As opposition to the Common Core State Standards has gained momentum in parts of the land, it’s important to ask what happens if a state changes its mind and renounces those standards—which, as we’ve long said, states have every right to do. But then what? Does a state go back to its old academic...
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The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in 2002 was the apotheosis of the standards-assessments-accountability movement, which had been building for about two decades. Some loved it, believing this latest reauthorization of the LBJ-era Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) finally put the...
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A very important education reform announcement occurred last week, but you probably missed it because of the surprising and unfortunate paucity of coverage . In hindsight, we may come to see this news as a turning point in our nation’s generations-long effort to ensure low-income inner-city kids...
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I try to avoid reading Paul Krugman’s columns because they almost always make me angry, and anger is not something I particularly enjoy. Yet I couldn’t help myself this morning, and the experience proved my point. In discussing the decision of many red states to decline Medicaid expansion under...
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Back in January, a Bloomberg News ranking of the world’s most innovative countries punctured the theory that low U.S. test scores are acceptable because U.S. students are happier and more creative than their overseas counterparts. Those (undeniably fuzzy) metrics don’t prove that high-ranking...
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The opt-out-of-state-testing movement has notched more wins lately. “Thousands,” we read, are refusing to take the tests in New York alone. And tons more interest and attention are being devoted to this topic in states and communities far and wide. Tough questions urgently arise: Is it legal to opt...
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Dallas Independent School District (DISD) superintendent Mike Miles has been on the job in Texas less than two years and he hasn't always had easy sledding there . But he hasn't hunkered down or blown with the gale-level political winds of a city that's had eleven superintendents in the past...
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When it comes to SIG, my mind is obviously made up . So I’d forgive you for skipping anything I write about it; you have every reason to think I’m going to be bearish. That goes double for a post about a new federal study finding different but still discouraging SIG results. “ Another opportunity...
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The mainstream media has been hyping bills lately (one passed in Indiana and one pending in Oklahoma) that would demand a review of the Common Core State Standards. The typical story features a headline declaring Common Core “repealed” in Indiana, while the rest of the article details why that’s...
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Today, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) announced that longtime CEO Neerav Kingsland will transition out of the organization this summer. NSNO is one of my favorite organizations in this business, and Neerav is one of my very favorite people. I’m excited for him and his successors—Maggie Runyan-...
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While I won't say I'm glad that Indiana (or any other state) is reversing its earlier embrace and spitting in the eye of the Common Core, it grieves me not at all that they now seem to be exiting. Well, it grieves me that they may be consigning Hoosier schools and teachers and kids to a worse fate—...
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For two decades now, education reformers have promoted a two-track strategy for improving our schools. The first track is standards-based: Set clear, high expectations in core academic subjects; test students regularly to see which schools and students are clearing the bar; and hold schools (and...
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Shoolhouse of Cards

"Hunt or be hunted, Mr. Secretary."
by Katie Cristol and Brinton S. Ramsey Foreword by Amber M. Northern and Michael J. Petrilli The Common Core State Standards are in place in forty-five states—and in many of those jurisdictions, educators are hard at work trying to bring them to life in their schools and classrooms. But how is...
By Arnold F. Shober and Michael T. Hartney Foreword by Dara Zeehandelaar and Amber M. Northern Are the nation’s 90,000-plus school board members critical players in enhancing student learning? Are they part of the problem? Are they harmless bystanders? Among the takeaways are the following: Board...
Sarah Rosenberg
When it comes to education reform, school boards are often the redheaded stepchildren. Over the last two decades, mayors have taken over nearly twenty major urban school systems. “School boards are an aberration, an anachronism, an educational sinkhole,” said Fordham’s own Checker Finn . “Put this...
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I’ve long argued that there is a meaningful and important difference between standards and curriculum. Pick your metaphor: The standards set the destination; they don’t define the journey. Or they describe the “what” but not the “how.” While a good set of K–12 academic standards can foster...
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Sonja Brookins Santelises
While the New York State United Teachers and the National Education Association have withdrawn their support for the Common Core State Standards, it’s important to recognize that the teachers’ actions had nothing to do with the standards themselves. This blowback is yet another example of how...
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In an Education Week commentary essay about school boards in 2009, I wrote, “[M]y sense of things, after two stints on my local school board…is that school boards have been overtaken by the ‘educatocracy,’ by powerful trade unions, certified specialists, certification agencies, state and federal...
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Peter Cunningham
In a provocative piece in Slate recently , Fordham’s executive vice president Mike Petrilli asked why Euro-style tracking isn’t a better strategy for high-school students who are significantly below grade level. Here’s one response. I do some work with a nonprofit organization in Chicago called...
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In the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas journal, Tom Loveless has a brief, measured examination of today’s curriculum debates. Entitled “ The Curriculum Wars ,” the essay reviews age-old disputes between traditionalists and progressives in the 80s, 90s, and 00s, then reframes them in light of...
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A tribute to the work of E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

Learn about E. D. Hirsch in this short video that follows his career, how he came to develop the Core Knowledge curriculum, and his thoughts on the future of the Common Core. Featured in the video are prominent education reformers such as David Coleman, Joel Klein, Chester E. Finn, Jr., Tom Birmingham, Randi Weingarten, Valarie Lewis, Sol Stern, Kati Haycock, and Dan Willingham.
Are the nation’s 90,000-plus school board members critical players in enhancing student learning? Are they part of the problem? Are they harmless bystanders? Those are the questions that Fordham’s newest study, Does School Board Leadership Matter? , seeks to answer. Among the takeaways are the...
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The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics represent a sea change in standards-based reform and their implementation is the movement’s next—and greatest—challenge. Yet, while most states have now set forth implementation plans, these tomes seldom address the crucial matter of cost. This report estimates the implementation cost for each of the forty-five states (and the District of Columbia) that have adopted the Common Core State Standards and shows that costs naturally depend on how states approach implementation.
by Michael Hansen Foreword by Michael J. Petrilli and Amber M. Northern, Ph.D. Press Release In the overwhelming majority of American classrooms, pupils are divided roughly equally among teachers of the same grade in the same school. Parceling them out uniformly is viewed as fair to teachers—and...
Roughly 30,000 kids in Ohio take advantage of a publicly funded voucher (or “scholarship”). But as students flee public schools for private ones, how does life change for the private schools that take voucher kids? Can private schools coexist with a publicly-funded voucher program? Can they adapt...
This study weighed existing state education standards against the Common Core education standards. The findings? The Common Core standards were clearer and more rigorous than English language arts standards in 37 states and math standards in 39 states.
A National Survey of K-12 Parents
This groundbreaking study finds that nearly all parents seek schools with a solid core curriculum in reading and math, an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and the development in students of good study habits, strong critical thinking skills, and excellent...

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