President Bush gave his very last policy speech as chief executive ever today—and he picked education as the topic. Here in Philadelphia, Mr. Bush extolled the virtues of the No Child Left Behind Act, his signature domestic achievement, in a speech at the racially and socio-economically diverse Gen. Philip Kearny Elementary School, a school that has made adequate yearly progress under NCLB every year since 2003. He didn't say anything new or surprising. He talked about how NCLB has helped expand access to choice, raised student achievement, provided parents with more information, and helped shine a light on groups ...


President-elect Barack Obama delivered a major speech today to urge "dramatic action" to jump-start the economy. In addition to highlighting his plans to use an estimated $775 billion in federal stimulus money to expand Internet broadband, computerize medical records, and double the production of alternative energy, Obama is pledging to use part of the money (it's unclear how much) to modernize school classrooms, labs, and libraries—and to modernize teacher training. This is music to the ears of education groups. "To give our children the chance to live out their dreams in a world that’s never been more competitive, ...


He'll have to share the spotlight, though, with Hillary Clinton, whose confirmation hearing as Secretary of State is the same day....


....Chicago Public Schools for creating a human shrine to the president-elect. Actually, it will be a shrine of humans (in the form of 800 CPS students), mulch, driftwood, bottles, cans, and snow! According to the press release announcing tomorrow's event, "students dressed in red, black and white become human 'drops of paint' to form a 150-foot living portrait of Barack Obama. The event is the culmination of a five-day Art for the Sky educational program by aerial artist Daniel Dancer." There's no word on whether CPS chief Arne Duncan, Obama's choice for education secretary, will be one of those human ...


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican who helped usher in a strong standards-and-accountability system in his state (which included letter grades for schools and vouchers), will not run for the U.S. Senate, he just announced in a statement. This puts to rest speculation that he would seek the seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez. In the statement, Bush says there's no "greater calling than education reform." Since leaving the state's highest office, he's been helping pursue the education reform agenda he started in his state through two foundations he now runs. That includes his continuing pursuit of ...


So a Chicago Tribune blog is reporting that Peter Cunningham has been hired to run the communications operation for Secretary of Education-designate Arne Duncan. Apparently, the strategic consultant who currently works for Duncan in the Chicago school system is quite the musician. The Tribune blog isn't specific about what position at the Department of Education Cunningham will be taking, but with experience as a communications consultant, my guess is he'll be shaping strategy, not fielding e-mails from reporters. If that's the case, that sounds to me like more or less the role that Lauren Maddox, the assistant secretary for communications ...


The Minnesota State canvassing board officially declared comedian Al Franken the winner of the country's most hotly contested Senate race yesterday. Franken defeated Sen. Norm Coleman by just 225 votes. Still, don't expect to see the former Saturday Night Live comedian up on Capitol Hill today, getting sworn in with the rest of the 111th Congress. Coleman is expected to file a lawsuit contesting the decision. So the North Star State might have just one senator for a while. We've written before that Coleman and Franken couldn't be further apart when it comes to education, particularly the No Child Left ...


So he may not have gotten picked for education secretary, but it looks like Denver schools chief Michael Bennet is headed to Washington anyway, at least according to the Rocky Mountain News. Apparently, he's been tapped by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, a Democrat, to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Ken Salazar, who is President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Interior Secretary. Fans of merit-pay programs are probably knocking back champagne flutes to celebrate the news. In Denver, Bennet presided over what is considered a model pay-for-performance program - with teachers' union buy-in. Of course, it's too early to say ...


Education may have been lower than saving the giant African bat on the national political stage during the presidential election, but Alyson and I still managed to cobble together a list of the Top 10 education political moments of 2008: 10. Portfolio-gate -- the shortest lived "-gate" in history. 9. John McCain calls running mate Sarah Palin a national expert on autism, even though her son, Trig, has a different developmental disability. (To be fair, some folks suggested he was referring to her nephew, who does have autism.) 8. The AFT's Randi Weingarten gets "really pissed" at Democrats for Education ...


If appointed to the Senate, Caroline Kennedy has said she would like to be involved in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, which her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, helped to champion, according to a story that ran this weekend in the New York Times. In case you hadn't heard, Kennedy is hoping to take over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's seat, if, as expected, Clinton becomes President-elect Obama's Secretary of State. In their story, The Times reporters who interviewed her seem to think that she dodged questions about teacher tenure and merit pay, but reading over the ...


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