Hidy, all. So I'm taking one of my quarterly breaks from RHSU for the next few weeks. Happily, once again, I think we've assembled a terrific line-up of guest bloggers. They're all a lot more interesting and accomplished than yours truly, so it should make for a lively stretch. First up, next week, we have Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric. Melissa and Sheara are co-founders of the Federal Education Group (FEG) law firm and are my go-to experts when it comes to understanding how federal law impacts states and school systems. Previously, they served as counsel to a number of ...


Saw Brad Pitt's new flick Moneyball the other week. Good, not great; thought the book was better. A lot of the interesting stuff gets lost in translation. I've noted the same thing when K-12 thinkers latch onto the "moneyball" analogy. K-12 enthusiasts point out that Billy Beane used sophisticated statistical analysis to build winning teams, and sensibly presume that the same kinds of tools can help drive school improvement. (Back in 2003, when the book was published, the edu-analogies consisted mostly of paeans to data dashboards; today, it's all about "value-added" metrics.) Here's the problem. Author Michael Lewis made it ...


For nearly two decades, one of the striking findings in school choice research is that parents are hugely positive about schools of choice even when the test results show only modest benefits for their kids. In some circles, particularly among education professors, this has led to various lamentations about what dopes parents are. (Now, I think people are frequently dopey, but it seems to me there are also other viable explanations here.) Charter and school voucher advocates haven't exactly covered themselves in glory when answering these concerns. A big chunk of the charter community has embraced death-grip regulation based on ...


Substantively, I don't have a ton to add to what I wrote yesterday. But there were a couple of interesting developments, and various declarations have helped clarify where things stand. Here's my take. The Good: Over the weekend, Harkin and Enzi scrapped the proposal to require states to adopt federally-approved teacher and principal evaluation systems. Instead, they opted to offer federal dollars to support smart state systems as a competitive grant for which states can choose to apply. This happy development marked a big win for Senator Alexander and those concerned about federal overreach. It marked a big setback for ...


The horrified shrieking you heard last week was the anguished cry of liberal NCLB enthusiasts denouncing the Harkin-Enzi ESEA proposal as a dreaded retreat into the distant past. They fretted that it would whip us back to the primitive year of 1994--when Bill Clinton was president and the feds didn't mandate school improvement plans based on the performance of racial subgroups. The keening will continue apace, as this is the week for the big mark-up. For my friends at Education Trust and the Center for American Progress, the Harkin-Enzi proposal marks an unfortunate retreat from the Bush-era ambitions of NCLB. ...


It's no secret that I've been displeased with the Obama administration's NCLB waiver strategy. I think the decision to make waiver relief conditional on states embracing provisions that exist nowhere within the statute is a troubling, unsettling course. Anyway, I'm happy to report that the administration has also announced a less-ballyhooed but more promising waiver push; one intended to reduce the burdens of federal red tape. Where the President's NCLB waiver agenda imposes brand-new mandates in return for flexibility, this other effort focuses on finding less onerous, more performance-based ways to report on current spending. At a time when states ...


A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the ed press's disconcerting habit of relying almost entirely on professional Democrats or Democratic-leaning academics to provide commentary on Republican education proposals when it comes to the Presidential contest and federal policy. It's obviously appropriate to offer the Democratic take on such matters, but veteran Democrats are often quoted as seemingly nonpartisan "experts." Meanwhile, whole stories are penned with little or no insight from conservatives. And given that most of the familiar edu-professors and major education interest groups--from the NEA and AFT, to the NSBA and AASA, to DFER and the Education Trust--are ...


I'm frequently frustrated by our inability to talk sensibly about the role of for-profits in schooling. Most discussion amounts to reflexive demonization, occasionally interspersed with hired-gun salesmanship or protestations of good intentions. Nearly absent is thinking about the role for-profits can play in promoting quality and cost-effectiveness at scale, or what it'll take to make that happen. This black-and-white storyline plays out in education, even as other sensitive areas of domestic public policy (like health care or environmental protection) prove far more comfortable with the role that for-profits play. In an invaluable new analysis, John Bailey of Whiteboard Advisors--and veteran ...


Superintendents for large, urban school districts are a hot commodity, moving often and commanding big bucks. This is a topic I've thought about a bunch over the years--hell, it was a question at the heart of my doctoral dissertation and first book, Spinning Wheels. Anyway, Dallas is currently going through a search, and the Dallas Morning News asked if I'd pen a piece offering a few thoughts. It occurred to me that most of the points apply equally well elsewhere. With that in mind, here's a slightly trimmed version of what I had to say (a full version of the ...


Higher education is paying far too little attention to the needs of adult, nontraditional students. While the quintessential college student leaves home at eighteen to go live on a college campus for four years, that familiar archetype is now the exception. There are 17.6 million undergraduates enrolled in American higher education today. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that just 15 percent of them attend four-year colleges and live on campus. Forty-three percent of them attend two-year institutions. Thirty-seven percent of undergraduates are enrolled part-time and 32 percent work full-time. Of those students enrolled in four-year institutions, just ...


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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