February 2012 Archives

It's awfully telling that the administration's new Education Blueprint: An Economy Built to Last document includes sections on Higher Education and K-12 reform but not early childhood. To be sure, the document gives some lip service to the Early Learning Challenge Fund, but it doesn't list administration initiatives and proposals for early childhood the same way it does for higher ed and K-12, nor does it document state spending cuts for early childhood like it does higher ed and K-12 state funding cuts---even though we know that childcare funding and access have taken a big hit in many states, and ...


Tonight I learned that District of Columbia off-street parking regulations require D.C. high schools to have a certain amount of off-street parking: Not just for their staff and teachers, which seems reasonable, given that many teachers drive to work, but for their students. The "schedule of requirements for parking spaces" posted here calls for high schools to have: 2 for each 3 teachers and other employees, plus either 1 for each 20 classroom seats or 1 for each 10 seats in the largest auditorium, gymnasium or area usable for public assembly, whichever is greater Elementary, junior high, and preschool ...


For reasons totally unrelated to education policy, I've been thinking about the power of story and narrative to shape our thinking and how we live. But it's true that narrative also plays a powerful role in contemporary education policy debates. Indeed, these debates are often much less about the pros and cons of specific policies than they are about the narratives we use and clashes between competing narratives. A certain education reform agenda, one with which I tend to identify and sympathize, has had considerable success in re-forming education policies in the past five years in large part because of ...


Kevin Carey has a smart post up about the NYT's release of value-added data for NYC teachers. Obviously, the "margin of error" question is an important one, but the bigger issue, to me, is the free-standing release of one piece of data that's intended to be part of a larger evaluation. No one can prevent newspapers from publishing this sort of data, but all the effort that's going into developing complex, multi-faceted teacher evaluations seems to be undermined if newspapers persist in publishing a single component. Will NYT and LAT continue to publish value-added data alone when new evaluation systems ...


Awesome chart from the Children's Defense Fund sums up the state of state-level policies on full-day kindergarten. Ten states and D.C. mandate* full-day K--all of them except for New Mexico located in the South. Accompanying state-specific fact sheets provide greater detail, including birthday cut-off for kindergarten entry, age of compulsory school attendance, state funding for kindergarten, kindergarten standards, and kindergarten entry assessment. Great resource for anyone interested in early childhood, PreK-3rd, or kindergarten policy. Kudos to CDF for looking into this topic. Kindergarten often gets short shrift in public policy discussions, which tend to focus more on preschool/pre-k ...


Charter authorizing is not, sad to say, on the glamour side of the education reform movement, so I was psyched to see this New York Times editorial highlighting the importance of authorizing and calling out D.C.'s own Public Charter School Board (on which I serve) as an example of strong authorizing policies. I'd quibble a bit with some of the Times' characterization of charter school performance--on net the highest-quality studies suggest that charter elementary and middle schools outperform their traditional public school peers. Nor is it clear that a recent decline in charter school closures means that authorizers ...


Homeschooling is hot these days, at least if you judge by the media coverage: Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's recent remarks on public education have drawn attention to home-schooling, which is a choice the Santorum family has made in educating their children.* Last week my colleague Andrew Rotherham wrote about the debate over allowing home-school students to play on public school athletic teams, as well as some other thorny debates related to homeschooling quality, regulation, and access to publicly funded services. My friend Dana Goldstein's article challenging the idea of "progressive" homeschooling--itself a response to numerous recent articles highlighting liberal, new-agey, ...


By now the recent MET study findings have been widely discussed, but my fellow Ed Week blogger--and must-read reporter on all things teacher--Steven Sawchuck makes a sharp observation, drawing from both MET and a recent study from Chicago: The growing body of information we have from rigorous observational measures of teacher practice suggests that teachers are pretty good at what Sawchuck calls "procedural" tasks, such as behavior and classroom management and creating a supportive or respectful learning environment. But very few teachers are demonstrating strong performance on domains more associated with pushing students to think critically and analytically, such as "analysis...


I was traveling last week, so I haven't been able to think or say much about last week's announcement of federal ESEA waivers for 10 states. One thing I do think is interesting, though, is the relatively limited overlap between the states that applied for and won Round 1 Waivers, and those that received growth model pilot waivers from the previous administration. One might think, given the importance of growth measures for both the new school identification and teacher evaluation systems the waivers require states to describe, that schools that had been approved for the growth model pilot might have ...


Will there be a second round of federal Early Learning Challenge Grants to help states build their early learning and development systems? It's a big open question. In December 2011 the Department of Education awarded grants to 9 states, using $500 out of just under $700 million in funding appropriated for Race to the Top in the FY2011 budget. The FY2012 budget for the Department of Education includes $550 million in funding for Race to the Top, and early childhood advocates are gunning for the administration to dedicate a share of that to a second round of Early Learning Challenge ...


Marguerite Roza and Paul Hill put the smack down on critics of their work on educational productivity in this post on the CRPE website. In December, a Colorado-based think tank issued a report challenging Secretary Arne Duncan's calls for schools to focus on doing more with less in response to "the new normal," as well as a set of resources--including work by Roza and Hill--that the Department of Education highlighted on its website to help schools do this. Hill's and Roza's response reiterates why it's important to focus on productivity (hint, lots of school districts are facing budget shortfalls today, ...


Dads are playing a more prominent role in caring for their children while moms work, according to recently released Census Bureau data (h/t Eye on Early Education). In families with working moms and preschoolers, one-fifth of children have their father as their primary caregiver while mom works. And across all families of children under 15 with working moms, one-third of dads regularly care for kids while mom is at work--up from just a quarter eight years ago. Experts point towards the current economic climate as one potential cause for the shift. To my mind, it's positive to see dads ...


Economist Christina Romer, writing in the New York Times, says that improving access to education to prepare workers for high-skilled jobs in many industries is a better strategy for addressing income inequality than trying to return to the days when factories provided family-supporting jobs for low-skilled workers. That's in part because even where manufacturing jobs are available they are no longer a reliable source of higher wages for low-skilled workers. Romer notes that today "more than half of manufacturing workers have some college education, up from just over 20 percent in 1969." No matter where you look, the path towards ...


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