the "data" - in reality, a bunch of applications divided up on a 500-point rubric and added together with four-function math that Schnur masquerades as a distant cousin of multivariate calculus. Secretary Duncan agrees that critics have "misread [the administration's] intent" by simply pointing out that states generating the most points, including on that specific section on "buy-in" cited by Andy Smarick, stand the best chance at winning RTTT funds.
A clear message to Mr. Schnur and Secretary Duncan: The intellectual dishonesty stops here.--Matthew K. Tabor, Education Strategist and Media Consultant, Independent Consultancy,  National Journal, May 6, 2010
As special advisor to Obama, Schnur recruited Joanne Weiss to direct RTTT (i.e., "create a rigorous process for giving out the money.")  Weiss had a  record of success in investment strategy and management assistance that includes a portfolio of investment ventures at the New Schools Venture Fund
Prior to joining NewSchools Venture Fund, she was CEO of Claria Corporation, an e-services recruiting firm that helped emerging-growth companies build teams quickly and well. Weiss has spent 20 years in the design, development, and marketing of technology-based products and services for education. She was senior vice president of product development at Pensare, an e-learning company that created business innovation programs for the Fortune 500 market. Prior to Pensare, she was co-founder, interim CEO, and vice president of products and technologies at Academic Systems, a company that helps hundreds of thousands of college students prepare for college-level work in mathematics and English. Weiss holds a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University.

(from a teacher) She's on the board of one of my local CMO's (Education for Change), one which was started by an OUSD administrator "on-leave" from the district under our Broad-trained regime. She appears on the board of Revolution Foods, a company that is essentially trying to privatize school food services here in the Bay Area. She is also on Green Dot's Board of Directors.

Affirmation: "Recruiting successful professionals from the entrepreneurial community is one way we will change the culture and our way of doing business at the Department of Education. . . . Joanne will help us push a strong reform agenda that is entrepreneurial in spirit, providing carrots and sticks, to change the way we do business, and fundamentally turn around underperforming schools in ways that last for decades. —Arne Duncan, US Department of Educaiton press release, May 19, 2009

BCSA Panel (Sponsored by the Business Roundtable  & the US Chamber of Commerce)

On June 21, 2007, the Business Coalition for Student Achievement hosted a panel of innovative education reform leaders to discuss strategies helping to achieve the goals of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
The discussion included
Mike Feinberg, Co-Founder, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
Christopher Barbic, Founder and Head, YES Prep Public Schools
Jon Schnur, Founder and CEO, New Leaders for New Schools
Tim Daly, President, The New Teacher Project
Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach For America.

See Steven Brill on Schnur: "...a clever idea Schnur had last year to package what might otherwise have been just another federal grant program into a media-alluring, if cheesy-sounding, contest called Race to the Top. It has turned a relatively modest federal program (the $4.3 billion budget represents less than 1 percent of all federal, state and local education spending) into high-yield leverage that could end up overshadowing health care reform in its impact and that is already upending traditional Democratic Party politics."

Look at who spoke at Yale School of Management (SOM) Education Leadership Conference

Schnur is listed as member of working group on education at American Enterprise Institute
And so on.

I just did an analysis for FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) on who gets to speak in the press about RTTT. I think it's kind of stunning. FAIR's Extra! will be a special education issue--in September.

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