Note: Andrew Kelly, a research fellow at AEI, is guest-posting this week. Unless you've been under a rock for the past year, you've heard about the "parent trigger." In principle, the trigger is a simple and powerful idea: parents in a chronically failing school can band together and petition the district to make radical changes. If the petitioners can get signatures from 51 percent of the parents, the district must respond with dramatic reforms. In California, site of the first-ever trigger law, the menu of options mirrors the four federal turnaround models, including the option to convert to a charter ...


Note: Andrew Kelly, a research fellow at AEI, is guest-posting this week. On Monday I talked about what the burgeoning of middle-class urban dwellers may mean for charter schools. Today I'm talking about how some charter organizations are actively developing new markets, and what this might mean for school choice and competition more broadly. The topic of the hour: vertical integration in the charter market. In the corporate world, one of the most basic decisions that firms face is the "make or buy" choice. Should we make the component parts and services we need to produce our product in-house? Or ...


Note: Andrew Kelly, a research fellow at AEI, is guest-posting this week. Greetings devoted RHSU readers! I'm Andrew Kelly, Rick's colleague at AEI. Before I begin, let's first hear it for Robin Lake of CRPE for her prolific and thought-provoking week of guest-blogging. In thinking about what I'd like to write this week, it dawned on me that this coming fall will be 10 years since I first got cooking in education policy research and writing. For those who don't know, I was the Rickster's first research assistant at AEI way back in 2002. No Child Left Behind was still ...


Note: Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, is guest-posting this week. It's been a real pleasure to air some ideas with you this week. Sincere thanks to Rick and the AEI team for lending me the space. Thanks also to my CRPE colleagues whose work and ideas fed these posts. Finally, thanks to readers for all the Star Wars comments! May the force (of evidence) be with you... If you like, follow our work at crpe.org or @crpe_uw. For some final thoughts, I'm turning to an issue that's ...


Note: Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, is guest-posting this week. As almost everyone admits, the traditional teacher evaluation system is about as useful as the old Mac Plus buried in my basement. As we work to improve it, we find ourselves immersed in meetings, studies, and nasty political fights. The friction is fine; we need change, and change begets conflict. But all of this talk is missing a critical question. We're so focused on the evaluation tools themselves--mechanical issues, like how to factor in student performance indicators and what ...


Note: Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, is guest-posting this week. Chapman Snowden was really interesting last week, wasn't he? (Plus, he has such a cool name.) I loved that he pushed the tech industry to pay more attention to the needs of end users. But Chapman also mentioned a big problem we have to face up to: "Too often," he wrote, "schools throw tools into the hands of teachers without consideration for the specific conditions needed for success. While these conditions can be policy based, more often than not ...


Note: Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, is guest-posting this week. A few weeks ago, CRPE released a study of Washington State's first-year implementation of federal School Improvement Grants (SIG). Unfortunately, in our corner of the world we saw little evidence of the "bold, dramatic" turnarounds that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he wanted to achieve with the more than $3 billion that have gone into SIG schools. What we saw instead was mostly the same tinkering that public schools have been doing for decades. Typically, schools receiving SIG ...


Note: Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, is guest-posting this week. When your kids make you watch "Star Wars: Episode III" for the 29th time, your attention can't help but wander, and the characters start to seem like they're talking to you. During a recent viewing, it occurred to me that Obi-Wan's attempt to warn Annakin away from the dark side--"Only a Sith deals in absolutes"--perfectly describes my frustration with the dichotomous thinking that has come to characterize the conversation on education research and policy. Here's a prime ...


Note: Chapman Snowden is the founder of Kinobi and an innovator in training at 4.0 Schools. Evidently it's easier to send people to space than it is to fix education reform. At the 2012 SXSW Interactive Conference, Peter Diamandis, CEO of the X Prize Foundation, announced that he was looking to create an X Prize for Education. The X Prize Foundation creates and manages large-scale, high profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. Diamandis is most famous for his Asari X prize, which awarded a $10 million prize ...


Note: Chapman Snowden is the founder of Kinobi and an innovator in training at 4.0 Schools. So I casually mentioned the entrepreneur's tension between confidence and hubris in yesterday's post. It is not a tension to be taken lightly, as it is an important factor in our success as ed tech entrepreneurs. From day one of existence entrepreneurs are navigating stormy weather. Funders will tell you your idea sucks. Co-founders and employees will screw you. Policymakers will ignore you. And researchers will throw their best practices garbage at you. Confidence will get you through that storm--to be confident is ...


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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