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Reading List: Teacher Tenure, Extended Learning Time, and Early Ed.

The middle of August isn't a busy time in Washington. Congress and top administration officials, including U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, are taking some time off. It's also fairly quiet in many school districts, since the new academic year hasn't started yet. It's a fantastic opportunity, though, to catch up on some good reads. Preferably by the pool, if you can. 

Here's a quick list:

  • It's almost the 50th anniversary of Head Start, the early-childhood program for low-income kids. Catch up on the history and state of the Head Start program in this story from EdWeek's Christina Samuels, and read an interview with its acting director, Ann Linehan. Then head over to Eduwonk, where Bellwether's Sara Mead has a list of five things that can be done to improve Head Start, including making monitoring reports and data more accessible and easier to understand. And for even more on Head Start, check out this report from the New America Foundation on what expanded pre-kindergarten means for the program. 
  • "Is education reform reform inherently anti-conservative?" asks Andy Smarick over at Flypaper. (Pay attention, potential education advisers to Republican candidates.)
  • Remember the news that zipped through the Council of Chief State School Officers conference faster than anything else? That the department was finally moving on peer review of assessments? Well, Catherine Gewertz has a long and smart explanation of exactly what this will mean for federal and state policy. Read it here
  • Extended learning time has been one of the key turnaround requirements in both the Obama administration's No Child Left Behind waivers and the School Improvement Grants. But story after story shows it's been a struggle for many school districts. Hechinger's Sarah Burtrymowicz does a deep dive into how the situation is playing out in Detroit.
  • The Huffington Post takes a look at a new venture from top former Obama aides Robert Gibbs and Ben LaBolt, who are helping former CNN anchor-turned-parent-advocate-Campbell Brown with her teacher-tenure lawsuit. And over at Teacher Beat, Steve Sawchuck examines the war of public opinion on teacher tenure issue, with lots of celebrity name dropping. 
  • Whatever happened to Christel House, aka the charter school that some would say cost former Indiana state chief Tony Bennett his job? (Bennett resigned from his next gig, as Florida's commissioners, when he was accused of manipulating Indiana's A through F system to help Christel House, whose founder had contributed to his campaign.) Apparently, a year later, the school has seen an uptick in student achievement, according to Chalkbeat Indiana
  • Finally, two potentially newsy events to watch as the week winds down. Today is primary day in Tennessee, where Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who could be the next chairman of the Senate education committee, will face off against a host of challengers, including state Rep. Joe Carr. And the Utah state board of education is slated to decide tomorrow whether or not to apply for an extension of its NCLB waiver. Great background from the Salt Lake Tribune here
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