With the financial markets closed for Presidents Day, the "Nightly Business Report" on PBS aired a special report on "The New Business of Education." The reports covered the growth in the testing and tutoring industries in the NCLB era. It includes an interview of me, answering questions on the prospects for national standards and how NCLB is playing on the presidential campaign trail. On the program's Web site, you can find a portal for the issue with the video of my interview and the other reports in the program....


I trolled through the Internet and dialed up a bunch of Arizona sources to find out as much as I could about Sen. John McCain's background on K-12 education. Read what I found at McCain Emphasizes School Choice, Accountability, But Lacks Specifics. You have to dig through the Republican front-runner's campaign site to find his ideas on education. Even though the site doesn't explain exactly what McCain would do as president, it's clear that McCain believes in choice and accountability. McCain tried for years to get a national pilot program for private school choice. In 2004, Congress created one such ...


Mike Petrilli suggests that Sen. John McCain has "zero interest in education." That may be true. But the Republican senator from Arizona does have an informed opinion about NCLB. In the YouTube video at the bottom of this post, he calls NCLB "a good beginning" that has "some things that badly need fixing." Not a very detailed policy position. Watch it and you'll see that McCain understands the law and has some ideas about how to change it. MM, does that mean McCain's grade is still "incomplete?" Speaking of MM, she has an important post on vouchers. Sen. Barack Obama, ...


Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, at right, is barnstorming states trying to improve NCLB's image. The press coverage of her stops so far has been rather favorable, leaving out some of the voices of the law's most strident critics. See, for example, this story in the San Diego Union-Tribune. But when the secretary stopped in her hometown of Houston last week, commenters on this Houston Chronicle story weren't buying her message. One pointed out the logical inconsistency of all students reaching grade level if that term is defined as the 50th percentile. Another calls her a name that my sons (ages...


After President Bush released his budget last week, Democrats in Congress treated it as if it were dead on arrival. The budget is "completely irresponsible" and "will soon be forgotten," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Sen. Harkin has some control over the Department of Education purse strings as the chairman of the subcommittee that appropriates money for education and other social programs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he'd be willing to let President Bush leave office without signing another appropriations bill for education. One reason why: The president is "not living up to what he said he would ...


Like him or not, Chester E. "Checker" Finn Jr. has been a major player in the biggest education policy debates of the past 40 years. In roles at the White House, Capitol Hill, academia, and think tanks, Finn has helped push charter schools into the mainstream and has been a stalwart supporter of private school choice. Both have expanded dramatically over the past 15 years. He explains his role in those and other education debates in "Troublemaker," published this month by Princeton University Press. The book is "a personal history of school reform since Sputnik," according to the subtitle.(The ...


Are the testing requirements under NCLB and federal special education law in conflict? That's a question that two school districts and four families asked a federal appeals court. Read the School Law Blog to find out the judges' answer....


In the seven-year life of NCLB, the Center on Education Policy has been digging up numbers that are fueling debates about the law. Just last week, the Bush administration relied on the Washington-based think tank's research to justify getting rid of the "hold harmless" on Title I grants so that states can put additional money into school restructuring. The center also is the source of the survey data saying 44 percent of districts have decreased the amount of time given to social studies, the arts, and other subjects so they can emphasize reading and mathematics. That has set off a ...


Nilaja Sun's one-woman show "No Child ... " is not about the No Child Left Behind Act. But the law's cameo near the conclusion draws derisive cheers. At the end of the show, the main character—named for the actress—informs the audience what happens to the show's main characters. Among them, a boy is killed the next week in gang violence, a girl becomes mayor of New York, and the main character marries Denzel Washington and moves to the nation's capital to rewrite NCLB. The line drew cheers when I saw the show in Washington on Feb. 2. In an interview...


Rep. Thomas E. Petri, R-Wis., one of the most senior members of the House Education and Labor Committee, suggests that he and his colleagues should set aside politics and practice common sense in this online commentary. "It’s time to set the heated rhetoric of special interests aside and pass a set of pragmatic changes this year," he writes. Those "pragmatic changes" should be: 1. Create growth models for accountability. 2. Change interventions in schools to target "resources on the schools that need them most, without wasting taxpayers’ money on schools that are otherwise on target, save for a small ...


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