Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Getting Wonky With Public Education: Following the Money Regarding "America's Choice"

  • Support to schools through America's Choice in the amount of $2,761,721
  • This amount supported implementation in 16 schools
  • Support to schools through America's Choice in the amount of $3,234,891
  • This amount to support implementation in 22 schools
--from NM Legislative Education Study Committee Staff Report, "The School Improvement Framework", 10.15.07

A comment indirectly tied to last night's little post has me digging through the muck to follow some money tonight. As a school mandated to succumb to "America's Choice Math Navigator" next year (actually it's already being thrown at a few, lucky, students, I'm intrigued to find out more on the cost of this little "curriculum in a box".

I'm sure others out there have covered this ground and I just missed it, but the juicy LESC staff report quoted above really whets my already keen appetite. Just how much is this crap costing us? If it takes $3.23 million just to serve 22 schools, how much money will "America's Choice" be raking in when just about every school is in "Corrective Action XVII"?

Another tasty, yet probably stinky, morsel in the staff report:
As one means of providing assistance to public schools in need of improvement, the 2003 Legislature created the in Need of Improvement Fund, to be administered by PED. However, the Legislature did not provide an appropriation to the fund in FY 04, FY 05, or FY 06 based on information from PED that federal funds would be available each year to meet those needs.

According to PED, the state has received these amounts of federal Title I school improvement funds (dollar amounts rounded up): $1.96 million for school year 2003-2004; $4.36 million for school year 2004-2005; and $2.55 million for school year 2005-2006. For school years 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, the Title I funds were $2.8 million and $3.2 million respectively, in both cases for support to schools through America's Choice.
So, and again I apologize that I'm the very last person on Planet Earth to find this out, somebody decided that about 100% of 2006-2008 (and most likely 2009 as well) federal Title I "school improvement funds" would be thrown at "'America's Choice".

And this is true throughout the country. Why in APS Superintendent Winston Brooks' old stomping grounds of Wichita, Kansas seven middle schools are spending $1.1 million on "America's Choice" and some there are crowing about it, including the District's Chief Academic Officer: "'some of it (the gains in student learning) is very phenomenal'".

Okay, "very phenomenal" isn't the most eloquent thing for a Chief Academic Officer to say, but who knows? Maybe this "America's Choice" thing is the bee's knees and deserves every last million of Title I money it has and will continue to get.

But I still want to know how the for-profit America's Choice folks have gotten all those contracts. That's a bedtime story I'd certainly love to hear. Anybody wanna read it to me?

You'd better hurry because I have to go to bed right now so I can get up for a sure-to-be-contentious 7:30 staff meeting tomorrow morning in which we will surely battle over needed schedule changes for next year. Changes made necessary by the mandated use guessed it....America's Choice.

Pleasant dreams everyone.

1 comment:

Abuelita2 said...

I taught America's Choice last year, at elementary level. Well, I said I did, but being an experienced, good teacher who pays attention to individual children, I put in some of my own ideas, and tweaked it here and there. (It's so scripted, that the first part of what I had to teach was to be done in "24 minutes." Never mind individual children's needs, and immediate circumstances, and children's ..... oh, never mind; it goes on and on. Canned, and with consumable books. That rakes in cash for the company!
I didn't know I was going to have to teach it when I accepted the job, or I wouldn't have accepted. But I'm glad I did, because though I thought canned programs weren't a super idea before, now I can say I know from experience they aren't. And DEFINITELY not worth the money paid for them!!