I'm going to miss Joel Klein. Love him or hate him (and I love him, especially when we disagree on something), the New York City chancellor has cut a huge swath in K-12 schooling for nearly a decade. My friend Diane Ravitch thinks he exemplifies what's wrong with 21st century schooling. Me? I think he's been a principled, relentless, and creative champion of school improvement and that he has had an enormously salutary effect on American education. Anyway, a source was kind enough to share Klein's final weekly memo to NYC's principals. It's classic Klein and makes clear that there's ...


Recently, I keynoted a state Teacher of the Year banquet and said what I tend to say at such affairs, which is that I don't romanticize teaching because--while I believe that most teachers mean well--the reality, I think, is that many or most benefit more from their role than do their students. (By the way, it's typically not advised to have me speak at those kinds of affairs; such addresses require a certain sweet, sentimental sensibility that I generally lack.) I told them that I was honored and delighted to be with them not because they were "teachers" but because ...


I'm sure my friends at the Department of Education were thrilled to read in the Raleigh-based News & Observer that North Carolina school districts are using their Race to the Top funds to advance structural reform by... purchasing iPads. Durham, N.C. is spending $3.5 million in RTT funds to "put Apple iPads in the hands of students and teachers at two low-performing schools." Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats said, "Our kids are telling us, 'This is how we learn. This is what we want.'" Ah-ha, yes, this is the change we've been waiting for. Look, I own ...


On Friday, Andrew Kelly and I penned an Inside Higher Ed column that called out the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for the fact that its influential and scathing report on for-profit colleges turns out to be riddled with errors. Even worse, the GAO did its damndest to keep it under the radar--quietly posting an errata online on November 30, without so much as a press release to document the changes. Senator Mike Enzi expressed concerns in a December 7 letter to the GAO, and then it took enterprising journalists like the Washington Post's Nick Anderson to bring the issue to ...


I'm a big fan of Prince George's County Superintendent Bill Hite. And I'm not the only one. Just the other week, our earnest Secretary of Education and NEA honcho Dennis Van Roekel visited PGC in nearby Maryland to fawn over some of Hite's turnaround efforts. So it brings me no joy to note that PGC's just-issued budget is the latest poster child for fiscal management that just doesn't get it. The Washington Post reported this morning, in a story headlined "Pr. George's schools' dismal fiscal 2012 plan," that PGC is proposing a $1.69 billion budget. That figure actually represents ...


Note: Over the next few weeks, I'll occasionally be flagging nuggets from my new book, The Same Thing Over and Over, just out from Harvard University Press. For more, check out the book on Amazon. With NCLB's goal of 100% proficiency by 2014 having crashed and burned, we've settled upon a grand new aim: President Obama wants us to be sure that every high school graduate is "college and career ready" by 2020. One of the great things about this new goal, I've noted, is that it's much easier to meet, since no one really knows what it means. (I ...


Earlier this fall, there was lots of excitement about Waiting For Superman. It was the talk of the town for a bit, prompted NBC to discover education for a week, and made a school reform icon out of director Davis Guggenheim. In the aftermath, though, Guggenheim has taken shots for some questionable factual assertions and a scene in which he apparently inserted a manufactured shot for emotional impact (very Broadcast News). The movie is now finishing its theatrical run, dribbling out of the last few theaters. How big a splash did it make? As of December 13, the flick had ...


The turnaround craze is boiling again, with the excited announcement that lots of districts are taking federal money and spending a lot of it on high schools. The Department of Ed enthusiastically proclaimed that 730 schools have begun implementing a School Improvement Grant turnaround model, and that 48 percent of those are high schools. Whoo-whee! Look at the compliance that $3.5 billion buys. We must be halfway to solving our edu-woes already. For those of a more skeptical bent, it's that time of year to eyeball a sector where organizations have to find savvy, impassioned leaders; recruit a dozen ...


Last week, Mike Petrilli posted in the Education Gadfly an amusing Twitter debate between him and Diane Ravitch. I quite liked it. But, since I don't Tweet, I couldn't go there. And I doubt I'd have the patience anyway. Happily, I realized I could pen a fake Twitter debate--which seems an easy alternative. Herewith: Rick: What's up w all these tchr prep programs jumping on residency bandwagon after NCATE report? First sign of a fad? Fictional Ed School Dean: I'm excited to announce our new teacher residency program, like NCATE commission suggested. Rick: If it's such a great idea, why ...


Boy, I can't decide whether I get more frustrated by the Ravitchian charge that rethinking teacher pay is an attack on schooling or the ludicrous merit pay schemes that masquerade as reform today. My choice, when asked to pick between those two approaches, is "neither." I try to explain why that's a valid choice, and not a dodge, in my new Educational Leadership piece "Spend Money Like It Matters." You can check the full piece out for yourself, but let me try to make this simple: Do you think that employees who are good at their work ought to be ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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