Ok, so I admit to being somewhat perplexed yesterday about what all these breathless blog posts about Michelle Rhee were about, and I have to admit I still don't quite get it. So I'm quite grateful to Rick Hess for providing a clear explanation for what the heck people were going on about as well as a why it's a load of dookey. Helpful. Alexander Russo has been helping keep this ball spinning, but he does make a point worth considering: And yet, puffed-up preliminary results and ridgid adherence to a starting idea have become some sort of entry requirement ...


Check out this cool partnership between KIPP and the Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. CLI, which conducts research and operates initiatives to improve quality in early childhood education programs, will partner with KIPP to launch a model pre-k through 4th grade charter school near the UT Health Center campus in Houston, enabling the two organizations to work together to learn how to serve children more effectively. The partnership also reflects KIPP's increasing move into the elementary and early childhood space....


Via Matt Yglesias, an interesting and troubling Wall Street Journal article on the proliferation of state licensure requirements for growing numbers of "professions," from cat groomers to florists, and smart analysis on the same. Matt's been writing a lot about this issue lately, and it's really fascinating to read the comments on his blog posts on this, all of which boil down to some version of: "But don't you want (people in X profession) to know how to do (professional thing x)?!?!?!" There's a weirdness to these comments. No one's disputing that it's good for, say, cat groomers to know ...


Wanna understand the political challenges facing the pre-k movement? Check out Joe Klein on the State of the Union. In a column praising the centrist tenor of Obama's speech, Klein writes: When he dealt with education, he eschewed the standard Democratic talking points about early-childhood programs like Head Start, which have become code words for spending more money on poor kids. Instead, he talked about accountability, which is code for breaking the stranglehold of teachers'-union work rules. Whatever you think of the substance here, the fact that Klein (and the large swath of conventional political wisdom he represents) views early ...


Atul Gawande's latest New Yorker article on efforts to rein in health care costs by better serving the highest-cost/highest-need patients is great reading. But this paragraph near the end particularly jumped out at me: Yet the stakes in health-care hot-spotting are enormous, and go far beyond health care. A recent report on more than a decade of education-reform spending in Massachusetts detailed a story found in every state. Massachusetts sent nearly a billion dollars to school districts to finance smaller class sizes and better teachers' pay, yet every dollar ended up being diverted to covering rising health-care costs. For ...


Despite all the hype leading up to it, there was, as my colleague Andrew Rotherham notes, not a lot of substance on K-12 education in tonight's State of the Union Address. Most of what was there was not new (see below) or feel-goody: calls for parental responsibility, calls to respect teachers, calls on young people to become teachers. Not only was there not much of a push on ESEA reauthorization, but the dynamic in the room also didn't seem particularly promising there: Sure, there was some clapping for the President's call to "replace No Child Left Behind with a law ...


Some parts of tonight's State of the Union Address sounded awfully familiar to me: On increasing rates of postsecondary attainment: 2011: Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree...... If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them ...


Interesting WaPo piece by Richard Whitmire (who has a book coming out on Michelle Rhee) on the desire for "Michelle Lite" reformers who will implement the kind of reforms--teacher evaluation and pay incentives, closing underenrolled and underperforming schools--Rhee did in D.C., but in a nice, kind, touchy-feely way that doesn't p*#s people off. Richard's right in a big picture sense: You can't do things like firing ineffective teachers or closing down schools without upsetting stakeholders, so wanting leaders who will do what needs to be done without provoking political and public angst is like wanting to have your ...


Tuesday's State of the Union address has launched a fun game in D.C. education policy and media circles. It goes like this: some folks are reporting breathlessly that the President is going to make education a key theme of the speech, launching a big push to reauthorize ESEA. Then others respond: "that's all well and good, but really, nothing's gonna come of it." Really, it's a very fun game, at least by the standards of what passes for fun in D.C. these days ;) But we've been down this road before, when President Obama made education a key theme ...


Today is Martin Luther King Day, a holiday that always makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Not because I have anything but the utmost respect for King and work challenging racial and economic injustice. But because I respect him too much to be comfortable with much of how we "honor" his legacy this day. Too often the Martin Luther King, Jr., who is lionized in our public discourse is sanitized, soft, and fuzzy, a secularized saint rather than a real man whose battle for racial and economic justice was, while nonviolent, still deeply disruptive to existing privileges and power structures ...


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