April 2007 Archives

US News raises questions about the growth of business-sponsored school reform efforts (Businesses Want To Build Better Employees) and the differences between what they want (trained and skilled employees) vs. what other reformers want (closing the achievement gap, etc.). It would be a big shift if federal policymaking focused more on competitiveness than equity -- Title I has always been more about that than anything else -- but it could happen. Whatever floats your boat, I say....


When elected officials talk about "local control," they usually mean states and districts. But in some places, local control means really local -- like at the school level. It's a messy business, however, and in Illinois the Board and the mayor are now pushing changes so that elected school councils have to have approval before not renewing a principal's four-year contract (Chicago school leaders seek to limit LSC power Tribune). In New York City, the once-powerful parent councils that used to run the city's community school districts can barely scare up enough folks to fill the vacant seats (A Lack ...


I'm always seeing interesting new approaches in housing and education policy -- this one (here) about giving hard-core homeless folks a place to stay (even if they're not clean and sober) is from the PBS NewsHour on Friday. What's the education equivalent, I wonder? Coming up with new alternatives for chronic truants rather than trying to bring them back into schools? Setting up special kinds of schools for kids with particular needs -- immigrants, high-mobility kids -- rather than trying to make everyone do everything the same way?...


Why video games really are linked to violence Slate Does the link between video games and violence hold up? Yes. P.E. Classes Turn to Video Game That Works Legs NYT Schools are deploying Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the battle against childhood obesity....


'Drunken Pirate' sues school that nixed degree MSNBC A woman denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because of a MySpace photo has sued the university. Here's the photo. The Smoking Gun has the affadavit....


Blogs written by groups rather than individual writers have been all the rage for a little while now -- combining as they do the pleasures of distinct voices with the diversity of multiple perspectives. Perhaps the best example of this has been the two year-old Huffington Post, which includes a wide range of voices, as well as predecessors like Daily Kos. Group blogs have been coming along in education, too, with the AFT Blog, the Quick and The Ed, and the Ravitch/Meier blog. Now, that trend seems to be accelerating. There's The Pulse, run by District Administration, and now ...


Hillary Clinton Critical of NCLB Before State Teachers€™ Union EdWeek Sen. Clinton voted in favor of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001. As a formal presidential candidate since January, she has yet to release any detailed proposals for overhauling the law, which is due for reauthorization this year. No Child Left Behind foes fear $600M loss AZ Daily Star Lawmakers agreed Wednesday that while it might be a good idea for Arizona to opt out of mandates required by the No Child Left Behind act, giving up more than half a billion dollars in federal funding is not ...


Site News Now Appearing On The Huffington Post, Too Campaign 2008 Bill Clinton Reverses Himself On Annual Testing Jerald Joins $60M "Stronger American Schools" Initiative Saving American Schools, One Pint Of Ice Cream At A Time NCLB News The Fairfax Fandango: This Test Is Too Hard Is "Proficient" Too Much To Ask For? Looking Into VA Test Participation Rules On The Hill Exclusive: Spellings Called To Testify Has Chairman Miller Been Protecting Secretary Spellings? Reading First Quotes: Criminal Or Civil Investigation? School Reform Growing Pains For KIPP Schools Teachers In NYC "Rubber Rooms" The KIPP Breakups Business Of Education Gates ...


There's good stuff in this week's PEN NewsBlast, as usual, including how Kentucky educators are trying to relieve test stress, a provocative piece about school violence, and a good catch on the topic of vouchers and suburban backlash. Ditto for The Gadfly, which this week includes some advice on Republican education strategy, some analysis of the Romer-led education campaign announced this week, and a slam on The Governator for his many education mis-steps. The Ed Trust's "Equity Express" (wish it was a blog or web-friendly) also has a slew of achievement gap stories (see messy email version below)....


