Folks, generational warfare is here. As Congress's "super committee" begins its deliberations with an eye towards its November deadline, and as the debate for 2012 heats up, it's time for those in the education space to pick a side. You're either with the kids or with those rushing to the ramparts to defend retiree entitlements. So, which is it? Consider the President's vague calls last week to spend billions more on school construction and preserving school staffing levels (which would've been more compelling if he had offered any inkling as to how we might pay for it). Obama finds himself ...


I've been executive editor of Education Next for more than a decade. In that role, one of the things I've done is coordinate our "forums" on various topics. Over the years, we've done 40-odd forums, and have usually gotten our first-choice authors. When we haven't gotten them, we've almost invariably gotten our second choice. All of which makes it astonishing that, over the past three months, we've now asked six individuals involved in the Common Core math standards to pen a piece making the case for their rigor and quality, and each has declined in turn. This is, quite literally, ...


I've long griped that the Obama administration has talked too often about more school spending and not enough about smarter school spending, and I was particularly disenchanted to hear the President go back to talking this week about pumping more borrowed federal funds into school facilities and salaries. So I'm pleased to laud the administration for its recent, smart, and gutsy decision regarding special education spending. Especially given that its decision was sure to annoy the intimidating, self-righteous special education lobby, ED showed admirable courage and common sense. Here's the deal. Education Week's Nirvi Shah yesterday reported that, "Districts that ...


Steven Brill's Class Warfare is a highly readable, fairly reliable, if incomplete history of contemporary efforts to "reform" American schooling. Kudos on the readability--there's way too little of that. The guy's a terrific writer and really captures the flavor of the debates. I don't think his small-bore errors are a big deal (it's tough to write 437 pages without making a few mistakes). And, while he omits much of consequence, every journalist or historian ultimately is forced to do that in shaping any tale. But what drove me to distraction is the casual certainty with which he frames the whole ...


Yesterday, the Washington Post devoted its lead Sunday editorial to slamming Alabama's tough new anti-illegal immigration statute. Titled "Alabama's immigration travesty," the editorial charged that the law is "poisonous" and seemingly opposes denying illegal immigrants any privilege enjoyed by citizens and legal residents. The WaPo argued, "Perhaps the most obnoxious provision of the law is its requirement that public schools confirm all students' immigration status and report those who lack proper documents to school officials." While Alabama officials acknowledged that established law requires them to serve these students, the WaPo opines, "But whom are they kidding? The measure is meant ...


Here's something you won't read too often in RHSU: "UFT president Michael Mulgrew is right." But he is. Just today, a New York state appellate court ruled that New York City must release reports that show value-added data on a teacher-by-teacher basis, with teachers' names attached. I agree with Mulgrew that this is an unfortunate decision. New York City issues the reports in question to about 12,000 teachers annually, covering teachers in fourth through eighth grades whose kids take the state reading and math assessments. The value-added model in question incorporates a variety of factors, including student absenteeism, race, ...


If memory serves, the old TV show Hart to Hart used to begin with the narrator intoning, "And when they met, it was murder." Well, yesterday AFT honcho Randi Weingarten and I engaged in a hard-hitting but genial debate at the Fordham Institute. Within a couple hours, we experienced the most severe East Coast earthquake in sixty-plus years. A coincidence? You decide. The Oprah-style affair, titled "When Reform Touches Teachers," was adeptly hosted by Fordham's Mike Petrilli. You can catch the video online here or when it shows on C-SPAN. In my experience, these kinds of "union leader v. 'reformer'" ...


As I noted last Thursday, I'm fairly confident that isolated cheating scandals will eventually snowball. After all, I'm a pretty bleak person, and yet even I've been surprised to learn just how incredibly lax test security was in cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and DC--even as we amped up the significance of testing for teachers and school leaders. Seems to me that through all this there's been a bizarre tendency to assume that educators are human enough to respond to incentives but angelic enough that they won't cheat or cut corners, even when given manifold opportunities to do so. The result, ...


Bulletin: a large urban school district is dealing with a brewing cheating scandal. This time, it's the School District of Philadelphia (the nation's 10th largest district). Again, the situation has been marked by foot-dragging and half-hearted revelations. After being directed by the state to examine 28 schools for possible cheating on the 2009 Pennsylvania state exam, Philly officials now find that 13 schools "bear further investigation" due to suspicious jumps and dubious erasure patterns. This new scandal in Philly comes in the wake of last month's revelations, after a year-long investigation, of widespread cheating by 178 teachers and principals in ...


Today, Phi Delta Kappan releases its 43rd annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll on public schools (full disclosure: I've been a regular member of the advisory panel for several years now). As always, there's much to chew on. I'll start by noting that I'm not a huge fan of the American public right now. After all, we're the twits who demand lots of services but don't want to pay for them. And then we get angry when our leaders can't square this circle. We insist that they take painful steps to rein in spending, and then complain when they try ...


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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