It’s easy to overstate reform efforts that can be like spitting in the wind in a big, slow-moving state education system, but it can also be too easy to be skeptical and under-appreciate some emerging developments.
With those caveats in mind, this is proving to be a pretty active and productive legislative session on the education front, as well chronicled daily in EdNews .
Assuming they all pass and get signed, there are a few significant reforms in motion. The BEST program will inject some much needed money into school capital projects around the state – not nearly the amounts really needed, but anything is helpful here.
The likely expansion of funding for PreK and all-day kindergarten is also welcome and long overdue.
The school innovation bill seems to have hit a remarkable consensus; a month ago, I expected major opposition and likely failure. While the in-school voting thresholds for autonomy were upped to 60 percent of teachers, lots of other elements were improved and the unions are onboard.
Some devils remain in the implementation details, but it appears that the Bruce Randolph/DPS process opened up the doors even wider for schools around the state to opt for more flexibility to better serve kids.
The bill providing technical assistance to districts to develop teacher pay-for-performance experiments is also promising. While it isn’t huge money, it should help kick-start other districts that want to try some of the innovative elements of pay plans already in place in DPS,
Finally, and perhaps most important, the CAP4K plan, however it finally emerges, has the potential to push real changes. While it could range from a relatively minor alignment-type set of actions to a major reform of how students are assessed and advanced, it appears to be shaping up as a centerpiece for real action.
So, if all of these bills pass and are signed, and especially if CAP4K emerges as a real reform element, much progress will have been made in 2008 education reform.
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