That would've been a perfectly adequate headline for yesterday's no-news announcement that the moderate Democrats who backed the administration's "ESEA blueprint" last year... still like it. Our earnest Secretary of Education showed up to celebrate the staunch backing of the same Senators who have been enthusiastic all along. Whoo-hee, can't you feel the momentum building? What's funny is that the administration and its Senate allies are having any success ginning up news in this fashion. The eleven signatories are pretty much the same centrist Senate Dems who backed the administration's 'blueprint' last year--leading many edu-observers to excitedly suggest last spring ...


Much of the turmoil roiling the national edu-debate in the wake of Wisconsin can be understood as the shocked, disheartened realization by "ed-reform" Democrats that principled, small-government conservatism has regained its footing in the Republican Party. For the past decade, Republican edu-thought was dominated by the Bush administration's "big government" conservatism, with its affinity for federally-mandated testing, new spending, and intrusive interventions in "failing" schools. This made it remarkably easy for the Bush administration to make common cause with school reform Democrats and progressive groups like The Education Trust, even as conservatives had little of substance to say when it ...


When I wrote last week that I stand foursquare behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposals to curb public employee benefits and the collective bargaining, my friend Diane Ravitch lamented, "Rick, that's very sad. Someday you'll see the error of having more brains than heart." I won't argue the point, but I will say a bit more about just why Walker's controversial stance speaks to my brain. As the University of Arkansas's Robert Costrell calculated out last week, Wisconsin's public employees collect 74 cents in benefits for every dollar in salary, more than triple the rate for their private sector counterparts. ...


In an interesting column over at the Huffington Post, blogger John Thompson offers some thoughts regarding my book Education Unbound. He has much to say, not all of which I found compelling, but one thread of his discussion struck home. Thompson observes, "Rick Hess...makes a fair point when explaining why a charter school would not want to be burdened by regulations that had developed over 353 years of bureaucratic politics...I can understand why educational entrepreneurs would seek to liberate themselves by destroying 'the status quo.' The problem is that... [it's] not the students or the educators in ...


My friend Diane Ravitch wrote the other day on her "Bridging Differences" blog: "I Stand With the Teachers of Wisconsin." I'd be happy to "stand with" Wisconsin's teachers if it entailed promoting a dynamic, rewarding teaching profession. But that's not what Diane is referring to. Rather, she's talking about "standing" behind public employee collective bargaining, while denouncing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to reel in unaffordable benefits and check union influence. On that score, I suspect few RHSU readers will be surprised to hear I stand with Governor Walker. For my take on Wisconsin, and the problems with public sector ...


A new USA Today/Gallup poll reports that Americans think their states are in budget crises, but are opposed to doing anything about it. This is hardly a recipe calculated to bring forth or to reward political courage. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said their states are in a budget crisis (most of the others apparently don't follow the news), but a majority opposed every conceivable solution. Respondents were dead-set against boosting taxes, with just 27% in favor and 71% opposed. That means, presumably, officials need to cut spending. But just 47% of respondents supported proposals to "cut or eliminate certain ...


Aww, gee. The Obama administration's effort to back the Harkin-GAO witch hunt of for-profit colleges seems to have hit a wall. On Friday, the U.S. House voted 289-136 to block the Department of Education's plan to impose "gainful employment" regulations on trade schools and for-profit colleges. In addition to the support of all but four Republicans, the proposal also drew the backing of 58 House Democrats--including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The proposal drew the ire of the Congressional Black Caucus, which voiced concerns that it would stifle opportunities for nontraditional students. (Correction: the passage should have read, "The proposal ...


Yesterday, I noted a few worrisome signs that the Common Core effort is moving forward with a lack of attention to how it may clash with other practical considerations or improvement strategies. The risk here is aggravated by the fact that the Common Core effort has now largely been handed off to state assessment directors, test developers, psychometricians, and overworked staff at a few national organizations--and these well-meaning people aren't necessarily interested in or sensitive to the broader impact of their handiwork. A particularly compelling example is posed by the looming collision that might occur when the unfolding effort comes ...


Like I've said before, I've mixed feelings on the whole Common Core enterprise--largely because I find it easy to envision scenarios where it fails in ways that undermine promising improvement efforts. But the effort also has real promise, which is why I trust my friends on the Common Core train will take the following not as reflecting ill wishes but as a big ol' yellow caution flag. I haven't written much about Common Core to date, though I've grown concerned about the amount of amped-up groupthink cheerleading (fueled by a bonanza of federal and philanthropic cash). As best I've been ...


Last fall, Vincent Gray upset incumbent DC mayor Adrian Fenty in a momentous election. The outcome was denounced by champions of tough-minded reform as a crushing setback--especially after the resignation of Chancellor Michelle Rhee. However, when Gray promised to stay the course on DC's promising reform efforts and welcomed Fenty's decision to name Rhee's deputy Kaya Henderson as interim Chancellor, reformers crossed their fingers and hoped (especially since Gray knows that any serious retreat from the DC reform agenda risks tens of millions in philanthropic support, and an equal amount in federal Race to the Top funds). Well, Gray's hand-picked ...


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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