Well, not so very big... How to gauge a school's progress Christian Science Monitori As Congress prepares to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, more educators want new definitions of achievement. PCs Can Help Kids Pass NCLB Tests US News Although the lion's share of U.S. schools still prepare students for achievement tests using the traditional paper-and-pen approach, some educators around the country are turning to high-tech programs designed to help students succeed in the testing-heavy educational environment created by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie NYT The dean ...


Don't be put off by the boring title that the Title Monitor gives to its Reading First story (OIG Refers Reading First To U.S. Justice Department). There's interesting stuff in there about witnesses like former assistant secretary Susan Neuman who might have been expected to have been called to testify and some impassioned remarks from Mike Petrilli questioning the Committee's treatment of former RF director Chris Doherty and insulation of EdSec Spellings from the fiasco....


I've been scanning Whitney Tilson's education blog now and then for the past few months, but only just now looked up his bio, where I found that he was a charter member of TFA and is a honcho at KIPP New York and a money guy by day. Not only that, he's got three blogs, one of which is about school reform. Some recent posts include: Cory Booker's Battle for NewarkCharter school math tournament in NYCAdvocates Want Bigger Role for Charters Under NCLB...L.A. charter schools scramble for spacePresident Addresses No Child Left Behind During Vi...Civil-rights leader: Give ...


The ever-instructive Marc Dean Millot explains here just how to read between the lines of an education company press release: The Press Release in Context. "So, in a sense, PLATO is saying to Wall Street that its products have underlying value and, in a market full of close substitutes, its core clients have not abandoned it."...


Perhaps in honor of his having proposed annual (national) tests a decade ago, Bill Clinton apparently reversed himself during a recent appearance in front of the NSBA and said that annual testing was too much (Clinton Criticizes Testing Required by NCLB EdWeek). Or perhaps he's just doing the pandering thing like his wife did a few weeks ago when she called NCLB tutoring "Halliburton all over again" in front of a teachers union crowd....


Report Undercuts Effects of Educational Software NPR A new report from the Department of Education says that most education software does not boost test scores. But districts that have spent large amounts of money are not ready to give up on it. Nutrition standards urged for foods sold in school CNN.com The IOM recommendation covers items considered competitive with those foods, such as items sold in vending machines and other food and drinks sold in the school but not under the federal program, an area often profitable for the schools. Cuomo: States Will Pursue Student Loan Fiasco NPR New ...


Thanks to KIPP's Mike Feinberg for walking the walk when it comes to transparency. He shared the little-known list of six KIPP "breakups" referred to in Jay Mathews' column this week, and his partner Steve Mancini added a seventh. As with the other kind of breakups, what exactly happened (who broke up with whom, and why) is in some cases at least open to different interpretation by the parties involved. My interpretations are in parenthesese: KIPP PATH in DeKalb County, GA and KIPP Sac Prep in Sacramento ("it was mutual")...KIPP Chicago Youth Village and KIPP Asheville Youth Academy (“never ...


Late on Wednesday, the Gates Foundation announced who would replace the long-departed Tom Vander Ark as chief of the education operation: Vicki Phillips, currently supe of the Portland public schools, starting in August. OK, great. Now what?...


House education committee chair George Miller has requested that EdSec Spellings appear to explain the whole student lending / Reading First mess (see PDF here) -- and she has (reportedly) agreed to show up on the 10th. It seemed like it was bound to happen eventually, given all that's going on. But it isn't going to be pretty, given the mood of things and recent performances by other Cabinet members. Thanks to a friend for letting me know. Exclusive, I think....


Over at Learning the Language, M.A. Zehr follows up on the whole Fairfax thing and looks into VA's test participation rules. What she finds (Virginia's Definition of Test Participation) is pretty amazing -- namely that any kid, ELL or not, can decline to complete an exam, and that the scores still count even if fewer than five items have been attempted. Check it out....


Mike Antonucci links to a great if horrifying article in the Village Voice about 662 New York City teachers who are in administrative limbo and go each day to one of 13 "administrative reassignment centers (aka "rubber rooms") pending the disposition of their cases -- and suggests that their forced inactivity could be the making of a great reality show (Rubber Rooms Could Be a Gold Mine). From what I read, the Voice piece (Class Dismissed) sounds more like a nightmarish episode of Big Brother than American Idol. Not that I ever watch those shows....


