Some of my best friends are education economists. That's right. Economists have added a whole lot to the education discourse in the past decade. They've shed light on dubious assumptions and frequently brought a healthy rigor, one that was too often missing in the '80s and '90s. But economists bring pathologies of their own. These were highlighted in a letter that the Washington Post published last Sunday from Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman. Irate that columnist George Will had questioned the benefits of early childhood education in a throwaway line in paragraph 15 of an op-ed, Heckman wrote, "Those benefits, ...


So, while I was en route to Detroit on Thursday, I got word that the city had filed for bankruptcy. It was strange. While the story was all over the airport televisions and the hotel newspapers, I encountered barely any discussion of it from the folks I met. Anyway, lots one might say about the situation. After all, in his letter announcing the decision, Governor Snyder noted that Detroiters wait an average of 58 minutes for police to respond (compared with a national average of 11 minutes); that 40% of the city's street lights didn't work in the first quarter ...


With the House about to move on the Student Success Act (SSA), the NCLB/ESEA reauthorization dance is back in full swing. Reporters are calling, heated e-mails are flying around the Beltway, and policy types are making heated declarations. For what it's worth, here's what's on my mind: 1] The most interesting development in the House is going to be how much grief Chairman Kline and K-12 Subcommittee Chair Rokita get from their right. This is another case of the fascinating politics in the House, where diehard conservatives like Kline and Rokita are going to get knocked around by Tea ...


Hidy all. So I've got a cool opportunity to share in the middle of the sweltering DC summer heat. My AEI team needs to hire a new External Relations Associate, offering a pretty nifty opportunity for someone who's interested in education, policy, and communications. This is the team member who serves as the AEI Education team's primary liaison to Capitol Hill, publishers, the media, associations and advocacy groups, and all the rest. The new hire will be responsible for coordinating AEI's efforts when it comes to disseminating edu-scholarship and writing, hosting private and public events, talking to key private and ...


Several folks have written regarding yesterday's post on the Vallas situation in Bridgeport to argue that the judge got the ruling wrong. They assert that the law was indeed modified and that Vallas complied with the new requirements. It's a Friday afternoon in the summer, so let's keep this short and sweet. Arguing that the judge misapplied the law is significant. So what puzzles me is why this point was not mentioned in the press releases or public comments issued by Vallas supporters on Wednesday. I had a number of these sent to me in various forms, and I saw ...


Yesterday, a Superior Court judge ruled that Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas must resign his post immediately. It was the latest development in a saga that's stretched over the past few weeks, and that will continue as Vallas appeals that decision. The problem? Vallas lacks the administrative certifications required by Connecticut law. It's summer and people have other things on the their minds, so I'll just make two points. First, on the substance, I think this was an unfortunate decision. I tend to agree with Connecticut's governor, Democrat Dannel Malloy, who opined, "Do I think that someone who was ...


The new national charter school study by Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has attracted enormous, well-deserved attention. It provides by far the most comprehensive look to date at charter school outcomes. Representing a heroic effort to wrestle with the enormous complexities of studying charter school performance across more than two dozen states, the CREDO team has drawn notice for its remarkable effort and even-handed presentation of the data. That presentation, of course, notes that charter school performance has improved dramatically since CREDO's previous 2009 study. In 2009, CREDO reported that charter students performed somewhat worse in reading ...


Monsters University is cute and it's modestly amusing. But it's a Pixar film -- I expected much better. Hard to believe it was made by the same folks who created Finding Nemo, Up, Wall-E, The Incredibles, or the Toy Story trilogy. The MU formula is pretty simple. It's one part buddy flick, one part Animal House, one part Bad News Bears, and two parts Revenge of the Nerds. Not much more to it than that. It's a pretty simple tale for anyone who remembers Monsters Inc. In this prequel, Mike (Billy Crystal's little round green guy with the giant eyeball) ...


Last Monday, in its Fisher decision, the Supreme Court basically decided to let stand its 2003 Grutter decision in favor of race-conscious admissions. The only significant development in one of Justice Anthony Kennedy's familiar "split-the-difference" decisions was the insistence that colleges and universities apply "strict scrutiny" when justifying race-based admissions plans. As I noted on Tuesday, this is going to complicate lives for institutions and admissions officers, and should force them to think more deeply about when and why to count race. You've already seen some of this start to play out, as in this helpful Inside Higher Ed story. ...


Yesterday, our earnest Secretary of Education delivered a big speech on the Common Core to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In a move that will surprise pretty much no one, he disregarded my advice from last week on how to tamp down some of the push-back to the Common Core. Instead, he basically opted to double down on the administration's rhetorical approach, offering skeptics the back of his hand, and not much else. You can read the whole thing for yourself, but here are seven things that struck me: 1. From the Catch-22 file: When U.S. Secretary of ...


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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