You may have heard that there's an election tomorrow? Here in D.C., tomorrow's midterm elections are an unavoidable topic of conversation. And if you live in a state where your vote actually counts, there's a good chance you've seriously considered disconnecting your phone to avoid calls from various candidates' campaigns. Lots of attention has obviously focused on mid-term House and Senate races and which party will control Congress following the election. For smart commentary on that topic, look to my colleague Eduwonk or the very smart Andrew Kelly, who will be blogging at Rick Hess's place the rest of ...


I've been writing a lot* lately about instructional quality, particularly about new models with promise to help us both better measure and also improve the quality of instruction in early childhood settings. But I thought it might be helpful--and more engaging--if I actually showed you what I'm talking about here. This video, from Teachstone's CLASS Video Library, shows a pre-k teacher discussing a shared reading book with her students. This is just an example, but the CLASS Video Library contains dozens of similar videos, accompanied by text that describes the behaviors the teacher is using to provide high-quality instruction and ...


One follow-up note to the previous post. I believe it's shameful and immoral that a nation as wealthy as the United States allows 21% of our children to live in poverty, and over 40% of children to live in low-income families. My belief that this is wrong and needs to change is reflected in my voting, charitable, and volunteer decisions, where I try to support policymakers, causes, and organizations that I believe can make a difference in reducing child poverty and increasing income equality. But in my professional life, I work on education policy, not other child poverty issues, and ...


My colleague Andrew Rotherham and the Century Foundation's Rick Kahlenberg engaged in a bit of a back and forth over the merits of increasing socio-economic integration as a strategy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students. Rick is a strong proponent of public school choice and inclusionary housing policies that enable low-income students to attend predominantly middle-class schools. Andy acknowledges the appeal of this strategy, but points out that geographic and logistical constraints significantly limit its potential to help more than a fraction of low-income children. Actually, it's worse than that, and neither Rick nor Andy is mentioning the elephant ...


Over the past 10 years, the universal pre-kindergarten movement has made tremendous strides: Annual state spending has grown at a roughly 10% annual rate since 2001, roughly doubling to some $5 billion today. The number of children served in state pre-k has nearly doubled as well: from less than 700,000 in 2001 to more than 1.2 million today. These are tremendous accomplishments, and while the current state budget shortfalls pose some threats to recent gains, they are unlikely to completely, or even substantially, undo them. But just as much as the UPK movement has focused on expanding access ...


Kindergarten Cutoffs and Transitional Kindergarten in California : I'm not all that psyched about California's recent decision to move up the cut-off date for kindergarten entry. Given that their December 2 date was the latest in the country, moving it up might make sense. But available evidence suggests doing so could have negative results--including increasing drop-out rates or lowering levels of educational attainment down the road. That said, I've got to give the state kudos for not making the cynical budget move here: Moving up the kindergarten cut-off date can produce one-time budget savings because it reduces the number of children ...


In response to my blog post last week about "Waiting for 'Superman'," Robert Pondiscio writes that a lack of attention to instruction is not unique to "Waiting for 'Superman'," but more broadly symptomatic of the education reform movement—a sentiment echoed by commenters on this blog. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pondiscio and agree with him on many issues, but in this case I think he's slightly mistaken. Perhaps, if you define "education reformers" as a specific and narrow set of voices that are trotted out as the counterpoint to "teachers unions" in political/policy debates, then...


Apologies for being a lousy blogger this week. I was traveling in Houston this week, where I visited some very cool early childhood education programs--KIPP:SHINE and the Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, which, among other programs, operates the Texas School Ready! program to improve the quality of teaching across a range of early childhood settings in Texas. It was a great and thought provoking learning experience for me, and one I'll share more about next week. In the meantime, please check out the two organizations' websites, as well as these links: ...


I finally got around to seeing Waiting for Superman--which, I have to confess, I wasn't particularly eager to do. I'm solidly in the camp of people who think movies should be about escapism, and the only thing I can think of less escapist than a documentary about a pressing social issue is a documentary about a pressing social issue that I spend the majority of my waking hours working on. So, from that perspective, I was pleased to find Waiting for Superman well-crafted, compelling, and more engaging than I expected. As I imagine most viewers do, I found myself praying ...


Linda Perlstein asks "does the NEA have laryngitis?" referring the union's relative reticence in the face of current media attention to education reform--particularly Waiting for Superman and NBC's Education Nation coverage this week. And it's true that, compared to some education reform groups (who've at times seemed a bit like 3-year-olds who got into a bag of pixie sticks around this stuff) and the AFT's Randi Weingarten, NEA's been pretty absent from the national media press on Waiting for Superman and Education Nation. But it would be an error to mistake that media reticence for non-engagement. Education reform groups, for ...


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