America's true competitive edge over the long haul is not its technical prowess but its creativity, its imagination, its inventiveness. And those attributes are best inculcated not by skill-drill or 'STEM' but through liberal arts and sciences, liberally defined. Thus argues this new Fordham volume, edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Diane Ravitch, which also explores what policymakers and educators at all levels can to do sustain liberal learning and sketches an unlovely future if we fail.
Despite its long history and prodigious size, all is not well with Ohio's teacher pension system. In this Fordham Institute report, nationally renowned economists Robert Costrell and Mike Podgursky illuminate some of the serious challenges facing STRS.
This survey covers such topics as school quality and funding, academic standards, school reforms, proposals to improve how the public schools are run, teacher quality, charter schools and school vouchers. It follows up a survey conducted in 2005 and many of the questions are repeated, allowing us to gauge whether attitudes have shifted over time.
Though most public school principals believe that effective leadership of their schools requires authority over personnel decisions (e.g., staff selection, deployment, dismissal), they report having little such authority in practice. Based on a series of interviews with a small sample of district and charter-school principals, the report shows that most district principals encounter a sizable gap between the extent and kinds of authority that leaders need to be effective and the authority that they actually have.
January 8, 2007, was the fifth birthday of the No Child Left Behind Act. This isn't just another milestone to be celebrated (or mourned). The law is now due for an update from Congress. But will NCLB be reauthorized on schedule? What changes are likely? No one knows for sure, but the ubiquitous 'Washington insiders' might be in a better position than others to cast prognostications. While not a 'representative sample' of thousands, their inside knowledge adds valuable insight.
If you thought whole-language reading instruction had been relegated to the scrap heap of history, think again. Many such programs (proven to be ineffective) are still around, but they're hiding behind phrases like 'balanced literacy' in order to win contracts from school districts and avoid public scrutiny. Louisa Moats calls them out in Fordham's new report, Whole-Language High Jinks.
For information on Fordham's unique role as a charter school sponsor in Ohio, there's no better source than The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Sponsorship Accountability Report 2005-06. The report offers a comprehensive account of Fordham's sponsorship policies and practices-as well as individual profiles of all Fordham-sponsored schools. Included in the profiles are descriptions of each school's educational program, school philosophy, and overall academic performance based on state achievement data.
The Fordham Report 2006: How Well Are States Educating Our Neediest Children? appraises each state according to thirty indicators across three major categories: student achievement for low-income, African-American, and Hispanic students; achievement trends for these same groups over the last 10-15 years; and the state's track record in implementing bold education reforms. It finds that just eight states can claim even moderate success over the past 15 years at boosting the percentage of their poor or minority students who are at or above proficient in reading, math or science.
At the request of Ohio's top government and education leaders, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools have issued a report seeking to strengthen the state's charter school program. Among its 17 recommendations are calls for closing low-performing charter schools while also helping more high-performance schools to open and succeed in Ohio.
Two-thirds of schoolchildren in America attend class in states with mediocre (or worse) expectations for what their students should learn. That's just one of the findings of Fordham's The State of State Standards 2006, which evaluates state academic standards. The average state grade is a 'C-minus'--the same as six years earlier, even though most states revised their standards since 2000.