At an Al Shanker Institute forum a few weeks back, at the AFT's DC headquarters, I aggressively defended the good intentions and fair-mindedness of foundation staff working on education (you can see the event here). I offered my own criticisms, but I mostly told an audience very skeptical of Gates/Walton/Broad/et al. that the people I know at these foundations are smart, well-intentioned, and entirely willing to hear and benefit from criticism, so long as it's offered up constructively and in a spirit of mutual respect. The problem, I said, was how rarely skeptics reached out in that ...


You may have noticed that I took last month off from RHSU to work on my new book, The Cage-Busting Teacher--which I'm due to deliver to Harvard Education Press later this year. (Although, given the enthusiasm for our February guest stars, you may have noticed and thought, "Sweet.") In any event, I'm back. And, it seemed to me a shame that Mike Ditka has gone back into hibernation, because February seemed pocked by developments that called for his trademark, "C'mon, man!"


This week, I've looked at an important effort to increase our schools' capacity for digital learning: E-Rate reform. A modernized E-Rate won't be complete without the FCC providing for proper accountability and oversight. While we should hold the program accountable for the dollars it distributes, has the President set our expectations for a new E-Rate too high?


While policymakers, education policy wonks, and education leaders are trying to have smart conversations about school infrastructure--something they'll have to do more often in the digital age, regardless of E-Rate--it seems rather important they can keep these terms straight.


The FCC needs to acquire better information on service pricing and applicant spending, and assess whether and how to share those data. Publishing this information would be an invaluable vehicle for accountability and third-party research and analysis. And a more transparent E-Rate market could lower prices and allow funds to stretch further. Here are three changes the FCC may consider in its effort to improve transparency of E-Rate spending.


But, dull as it can be, the digital learning conversation has to start with capacity. The movement's success relies as much on fiber and IT departments as flashier concepts like personalization and blended learning.


For my last day here at RHSU, I'm going to go a bit into the weeds to talk about what I think are the two most important technical issues that will affect Common Core implementation. These are the quality and alignment of both assessments and curriculum materials.


In today's post I'm going to talk about what I view as the biggest political threat to successful implementation of the standards--teacher evaluation. Tomorrow I'm going to talk about what I view as the biggest technical threats to implementation--assessments and curriculum materials.


Yesterday, I talked about why I'm optimistic about U.S. educational performance. Today, I'm going to talk about why I'm also optimistic about standards-based reform (the latest incarnation of which is the Common Core State Standards + state waiver accountability systems). In short, my read of the evidence is that standards-based reform works


Over the course of this shortened week, I'm going to talk a bit about why I'm optimistic about public education in the U.S. To grossly over-simplify the current education reform debate, most folks these days fall into one of two camps--a) things are terrible and we must reform now, and b) things aren't so bad/are improving and reforms are destroying our schools. I'm going to argue that both groups are partly right--that things are clearly, by almost any metric, improving, but that this doesn't mean we should cease our efforts to improve schools.


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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