Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. A truism among ed reformers is that poverty is a problem, but we can't do much about it, therefore we can't let poverty be an excuse for poor learning results. I bought into this for many years, but no longer, for several reasons. First, recent data on income and wealth disparities has stunned me. Such monumentally huge gaps between rich and poor are never good for a society's long-term health. Second, I do much of my writing in coffee shops, cafes, and bookstores. Many people ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. Before one of my students once took a specific course, I pulled him aside and suggested he moderate his expectations, as those faculty held some pretty extreme political views. I noted it would be a good experience to engage with those ideas, and off he went. Upon his return, looking a little stunned, he said, "When you said extreme, I didn't think you meant Communist. They're literally Communists." This lead to a discussion about the value of having extreme views - left, right, and center ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. I often ask groups to raise their hands if they know some fantastic public school teachers (every hand goes up), then to raise their hand if they know a teacher they wouldn't want their child to have (almost every hand goes up). This flies in the face of many policy discussions where some critics imply that all teachers are not good, while others take the "the profession is fine as it is" approach. On balance, the U.S. has good teachers compared to other countries, ...


Note: Jonathan Plucker, a Professor at the University of Connecticut, is guest posting this week. I appreciate having the opportunity to pinch hit again for Rick. I planned to talk about the education-industrial complex, what other countries are doing to reform schools, and the welcome change in attitudes toward neo-liberal education policies. But then, as I was starting to put these posts together, all hell broke loose in Indiana and Florida. Most scandal commentary has been reasonable, but those perspectives strike me as lacking, because, well, most of those commentators weren't there. For the last 10 years, as the director ...


Now, with the dog days of August here and Congress safely on the lam, I'm going to take a few weeks respite from blogging.


Caught Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring a couple weeks back, and been meaning to share a few thoughts. For those who missed the whole deal, this is Coppola's take on the Calabasas, California, teens who burglarized the homes of a bunch of Hollywood celebrities in 2008 and 2009, stealing around $3 million in cash, clothes, and property. The flick is slow-moving and there's not much in the way of conventional plotting (it'll feel familiar to anyone who's seen Coppola's Lost in Translation or The Virgin Suicides). That said, it's an unflinching look at these teens and their banal fascination with ...


The wheels on the Common Core bus have developed a visible rattle of late. Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah have withdrawn from assessment consortia. With Tony Bennett no longer state chief in Florida, there's an excellent chance that Florida will bail. The unexpectedly high cost of assessments has sparked complaints. Florida senator and Tea Party icon Marco Rubio has come out against the standards. Jeb Bush is getting slammed by some Tea Party columnists for backing the standards. (The first rule of coalition politics: It's not good when supporting your bipartisan cause puts crucial backers at war with ...


I just spent a terrific few days out in Denver with AEI's Ed Policy Academy. We had twenty promising doctoral students from a slew of disciplines and institutions out, along with some of my favorite scholars and thought leaders. A pretty good way to spend four days, if you get the chance. One of the topics that came up repeatedly, as intended, was the relationship of researchers to policy and advocacy. For my broader take on all that, see my Harvard Ed Press book When Research Matters. In the moment, though, I found myself repeating several points that I often ...


Since Monday afternoon, a furor regarding Indiana's school accountability system has engulfed Florida state chief Tony Bennett (who was formerly the state chief in Indiana). The brouhaha centers on e-mails that Bennett and his staff penned regarding an Indiana charter school. The school, Christel House, initially received a "C" grade under the Indiana grading system in 2012. That occasioned a flurry of e-mails, and ended with Christel House receiving an "A". Added fuel to the fire is the fact that Christel House's founder Christel DeHaan had been a contributor to Bennett's campaign and to that of other Indiana Republicans. A ...


Schooling is rife today with intriguing ed tech ventures. Thing is, it can be tough to tell these guys apart without a scorecard. What are they all doing? How do you sort the wheat from the chaff? Today, I chat with Dan Carroll, chief operating officer of Clever, about some of the crucial but largely invisible stuff they're tackling. A former middle school science teacher, Dan got into this work when he was running technology for a charter school network in Colorado. He recalls being struck by the data obstacles his schools faced and was prompted to found Clever to ...


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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