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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Rhee and me.

I just got back from a conference on education reform with nationally known DC education reformer Michelle Rhee. While she also pushed school vouchers and a reward system for honestly high performing teachers she also was talking about a new way to fix the way Tennessee funds our schools. Currently the state funds schools though the BEP formula. I mentioned how convoluted and complex it was and asked if there was a single legislator in the room that understood it. Not a single  hand went up.

One legislator called it similar to being in an abusive relationship. We don't think we like it but we don't  know any better so we keep going back year after year.

Rhee said she had studied our spending model and called it probably the worst in the nation if not about the worst she had ever seen. She said she was going to be coming out with some proposed changes to make the formula better  fit for the direction we were going and more in line with what most other states do.

She mentioned her top goal first was to get a high performing teacher in front of every student but agreed that parents need to play a role as well. She admitted she didn't have a lot of ideas and  wasn't  quite sure how to motivate a parent who did not care it their kids passed, failed, skipped or quit school. I mentioned how I had legislation last year  that would cut benefits for a parent whose child was not moving in the right direction. And she seemed quite interested.

After the meeting broke up we chatted about the concept and she said she wanted to work on the legislation with me to see if we could get it done. Her support could really help this idea move forward and maybe even take it to the next level.....

More later.


  1. You guys have a "black box model" with the BEP formula. To test the formula's efficiency, you and a few others should select 10-15 districts and doll out state funding according to how you think it should be. If the model can predict your outcomes (so called supervised learning), then the model is valid.

    Understanding how the model works is not necessary. For example, most meteorologists cannot claim how forecasts are made using typical weather models. However, the models are validated time and time again, and they know which model is "best".

    I don't think you guys have ever considered which model best exemplifies how you want the money dolled out.

  2. How can one who is against public education be helpful in legislation supporting public education.

  3. Sounds like putting the fox in charge of the chicken house.


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