<em>Won’t Back Down</em> wobbles, Chicago’s fiscal prospects fall

Parent-trigger paean Won't Back Down opened with a whimper last weekend, grossing a measly $2.6 million despite the hoopla surrounding it. Whether the movie is thought-provoking or snooze-inducing, it will be about as transformative as the parent trigger itself has been if no one sees it.

Jay Mathews was correct to point out on Sunday that education reformers regularly contradict themselves by backing prescriptive teacher evaluation for district public schools while advocating for greater autonomy for charter schools.

There's still plenty of bickering left to do over who won and lost the Chicago teachers' strike, but the school system's long-term financial flexibility is squarely in the loss column after Moody's downgraded the Board of Education's credit rating. How long before teacher unions realize that securing unaffordable benefits only guarantees more cost-cutting, acrimony, and bitterness in the future?

Mitt Romney clarified one part of his budget plans in striking fashion at last night's presidential debate, promising not to cut education spending if elected. If the GOP candidate can pull off the upset next month, he may find this remark makes his spending policies far more complicated come 2013.

Congrats to value-added guru Raj Chetty for his new MacArthur “genius” award. Unfortunately, existing value-added metrics require a bit more refinement before anyone receives a Gadfly “genius” award (and the accompanying $500,000 podcast subscription).

Despite all the Page Six rumors, Gadfly can neither confirm nor deny that an all-star analyst will be debuting (again?) on Flypaper next Monday. But be warned, Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top’s holiday from analysis and excoriation on Fordham’s blogs looks to be over.

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