Big news yesterday out of Rhode Island's Central Falls--the city where Superintendent Fran Gallo dusted off the dreaded "turnaround" bomb earlier this year--as the Central Falls Teachers' Union folded and acceded to Gallo's demands. In return, Gallo backed off the mass firing she'd launched. Some observers might regard Gallo's move as a disappointing reversion to powder puff school management, especially after reading the weak-kneed press release stuffed with promises that all the union ever wanted is "what is best for our students." But such concerns are misplaced. Gallo's play shows how stiff-spined management is supposed to work--by forcing unions and ...


On Tuesday, the Education Next website released Robert Pondiscio's new piece on Edutopia (full disclosure: I'm an executive editor of Ed Next). In "Edutopian Vision," he takes clear aim at George Lucas's educational foundation, Edutopia. Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher who writes about education at the Core Knowledge blog, skewers their six "core concepts" and slams Edutopia for promulgating a particularly problematic version of 21st century skills. As Edutopia asserts, it has six core concepts based on evidence of "what works," but Pondiscio takes a look and finds "little proof" to back Edutopia's claims. What are the six core concepts? ...


On Tuesday, over at the National Journal blog, AFT honcho Randi Weingarten blasted those who would use Harkin's unfunded $23 billion bailout as an opportunity to overhaul problematic, industrial-era labor practices that inflate costs and consume scarce dollars. She termed the Education Trust's proposal--that federal bailout aid be made contingent on states striking down strict "last hired, first fired" policies--to be a harmful and "academic" example of "Washingtonitis." Now, there are reasonable questions to ask about the proposal (does it just apply to state statutes? Would it impact contracts?), but it's a smart idea that would lend hard-pressed districts essential ...


Big news yesterday out of the West. While at the NewSchools Venture Fund Annual Summit, got word that Mike Johnston's path-breaking teacher quality bill (SB 10-191) had made it through the Colorado House on a 36-29 vote. This, as I've said previously in the midst of the fight over Florida SB 6, is "seriously big stuff." Indeed, Pam Benigno, director of the Education Policy Center at the Independence Institute, called it a "landmark day in Colorado," saying the bill "will align evaluated teacher and principal effectiveness more closely with student academic growth and weaken tenure protections for consistently ineffective teachers." ...


Between the National Journal debate over Senator Tom Harkin's $23 billion bailout, the European Union ponying up a cool $1 trillion to stanch the bleeding in Greece, Mike Petrilli getting frisky on teacher firing, and my own dalliances in NYC teacher policy (see here or here), this is turning out to be quite the week for bailout mania. Four different thoughts spurred by all this. First, I was struck by this gem from the Washington Post story on the Greek bailout. George Perros, member of the executive committee of the Pan-Hellenic Workers Front, sounded for all the world like he ...


After yesterday's post on NYC teachers and the fiscal crunch elicited such an appreciative and cheery response (or not), thought I'd stay with the theme for another day. This week, over on the National Journal's "Education Experts" blog, there's a debate about what conditions (if any) ought to be attached to Senator Tom Harkin's $23 billion education bailout. For those of you who thought yesterday's post to be harsh, fair warning: my stance is harder-edged than most. The first rule of holes is: When you're in one, stop digging. Well, we're in a massive hole. And Senator Harkin's solution seems ...


On Friday, I penned a modest op-ed for the New York Daily News which argued that, in light of New York City's budget crunch, it was reasonable to lay off up to 6,400 teachers (potentially 8% of the teacher workforce). I wrote, "Not only would the layoffs of thousands of teachers not mean the sky is falling...thinning the teacher ranks, done right, could be a very good thing." I further asserted, "Smaller classes would be good if a school district could hire all the great teachers it wants and if funding were unlimited. In the real world, neither ...


Today, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) released its second annual survey of charter school authorizers (full disclosure: I'm a member of the NACSA board of directors). The survey included all authorizers with ten or more schools--accounting for nearly two-thirds of the nation's charter schools--and a sample of smaller authorizers. The report offers some terrifically informative data even before one gets to the survey results (even more disclosure: I'm a member of the research advisory board that assisted with the survey). Discussions of chartering and charter authorizing are frequently clouded by confusion as to just what they entail. ...


Props to sly Mike Johanek, director of UPenn's midcareer Ph.D. program and Race to the Top reviewer extraordinaire, for this post's title. Only question for you, readers, is the identity of the fascist. I will say that I may have been the only conference attendee in chilly Denver wearing flip-flops. Result: I did a panel with University of Wisconsin's Michael Apple and he probably looked more like the D.C. policy wonk, while I probably bore more than a passing resemblance to the stereotypical critical race theory prof. Keep reading, and I welcome comments on who you think Johanek's ...


The lifeblood of efforts to rethink schooling or devise new solutions is the money it takes to make them work. These dollars can come from three sources: profit-seeking investors, philanthropy, or government. To date, the lion's share of the bucks have come from philanthropy. In a new piece published today in Education Next, "Fueling the Engine," I explore why entrepreneurs have had trouble raising funds and how the philanthropic sector has sought to tackle that challenge. (The article is an excerpt from my new book Education Unbound). This is all of particular relevance today, as more than 2,000 districts, ...


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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