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 ...


Best quote of the day yesterday was Mass Insight CEO Justin Cohen telling me his take on the Central Falls deal. "There are deals and there are good deals," he said. "This is a good deal." I think that's just right. The point of tough management is not to collect scalps but to change the tenor of the deals that get struck. And that's what happened when the Central Falls High teachers endorsed their new deal yesterday. The final accord makes it clear that not only was there no compromise, but Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo, who started the negotiation ...


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? ...


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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