It's summer, I'm distracted by final editing on my Cage-Busting Leadership manuscript, and I think the heat is clouding my synapses. So, today we'll go with a couple random thoughts on recent developments. Will Health Care Ruling Upend Direct Lending? Tomorrow's eagerly awaited SCOTUS ruling on health care reform could have a big, but thus far almost totally ignored, impact on college student loans. If you'll recall, Democrats twinned health care reform with the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which replaced the system of federal guarantees for private loans with "direct" federal lending (it essentially nationalized student lending). ...


Big props to the Obama Department of Education for doing something that you don't see too much in Washington or in edu-circles. Last Thursday, the Department invited my colleague Andrew Kelly and me to come over and have a public, unscripted conversation about our book Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit (Harvard Ed Press, 2012). This was a sterling example of how leaders can signal that they're interested in hearing constructive criticism and willing to take the time to hear the thinking of those who aren't necessarily on the same page. How so? One, I've been a sympathetic but emphatic ...


Given my interest in edu-philanthropy and education advocacy, I'm predictably taken by Alexander Russo's behind-the-scenes tale "The Successful Failure of ED in '08." Examining an effort that is generally recalled as a major Gates-Broad partnership that flopped, Russo argues that the whole exercise was more impactful, significant, and instructive than is widely recognized. Russo, a veteran education journalist best known for his "This Week in Education" blog, details what happened when two major edu-foundations shelled out a combined $25 million (less than the projected $60 million, but still the largest ed-advocacy effort to that point) in a push to make ...


The Institute for a Competitive Workforce (an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) yesterday published an expansive new state-by-state report on public higher education: Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education. The lead researcher on the effort was my talented AEI colleague Andrew Kelly, who put in six months of data gathering with the aid of crack AEI research associate Daniel Lautzenheiser and ICW's terrific Jaimie Matthews. (Full disclosure: I served as part of the project team, along with my Brookings Institution counterpart Russ Whitehurst; the Chamber's Margaret Spellings, Cheryl Oldham, and Dom Giandomenico; ...


Over the weekend, CAP's Matt Miller penned a terrific Washington Post column ("Young Americans Get the Shaft") in the same vein. It's a must-read for anyone who fancies that they're an education advocate. Miller writes: How are [Americans under 35] being swindled today?... There's no cash for such investments [in research and development] in the future because pension and health-care programs for seniors (plus a bloated Pentagon) take up so much of the budget. At the federal level, seven dollars go to programs supporting elderly consumption for every dollar invested in people under 18. Nationally (after taking account of the ...


I'm getting close to finishing up my Cage-Busting Leadership book for Harvard Ed Press (it'll be available this coming February). One point that comes up again and again as I work on the text and talk to school and system leaders is the degree to which we've encouraged a leadership culture where leaders have felt they demonstrate their mettle by the number of hours they work and the number of meetings they take. This comes, I'm convinced, at a big cost to their ability to think, reflect, and learn. In talking to these leaders, I find myself thinking of the ...


It's the time of year when lots of high school seniors start thinking about starting college, while their parents gulp at the tuition bills. As often as not, students and parents have navigated the selection process with the aid of popular college guides like US News and World Report or Barron's Profiles of American Colleges. High rankings boost an institution's reputation and attract applicants, encouraging parents and students to pony up extra tuition dollars rather than settle for less prestigious alternatives. What gets lost is higher education's dirty little secret: these rankings mean a lot less than you might think. ...


The whip-smart and polished David Coleman has been the quiet architect behind the Common Core. With no formal position, he's played a pivotal role in shepherding and selling the work coordinated by the NGA and CCSSO. Of late, he's been spending most of his time as the founding partner of Student Achievement Partners, the nonprofit that's received a substantial investment from the GE Foundation (among others) to implement the Common Core. Well, in one of the more intriguing edu-job changes in recent memory, David was recently named the next president of the College Board, the $800 million a year outfit ...


Fact 1: Teachers feel like they're getting a bad rap in the public discourse. Fact 2: I've long since stopped reading the comments proffered on RHSU. What in the world do these two statements have to do with each other? I think it's simple. Self-proclaimed advocates of educators and public education have become so vitriolic, mean-spirited, arrogant, and unreasoning that it's becoming inane to anyone who's not a fellow true believer. This means that they're poorly positioned to convince Americans, and painfully uninteresting to anyone who doesn't agree with them already. I was reminded by this yesterday. Seeing that a ...


Yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker triumphed in his bare-knuckles recall rematch with Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. The result serves, fairly or not, to validate Walker's push to dial back the scope of collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. In the blue-tinged cradle of American Progressivism, Walker held off a ferocious labor onslaught. He did so with the aid of more than $40 million raised from conservatives who saw Wisconsin as their must-win battle in the effort to tame the reach of public unions. Walker's win comes on the heels of Republican success in blunting last summer's Democratic attempt 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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