by David Safier
Brewer's Performance Funding scheme, now SB1444, is basically a way to reward the winners — high income students in the "right" neighborhoods — and punish the losers — lower income students in the "wrong" neighborhoods. It sounds like a perfect fit for our Republican majority legislature. It should pass easily and make it to Brewer's desk. Except . . .
The state's A-F school grading system will soon be tied to assessments based on the national Common Core, so those test scores will determine which schools get the extra funding. The leaders of the conservative "education reform" movement love common core, but the far right hates and fears it, like it's the federal government spraying propaganda on our children from black helicopters. They're saying, so long as Performance Funding is tied to the Common Core assessments, they want nothing to do with it.
The bill's fate is waiting to be decided. If it's folded into the state budget package and survives the budget battles, it will become law. But it's very possible it will end up on the scrap heap of this legislative session.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS COMMON CORE NOTE: It's true the far right hates the Common Core, but so does the most progressive wing on the educational left. The fact that it would enshrine national high stakes testing is one good reason they dislike it, and there are others. I have to admit I haven't looked into it deeply enough to have a strong opinion. Most of my teaching was in the BST (Before Standardized Testing) era, and I saw all kinds of curriculum mandates come and go that had minor impacts on how teachers taught their students. So my first reaction is, "This too shall pass." But the mighty Education-Corporation Complex could very well enshrine this change because there's so much money to be made in new textbooks, new tests and armies of educational consultants. I need to give the whole topic a closer look.