In this week's column (Looking at KIPP, Coolly and Carefully), Mathews tries to get ahead of the news trend that's slowly leaking out about KIPP's dropout rates and spate of breakups (now numbering six). He rightly points out that the media are the ones doing most of the hyping -- desperate for success stories and things that seem new and different. But Mathews struggles to hide his enthusiasm even in the role of cool critic, and in reality it's more than that -- it's foundations pouring money into the KIPP approach and think tanks touting them as miracle solutions. I'm ...


Left out of today's NYT coverage of the new $60 million "Stronger American Schools" initiative (Billionaires Start $60 Million Schools Effort) is that Craig Jerald, formerly of EdWeek and the Ed Trust, is going to be policy director for the effort. Kudos and condolences....


Aid Providers, Some Invited and Some Not, Arrive En Masse Wash Post As thousands of students returned to class Monday at Virginia Tech, they were greeted by legions of people who came to help. Schools Revisit Gun Policies After Va. Tech Rampage NPR Last week's deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech shattered the image of college campuses as idyllic sanctuaries of safety. Virginia Tech -- like most American universities -- forbids students from carrying guns on campus. Now many schools are re-evaluating their gun policies. Violence all around us, and we're numb SF Chronicle It's impossible to think about those ...


"Outside of a handful of Asian nations, the typical 8th grader in many foreign countries would not meet “proficient” levels on U.S. tests of mathematics and science, according to a reanalysis of international achievement data being published today," begins this EdWeek story (Most Nations Fall Short of NAEP Proficiency, Analysis Finds). "Then again, the study also shows, neither do most American students."...


Billionaires Start $60 Million Schools Effort NYT Eli Broad and Bill Gates are joining forces for a $60 million foray into politics in an effort to vault education high onto the agenda of the 2008 presidential race. House passes bill to increase math and science teachers CNN.com The bill, which passed 389-22, would authorize more than $600 million through 2012 for scholarships and stipends for college students studying math and science in preparation for teaching careers. Wash. music teacher is top of her class USA Today Peterson's selection is a victory for advocates of traditional teacher certification — she is ...


I never did get that invite to the Stronger American Schools lunch today (was it any good?), and may not make it to the big kickoff event tomorrow (take pics and email them if you feel like it). Even worse, I can't tell you who's working on the effort along with Romer (though many of you already know). What can I tell you? Well, I've figured out their strategy for making education a prominent and specific part of the 2008 presidential campaign: the Stephen Colbert spokesperson strategy. Yeah, that'll work....


Hard to believe that the Huffington Post -- Arianna Huffington's crazy effort to gather a somewhat diverse set of thinkers together on a single website -- is almost two years old, and wildly successful (60 million page views a month). Harder still to believe that they'd want little old me to join their ranks and cross-post things from here over there. But it's true -- a slightly expanded version of The Fairfax Fandango (see below) is going up later today. Clearly, they'll let just about anybody blog. One more sign of the coming Apocalypse. UPDATE: Now it's up -- you ...


For a time, Fairfax County educators were thinking about -- some would say threatening to -- give up $17 million in NCLB funds rather than give a test to ELL kids that they thought was too hard. Well, of course it is. Everyone knows that. But threatening to give up NCLB funding -- resolutions, protests -- how 2003. At the last minute, however, Fairfax figured out what everyone else has: take the money, comply nominally, and find a way to do what you want. In Fairfax's case, nominal compliance means making sure that teachers and ELL kids know that they ...


Power Trips for Tots WSJ (free) Adventure vacations around the globe are becoming a status symbol for parents seeking an edge for their kids. Some families are heading to sub-Saharan Africa or Asia, while others are packing itineraries with extreme experiences, sending their children to the jungle or bicycling through rice paddies in Thailand. He's going to Harvard (or Yale, or Princeton, or ) Houston Chronicle These days, competition to get into a brand-name institution is so intense that desperate students apply to 10, 12 and even 20 schools. Twelve percent of students entering college last fall applied to seven or ...


