In the past month or two, serious voices have called for a "hiatus" in high-stakes testing as new assessments are phased in over the next few years. The most notable champions of a hiatus have been Montgomery County superintendent Josh Starr and AFT president Randi Weingarten. They've found sympathy in some perhaps surprising quarters, such as with Education Trust honcho Kati Haycock. The "hiatus" idea has been met with the withering critiques you'd expect from proponents of gap-closing accountability. On Tuesday, Chiefs for Change released a strongly worded letter flatly rejecting the idea. They declared, "Holding our schools accountable for ...


As I noted on Friday, I spent the latter part of last week out in Clark County, Nevada, talking with local leaders and the local Public Education Foundation. The Clark County School District, which encompasses Las Vegas, is the nation's fifth-largest school system (serving 310,000 kids). After two years in office, superintendent Dwight Jones unexpectedly stepped down two months ago. Nevada chief Jim Guthrie stepped down a short time later, after only about a year in office. This has all led to considerable, and understandable, consternation. Given the recent spate of superintendent openings in big school systems, e.g. ...


I spent yesterday out in Las Vegas at the Southern Nevada Leadership Summit, where the Clark County Public Education Foundation was hosting school, system, and business leaders. (Full disclosure: I'm a senior fellow for the Foundation.) One of the speakers was Newark superintendent Cami Anderson, who drew a warm reception to her thoughts on the need to shift thinking "from what's probable to what's possible." I thought Anderson had a number of terrific things to say. And, given that it feels to me like she doesn't say this stuff all that much in public forums, I thought a few worth ...


Second terms are notoriously brutal. Clinton and Lewinsky. Reagan and Iran-Contra. Nixon and Watergate. Bush 43 and New Orleans, the Iraqi insurgency, financial meltdown, and everything else. It didn't take long for Obama to join the club. His Attorney General has been nailed for wiretapping the Associated Press, bringing condemnation from even Obama-friendly precincts like CBS and the New York Times. We've now learned that the IRS targeted conservative groups on his watch, and lied about it. Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius has been shaking down businesses and charities, asking them to "voluntarily" contribute to help implement Obamacare. ...


I finally joined Twitter the other day. (I'm at "rickhess99," if you care.) I haven't yet actually penned any tweets, and don't know that I will. But I thought I'd practice my tweeting a bit (just in case), by taking a crack at boiling down last week's familiar back-and-forth debate over "is it schools, or is it poverty?" Fordham's Mike Petrilli kicked things off last Tuesday with a letter to Debbie Meier over at "Bridging Differences." That yielded a flurry of back-and-forths in a "reply all" public email exchange. Unsure how much of this was posted anywhere, I thought I'd ...


It's been a turbulent few months for the Common Core, raising real questions about its future. Opposition on the right has stretched well beyond the fringe has now been voiced by the Republican National Committee, with several Republican U.S. Senators speaking out in opposition and legislation to withdraw from the Common Core proposed in seven state legislatures. Meanwhile, in a big blow from the left, Randi Weingarten used a high-profile speech to weaken previous AFT support for the Core and to raise doubts about how the standards are being implemented and used. Amidst all this, there are two questions ...


I recently had a fascinating exchange with a smart journalist. He wrote, "I'm looking into the major donors from across the country who tried to influence school board races. Critics have questioned the[ir] motives...To what extent are they sincere in advancing reforms they believe in?" I was struck by how little the question surprised me. After all, supporters of charter schooling, test-based accountability, mayoral control, overhauling teacher tenure and pay, and the like are routinely denounced as "corporatists" or worse. Given that they haven't yet definitively disproved such charges, they must be true. But why are these foundations ...


Hidy all. Well, I'm back. I'd like to offer a big thanks to all the terrific folks who stepped in while I was off sabbaticalizing. (Not that it involved many thrills--mostly lots of talks about cage-busting, a big dose of AERA and the NewSchools Venture Fund summit, and such much... apologies to Casablanca). Now, most writers write from a place of compassion and love, or wit and wisdom. As you all know, that's not really my bag. Me? I mostly write from a place of distemper and disgruntlement. Happily, time away from RHSU has led to an invigorating buildup of ...


Note: Rick Hess is on sabbatical through May 6th. If you're missing him, you might try to catch him while he's out and about discussing his new book Cage-Busting Leadership (available here, e-book available here). For updates on when he might be in your neck of the woods, check here. Meantime, a tremendous lineup of guest stars has kindly agreed to step in while Rick's gone and share their own thoughts on the opportunities, challenges, implications, and nature of cage-busting leadership. Andrew Vega teachers 8th grade English/Language Arts at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston. He is an ...


Note: Rick Hess is on sabbatical through May 6th. If you're missing him, you might try to catch him while he's out and about discussing his new book Cage-Busting Leadership (available here, e-book available here). For updates on when he might be in your neck of the woods, check here. Meantime, a tremendous lineup of guest stars has kindly agreed to step in while Rick's gone and share their own thoughts on the opportunities, challenges, implications, and nature of cage-busting leadership. Guest blogging this week are teachers from Teach Plus. Today we have Maria Fenwick. Maria taught in Boston Public ...


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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