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In honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd bring back an oldie but goodie, from the December 14, 2009 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

Whole Foods Republicans

The GOP needs to enlist voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics.

By MICHAEL J. PETRILLI

The Republican Party is resurgent?or so goes the conventional wisdom. With its gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, an energized "tea party" base, and an administration overreaching on health care, climate change and spending, 2010 could shape up to be 1994 all over again.

Maybe. The political landscape sure looks greener than it did a year ago, when talk of a permanent Democratic majority was omnipresent. But before John Boehner starts measuring the drapes in the Speaker's office, or the party exults about its possibilities in 2012, it's worth noting that some of the key trends driving President Barack Obama's strong victory in 2008 haven't disappeared. Republicans need to address them head-on if they want to lead a majority party again.

There are the depressing numbers on young voters (two-thirds of whom voted for Mr. Obama), African-Americans and Latinos (95% and 67% went blue respectively). But these groups have voted Democratic for decades, and their strong turnout in 2008's historic election wasn't replicated this fall, nor is it likely to be replicated again.

The voting patterns of the college-educated is another story. This is a group that, slowly but surely, is growing larger every...

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We've got a true multimedia experience for you in this week's Education Gadfly. Mike and Checker lead the way with an editorial on a little thing we like to call ?Reform Realism? and how it should help shape federal education policy in general, and the reauthorization of ESEA in particular. (Also, check out Fordham's latest, our ESEA Briefing Book released this week). For those visual learners in the crowd, this week's ?fly also features a short video on the topic.

In the New Analysis section, we speculate about the sustainability of reforms in Illinois?and opine on what the appointment of J.C. Brizard as Chicago schools chief might mean for the Windy City. (Hint: We're thinking singing kumbaya can only get you so far.) We then highlight an exciting new pilot program out of Boston. When it comes to turnarounds, not much has worked. But, this initiative to recruit a ?critical mass? of effective, experienced teachers in low-performing schools (to act as teacher-leaders and to support the good work done by strong principals) just might be onto something. ?The question will be how to bring it to scale.

Short Reviews tackle school choice, explain that Gen Y teachers may not be as reformy as we think, push the teacher-evaluation conversation just a little further and show what Finland really has going for it.

And a few of the articles are supplemented by some witty banter from the Education...

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Liam Julian

Kevin Carey calls a recent Daily Caller article by Kay Hymowitz ?generally silly? and ?an alarmed reaction to female college attainment.? No, the piece is none of those things. It is a short discussion of American marriage trends: Hymowitz asks whether women, as they attain ever higher levels of education (57 percent of this year's college graduates are females), will ?be willing to marry ?down'??that is, to marry men who possess fewer diplomas and degrees. The author then answers her own question: Probably not. Her subsequent analysis isn't particularly convincing, but neither is it ?silly? or ?alarmed.? The article is mostly just dull?it makes a point that has been made many, many times, by Hymowitz and others.

Carey is on sturdier ground when he attacks Hymowitz for writing this: ?It also explains why, though we don't have solid research distinguishing between elite and State U mating choices, Ms. Harvard will probably not accept a proposal from Mr. Florida State.? Though it's true that incoming freshmen at Harvard have higher SAT scores than their FSU counterparts, Carey notes that Harvard is also much smaller than FSU, which enrolls some 31,000 undergraduates to Harvard's 6,600. ?The top 25 percent of Florida State constitutes roughly 7,700 students,? he writes, ?for whom the lower bound SAT Math score is 650. That means that the median SAT score among top Florida State students (the precise numbers aren't available) is probably up around 700.? Harvard's median math score is about 750. Were one...

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Results are in! We had ninety-two respondents to Tuesday's survey asking two simple questions: Do you align yourself with the education-reform community, and did you go to public school?

Here's what we know: At least ninety-two people read Flypaper on Tuesday, or at least are connected to someone who read Flypaper on Tuesday (thanks to all who participated!). Of them, 88 percent characterize themselves as education reformers, and 83.7 percent went to a public high school.

Unfortunately, because I didn't read the fine print, we can't cross tabulate the findings without paying hundreds of dollars (angry fist shake Survey Monkey!). So, our fun little thought experiment can't break down the exact numbers of those who both view themselves as reformers and graduated from a public high school. (I'm annoyed too.)

But, hypothetically speaking, if all our non-reformy respondents were public school attendees, that still means that a mere 19 percent of education reformers got their high school diploma from a private school. I'll let you decide what that means, if it matters, and why.