Thanks to contributor Regina Matthews for digging up these interesting articles about teachers and teaching: Teachers: The Next Generation PEN NewsBlast Generation Y, the 40 million people born between 1977 and 1986, is dramatically changing the composition of today's teaching staffs. Union Influence on NCLB EdWeek A Q&A with Joel Packer, chief NCLB lobbyist for the NEA and Antonia Cortese, EVP for the AFT, with moderator Kevin Bushweller Teacher Contracts: Restoring the Balance PEN NewsBlast Teacher contracts reflect an earlier era in America: the age of the rise of industrial unions, according to The Education Partnership. Degree Drought Indianapolis ...


While it remains unclear whether the referrals to the Justice Department are going to be criminal or civil -- or result in any charges -- everyone's got a good quote or two in their Reading First coverage: House Panel Grills Witnesses On Reading First EdWeek In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Miller said: “This hearing made it pretty clear that there was a very incestuous relationship among a small group of people in the Education Department and among contractors. They were very clearly using this program … for profit.” Reading program to get Justice review USA Today It wasn't immediately ...


Virginia Tech copes with returning to class CSM Virginia Tech history professor Woody Farrar is usually able to lecture for hours, but this time he worried about what he would say – if he could even get the words out – when his students returned to his class Monday, a week after the worst shooting in US history took place on campus. Crime In The Quad US News While murder on campus is exceedingly rare, its continued occurrence, along with the far more frequent incidence of sexual assault, has only increased calls for heightened security, improved alert systems, and more thorough crime ...


Best Of The Week What Do Fairfax County And Sanjaya Have In Common? Power Couples In Education, The Update Campaign 2008 Reading First Heats Up: Criminal Investigation, DI Wife Making Education A Top Issue For 2008 -- Somehow NCLB News It's All About The Bill Language Thirty-One Pending NCLB Proposals Tutoring Myths & Realities What It Takes To Be An Effective Legislative Staffer Policy Watch A Reality Check For Education Rhetoric FairTest Vs. TestingFacts Voucher Rollback In Ohio? Finding The Right Big-City Superintendent Media & Blogs How Community Colleges Story Won A Pulitzer School Reform Vs. Global Outsourcing School Life Virginia Tech ...


I guess I dozed off a little too early during Friday's Reading First hearings, since this Washington Post story suggests that things have heated up -- a lot. Some of the best nuggets include: (1) Justice Department officials are conducting their own interviews, (2) former RF head Chris Doherty repeatedly failed to disclose that wife has been a paid consultant for Direct Instruction (now that's a power couple), (3) Voyager, one of the favored programs is a company owned by Randy Best (a big Bush financial supporter), (4) Reid Lyon now says things seem much worse than he "was told," ...


According to her press schedule (see below), EdSec Spellings is going to be on Sunday's "Meet The Press" (NBC) to talk about school safety issues.I wonder if they'll get in some questions about student lending, Reading First, or this whole NCLB thing. Do you think she's worried about coming in 2nd, like she did (to Squiggy Lenny) on "Jeopardy" last summer?...


This NPR segment (NPR : New Ohio Governor Targets School Vouchers) reminds us that while 12 states plus Utah now have voucher programs, new Ohio governor Ted Strickland is trying to roll back one of the original voucher initiatives to its previous form. For the past year, Ohio's new statewide voucher program has been running, serving roughly 3,000 kids. Arguing that the program costs too much ($13 million) and serves the few rather than the many, Strickland wants to roll the program back to its original Cleveland-only size. He is opposed by, among other things, crying parents and kids who ...


