One of my least favorite things about education is how eagerly we turn sensible discussions into bizarrely polarizing moral crusades. Aided by competing, mindless invocations of "it's for the kids," we manage to turn otherwise sensible discussions about school accountability, teacher evaluation and pay, school choice, or tracking into incoherent, hysterical morality plays. So, today, I'm just going to vent for a bit. I hope you don't mind. For instance, it strikes me that it's obviously smart, in a 21st century labor market, to pay good educators more than bad ones--and to steer dollars in ways that recognize and reward ...


The Washington Post's Jerry Markon reports today on the Obama administration's decision to file a civil rights lawsuit against a small Chicago-area district for refusing to grant a three-week leave of absence to its only math lab instructor during its end-of-semester marking period. The teacher, 29-year-old Safoorah Khan, a Muslim, had been working at the Berkeley district's MacArthur Middle School for nine months when she requested three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca. Berkeley's administration declined her request, determining it was unrelated to her job, not authorized by the union contract, and represented an "undue hardship" for the district ...


Today, School of One honcho Joel Rose announced that he's departing the New York City Department of Education to launch an independent effort to take the School of One to scale. It's not yet clear what the new organization will be named, but Rose will be founder and CEO. Rose drafted the original proposal for School of One back in summer 2008, while serving as NYCDOE's chief executive for human capital. Running the School of One became Rose's full-time job in February 2009. For those unfamiliar with the School of One, it allows teachers to customize what a student learns ...


You ever see the Us Magazine feature "Just Like Us?" It features pictures of stars taking out their garbage, walking their dogs, and generally looking like the rest of us. I've been thinking how aptly that captures our relationship with our not-so-bold President. As a nation, we're staring at trillion dollar deficits. Unless we address them, we're headed for some ugly times--with the bulk of the lifting to be borne by those kids we're always so eager to claim our fealty to. States are in the same boat, looking at cumulative deficits in the hundreds of billions over the next ...


So, if you're ready to get your geek on, have I got a treat for you. Harvard Education Press has just published Customized Schooling: Beyond Whole-School Reform. The book, edited by Bruno Manno and yours truly, is an attempt to pull together a bunch of sharp thinking on how we get past just trying to "fix" schools--or to merely give families a choice between school A and school B--and how we start to think about using new tools, technologies, and talent to transform the quality of teaching and learning. School turnarounds are a swell idea, and will occasionally work. And ...


Gosh, so House Education chair John Kline has responded to the Obama-Duncan insistence that we are going to reauthorize NCLB this summer by telling them to back off. Geez, who could have seen this coming? (Oh, yeah, it was me... here, and here, and here, and here, and here.) As I've said before, there's been a bizarre Obama-centrism when describing "bipartisan" support for reauthorization. Somehow, supposedly neutral, incisive reporters have taken to reporting Duncan's assertions that there's bipartisan backing for the administration's "blueprint" as evidence that such backing indeed exists. They've taken his claims that the bill represents a common ...


Imagine my glee upon learning about the American Education Research Association's Critical Educators for Social Justice (CESJ) graduate student forum on "Responding to the Moment." Scheduled for April 8, just before the annual AERA conference, the forum is for educators eager to "advocate for and benefit those hurt by devastating policies and natural disasters as well as to interrupt the 'common sense' narratives around these issues found in the mainstream media." What is CESJ, you ask? Well, its members are "committed to teach, promote, and implement the principles of critical pedagogy in order to establish an educational movement grounded in ...


On Friday, along with my friends at the Center for American Progress, I co-hosted a pretty neat conference on "Tightening Up Title I." Held over at CAP, the papers waded into the regulatory and operational questions of NCLB (aka ESEA) that too often get overlooked in the rush to overhaul accountability or dream up new teacher quality or school improvement schemes. A few of the papers broached topics that never get seriously addressed. In perhaps my favorite piece, attorney/consultants Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric penned an eye-opening account of how federal language around "supplement not supplant" frequently stifles smart ...


Question: What do KIPP Academy cofounders Mike Feinberg and David Levin, Tennessee state chief Kevin Huffman, StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee, D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, and hard-charging Colorado state Sen. Mike Johnston have in common? Answer: They're all alumni of Teach For America (TFA). Like these folks or hate 'em, it's clear that TFA has had a profound impact on the face of American education. In the recent Ed Next feature "Creating a Corps of Change Agents," Harvard's Monica Higgins, Wendy Robinson, and Jennie Weiner, and yours truly explored the degree to which TFA has played an outsized role ...


After writing more about Wisconsin the past week or two than is probably healthy, I thought it'd be nice to address something a little lighter. Fortunately, the pranksters at the Teachers College Record offer sweet, sweet succor in the form of what seems to be an early April Fool's joke--something akin to their own version of the Fordham Institute's annual "Gladfly." You see, the new TCR online features a "special section" on, yep, you guessed it, "Social Aspects of Self-Regulated Learning: Where Social and Self Meet in the Strategic Regulation of Learning." I can picture the TCR editors giggling into ...


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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