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Should the Senate Confirm King?

Should the Senate Confirm U.S. Education Secretary Nominee?

The Center for Education Reform continues its vigilance on school choice, particularly in Washington DC with the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), an effort we began in 1996 and that finally culminated in success in the 2004-2005 school year.

As the Senate HELP Committee voted 16-6 yesterday on the nomination of John B. King, Jr. for U.S. Education Secretary, CER Founder and Interim-CEO Jeanne Allen spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the power he has to expand DC’s OSP.

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During one of his hearings, Senator Tim Scott pressed King on why his prospective new Department would sit on $35 million in carry-over funds dedicated for the program.

King’s nomination awaits a full vote from the Senate. As good of a man as he is known to be, perhaps it’s time for the U.S. Senate to send the Obama Administration a signal that denying opportunities to students will not stand.

Related News: U.S. Education Secretary Gets Pressed on DC OSP

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No Admission

no_entranceBad news Fridays are becoming a theme for Sec. Arne Duncan and his public affairs team. News of an April 6th letter to parents serving notice on the potential for their children’s participation in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program for the upcoming school year wasn’t made public until the Washington Post brought the situation to light in a Saturday editorial on the 11th.This letter signaled a surprise move by the Administration to deny any new scholarships for the upcoming year, even though the program is scheduled to continue at least through 2010.

The Department’s sympathy note contained three interesting tidbits:

1) It was dated April 6 – three days after a government evaluation of D.C. OSP showcased the effectiveness of the program. Knowing that no government agency could approve even a small letter without an amazing amount of revision and drafting, the DOE must have chosen not to reveal this (none too small) bit of information in their burial of the report.

2) Further, one sentence in the letter reads: “Enrollment for DCPS begins on April 1, 2009.” First of all, does this hint at the fact that the letter may have been in early drafts prior to April? How long has this plan been in motion? Secondly, this information can’t be helpful to parents. It’s like receiving a 30-day notice after you’ve been evicted – more than a little too late.

3) Co-signed by Jim Shelton (formerly program director of the Education Division at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and East Coast partner of the NewSchools Venture Fund), it is the only official notice we’ve seen of the fact that Duncan has filled the post of Assistant Deputy Secretary for OII. (Thanks for

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Letter to Arne Duncan, Next Secretary of Education

duncanYou’ve been called a “great guy” by democrats who think you will help them grow school reform.  You’ve “made a lot of progress,” say university types.  You’re the “compromise candidate,” because the unions have endorsed you.

Now comes the hard part.

Frankly, you’re one of the few national education leaders I do not know, which gives me some rare objectivity in the matter. That, and the fact that my organization has no horse in the race, no member group to protect, no current ties to you at all.

So, let me offer some fresh advice about what you can expect – and what might take you by surprise.

1) Everyone will want to claim you as his own.  Allowing them to do so will compromise your efforts.

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Un-Transition

(Sung to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas):
During the second week of transition, Obama gave to thee:
Four Berkeley lawyers,
Three Clinton holdovers,
Two union operatives,
and a severely status quo team for DOE.

All that talk about reform. We kept saying people are policy. A look at the latest education transition team members is telling on that score. They come from the traditional, Kozol-esque education perspective that relies on well-intentioned government programs and court decisions to force schools to do good, rather than accountability and power in the hands of educators and parents to create good. The Berkeley bent which embraces the old civil rights agenda (top down) not the new one (bottom up) is apparent in most of these, the Obama Education Transition Team members.

Joan Baratz Snowden

This former Director of Educational Issues for the AFT believes we should consider performance based pay systems but only with teacher buy-in (i.e. unions). Meanwhile, Rome is burning while Nero fiddles…

Maria Blanco

Directs with Professor Chris Edley the Berkeley based research unit that is heavily oriented toward financial and top down solutions to equity issues (i.e. desegregation) rather than power solutions (ie. choice)

Juliet Garcia

As President of the University of Texas at Brownsville, Higher Ed is her specialty, financial assistance her focus. Served on a Carnegie Foundation council that pushes the same.

Eugene Garcia

His Arizona State University Ed Dept gave us the group we affectionately call the “don’t worry be happy” education crowd; Berliner, et al who have tried to convince us we have a “manufactured crisis” in education. Tell that to the 50% of illiterate students we have.

Goodwin Liu

Another Berkeley scholar, Liu’s specialty is affirmative action; he’s for it. And he co-chairs for the

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