People really seem to loving the power couples thing, and here are some more that have come in over the transom: Chris Edley (Former Clinton Civil Rights, now at UC Berkeley) and Maria Echaveste (Former Clinton Labor, now at UC Berkeley). Howard Fuller (Marquette University) and Deborah McGriff (former Milwaukee deputy super, now at Edison Schools). Goodwin Liu (former Clinton National Service) and Ann O’Leary (9th circuit?). Carolyn Henrich (UC lobbyist former National PTA) and Joel Packer (NEA). Warning -- I haven't verified these, so they may be wrong or outdated. Previously noted (here): Former Heritage and USDE Nina ...


Some more urban school news and trends -- and one last picture of Sanjaya: Language Gap Mars Parent-Teacher Chats NPR Federal law requires school districts to provide interpreters for parent-teacher conferences. But demand far outstrips the state and federal funds provided. How are schools adapting? Mayor Revises Some Points of School Budget Proposal NYT It will be harder for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to redistribute senior teachers more evenly across the school system. Trouble Even in Choice Paradise Urban Institute We explore the reasoning behind these low take up rates and utilize school transfer data provided by the district to ...


Start out with Greg Toppo's update on where things stand (here). USA Today. Speaking of the hearing, you can watch the live webcast (video, audio plays on your screen) here. Good background listening. Getting antsy? You can read Reid Lyon's explanation of his role and what Reading First was supposed to do here. No apologies there, that's for sure. Why isn't he at the hearing? Speaking of who is and isn't at the hearing -- where's Spellings? If Gonzalez can come up and explain himself, why can't she?...


Some California Schools Close After Threat NYT The police in Northern California were searching on Thursday for a man who they said was planning an attack that would “make Virginia Tech look mild.” After Columbine, School Shootings Proliferate US News The number, frequency, and death toll for shootings at schools has increased dramatically since the attack at Colorado's Columbine High School eight years ago this Friday. English Department Tried To Intervene HuffPo Trying to balance the freedom needed to be creative against the warning signs of psychosis, as many as eight of his teachers in the last 18 months had ...


"While the Congress deliberates over the Business Roundtable's and the Aspen Institute's Great Domestic Diversion, NCLB, American corporations continue their off-shoring of American jobs, both service jobs and highly-skilled professional jobs," begins this blistering post Fiddling With Test Scores While America Burns. "And while the U. S. Chamber of Commerce polishes its plans to transform American high schools into science and math camps, Boeing and Cisco continue to funnel science and engineering jobs to cheap labor markets overseas."...


I'm still working on getting more paparazzi pics, but the power couple pics I've come up with so far include former USDEr Nina Rees and journalist husband Matt (there are a couple -- she's married to one of these guys): Also, TFA founder Wendy Kopp (with bonus school pic) and KIPP CEO Richard Barth: Other amusing nominations I've received: Miller and Kennedy, Petrilli and Finn, Spellings and Paige. No, I don't have anything better to do....


After all the hoopla (and given all the other things going on), tomorrow's Reading First hearing is likely to turn out to be pretty anticlimactic. (Plus which, they're holding it on a Friday, and the program's alleged mismanagement is offset by its apparent effectiveness.) Reading First Paying Off, Education Dept. Says Washington Post "That's the irony," said John F. Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy. "The program was poorly -- even unethically -- administered at the federal level, yet it seems to be having a positive effect in schools." Hooked On Hysterics National Review Online (Petrilli) If you ...


Spate of threats plagues schools MSNBC A series of bomb threats and other security alerts rattled U.S. schools and universities Wednesday. Experts ponder patterns in school shootings USA Today To most of us, tomorrow is just another Friday. But to educators, it's one of the bigger nail-biters on the calendar. Laws Limit Options When a Student Is Mentally IllNYT For the most part, universities cannot tell parents about their children’s problems without the student’s consent. Colleges seek faster ways to warn studentsCNN.com "There is no one magic communication system that we can press a button and ...


What do Fairfax County (Va) schools and American Idol's Sanjaya have in common? Yesterday, they both went down: Fairfax Schools Concede On Testing Washington Post Sanjaya's run on "Idol" ends MTV.com...


