Progress has a price

Faced with the need to cut staff, but prevented by last-in, first-out requirements from axing the lousiest educators, Newark is looking to follow NYC’s lead and pay its way out of the problem by buying out low-performing teachers with its Mark Zuckerberg-donated cash. While Facebook’s flop may limit the plan’s reach, it’s encouraging to see a district so committed to having a quality teaching force that it’s willing to spend to bypass the absurdity of LIFO.

While it may not be Texas, the Common Core gained a new adherent this week when schools serving Department of Defense families announced they adopted the standards. While implementation remains a challenge everywhere, 87,000 students from military families living in a dozen countries, from Germany to Japan, will now be taught to rigorous standards, a development worth saluting.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson proposed a thoughtful tweak to his school-reform plan this week, shifting the accountability focus from startup charter schools to authorizers. The mayor’s move demonstrated that compromise and progress are possible, a lesson that state lawmakers should learn as the bill remains stalled in the legislature.

Data-driven, data-driven, data-driven. The phrase is inescapable in every aspect of teacher policy—except, it turns out, when it comes to educating educators. A new National Council on Teacher Quality study finds teacher prep programs skimp on training aspiring educators to use student-assessment info, providing this week’s reminder of how backwards America’s ed schools remain.

From tax-credit scholarships to online learning, privatization is a four-letter word in liberal education (and many other) spheres, and George Soros has now bankrolled a website that offers a one-stop shop for everyone convinced that privatization is a nefarious global plot to turn schools over to corporate raiders. For those looking for commentary receptive to a responsible role for markets and free enterprise in education, the Gadfly humbly offers an alternative: www.edexcellence.net.