Monday, March 29, 2010

San Diego Schools Zig on Reforms While Obama Zags

"The mindset is back in the Paleolithic ages in some ways," said Arun Ramanathan, a former San Diego Unified official who now leads the nonprofit Education Trust West. "They all claim to be Democrats on the school board. Is there one aspect of the Obama education agenda they've aligned with?"

San Diego Schools Zig on Reforms While Obama Zags
March 28, 2010

As President Barack Obama has unveiled many planned school reforms, San Diego Unified has steadily steered in the opposite direction from many of the controversial changes the feds seek.

San Diego Unified didn't join in when California competed against other states for more school stimulus money -- partly because the federal contest required reforms. Obama wants to beef up teacher evaluations and include student test scores in how teachers are judged; San Diego has made evaluations less frequent for senior teachers and wants to deemphasize tests. Obama has praised experiments that pay teachers more for boosting scores or working in disadvantaged schools; San Diego has avoided them.

The school district wants to put tremendous trust in teachers and principals -- the same people the Obama Administration wants to oust when test scores drag. The district prizes gradual change; Obama wants big shakeups for failing schools.

School board President Richard Barrera called San Diego's example a competing "community model" of school reform that stems from small classes and cooperation between school staff. Barrera rejected some Obama reforms as a "corporate model" stressing standardized tests and change from the top....

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