The new FairTest Examiner is out, and full of the usual news and commentary (and the announcement of a new co-director named, of all things, Earle M. Test). I kid you not. But there's another outfit out there, TestingFacts.org, which also gathers testing-related news and information, but from a different point of view. It's run by the test publishing companies....


Looking for something to do next week? Get yourself invited to the official Tuesday April 24 pre-launch of "Strong American Schools," the Gates and Broad funded public awareness campaign that -- as I broke in January -- is going to be headed by former Governor and LAUSD superintendent Roy Romer. The project is going to be run through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, headed by Melissa Berman formerly of the Conference Board (see profile PDF here). No news as of yet on just how the effort plans to bring education to the front burner or who they've got to do their policy ...


One of my favorite sites, FactCheck.org, is up for a Webby and has a new look, which reminds me that what education really needs is an education version of FactCheck.org -- a nonpartisan, trustworthy filter to help sift through the rhetoric, the reports, and all the rest. What about the Think Tank Research Project? My sense is the project, while well intended, is problematically located at an ed school and seems to take aim exclusively at right-leaning reports rather than an even mix. We need something that's situated independently, staffed with knowledgeable individuals, and takes on bad research ...


Victims remembered with 'hearts full of sorrow' CNN.com Families and friends of the 32 victims of Monday's shootings on the Virginia Tech campus joined thousands of students clad in maroon and orange in chanting "Let's go Hokies!" to end an emotional convocation on campus. Threats Rattle Schools Across the U.S. Washington Post Bomb threats and menacing notes sent to several colleges and universities across the country a day after the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech led officials to temporarily evacuate buildings, shutter campuses and see weapons where there were none. Texting When There's Trouble Wall Street Journal (free) ...


Power couples crop up not just in the world of pop culture but also in politics, as this Washington Monthly story reminds us: journalists married to campaign staff, judges married to lobbyists, etc. But are there any power couples in education? Not that I know of. I met Heather Podesta at an education event in DC earlier this year, married to Tony Podesta, brother of John. They're on the WMonthly list. Any others? UPDATE: Readers share their nominations below. Got any to add?...


I came to the Hill having been a teacher, an ed school student, and a researcher -- not from the campaign or the political side. And I came to the job actually wanting to do education. But every year I was there, I found that I was more effective the more I thought like floor staff or a press secretary. Going fast and low like that was extremely uncomfortable, but it worked, by and large. I stopped reading the reports and started bugging my LD for gossip and news about upcoming floor schedules. And I got things done, for better ...


"The 23-year-old English major accused of exacting a bloody rampage at Virginia Tech authored two plays so "twisted" that his classmates suspected he might be a school shooter before they knew for sure, a student said." (Police: Virginia Tech shooter an English major, 23 - CNN.com)...


According to this interview in Editor and Publisher (Birmingham Pulitzer: Prize Honors 'Basic Daily Reporting We All Do'), Brett Blackledge's community colleges story was original submitted in the local news category, then moved to public service, and then won in the category of investigative journalism. More than that, however, the story reports that Blackledge views his work as the "bread-and-butter stuff" of everyday daily newspaper reporting. Someone invite this guy to the EWA conference in LA next month. I want some of what he's got. UPDATE: Dallas Morning News reporter and columnist Josh Benton points out that EWA members like ...


In the end, it's all about bill language, not summaries and talking points that can hide all sorts of things. Too bad I just hate reading it. Still, thanks to a friend for sending in this new legislative language from the Aspen Commission, which turns the February recommendations into 55 pages of subsections and clauses. By and large, the Aspen proposal is, along with last week's EdTrust recommendations, the most far-reaching of the proposals that are out there. But I'm not sure if the Ed Trust stuff is in leg language yet -- the most I've seen from them is ...


