The Senate did not complete debate on the bill until late on Tuesday and amended it extensively. As of this writing, on Saturday, the amended bill is apparently still unavailable online. Monday update — click here for the Senate bill as amended.
The House had been expecting to have the education reform bill from the Senate for action on Tuesday morning. Although the bill was not available we held a very rich caucus discussion about the bill on Tuesday morning. The caucus lasted over two hours and exposed a wide range of views and concerns — so wide that there was consensus that it would take some time to bridge the gaps and it would be unwise to rush the bill through before session close on Wednesday.
The “Race to the Top” application deadline is in mid-January, so, to the extent that this legislation will strengthen that application, early January action will be timely. Many have expressed doubts, however, whether the legislation really will make a difference to that application.
So, we have some time to continue to study the bill. As soon as I get an electronic version of the new draft, I will post it here. Among the pending concerns that will continue to get heavy attention are:
- The turnaround provisions of the bill — how great should be the powers of a superintendent to make unilateral changes when a school has low performance?
- The anti-cherry-picking provisions of the bill — to what extent should charter schools be required to recruit so as to mirror their school district composition based on language learning and special needs?
- The funding provisions for charter schools — are they being permitted to take disproportionately large chunks of funding from district schools?
- The innovation school provisions — to the extent that charter schools have advantages, could those advantages be shared more broadly with district schools?
- The targeting provisions of the bill — are the rules allowing state intervention and/or expanded use of charters defined narrowly enough that districts with generally good outcomes can be sure of avoiding inteference.
The input that many have given me here on this site and by e-mail has been very helpful and I will greatly appreciate your continued input.