March 2012 Archives

So, it appears that the grant announcements for the 132 Head Start grants identified for designation renewal (aka, recompetition), which were forecast to be posted on Friday, March 23, have not, as of this blog post, yet been posted. It's possible that this is just an example of the federal government, as it sometimes does, moving slower than expected. But some observers speculate that there could be a bigger delay here, perhaps due to a lawsuit brought against HHS over the designation renewal. I don't know what the story is, but will post here as I learn more. That's one ...


I feel a little churlish picking at Simon van Zuylen-Wood's recent TNR piece on Head Start recompetition, given that TNR is actually covering early childhood issues that are typically woefully under-covered by the media, and that van Zuylen-Wood actually does unearth some legitimate issues with how the first stage of recompetition is playing out. But those virtues are outweighed by some pretty fundamental confusion, as witnessed from the piece's very title: "How America's Latest Education Initiative Could Threaten American Preschool." Leave aside for a second that Head Start is only one piece of a larger constellation of "preschool" programs, and ...


Parent Trigger is a hot topic these days, and the New York Times got a group of folks on opposing sides to duke it out over the topic this weekend at their "room for debate" page. It's a tough debate: For all we hear from some quarters that low-performing, high-poverty schools are unfairly judged and are in fact doing the best they can given the economic and demographic circumstances of their students and their troubled or uncaring parents--the reality is that a lot of those supposedly uncaring parents actually care a lot about their kids' education, and unfortunately many of ...


My friend and colleague Kevin Carey has a must-read piece in The New Republic this week about how a series of innovative initiatives are slowly beginning to chip away at traditional colleges and universities' monopoly on delivering postsecondary credentials--and the potential for "creative destruction" to transform the postsecondary education sector and expand learning options for student populations that have traditionally been left out of or poorly served by higher education. Many of the offerings that Kevin mentions seem oriented towards STEM fields, which is not particularly surprising. But, as Kevin and I argued last year, policymakers and funders interested in ...


A couple points following up on last week's post about Saul Alinsky, school reform, and why people who want to make the world better for kids need to pick the target they can change. First, just to be clear, I'm not trying to claim Alinsky for any side in contemporary ed reform debates. Given how some on the right have seized on Alinsky as a symbol of, um, something bad, I'm not sure his is a name either side wants to claim. More to the point, Alinsky was determinedly non-ideological in his life and work and would be unlikely to ...


"I'm Rick Hess, [email protected]*#!" is in full-voice this week, at the level that can be provoked only by a discussion of the American Education Research Association. Now, admittedly, there's a fair amount worth mocking where education research is concerned, and Rick's previous skewerings of hypocrisy, sanctimony, narrow-mindedness posing as open-mindedness, and soft-headed thinking in the field have brought delight and illumination to many. But I'm afraid he may be falling prey to some of the same foibles in this recent blog post. In discussing AERA's recent decision to boycott the states of Arizona and Georgia due to recent immigration-related legislation, ...


I've been re-reading Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals recently, and was struck by this section about Alinsky's work with organizations that worked to de-segregate the Chicago Public Schools: If we had been confronted with a politically sophisticated school superintendent he could have very well replied, "Look, when I came to Chicago the city school system was following, as it is now, a neighborhood school policy. Chicago's neighborhoods are segregated. There are white neighborhoods and black neighborhoods and therefore you have white and black schools. Why attack me? Why not attack the segregated neighborhoods and change them?" He would have had ...


Last night, I spoke on a panel at the Sewall Belmont House here in D.C. about single sex schools and classrooms. This is a topic that's mired in controversy but where people's opinions don't always fall out where you'd expect, generating strange alliances--such as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison teaming up to support single sex public schools--and my co-panelist Christina Hoff Sommers and Susan McGee Bailey made it a very lively conversation. My take on this is pretty simple: As we move towards increasing customization, choice, and diversity of delivery in public education, I see no ...


Eric Loomis writes approvingly about an Austin, Texas, microbrew pub that is operated on a co-op model, in which employees are co-owners with a vote in how the business is run. Loomis thinks this is a promising idea for improving status and wages for restaurant workers. Matt Yglesias is skeptical, noting that the model seems to combine the worst aspects of both business ownership and working for someone else. Similar co-op like models are also being applied in education, in a small but growing number of schools run by "teacher professional partnership" organizations. In this model--similar to that used by ...


Earlier this week I wrote about the role of narrative in education reform policy debates. It's clear that the education reform narratives of the past decade have trafficked heavily in bold and colorful characters. Individuals and groups on both sides of the debate have cast themselves as scrappy Davids going up against powerful and wealthy Goliaths. We hear romanticized tales of educators--charter school founders, social entrepreneurs, principals and superintendents--who pursue their dreams with the singular and idiosyncratic vision of Don Quixote. Amid this plethora of bold and compelling characters, charter school authorizers seem incredibly boring. Authorizers are sort of like ...


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