It's hiring time again in a lot of big cities around the nation, and as contributor Regina Matthews finds out, no one's quite sure about what they're looking for: What does a big city school system need in a schools chief? They're pondering the problem in Philly (What Sort of Leader for Schools? Philadelphia Inquirer) and in Boston (Replacing School Boss Tough Task Boston Globe), as Seattle picks a schools CEO (A Little Tutorial for New Schools Chief Seattle Times) and Detroit wonders what to pay a schools chief (Detroit Schools CEO… Detroit Free Press)....


‘Horror and Disbelief’ at Virginia Tech NYT Questions were immediately raised about whether university officials had responded adequately to the shootings, in which the gunman killed himself. Universities Are on Alert, Rethinking Own Security Wash Post Security was heightened yesterday at some colleges and universities in the Washington area, and officials began reviewing procedures in reaction to the fatal shootings at Virginia Tech. Topic: Responding to the Virginia Tech Massacre The WaPo asks a litany of questions concerning yesterday's massacre at Virginia Tech, the deadliest mass shooting in American history: "Under what circumstances, and where, did the gunman obtain his ...


Dealing With Poverty in the Schools Washington Post According to Ruby K. Payne, a consultant to school systems locally and nationwide, teachers need to know more about the poor. Robotic trio wins 'Super Bowl of Smarts' CNN.com After six weeks of strategy and sweat, a coalition of high school teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Nevada took the top prize at the FIRST Robotics competition, otherwise known as the "Superbowl of Smarts." Principal, teacher videotaped having sex AP A principal and a teacher at a suburban elementary school quit amid allegations they were caught on video having sex in the ...


The latest edition of the Federal Update from Brustein & Manasevit lists 31 NCLB-related proposals that have already been introduced, in the order of their introduction. There are more to come, of course, as reports like the Aspen Institute turn into legislative language and get introduced....


The 2007 Pulitzers are out, and in the category of investigative reporting Brett Blackledge of the Birmingham News wins for his work on community college corruption (Lawmaker paid by 2 schools for the same work, Two-Year College Corruption) that "exposed cronyism and corruption in the state's two-year college system, resulting in the dismissal of the chancellor and other corrective action." (see here). Congratulations, Brett. Maybe that will help drum up reporters to be Hechinger Fellows and write about community colleges during the upcoming year....


A gunman opened fire in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech on Monday, killing 21 people and wounding another 21 before he was killed, police said (At Least 22 Reported Dead In Virginia Tech Shootings).On the Web site, Tech reported the shootings at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre campus at West Ambler Johnston, a co-ed residence hall that houses 895 people, and said there were "multiple victims" at Norris Hall, an engineering building....


Wednesday's House hearing on SES won't be the big hearing of the week, but it will likely be pretty interesting given Senator Clinton's recent comments about the ineffectiveness of the program and its controversial use of private tutoring companies. Amidst all the posturing and finger-pointing, however, some of the things that may get lost include the many similarities (same companies, same materials and pedagogy, etc.) between SES tutoring and its noncontroversial private pay counterparts, the near-impossibility of determining SES impacts on annual state test scores from 30-50 hours of tutoring per year, and the reality that smaller, regional providers often ...


We read them ... so you don't have to: Extra Help or Racial Profiling? The Chalkboard The NY Times story about programs aimed at helping black boys in the suburbs is fascinating, and is the kind of thing we should be talking about more often and openly. Preschool Attendance: More Likely in Mex. Than in the US Learning The Languge A new research brief about children in immigrant families contains some interesting observations that indicate education policy can make a difference in whether children of Mexican heritage go to preschool. Ed Sector's "But" Fetish AFT Blog The Deep Pockets Foundation has ...


"No Child" law and state reform Seattle Times By the snail's pace on reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Congress appears flummoxed over how best to maintain strong academic expectations and state flexibility. If wired right, computers do belong in classrooms LA Times A buzzed-about U.S. Department of Education study released this month found that some popular software programs schools use to teach math and reading are pretty worthless. Colleges should be more accountable for new teachers Providence Journal Without a practical relationship, how can a college stay current with the needs of actual schools, districts ...


