A few weeks ago, the Washington Teachers Union and hard-charging D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Michelle Rhee agreed to a dramatic new contract that was celebrated by reformers for giving the district much more freedom to reward effective teachers and dismiss ineffective ones. Attracting particular notice was the provision stipulating that a teacher fired for poor performance can protest only the review process itself--not the judgment. In a New York Post op-ed, Rhee explained that this means, "The end of tenure as a 'job for life.' If a teacher is rated as 'ineffective,' she is immediately terminated ...


Today, I want to just offer a few more thoughts spurred by time in Georgia. First, the movers and shakers are young. Key ministry personnel are seemingly all twenty- and thirty-somethings. As one observer commented to me, "Anyone over fifty has a hard time keeping up, just because of the cultural shift from the Soviets. Everyone in power is young." More interesting is the degree to which they voice views that would be anathema in U.S. educational circles. Respected, highly influential, former ministry officials who are now at Tbilisi's major university routinely discuss the advantages of a free market ...


The Republic of Georgia's attempt to embrace expansive school choice has encountered some substantial roadblocks, all of which are more than a little familiar and may provide some useful guidance and cautions for those promoting choice-based reform in the U.S. and elsewhere. Georgia offers a terrific illustration of the difference between choice in theory and in practice. The theory of choice requires that schools compete for students, with rewards flowing to schools that attract students (and therefore revenues) and adverse consequences to those that do not. However, in Georgia, there is no shame in being director (e.g. principal) ...


Hi all, I'm back. I'd like to thank Pat McGuinn and Paul Manna for two terrific weeks of guest blogging. If you've missed any of their posts, I'd encourage you to go back and check them out. They were terrific stuff. Meanwhile, I've just spent the better part of three weeks lending a hand to school reform efforts in the Republic of Georgia. For those who don't follow developments in the Caucasus countries, Georgia is an intriguing place. Formerly part of the Soviet Union (and the birthplace of Joseph Stalin), Georgia declared its independence from the Soviets in 1991. After ...


Note: Paul Manna, a professor at William & Mary, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Let me wrap up this week by looking closely at one element of Race to the Top (RTT) that has prompted much discussion: teacher evaluations. Specifically, I'm thinking about part D(2) of the RTT criteria, which focuses on "Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance." (See p. 59821 in this document or p. 19504 in this one.) The RTT vision is for teachers (let's leave aside principals for now) to face annual evaluations ...


Note: Paul Manna, a professor at William & Mary, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Today we'll continue discussing Race to the Top (RTT) and the implementation theme that Monday's post introduced. I want to consider two issues that I expect will challenge state-level implementers as they try to make the reforms that RTT's advocates are expecting. Let's begin with some quick background, circling back to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) a bit, to set up this discussion. I definitely agree that NCLB and RTT have increased the federal government's ...


Note: Paul Manna, a professor at William & Mary, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Many thanks to Rick for allowing me to guide the conversation for a few days. I want to pivot from Pat McGuinn's three interesting posts about partisan politics from last week to explore some new terrain with you. I'll focus this week on policy implementation. It's a topic I've enjoyed writing about and discussing with my students (here and here) for the last several years. Personally, I think the most fascinating part of the policy ...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. On Wednesday I wrote about the escalating fight between Republican Governor Christie and the teachers unions in New Jersey. Steven Brill's NYTimes magazine piece a month ago attracted an enormous amount of attention because it described a growing rift within the Democratic Party between the teachers unions and a growing group of "reformers" over the Obama administration's Race to the Top program. Differences between Republicans and teacher unions--and between the GOP and the Democratic Party--on ...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. This has been an entertaining—but ultimately depressing—month for those interested in serious education reform in New Jersey. The state's Republican governor, Chris Christie, has engaged in a rancorous war of words with the state's largest teachers' union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Christie has made no secret of his dislike for the union and has publicly blamed them for most of what is wrong with the state's schools and with state finances...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Thanks very much to Rick for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you on education politics and policy while he is away. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the NEA's lawsuit (first filed in 2005) challenging No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as an unfunded mandate. This is one of those instances where inaction is actually quite significant, as some judicial observers had thought that conservatives on the court looking for ...


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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