Not without a fight

Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City, is no friend of charter schools. He’s been clear, for instance, that if he steps foot in City Hall, Bloomberg’s policy of not charging them rent would be stopped and frisked. In response, 17,000 parents, students, and teachers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Tuesday in support of charter schools and Bloomberg’s education policies. For a particularly good summary of the issue, take a look at Daniel Henninger’s piece in the Wall Street Journal. For our analysis, check out this week’s Education Gadfly Show podcast.

North Carolina and Los Angeles have both encountered problems with their high-profile tablets-for-students programs. In North Carolina, around 10 percent of the 15,000 devices distributed have reportedly been defective, leading the state to suspend the program. And in L.A., some enterprising students managed to hack the tablets’ security filters (score for teenage resourcefulness—send them all to programming class!), leading officials to disallow taking the tablets off-campus—and boding ill for the program’s future after the school board reviews it later this month. While there’s no denying that tablets are the way of the future, there’s clearly some fine-tuning to be done.

Michael Brickman, Fordham’s national policy director, made it to NBC’s annual Education Nation wingding earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say: “The speakers were clearly top-notch. While the format didn’t dive too deeply into policy issues, the event’s wide audience provides education reform important exposure. Highlights for me included the standing ovation for two Medal of Honor winners, Joel Klein’s calm response to an angry questioner, and Jeb Bush’s optimistic and artfully communicated Q&A with Brian Williams. In addition, other education conferences should take note of the event’s “Office Hours”—optional small-group sessions (made up of five to twenty people) with speakers following their remarks.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran an investigation of China’s public education system, revealing how “almost everything, from admission to grades to teacher recommendations, is negotiable in Chinese schools if you know the right person or have enough cash.” The stories they tell serve as a scathing rebuke of education in a country that has supposedly made “reining in corruption” a main focus. This also makes us wonder about the validity of those sky-high Shanghai's PISA scores.

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