?Daniela Fairchild

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Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Liam Julian

If Michael Winerip is to be taken at his word, then his latest New York Times piece, published Sunday, is meant merely to make the reader ask?himself?whether the fact that?lots of?so-called ?education reformers? spent their formative years in private schools is at all relevant to judgement of?their adult perspectives. In other words, are the public-school remedies proffered by private-school graduates inherently tainted owing to their remove, during their teenage years, from public-school education? The reporter doesn't put it exactly like that, though, instead wondering evenhanded-seeming-ly if ?a private school background gives them [?reformers?] a much-needed distance and fresh perspective to better critique and remake traditional public schools?? Or, might it simply ?make them distrust public schools?or even worse?poison their perception of them? Or does it make any difference??

Unanswerable questions, maybe. But it seems logical to believe that one needs not attend a public school to fairly offer suggestions for mending the worst among them (incidentally, such suggestions might be made to a number of private schools, too). After all, we do not think it odd that most of those working to aid the poor (social workers, community organizers, whatever) were never themselves poor. And no one seriously asks what percentage of top officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grew up in the projects, nor whether those who wish to improve the nation's prison conditions?ever did time at Sing Sing. Public education, with its chip-on-shoulder workforce, its us-versus-them, union-versus-?reformer? ethos, is one of the...

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The Education Gadfly

Michael Winerip has released the flood gates with his Sunday column in this week's New York Times. In it, he calls into question the resolve, capacity, and genuineness of education reformers (Fordham's own Checker Finn included) who attended private high schools. He's got Whitney Tilson, Eduwonk, Ed Sector, The New York Post, and others all in a tizzy.

Putting the question of whether the argument should even matter aside (and really, should it matter, as long as competent, dedicated individuals, with adult experience in the public-school system are working hard to better education for students?), Gadfly is asking Flypaper readers to take a short survey, two questions total. Do you consider yourself to be a part of the edu-reform movement? And did you attend a public high school?

We'll tally results and have them out with the Gadfly on Thursday, as well as post them on the blog.

Of those in the Fordham office, we're clocking in at two private-school attendees, five public schoolers, one former charter-school student (how does Winerip deal with charters?), and a lucky alum of one of Chicago's residential public-magnet schools (an even more tricky designation!).

Of course, please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

?The Education Gadfly...

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Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

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Reviews: 
Gadfly Studios: 
Liam Julian

Being a do-gooder is not easy, especially if one happens to be a multimillionaire celebrity attempting to do good in a?realm far removed from one's own land of expertise. Jamie Oliver knows all about this. He is an English chef who, for one reason or another, became incredibly famous and is now worth some $105 million. He traffics in kitchen-based, instructional television programs; food-chain sponsorships; cookware lines; artisanal edible products with his name on them; and suchlike. Lately, however, he has nursed a new afflatus: to improve the schools for the schoolchildren in them. It began in Britain with his very public campaign to redesign the typical school lunch, which needed it. His message was that kids are too fat and unhealthy and that the rations schools offer them will only make them more of both. Oliver took this message to the United States last year with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a television show in which the chef attempted and largely failed to restructure the school lunches being proffered in one of the country's most unhealthy cities, Huntington, West Virginia.

One could make the argument that Oliver, in these pursuits, wasn't do-gooding too far from home base. He is a chef, and this activism involved food?more specifically, not shoveling heaps of the trashy sort of it into the mouths of babes. But now, perhaps, Oliver has stretched too far. His new show is Dream School; it is currently airing in the UK. Charlie Brooker, writing in the Guardian,...

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On Wednesday I suggested that furloughed federal employees might be a great source of volunteers for DC-area schools--if only someone could organize them. Well, I've stumbled across a great social entrepreneurship effort to do just that sort of thing: Shutdown Startup, a website created by federal employees with the tag line: "If we can't serve our country, we'll serve our community." Yes!

The site asks federal staffers to make a volunteer commitment, which is great. But the actual volunteer opportunities listed are a little thin. So if you're a social service agency and would love to tap a handful of the hundreds of thousands of soon-to-be-idled federal workers, post something now!

Unfortunately DCPS is not likely to be one of those agencies; I heard from Chancellor Kaya Henderson and she tells me that all DCPS staffers are swamped with testing (and test security!) right now. Those damn tests, always getting in the way.

But surely local charter schools and inner-city Catholic schools could post requests for help. And well-organized PTAs in the District could also find creative ways to engage furloughed feds that didn't involve them stepping on campus. (For instance, they could knit sweaters to be sold at fundraisers, redesign PTA websites, or beautify local parks.)

I'm still amazed (like many of you) that our country's leaders might actually shut the government down. But if it happens...it's time to service up!

-Mike Petrilli...

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