Final Research Paper and Reign of Error

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On Monday September 23rd, 2013 I went to see a discussion with Diane Ravitch hosted by The Century Foundation. I was super excited since last time she spoke at Bank Street college earlier this spring I ended up missing the presentation.

Though this post is long overdue (Research papers and various essays as required by my public affairs professor, statistics homework that overstayed their welcome from saturday well into Sunday night, work, general exhaustion of the mental faculties etc.) I feel it more relevant because of two reasons.

1. I finally had the opportunity to read the long awaited chapter where Diane outlines a clearcut vision for how to improve the charter school arena thereby mitigating the effects of the “corporate reform movement” aka the private ed reformers.

2. Mayor- elect Bill De Blasio nominated Carmen Farina as the new NYC Chancellor:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/nyregion/de-blasio-is-said-to-choose-schools-chancellor.html?hpw&rref=education&_r=0

Also we are a mere 24 hours until 2014 is upon us! (oh lord…)

Whilst spending 4 days of my winter break cranking out my final research paper for my Introduction to Public Affairs class at Baruch College (a core requirement that I initially was not excited about at all and so delayed until my 3rd semester) During my first attempt at taking this class I ended up dropping it when a professor was going to teach it as a lecture-style, rote memorization class- memorize all the presidents including their incumbencies and other AP History HS type approaches.This class I enjoyed, the professor was cynical and real about the policymaking arena, her sardonic tone and questioning demeanor always challenged the class.

The assignment for the final paper  was to choose a particular instance of policymaking formation ( a law that had been enacted for at least 5 years) and outline how it came to be. This was based on the central model of policymaking we had learned in class- Kingdon’s model which relies on the ” three P’s” Policy, Politics and Problems.

The framework posits that when these three meet each other during an opportune moment, a policy window, they couple and out comes a particular policy. So the central question is why do we have this particular policy instead of another? Its not that the policy we have is the optimal one produced by rational decision making – no, it is the one that is politically and economically feasible.I think of this a lot as I contemplate the education reform movement. I chose to look at how No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 came onto the decision agenda and which parties were excluded. Naturally, I cannot talk about education policy without consulting or pulling some quote or core idea from Ravitch. One of the most interesting ones

Ravtich outlines how charters can integrate into public education in the Chapter- ” Make Charters Work for All ”

“Solution No. 5: Ban for-profit charters and charter chains and ensure that charter schools collaborate with public schools to support better education for all children.

 “Is it possible to make them a productive part of American public education,rather than a disruptive force? The problem with charters as currently configured is that they have strayed so far from the original intention of their founding fathers… they saw charters as a way to empower  public school teachers to devise their own innovative curricula and methods to free them from excessive regulation and bureaucracy. Neither man thought of charters as a way to transfer control of public schools to private hands or to create profit-making enterprises for stockholders or to destroy teachers’rights and their unions.” 

This reveals how easily perverted a vision, a policy can become from when it is first legislated and /or envisioned till the time it is actually implemented (Because of the “3 P’s”) With DeBlasio’s policy of charging rent to co-located charters, what new problems will be created in the political arena when it comes to  cultivating a collaborative partnership between the Charter world and public school how will charter. Ravitch and the Kingdon model go so well together.