- Just got back from a great trip to Kansas City (part of my National Agitation Tour). The Kauffman Foundation is doing very important work (check out these videos), and their team members were terrific hosts. You can scroll through the audience’s take on my book talk here. Per my pushing for the replacement of the failed urban district, Marc Porter Magee, temporarily at the helm of the SS Hess-blog, turns in a good piece about the need for cage-busting leaders to change the system, not just break its rules.
- Common Core (and assessments!) guru KPM teamed up with Sol Stern on National Review Online to explain to conservatives why the new common standards aren’t to be feared or pilloried. Tom Friedman’s column explains why the U.S. needs tougher standards and expectations, even (especially?) in our more comfortable (complacent?) middle-class communities.
- If you care about urban schooling, charters, and/or governance reform, you ought to give the latest report from Fordham and Public Impact a read. It looks into charter performance in five cities and offers lots of reason for encouragement and sound advice for improving policy and practice. Its prescription (smart authorizing, closures, replications, strong support environment, etc.) mirrors that of my book. When you combine these lessons with recent findings from CREDO’s many city-
Category: Charters & Choice / Curriculum & Instruction / Standards, Testing, & Accountability / Teachers
A first look at today's most important education news:
"Why conservatives should support the Common Core," by Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern, Common Core Watch
"A small yet nice honor for high-achieving students in one Ohio district," by Aaron Churchill, Ohio Gadfly Daily
"Common ground," by Theda Sampson, Ohio Gadfly Daily
On Wednesday, the Mississippi House and Senate passed legislation providing $3 million to partially fund pre-K programs for four-year-olds. Today, the state Senate will consider a bill (passed by the state House yesterday) that would allow charters to open in low-performing districts and give school boards in high-performing school districts veto power. (Hechinger Ed and Charters & Choice)
Last autumn, Tennessee began to place its lowest-performing schools in a special state-run district; 80 percent of those bottom-ranked schools are in Memphis. (New York Times)
The Indiana House Education Committee considers a bill that would make it the first state to require all public schools to have an armed person with a loaded weapon on the school campus during school hours. (Huffington Post)
With the Atlanta school cheating scandal on the mind, NPR looks back at a similar scandal twenty-five years ago.
There’s a lot of interest in this question in ed-reform circles today; Alexander Russo sketches the line of thinking here. It’s understandable, considering how successful proponents of gay marriage* have been in changing public opinion, state statutes, and, perhaps soon, constitutional law on the issue. If only education reformers could be so lucky!
Some of the lessons being bandied about include the following:
- Picking one issue and rallying the whole movement behind it (gay marriage instead of gays in the military, for example)
- Reframing the debate (in this case, from “gay rights” to embracing the “responsibilities” that marriage brings)
- Making sure that movement leaders keep a low profile
So can we make a plausible education analogy? I think it’s a stretch, and not just because ed reformers love to appear on magazine covers. Gay marriage is fundamentally a moral issue. Legalizing it doesn’t cost taxpayers any serious money; it won’t balloon the deficit; there are no “vested interests” in terms of employee unions protecting their pensions or rapacious corporations seeking to make a fast buck. It’s simply a matter of inclusion and freedom on one side, tradition and gut feelings on the other. It’s a classic social issue.
Not so with education reform. Though all sides of its debates try to claim the moral high ground and use moralistic rhetoric, making schools work better is largely a management/service/governance challenge.
Take the question of “picking one issue” to rally around. Which would
A first look at today's most important education news:
"The Good News from Pakistan," by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Flypaper
"What can education reformers learn from the gay rights movement?," by Michael J. Petrilli, Flypaper
Test-prep-focused “cram schools,” once the turf of Asian- and Russian-American students, are gaining popularity with other cultural groups. (New York Times)
Some Texas lawmakers are aiming to scale back the state’s high school graduation requirements. (Education Week)
Studies find that students who have the most trouble in mathematics have the worst odds of obtaining a qualified math teacher. (Education Week)
According to Thomas Friedman, the most recent PISA report comparing U.S. middle-class students to global peers shows that the best schools have “cultures that believe anything is possible with any student” (New York Times)
U.S. Representative Eric Cantor argues that federal education aid should follow children, especially those of “vulnerable populations” and kids with special needs. (Politics K–12)
Malala Yousafzai, the fifteen-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban earlier this
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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