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 ...


Even as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shills for Senator Tom Harkin's pander-ific, NEA-endorsed $23 billion "Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010," the costs of his earlier efforts to curry NEA support are accumulating. His support for Harkin's no-strings-attached cash shower is trivializing the relatively puny $3.4 billion he's got left to dole out in round two of Race to the Top (RTT). Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that his earlier efforts to cultivate union support by spotlighting his commitment to buy-in have emboldened state and local unions. On Wednesday, the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) declined state ...


Even as our earnest Secretary of Education Arne Duncan enthusiastically embraces Senator Tom Harkin's pander-refic $23 billion "Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010" (don't worry, the 2011 version is sure to visit a theater near you in due course), he's insisting that this development won't compromise his credibility or effectiveness as a reformer. Me, I'm skeptical. There's a reason that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren't usually regarded as reform-minded icons. The crux of reform is the insistence on changing the way business is done. That's much harder to do when one is proffering gifts with no strings ...


I've been meaning to do a longer postmortem on Florida's Senate Bill 6. As I've noted before, I enthusiastically supported it even though I thought it a deeply flawed bill. The flaw? Its ham-fisted attempt to strip out one set of anachronistic strictures (governing tenure and step-and-lane pay scales) only to replace it with a set of test-driven processes that were almost equally troubling. I'll get to that eventually. But in travels to Boston and Houston yesterday, I had occasion to reflect on the often incautious faith in value-added assessment that underlies many efforts to rethink teacher evaluation and pay. ...


In my recent book Education Unbound, I argue that a big problem with "best practices"-style reform is that good ideas often don't play out as intended. Even pedigreed ideas that are cooked up by big-brained professors and prove successful at hand-picked pilot sites often fail to deliver at scale. Most involved in K-12 schooling, of course, are much more enamored of expertise than I. Those in schools of education, in particular, are generally confident that they can identify the right recipes for professional development, instruction, and curricula--and aren't shy about urging those on policymakers and educators. This is what ...


This morning, I hit on the week's first big win for the teachers unions: Florida Governor Charlie Crist vetoing an important teacher pay bill. The week's second big win for the unions was our earnest Secretary of Education's craven decision to curry favor with Senator Tom Harkin and the "Deficits? I don't care about no stinkin' deficits" crowd by endorsing Harkin's $23 billion scheme to ladle out new, borrowed dollars so that our nation's educational leaders might kick the can on tough choices down the road another twelve months. Because it would be "emergency" spending, Harkin sees no need to ...


I almost titled this one "Red Letter Day for the NEA," which would have been just as apropos. This week both Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put on undistinguished displays of craven opportunism when, at telling moments, they wilted and opted to preen for easy applause from the cheap seats. The result: Two big wins for the NEA and two substantial setbacks for those who believe we need to rethink teacher tenure, evaluation, and pay, or those who believe K-12 schooling needs to stop beggaring bucks from the kids we're supposed to serve. The big ...


As I noted yesterday, I think my good friend Kevin Carey is mistaken in arguing that vouchers in and of themselves are a recipe for dramatically changing the incentives in education. Look, to take just one example, recognize that non-profits unable to offer discounts to families really have little or no cause to focus on squeezing down the cost of their services. Choice-based reform (vouchers, charters, what-have-you) certainly can help to profoundly change the incentives in schooling, but that depends entirely upon questions of program design, regulation, and context. It's a mistake to imagine that choice creates a self-executing change ...


The piece I penned last week on the new University of Arkansas findings on the Milwaukee voucher program has drawn a fair bit of reaction in the blogosphere. I observed that the unimpressive results from the Milwaukee voucher evaluation (touted as the most ambitious evaluation of a U.S. voucher program yet conducted) are not all that surprising and that the bleak results ought not be taken as evidence that vouchers don't "work," but as a reminder of how little attention choice proponents have devoted to creating the kinds of oxygenated ecosystems that can support dynamic markets. (For a lengthier ...


Florida Governor Charlie Crist, already desperately trying to claw his way back into the Senate GOP primary that he once dominated, has found himself in the middle of another maelstrom. Sitting on his desk, awaiting his signature or veto, is the most ambitious teacher quality legislation any state has yet contemplated. If he signs off, those teachers hired after June 30, 2010, will no longer receive tenure. Instead, they will receive a series of one-year contracts. To receive a contract after their fifth year, teachers will have to be rated "effective" or "highly effective" in two of the previous three ...


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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