Last week, the Department of Education announced plans for a "national education reform conference on labor-management collaboration" to be held early next year, where they plan to "highlight examples of progressive collective bargaining agreements across the country and promote opportunities for management and labor to forge reforms at the state and district level." Our earnest Secretary of Education, along with AFT chief Randi Weingarten and NEA honcho Dennis Van Roekel, grandly made this announcement down in Tampa. The most striking thing, to me anyways, was the continuation of Secretary Duncan's tendency to talk tough in friendly venues and then pander ...


Yesterday, Gwinnett County, Georgia, claimed the Broad Prize in a classy awards ceremony at New York City's Museum of Modern Art. The event featured New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NBC anchor Brian Williams talking about the vital role of school reform, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan naming the winner. Unmentioned by all, and for good reason, was that Gwinnett is in the middle of a very unreformish attempt to prohibit the Georgia Charter Schools Commission (GCSC) from approving or funding charter schools. Awk-ward.... Gwinnett has been one of several districts suing the state since 2007 over the GCSC's "imposition"...


I was in New York this morning to moderate a panel preceding the Broad Prize announcement. I was given the chance to chat with the superintendents of two recent Broad Prize winners: New York's Joel Klein and Wanda Bamberg of Aldine, Texas. I was musing last night on what I'd really like to talk about with these acclaimed district chiefs. A series of chats in recent weeks with supes and state chiefs in a number of locales have got me thinking that we often don't ask the right questions. Here are the ten that I found myself most inclined to ...


In D.C., the inevitable post-Rhee lust for consensus and buy-in is in full gear. I said my piece on the lessons of the Fenty-Rhee effort in the Daily News on Friday, so let's turn the page. The standard narrative dictates that Rhee's successor be touted by Mayor-to-be Vincent Gray and heralded by the community as a conciliator. So, news accounts and columnists are prattling about how Rhee's successor and former deputy Kaya Henderson is so much nicer and more reasonable than Michelle and how, as a black woman with deep D.C. roots, she understands the community. George Parker, ...


Given today's shrinking budgets and the tough half-decade that looms for K-12 funding, we can no longer afford to remain wedded to "this...and that" reform or to be blasé about whether we're getting sufficient bang for our buck. However, the necessary shift in mindset will not happen on its own. After all, K-12 schooling has long been a place where superintendents and principals earn much grief for making cuts but little recognition for smart savings or boosting cost-effectiveness. What's needed most are politically viable proposals that make it easier for local, state, and national leaders to get serious about ...


Given today's shrinking budgets and the tough half-decade that looms for K-12 funding, we can no longer afford to remain wedded to "this...and that" reform or to be blasé about whether we're getting sufficient bang for our buck. However, the necessary shift in mindset will not happen on its own. After all, K-12 schooling has long been a place where superintendents and principals earn much grief for making cuts but little recognition for smart savings or boosting cost-effectiveness. What's needed most are politically viable proposals that make it easier for local, state, and national leaders to get serious about ...


Given today's shrinking budgets and the tough half-decade that looms for K-12 funding, we can no longer afford to remain wedded to "this...and that" reform or to be blasé about whether we're getting sufficient bang for our buck. However, the kind of shift in mindset that's necessary will not happen on its own. After all, for decades, K-12 schooling has been a place where superintendents and principals earn much grief for making cuts but little recognition for smart savings or boosting cost-effectiveness. What's needed most are politically viable proposals that make it easier for local, state, and national leaders ...


Education reform has long been dominated by "this...and that" reforms, wherein the aim is for districts to keep doing everything they've always done, and then slather more on top. Thus, "reform-minded" teacher contracts include big raises for everyone, with extra money for the real changes. New staffing initiatives, technology investments, or pilot programs bake in existing outlays and rely on new dollars to fund the new efforts. E-Rate or computers in the classroom always entail shoving technology into schools and classrooms alongside all current staff. This is "supplement not supplant" as a mindset, rather than a statutory proviso. For ...


Whoops. The only condition Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg attached to his $100 million gift to Newark Public Schools was that Governor Chris Christie give control of the schools to Newark Mayor Cory Booker. And now it appears Christie lacks the statutory authority to do so. Times being what they are, Zuckerberg announced the gift on Oprah. When she asked, "Why Newark?" he said he believed that Christie and Booker could make Newark a "symbol of educational excellence." Zuckerberg can take solace. The likelihood that his $100 million was going to make any difference was already negligible. Why? Well, first off, ...


A month out from Election Day, observers are wondering what the new Congress will look like and what that may mean for ESEA reauthorization, the administration's attack on for-profit higher education, and a possible Race to the Top renewal. Over at National Journal last week, the topic drew much discussion. Largely overlooked by those suggesting that Republican gains may lead to a spate of deal-making in education is that the election returns are likely to further polarize Congress. As Andrew Kelly and I explained in a Teachers College Record Commentary last Friday, analysis of contested House seats shows that 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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