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, ...


Much as I'd feared, preparations for round two of Race to the Top (RTT) seem to be impelling states to overshoot the mark when it comes to teacher evaluation and pay. Generally laudable proposals like Florida's Senate Bill 6 and Colorado's Senate Bill 10-191 suffer from the "fix the world in one pass" syndrome. Advocates who are waging an admirable fight to end or dramatically scale back hyper-rigid, industrial-era state policies governing teacher tenure and compensation display a worrisome tendency to mandate that, henceforth, teachers will be evaluated in large part on (thus far) largely nonexistent, hyper-rigid, value-added metrics. This ...


I can't decide whether yesterday's U.S. Department of Education press release on the new "partnership" between twelve foundations and ED's i3 effort is just a painful example of vapid triumphalism or whether it actually sends a worrisome signal. I'm mostly inclined to think it's much ado about nothing. After all, as Ed Week's intrepid Michele McNeil pointed out yesterday, "The new, collaborative effort is not a pooled fund of grants; each foundation will retain control over its contribution...nor is the initiative announced by the U.S. Department of Education April 29 a commitment of additional funding...The $506 ...


Tomorrow, the nation's education researchers, professors, and such will convene in Denver for the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association. If you're going to be in Denver and want to catch up, on Friday and Saturday I'll be at Marlowe's co-hosting the "School Reform Café" from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. with my pal Van Schoales, executive director of Education Reform Now (the non-political counterpart to Democrats for Education Reform). We're expecting pop-ins from an illustrious list of friends like Patrick Wolf, Mark Schneider, Susanna Loeb, Adam Gamoran, Laura LoGerfo, Jeff Henig, Richard Ingersoll, Jal Mehta, ...


Some readers challenged me last week on an intriguing question: Why did I react so differently to the underwhelming findings on the performance of Milwaukee voucher students and to the Ravenswood City school board's effort to shutter the Stanford Graduate School of Education's charter school for mediocre performance? As you may recall, I casually brushed off the Milwaukee voucher results as telling us nothing important but suggested that the performance of Stanford New School raises real questions about the "expertise" of Stanford's big-name pedagogues. A few eagle-eyed commenters asked if this isn't a case of double standards or even blatant ...


Yesterday, I discussed the recent Ed Next forum between Kati Haycock and Rick Hanushek, noting that I agree with Haycock's focus on sensible strategies to get more good teachers into high-poverty schools but that I worry about the casual heavy-handedness with which some advocates tackle the issue. In particular, I suggested that reflexive efforts to shift "effective" teachers from high-performing schools and classrooms to others--such as attempts potentially countenanced in some language proposed for NCLB reauthorization--may actually reduce the pool of effective teachers. This would turn strip mining from an effort to redistribute the pie into a strategy that would ...


In a new forum in the quarterly journal Education Next, Education Trust honcho Kati Haycock and Stanford economist Rick Hanushek address the issue of whether and how to more "equitably" distribute teachers (full disclosure: I'm an executive editor of Ed Next). With characteristic passion, Haycock calls for efforts to focus on attracting good teachers to high-poverty, low-performing schools. I strongly support what Haycock has to say in the exchange, but I worry about the possibility that some of her allies may take her suggestions too far. In Ed Next, Haycock argues, "We know it is possible to bring high-quality teachers ...


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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