The Failure Of Obama’s School “Turnaround”

Photo credit: Bill Selak

Just this January, it was reported that figures crunched at the end of Mr. Obama’s turn as POTUS determined that one of his pet project, SIG – School Improvement Grants – with their heavy emphasis on School Turnaround, was a dismal failure after an influx of taxpayer funds to the tune of 7 BILLION dollars. Wait for it….


It will always be ‘interesting’ to me that, though I can’t think of one federal program – specifically dealing with public education – that has used taxpayer dollars to obtain results, we continue to allow and prop up federal meddling in our state’s education policy. I’m serious – I can’t think of one.

All you have to do is say the word Head Start and any researcher worth their salt will shake their head like a rag doll and roll their eyes.

Here’s the WORST part about the “Turnaround” model. Guess what? It didn’t even work in Chicago where it was piloted. Get this headline from the Daily Good, “Results at Arne Duncan’s First Chicago Turnaround School Raise Efficacy and Legal Questions.”

What? Seriously? So the Obama administration held taxpayers upside down and gravitized 4.5 BILLION dollars from their pockets for the whole School Improvement Grant deal, even though Duncan’s own concept – tried right in his own backyard – DIDN’T WORK and they KNEW it didn’t work?

Holy taxpayer fleecing Batman!

The interesting part is that either the failure part of the story never gets told, or like here, that result is taken to mean that we didn’t spend enough or didn’t do this or that or the other thing to make it work. There’s nothing wrong with government meddling, socialists think, it’s just that we never really attack the challenge properly. Socialism would work dangit, we just aren’t DOING it right. Kind of like you see here in this article on the 74 million, “8 Lingering Questions to Confront After the Failure of Obama’s School Turnaround Plan.”

Why is it that we have to postmortem a failed FEDERAL education policy? Well, we DON’T, it’s just the education policy wonks won’t have a job if you take that away from them!

Trickle down government doesn’t work. It never has and it won’t ever. The best way to tackle any problem – especially education – is at the local level where the people who benefit most can be encouraged to become involved and work toward a mutually agreed upon situation that will help the most number of people.

Here’s an excellent example. Just recently, a teacher at the school in my small town, wanted to get the Rush Revere series for her class to teach them history. There was no money in the budget to get the books, so the online newspaper published her request and it was shared in and around the town. Low and behold, the money was secured to buy enough books for every kid to have one. Granted, more money is still needed, but the immediate need was met and more fundraising can be accomplished for the long term.

No Government program meant to help all students can help all students. That is the premise behind every failed socialist program. There IS NO HELPING EVERYONE. We can only do what we can for those we can.

Cross-posted from Reclaiming Oklahoma Parent Empowerment

Obama Education Policies Survive the Chopping Block; End Around of State Legislatures Continues

The Senate level-funded almost all of the education funding.  The House increased funding for Title I and Special education, but eliminated 31 other programs including Race to the Top.  The compromise spending bill was recently passed by the House, 296-121 this would fund several government programs until September 30, 2012.  The Senate is expected to pass the bill as well.

EdWeek reported what survived in the compromise bill:

Under the compromise spending bill, Title I grants for districts would see a tiny boost of $60 million, bringing the total to $14.5 billion. And the $60 million increase will be divided among thousands of school districts, so it’s unlikely to make much a difference overall.

Special education would also see a teeny hike, to $11.6 billion, a $100 million increase. Advocates are sure to celebrate that the funding is heading in the right direction, but that tiny boost is unlikely to have a huge impact on the bottom line for many districts.

Race to the Top, which would have been completely eliminated under the House bill, was funded, but the program was cut from nearly $700 million in fiscal year 2011 to $550 million. In fact, the House Appropriations Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, touted the reduction in its press release, saying that the “Obama administration’s unpopular Race to the Top” was cut. The grants can be made to either states or districts. That would be a big change for the program.

Other Obama priorities survived the chopping block. The School Improvement Grant program, which covers the cost of turning around the nation’s lowest performing schools, got $534.6 million, according to the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. That’s the same level as last year, but a little less than the $600 million the Obama administration wanted to see.

The Investing in Innovation grant program, which scales up promising practices at the district level, got nearly $150 million, according to CEF, or the same level as last year.

And the Promise Neighborhoods program, which helps communities pair wraparound services, such as health, with education, was a big winner. It got $60 million, according to CEF. That’s up from about $30 million last year.

What was the House thinking passing this bill?  Yes there are some budget cuts in it so they probably see that it isn’t a complete wash, but set the issue of money aside for a second.

The Republican Majority House just gave carte blanche approval for the Obama Administration through the Department of Education to continue to do an end around State Legislatures and Assemblies to go directly to school districts.  Wow.  That wasn’t a principled vote, it was looking for a deal to be done – at the expense of state sovereignty.