Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. On Wednesday I wrote about the escalating fight between Republican Governor Christie and the teachers unions in New Jersey. Steven Brill's NYTimes magazine piece a month ago attracted an enormous amount of attention because it described a growing rift within the Democratic Party between the teachers unions and a growing group of "reformers" over the Obama administration's Race to the Top program. Differences between Republicans and teacher unions--and between the GOP and the Democratic Party--on ...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. This has been an entertaining—but ultimately depressing—month for those interested in serious education reform in New Jersey. The state's Republican governor, Chris Christie, has engaged in a rancorous war of words with the state's largest teachers' union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Christie has made no secret of his dislike for the union and has publicly blamed them for most of what is wrong with the state's schools and with state finances...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Thanks very much to Rick for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you on education politics and policy while he is away. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the NEA's lawsuit (first filed in 2005) challenging No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as an unfunded mandate. This is one of those instances where inaction is actually quite significant, as some judicial observers had thought that conservatives on the court looking for ...


I'm in the midst of a couple weeks in Tbilisi, Georgia, doing my best to lend a hand to the Georgian Ministry of Education. A crazed schedule, logistical challenges, and trying to concentrate on, you know, being helpful, make it a mite difficult to craft interesting or relevant commentary (though I can already hear some sharp-penned readers, like plthomas or Ben Foley, asking, "How would that be any different than what we're used to?" Touché). Anyway, I'm going to hand over the blog for two weeks while I'm away. Happily, two keen-eyed observers of educational policy have kindly agreed to ...


New York City's teachers may do well to ask why their union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), has an office in Boca Raton, Florida. A recent article in the New York Post figured that rent alone for the Boca Raton branch costs UFT members $183,603 per year. That's not peanuts for a union fretting about its financially strapped members. One reason for the Boca branch, as I noted a little while back, is that the retirees in the UFT are more active in UFT elections than the current teachers. The UFT website notes, "The UFT maintains an office ...


It's summer and I'm going to be ratcheting back RHSU to something more like three days a week, with a few guests stepping in to boot. Now, I can already hear the gnashing teeth and wails of, "What will I do with all that spare time?" Okay, maybe not so much teeth-gnashing. Regardless, and with graduation season upon us, I thought I'd offer a few suggestions regarding some of my favorite terrific, cheese-tastic movies about teaching, schooling, and adolescence. Now, we're going to shy away here from heavy, serious flicks like The Blackboard Jungle and To Sir, With Love, just ...


I've now had the experience several times in the past few months of having one or another friend of long standing ask me something along the lines of, "What the hell?" The "what" in question is me being critical of or asking questions about proposals and programs that "reformers" are supposed to support. If you've been reading this blog, you're aware that I've expressed concerns about Race to the Top, i3, Florida Senate Bill 6, overly enthusiastic claims for the power of value-added teacher evaluation, and so on. Now, don't get me wrong. As I've said in this space multiple ...


Readers who were still beavering away Friday afternoon and checked in at RHSU saw Joel Klein ding me for understating the significance of the new D.C. contract. Klein argued that I was distracted by D.C. having given up on the "red and green" schedules, and that the final agreement represents a dramatic breakthrough, largely because it slays the "three dragons" of tenure, seniority, and lockstep pay. Joel's take prompted reaction from some equally serious folks, including AFT chief Randi Weingarten. Randi shot me a thoughtful note on Saturday, rejecting Joel's take and arguing that it constitutes an effort ...


Regular readers of RHSU know that I like to fancy myself a shrewd analyst of matters political, contractual, and such. But at least one reader would like to offer a second opinion on yesterday's post. My good friend Joel Klein called yesterday after reading my take on the new DC teachers contract to tell me I'd missed the boat. Klein, chancellor of the New York City schools, didn't buy my assertion that, "[DC's] agreement is expensive and less of a radical shift than Rhee's initial vision, but it represents remarkable progress in a city where decades of contracts traded big ...


As states and districts wrestle with strapped budgets, and as advocates push Congress to include this or that pet cause in the reauthorization of NCLB (nee ESEA), it's worth taking a moment to point out the development of new data systems that are increasingly putting districts in a position to track student progress, identify effective and ineffective practices and educators, and give leaders cover to take a firmer line when addressing poor performers. Like a trip to the gym, these steps can feel like drudgery and they don't deliver much immediate gratification--but they can make a big difference in the ...


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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