Inside Schools, which bills itself as "your independent guide to NYC public schools," just published a long story documenting the frustration of some parents that every NYC school isn't prepared to accommodate children with every conceivable special need. The lede really was touching. The story opened: "'Special needs children need not apply.' There was no sign hanging on the main office at PS 289 in Bedford-Stuyvesant last week, but there may as well have been. Essence Louis says she was told Friday that she couldn't register her son Michael for kindergarten because next year the school won't have the ...


Last week offered a classic illustration of edu-hype, courtesy of the New York Times. Fortunately, it also featured a trifecta of that much rarer edu-commodity--tough-minded, skeptical scrutiny--courtesy of the Brookings Institution's Tom Loveless (a man who may be allergic to edu-faddism). Let's start with the NYT's latest contribution to the edufad spin machine. In 700 overwrought words, credulous columnist Nicholas Kristof penned a tardy Valentine's Day card to Randi Weingarten. Kristof apparently paid a visit to New Haven, got spun by the local p.r. machine, and wound up wowed by the sweet talk and the sterling sentiments of the ...


As regular readers know, much of my writing on value-added dings would-be reformers for getting waaaay ahead of themselves. They're busy trying to build whole systems around tools that are crude, limited, and relevant for only a portion of what teachers and schools do. That's why I find it troubling that "reformers" are in a headlong dash to use these primitive systems to measure everything they can, or to validate everything else (observations, student feedback, etc.). But--and here's the crucial "but"--value-added is a tool for measuring performance that may be useful in holding adults accountable for how well they ...


The eagle-eyed Daniel Lautzenheiser reminded me that today marks exactly two years since we launched RHSU. I've enjoyed it more than I might've expected, and hugely appreciate the various folks who have been kind enough to share tips, information, and reactions. Anyway, RHSU readership is up pretty substantially even since this time last year, leading me to think that some new readers might be interested to hear a bit more about where I'm coming from. So, without further ado, here's the inaugural column from two years ago: Hi there. Or, in the phrasing of Christian Slater's homicidal but quirkily charming ...


The University of Wisconsin's Doug Harris has torched a couple of would-be critics for their inane, inept, and unfair review of his book Value-Added Measures in Education (Harvard Education Press 2011). For those who appreciate such things, his response is a classic dismemberment of the Education Review take penned by Arizona State University's Clarin Collins and Audrey Amrein-Beardsley. For everyone else, it's important because it sheds light on why it's so damn hard to sensibly discuss issues like value-added accountability. (Collins and Amrein-Beardsley also penned a re-rebuttal, which is fun primarily because it reads like a note from the kid ...


A surfeit of cool work has made it necessary to add another scholar to my edu-team at AEI. The new research fellow will become the fourth scholar on the AEI edu-team, joining Mark Schneider, Andrew Kelly, and yours truly. They'll also have the opportunity to work with a program and research team that, I'm firmly convinced, is the most talented, most disciplined, smartest, hardest-working, and nicest in the nation. It'll be a chance to work with a fantastic team on important questions, and to do so at a phenomenally supportive and intellectually vibrant institution. All in all, a pretty sweet ...


The Obama administration made its big NCLB "waiver" announcement yesterday, getting the predictable, fawning edu-coverage. The announcement featured President Obama bragging, "After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my Administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility." Now, let's just stipulate that President Obama and the folks at the Department of Education are good people who want to help kids. But that doesn't excuse an exercise that struck me as hypocritical, graceless, and troubling. Six things about this latest spin of the waiver saga that ...


Man, I'm glad I never dated the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA). Talk about an inflated sense of entitlement. If the OSBA were a girlfriend, it'd be the one who smashed your car's taillights because you forgot to pick up flowers to mark your 11-week anniversary (or the death of her goldfish). I know, I know. Been there, right? Not going back. What's up? Given that January was "School Board Recognition Month," the OSBA took the time to identify myriad ways that Oregon's educators, parents, and students could pay proper homage to their public servants. Now, some churlish souls might ...


In January, 36-year-old John White took the reins as the state superintendent of education in Louisiana. He was appointed by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on a 9-1 vote, inheriting the ambitious reform legacy of his predecessor, Paul Pastorek. White had moved to Louisiana in 2011 to take over as head of the state's pioneering Recovery School District. John's previous roles included a stint with Chancellor Joel Klein in New York City and as an executive director of Teach For America in Chicago and New Jersey. Given Louisiana's outsized profile in the school reform world (and my ...


Interesting day at AEI on Wednesday. Hosted a lively discussion on "Education 2012: What the Election Year Will Mean for Education Policy," looking at what the year ahead holds for education in Washington and nationally. I was joined by a wickedly smart crew that featured Democrats for Ed Reform chief Joe Williams; ED's Peter Cunningham; Katherine Haley, key aide to House Speaker John Boehner; influential GOP pollster and policy advisor David Winston; and Ed Week's crack political reporter Alyson Klein. The occasion for the event was the official launch of my new book (edited with my colleague Andrew Kelly), Carrots, ...


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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