With the House Education and the Workforce Committee marking up two bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (a.k.a. No Child Left Behind) this morning (you can stream the markup live on the committee website), take a moment to look back at Mike Petrilli's January analysis of where Congress disagrees and what a compromise could look like:

Democrats across and beyond the nation’s capital—in the Administration,
on Capitol
, in advocacy
, and in think
—are up in arms about the ESEA reauthorization
released by House GOP leaders on Friday. Or at least they are pretending to be.
While they contained a few surprises, the House bills were pretty much as one
would expect: significantly to the right of both the Senate Harkin-Enzi bill
and the package put forward by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and his
colleagues. In the parlance that we’ve been using at Fordham for three
years now
, the House GOP embodies the views of the Local Controllers,
Senator Alexander embraced Reform Realism, and Harkin-Enzi represents a
mishmash of ideas from the Army of the Potomac
and the System Defenders.
But while there are significant differences among the
players, a clear path toward a workable, maybe even bipartisan, package is
still visible. In short: all roads lead to Lamar. Not only does the Alexander
package represent smart policy,...
From Lin-sanity to charter school discipline, Mike and Rick take on political correctness in this week’s podcast. Amber breaks down the recent Brown Center report and Chris defends Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

We’ve long cast doubt on
the efficacy of school-turnaround efforts, notably
those championed
(and funded) by the federal school-improvement-grants
(SIG) program. This new report from the Council of the Great City School offers
a welcome primer on SIG—but does little to allay our concerns. The report first
details the history, participation, and look of the SIG program: It was written
into NCLB but got a makeover (and a boatload more cash) with the passage of
ARRA. Now, SIG prioritizes schools (bucketing them into three “tiers”—I, II, or
III—with Tier I being the neediest) and doles out dollars to districts
accordingly. To be eligible for SIG, districts must choose one of four
interventions for each funded school. In general, the “turnaround model” asks
that schools replace their principal and half their staffs. The “transformation
model” only requires a changing of the principal guard. The “restart model”
converts the school to a charter—or hands the management reins off to an
outside agency. The “closure model” is self-explanatory. There’s much more background
on SIG here, but what’s interesting is the forty-three member-district survey
the CGSC conducted as part of this report. From this, we learn that districts
seem to be less aggressive with their turnaround efforts post ARRA...


A recent Education
piece (“Obama’s
Education Record
”) by Fordham’s Mike Petrilli and Tyson Eberhardt presents
a hard-hitting case against the President’s prowess as a K-12 reformer (a
reputation sullied by overspending, lackluster results, and micromanagement).
Still, compared to this mini-book (and attached
) from the Pacific Research Institute’s Lance Izumi, their essay reads
like an Obama festschrift. (Nowhere, for example, do Petrilli and Eberhardt
liken Obama to Louis XIV, as Izumi does.) While Izumi references the imprudence
of ARRA spending (a critique echoed in Petrilli’s and Eberhardt’s piece), the
majority of his broadside lambasts the Common Core State Standards—an
unprecedented federal overreach in his eyes. For those who have followed the
CCSS debate, Izumi’s deftly chosen
(and not
exactly even-handed
) arguments are not new. He contends that these
“national standards” are unconstitutional, costly, and none-too-rigorous. Big
statements, if just loosely grounded in fact. We’ve previously
the first argument. And the rigor of the CCSS is equivalent to the
best of pre-existing state standards (which those states were—and remain—free
to retain). We are obliged to note, however, that Izumi spurned our own
of their merits in favor of a
more problematic one
. As for the...


This post originally appeared on the National Review Online and is adapted from an Education Next article.

The “Race to the Top” education initiative is one of
President Obama’s most vaunted domestic-policy successes. The name itself
connotes progress, forward movement, even competition. And there’s plenty of
substance for the president to brag about: Forty-six states and the District of Columbia
signed on to rigorous common standards; dozens of states got serious about
teacher evaluations; key jurisdictions removed caps on charter-school
expansion. This is what New Yorker contributor Steven Brill called “a
sweeping overhaul” of the system.

With the Department of Education proposing a new $5 billion Race to the Top–style
competitive grant program aimed at teacher policy, however, it’s worth taking a
closer look at Race to the Top’s results. When you do, the scorecard changes

The Race to the Top was good for education reform. But
the 2010 election, it turns out, was much, much better.

Did the 2009–10 period, in which states were competing for Race to the Top
funds, see the most reforms ever enacted? No. That distinction belongs to 2011,
after the 2010 midterm elections swept historic Republican majorities into
office in state after state.

Start with teacher evaluations . In
2009, no state specified ineffectiveness as grounds for the dismissal of a
teacher (incredible but true!). By 2010—in part...

Mike sat down with Fordham’s new school choice czar, Adam Emerson, to question just how flexible ESEA flexibility turned out to be and to ponder Obama’s abandonment of the D.C. voucher program. Amber looks at a new study on how much value principals add while Chris learns that they sometimes need to bob and weave when handing out teacher evaluations.
  • President
    Obama's education budget proposal would boost
    federal spending
    , double down on Race to the Top, and create the
    RESPECT Project (seriously), a new $5
    billion competitive grant program
    aimed at spurring states to reform
    teacher policies. The new competition has some appealing goals—tenure
    reform, pay-for-performance—but in the current budget crunch it’s
    politically DOA. Does all this posturing hint that the President gearing
    up to run
    on education
  • A Chicago charter
    network is taking heat for collecting almost $400 grand over the last
    couple years by fining
    students for behavioral infractions
    . To which we say: So what?
    Everyone in the school is there voluntarily, it’s got a great reputation
    for a strong culture, it’s under-funded by the state and city, and its
    academic results are stellar. Go find some other problem to solve. 
  • Lawmakers
    in several states are seriously considering holding back third-graders who can't pass state tests.
    More than a decade after Florida
    demonstrated the positive impact of such a policy, it’s about time.

Ty Eberhardt and I have a new feature
in Education Next looking
at President Obama’s first three years in office that’s worth checking out. We

and Duncan have been good on education reform, certainly better than any of
their Democratic predecessors. But to ignore the shortcomings of the
president’s K–12 education-reform record entirely would be a mistake, we think.
And it would also be bad for the country. The administration deserves to be
pressed on the cost-effectiveness of its education system bailouts, on the
results of its Race to the Top initiative, and on the wisdom of its approach to
federalism and separation of powers. Education may not play a major role in the
2012 election, but that doesn’t mean that Obama’s education policies should be
given a pass.

Read the whole thing here.