Two very different sets of state rankings are out this week. The big one is Ed Week's (do I really need to disclose that they're hosting my blog?) annual Quality Counts report, which includes the usual state-by-state highlights and rankings, as well as special reports honing in on how the education impacts of state budget crunches. Rick Hess should be especially pleased that one of these stories looks at the need to and challenges of reigning in growth in personnel costs, and another looks at achieving efficiencies in special education. There's also good news around increased coordination and better transitions ...


Judging from my RSS and twitter feeds today, everyone can't stop talking about Amy Chua's WSJ essay this weekend on "Chinese mothers"--and it's a doozy of the genre, ripe with anecdotes and thin on data, primarily fixated on the concerns and experience of educated professionals, and seemingly designed to prey on parental guilt and feelings of inadequacy (which, give Chua credit, is at least consistent with the broader theme of the piece). This drives me a little nuts. Not the article, so much as the conversation about it. For starters, Chua's trafficking in a view of American parenting that ...


Tom Vander Ark's recent post about the idea of using "merit badges" to create a more customized educational experience is well-worth checking out. Vander Ark is focusing on K-12 education, but the needs in higher education seem even greater, given the diversity of needs and skill levels with which people come to the higher ed system. Conversations about increasing postsecondary attainment to restore and maintain our global lead here ought to acknowledge that this probably can't be done just by pushing more people through an existing system that has a really crappy track record serving low-income, minority, and non-traditional students. ...


The Post's Conor Williams has a good piece looking in further detail at the school reform situation in D.C. and why the election of Vincent Gray as Mayor is not the catastrophe for D.C. ed reform many national voices assumed it was. Williams particularly highlights Gray's selection of Hosanna Mahaley as State Superintendent (the person who runs the office that carries out state-level education functions for D.C.), a role some folks expect to become more important under Gray and given D.C.'s Race to the Top win; DeShawn Wright as Deputy Mayor for Education; and decision ...


Last night the D.C. Democratic State Committee selected Sekou Biddle as interim At-Large Council Member, filling the vacancy created by former At-Large Member Kwame Brown's election as Council Chair in November. Biddle will fill the seat until an April special election, which folks who know D.C. politics better than I say he now has a good shot at winning. Brown has already endorsed Biddle for the seat, and Mayor Vincent Gray has kinda-sorta-indicated support without actually giving an endorsement. (If you, like me, find this process utterly confusing and ugly, blame D.C.'s Congressional overlords for the ...


I've spent this week on the blog arguing that we should regard publicly funded pre-k as a structural arrangement, rather than a specific instructional intervention. This has implications for how we think about pre-k research, but it also has broader implications for how policy debates address pre-k. Current policy debates frequently address pre-k as a specific intervention or program. We ask whether or not pre-k "works." We talk about "state pre-k programs" and "the federal Head Start program." Conversations about pre-k as an intervention or program can have a kind of "just add water" feel: If we can just convince ...


So the CW in Washington these days is that early ed issues are "out" (in the words of eduflack Patrick Riccards) and that, with early ed advocates having lost key battles in 2010, and the incoming Tea Party Congress no fan of guv'mint-funded early childhood programs, nobody should expect much action on early ed in 2011. Not so fast! Says my former New America colleague Lisa Guernsey, who proffers up a list of 6 "hot spots" for federal action on early childhood this year. Some of these are areas where early childhood supporters will be on the defense (ie, maintaining ...


Yesterday, I explained that I don't think it makes sense to think and talk about the evidence on pre-k in the same way that we think and talk about the evidence on specific instructional and pedagogical innovations. Instead, I'd suggest that the body of evidence for pre-k is more comparable to the body of evidence on charter schools. In both areas, we have a strong body of evidence that specific models--such as the High/Scope Perry Preschool and the KIPP network of charter schools--"work." But we also have evidence showing that the broader range of early childhood or charter ...


Readers interested in either the i3 grant program or in literacy instruction should check out Nick Anderson's Washington Post article from the weekend on Success for All, as well as this excellent and interesting follow-up blog post that reminds me why I so like Jay Mathews. I think that the awarding of major i3 "scale-up" grants to two long-running literacy interventions--Success for All and Reading Recovery--that had previously been largely shut out of the federal Reading First program remains one of the most interesting and overlooked stories of 2010. (overlooked largely, I'd guess, because too few folks in the education ...


As I wrote yesterday, whether we think about preschool as a specific intervention or a structural arrangement has significant implications for how we think and talk about pre-k research--as well as pre-kindergarten more generally. Universal pre-k advocates, by and large, talk about pre-kindergarten as if it were a specific type of instructional intervention. For example, Pre-K Now's Marci Young recently wrote: There's an education reform strategy that has 50 years of solid research behind it, with proven results that demonstrate how to improve student achievement...It's an investment proven to yield up to $7 for every public dollar invested, paying ...


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