It's Friday and it's been a long week, so I'll cut to the chase. Four things worth noting about the aftermath of Mayor Adrian Fenty's defeat in D.C. on Tuesday. First, the poaching is already on for the phenomenal staff that Michelle Rhee recruited to D.C. Assuming that Rhee is leaving, sharp-eyed talent hawks across the land are already contacting her team members. Unless they turn downs the outstretched hands en masse, this doesn't bode well for a transition. This means that it would behoove mayor-in-waiting Vincent Gray to move quickly on the leadership question, and to make ...


In Tuesday's biggest surprise, Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell shocked heavy favorite Mike Castle in the GOP primary, beating the nine-term representative, former governor, and former lieutenant governor by about six points. The result put an exclamation mark on a series of Tea Party primary wins in Nevada, Kentucky, Alaska, Utah, and Colorado. When it comes to schooling, the impact of this primary season is not yet well understood. Some, like Secretary Duncan, seem inclined to presume that K-12 bipartisanship will breezily return after November's election. Indeed, Duncan is in good company, as seasoned Washington hands trust that any Tea ...


Yesterday, hours before he upended D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary, City Council Chairman Vincent Gray appeared on CNN to chat about the contest. The early signs weren't great for those worried about what Gray's win means for the Michelle Rhee's reform efforts. Host John King asked Gray, "[The mayor] says...he's making tough choices and maybe he lost contact with some people. How do you keep that from happening to you...?" Gray answered, "Well...I'm a very inclusive person. I reach out to people. I've done that as council chair. I've been very inclusive with the ...


Last night, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty was decisively defeated in his reelection bid by City Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Fenty lost 56 to 42, a margin that pretty much reflected where the race stood last month. Gray's win throws D.C.'s nationally-significant school reform efforts into turmoil (see here or here for context). As early results trickled in, the cable television commentariat quickly made it clear that this result is likely to be interpreted largely as a referendum on D.C.'s school reform efforts. More than one talking head previewed what's likely to be one of the ...


Word on the street is that a cool new venture is rising in New Orleans, which is well on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of American education (see its top finish in my recent study of America's Best & Worst Cities for School Reform). The newest effort involves taking the Big Easy's "Leading Educators" program national. To take the reins, they've recruited Jonas Chartock, executive director of the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, my fellow NACSA board member, former executive director of TFA Houston, and all-around good guy. Leading Educators is intended to address the problem of high-energy, entrepreneurial teachers ...


A year ago, President Obama's plan to give a back-to-school talk to the nation's students erupted into a tempest when the accompanying materials, issued by the Department of Education, seemed pregnant with politics and hagiography. This year, happily, the Department seems to have learned its lesson--its press release for tomorrow's speech is admirably succinct and on-point, announcing: "The President's Back-to-School Speech is an opportunity to speak directly to students across the country. Last year, President Obama encouraged students to study hard, stay in school, and take responsibility for their education." A bit dry? Perhaps, but a welcome shift from last ...


The "buy-in" tar pit is located adjacent to other similar geographical oddities, like the "consensus-seeking" sinkhole and the "capacity-building" briar patch. These are all easy ways to blame process rather than substance when the complaint is really about substance. So efforts to close lousy schools, trim benefits, or toughen up evaluation are inevitably attacked for a lack of buy-in or stakeholder support, no matter how much time was spent on just those things. (Meanwhile, you hardly ever hear any complaints that across-the-board pay raises were decided with insufficient input.) Right now, the Washington Teachers Union (the AFT's D.C. local) ...


While waiting to go on the Diane Rehm radio show yesterday (with my friend Cindy Brown of CAP and Ed Week's own journo ace Alyson Klein), we listened to our earnest Secretary of Education predicting that education's vaunted legacy of bipartisanship means grand things for NCLB (nee ESEA) reauthorization, Race to the Top implementation, and federal education policy. I'm skeptical whether that tradition will offer the sustenance that Duncan is counting on. First, there is a strong tradition of bipartisanship in education, and splits (like on NCLB accountability) rarely track party lines. Moreover, Obama and Duncan have talked more explicitly ...


I know, I know. I'm always kvetching that schools need to do more with less. That superintendents aren't making the tough cuts. And, when they do, that they aren't cutting smart. When folks press me for specific details or suggestions, they want something more than broad discussions of staffing levels or analogies from other sectors. They want concrete ideas. Because I strive to please, the result is the just-released Harvard Education Press book Stretching the School Dollar: How Schools and Districts Can Save Money While Serving Students Best. Stretching the School Dollar represents the best efforts of coeditor Eric Osberg ...


In D.C., it's looking increasingly like City Council Chairman Vincent Gray is going to beat Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary. This is a shocker. Given Fenty's deep pockets, huge 2006 victory, and positive developments on crime and schooling, he was widely thought a lock for re-election when this year began. In edu-circles, the question is what this means for D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who's had a tempestuous three years while struggling to transform a broken system that couldn't track personnel records, open schools on time, or provide textbooks to students. When drilling through a tough surface, ...


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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