Alan Blankstein, CEO and Founder of the HOPE Foundation, is back with a guest blog. Today he describes real reform that is sustainable because it focuses on collaboration not confrontation. "Faulty evidence and unwarranted claims." Not the strongest foundation for a major push of government policy, but that's what the National Education Policy Center says about the rationale for significant efforts aimed at school turnarounds in recent years. In a report issued last week, NEPC said federal mandates for school improvement funding that include removing teachers and principals have little basis in research, are largely "an extension of the (No ...


It has been my observation that when Michelle Rhee engages in politics, she comes across as naive at best and, at worst, undermines the candidates she says she supports. I listened to her on talk shows during the Democratic Convention and then read her ensuing op ed pieces. While she positions herself as knowing everything about education and an expert on the political scene, I don't see it that way. I thought I would provide her a few lessons in Politics 101. Who knows? Maybe she can learn something. Lesson One: Learn from your past mistakes. You do remember Adrian ...


Teachers are fascinating people---especially when they get a chance to express their sincere beliefs about reform and the impact of that reform on their students and themselves. They are honest, insightful, and passionate about what they do. In these times, they are also a little fed up with the toll certain reforms have taken on the joy of teaching. This past Sunday, I watched the two-hour town hall meeting of teachers sponsored by NBC News Education Nation. The moderator, Brian Williams, was masterful in setting up the program to be an opportunity to say anything the audience chose about the ...


Sure there will be tension. Of course, there will be disagreements. One of my favorite quotes, source unknown, is, "Where there is unanimity, someone is not being represented." But, let me assure everyone that when it comes to a shared vision of great public schools for each and every child in America, there is no distance between teachers and their unions and President Barack Obama. This President does not take a good education for granted. Governor Romney is so privileged that he assumes a good education happens because parents just take care of it. President Obama knows firsthand through his ...


We all remember the scene in the movie Network where a character throws open the window, sticks his head out, and yells, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore." Last week, about 30,000 educators in Chicago came to a similar breaking point. It was a fascinating week for watchers and listeners. The media pundits immediately went to union bashing as if 90 percent of the membership had not voted to assert their collective and legal right to go on strike. Shame on MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, and Willie Geist. Loyal viewers, like me, ...


Note: Alan Blankstein, president and founder of the HOPE Foundation, is back as a guest blogger to share some more of his work to transform public schools. Sustainable leadership is characterized by depth of learning and real achievement rather than superficially tested performance; length of impact over the long haul, beyond individual leaders, through effectively managed succession; breadth of influence, where leadership becomes a distributed responsibility; justice in ensuring that leadership actions do no harm to and actively benefit students in other classes and schools; diversity that replaces standardization and alignment with networks and cohesion; resourcefulness that conserves and renews ...


There they go again--trying to divide teachers from their union. Do they really think teachers will choose the unfilled promises of a politician over their union? Teachers know New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no friend of theirs and that the New Jersey Education Association and the National Education Association have been tireless advocates for their interests and the interests of their students. Listening to Governor Christie deliver his keynote speech to the Republican National Convention was a fairy tale moment. He said, "They (Democrats) believe in teacher unions. We (Republicans) believe in teachers." As we say in the south, "That...


Today, the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released. While the poll shows considerable division reflective of the current polarization in our country, one area of consensus was trust and confidence in our teachers. The report published about the poll stated, "For the third year in a row, three out of four Americans say they have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach children in the public schools." Quite frankly, I was a little surprised that these numbers stayed so strong considering all the bashing that teachers ...


If you live in a battleground state like I do, you are bombarded with television and radio ads for President Obama and Governor Romney. It does not take long to determine that 75 percent of these ads are blasting the opponent for causing some economic condition. Obama is responsible for unemployment of over 8 percent. Romney is responsible for outsourcing American jobs. It goes on and on ad nauseam. It is very clear that the candidates have determined that the election will be decided by the one who convinces voters that he is the best candidate for the economy or, ...


Can you imagine being a pro-public school and pro-union state legislator and have to deal with competing teacher unions as you move legislation that will help all teachers and education support professionals? Louisiana and West Virginia come to my mind as two prime examples. I am sure there are state legislators who feel they walk on eggshells when trying to work with the local and state affiliates of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Recently, this issue emerged at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Dennis Van Roekel, President of NEA, and Randi Weingarten, President ...


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