I can't recall how many times over the years I've heard from school reformers, "We need our own An Inconvenient Truth." You know, a cinematic indictment of the educational status quo jarring enough to stir a lethargic public. Well, all of a sudden, we've got a whole bunch of them, and we're about to see how much they matter. A spate of three-hanky edu-movies are storming the landscape, with some heading to mainstream theaters near you--The Cartel, Waiting for Superman, and The Lottery. Proponents hope that these flicks, which massively one-up Gore's 2006 magnum opus when it comes to raw ...


The AFT and NEA might want to start rethinking their "we're special and should be protected from budget cuts because we're there for the kids" strategy. Kevin Manahan, of the Newark Star-Ledger editorial board, wrote a column last week suggesting that, at least in New Jersey, the union shtick has worn thin. His beat down of the New Jersey Education Association may serve as a useful cautionary flag for teachers unions across the land. (Just check out the raft of reader comments Manahan has attracted; a quick scan seems to suggest they're running strongly anti-union). I'm not in the habit ...


Regular readers know that I'm highly skeptical of the proposed $23 billion bailout championed by Senator Harkin and Secretary Duncan and now being carried forward in the House by Representative David Obey. Happily, the prospects for this ill-conceived proposal seem to be sinking. The legislation ignores the fact that many states flew through two years of stimulus money in the first year, rewards states and districts for the hiring binge they've been on, reduces the impetus for districts to make serious management decisions, violates the President's pledge to embark on a discretionary spending freeze, and merely kicks the can down ...


Yesterday, the Aspen Institute hosted Secretary Duncan and i3 chief Jim Shelton for a lunch conversation on educational innovation. There were maybe 35 or 40 folks in attendance, including hotshot supes Jack Dale and Jerry Weast, a handful of influential wonks, a smattering of reporters, reform studs like Common Core avatar David Coleman and New Leaders honcho Jon Schnur, NEA executive director John Wilson, and other assorted heavyweights. On the whole, I thought it was better than Duncan's formal speeches. He spoke without any evident notes, pretty much steered clear of the "it's for the kids" rhetoric, didn't filibuster, and ...


California Congresswoman Judy Chu's office has issued a fierce indictment of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The report, with pretensions of quasi-scholarly cred, has attracted the notice of some SIG advocates. Chu's analysis, with the assistance of a couple dozen exceptionally vague citations, argues, "Instead of providing teachers and administrators with the tools necessary to build better schools, the [SIG] models deprive schools with the flexibility necessary to respond to the specific needs of their students." Chu references the Commission on No Child Left Behind approvingly, arguing that the Commission "has asserted that it is critical to fully understand ...


We're watching a slow-motion disaster unfold in the Gulf, as BP and Transoceanic fumble around with booms, siphons, and talk of "junk shots" while hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil a day spew into the Gulf. Our attention is focused on public hearings and how to contain the damage. Fair enough. But we might want to take a moment to think about how we got here. We're drilling in deep-water and, at least up until a few weeks ago, were aiming to do a lot more of it because of our enormous appetite for crude oil. Perhaps the most ...


So long as we recognize that it is no wiser to romanticize them than to demonize them, we absolutely ought to welcome for-profits into the education sector. For that reason, recent administration moves to favor nonprofits and public operators and to marginalize for-profits, in areas such as i3 and higher education, are problematic. For-profit providers rarely make an explicit case for their own existence, because they're so busy trying to curry favor with public officials and because parents are so worried about for-profits' public image. There's much discussion of choices and love of at-risk children, but little adult discussion of ...


Hey, nothing particularly funny, interesting, or incendiary today. Just an announcement, straight up, that I'm looking for a new research assistant as part of my AEI team. If you're just starting out, are intrigued by the chance to plunge into an array of K-12 and higher education issues, and want to see the world of education policy from a prestigious D.C. address (17th & M, to be exact), please shoot a note to my crack research assistant Daniel Lautzenheiser at [email protected] One of the few perks, for those who might be interested, is that Daniel, along with his ...


In Monday's Washington Post, education columnist Valerie Strauss took issue with Arizona superintendent Tom Horne for promoting legislation (focused primarily on ethnic studies classes) that "pretends to be about education but is all about politics." Strauss wrote, "If you think Arizona state government officials would have something better to do than go after an ethnic studies program they don't like, you'd be wrong." Strauss reports that Horne is so over-the-top that he thought it inappropriate for a Hispanic activist to tell Tucson high school students that "Republicans hate Latinos." Maybe it's because I'm some kind of bitter partisan, but I ...


I was out last week at the Education Writers Association conference in San Francisco. Impressive production, first-rate assemblage of veteran education writers (including Greg Toppo, Richard Colvin, Nick Anderson, Ben Wildavsky, Linda Perlstein, Scott Stephens, Dale Mezzacappa, and on and on), and an auspicious backdrop for the news that the uber-respected Lisa Walker is stepping down as executive director and passing the torch to the razor sharp Caroline Hendrie. I spent some time talking to reporters about important stories that have thus far received limited attention. In that spirit, I here offer eight story ideas that reporters or bloggers might ...


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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