In calling it a "multi-billion dollar textbook scandal," USA Today's Greg Toppo may finally have figured out how the mainstream press can write the Reading First story. Or at least the headline. Everyone can understand a textbook scandal, and the money angle plays well, too as we've learned from the student lending scandal. As chief complainant, Toppo uses the story of Cindy Cupp (textbook pictured) rather than Bob Slavin. But it's still not an easy story to tell, as Toppo alludes several times in just the first paragraph, calling it a "slow-motion" scandal and a "complex, contradictory tale of textbooks, ...


For months, a mysterious illness had swept through their school, afflicting hundreds of girls, and they were there to ask for recovery. Mexico’s public health authorities have concluded that the girls at the Children’s Village School are suffering from collective hysteria. From the NYT "Most-Read" list (At a School for the Poor, a Mysterious, Crippling Illness NYT)....


Meeting Brings No Headway in 'No Child' Stalemate Washington Post U.S. education officials and several Virginia school superintendents met yesterday to discuss tests for students with limited English skills under the No Child Left Behind law but made no progress toward solving a standoff over what the local educators call an unacceptable federal mandate. Negotiators Say Sallie Mae to Be Sold for $25 Billion NYT The nation’s largest education lender agreed to be sold to JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and two private equity firms. Textbook scandal reaches Congress USA Today A slow-motion scandal surrounding a federal ...


Campaign '08 GOP Presidential Candidates Have Views On Education, Too Beantown Babies Not Getting Their Just Desserts (UPK) Media Matters Why Student Aid Is Bigger Than Reading First Bring Back "Eduwonk" Andy On The Hill Foresman Author Simmons Gets Reading First Subpoena Who Should Be On The Reading First Witness List Who Is Doug Carnine? NCLB News National Algebra 2 Test, From The States NCLB Reauthorization: "It's Going To Be A Brawl" Urban Ed Vallas Leaving Philly -- For New Orleans? News From Detroit: Let Them Eat Grapes Eliminating "C" Grades AERA Treating Academics Like Interns A Global Warming Initiative ...


"At least eight top officials in the Education Department during the Bush administration either came from student-loan or related organizations or have taken lucrative jobs in that arena since leaving the agency," according to this WSJ story focusing on Sally Stroup and others (Did Revolving Door Lead To Student Loan Mess?). "Former Education Department staffers say a revolving door between the department and industry has led to lax oversight of federal financial aid." By and large, this story seems to be getting tons more attention and a faster response than the Reading First story has gotten -- I'm guessing because ...


We all know that many lunchrooms and classrooms can be self-segregated by students, but apparently it's news in Ashburn, Ga. that the senior prom is going to be integrated this year (School plans 1st non-segregated prom - Race & Ethnicity)....


Continuing its excellent AERA coverage, the EducationPR blog chronicles my absurd and irresponsible comments to education researchers on Thursday morning about what it's like to be an academic in the legislative arena (not much fun) and how to get research in front of legislators or their staff in ways that might have some positive impact (Come out of your academic cave �). What I learned at the session was that the disturbing experience of learning the policy process is not that uncommon -- everyone had a vivid story to tell -- and that some academics think it's easier to influence practice ...


Today is my last day as a daily contributor to This Week In Education. I want to thank all the readers for such a warm welcome into the education community and particularly for your comments. I've really enjoyed being a part of the conversation and we can't have that conversation without readers! I especially want to thank Alexander for the opportunity to research education news and occasionally editorialize, for his professional advice, and willingness to help me learn everything I can about the education policy field. You can still find me on my blog - Poor Starving College Student. Thanks ...


Education Chief Orders Ethics Check WaPo U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has launched reviews of the department's ethics and financial disclosure policies in response to questions raised through far-ranging investigations of the student loan industry. Bush Defends No Child Left Behind Act AP, CNN President Bush, acknowledging public frustration over his No Child Left Behind Act, said Thursday the point of the law is not to punish schools that fall short, but to help them. Teachers' Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down EdWeek But the debate in Hawaii throws up a question with as many answers, it appears, as ...


Apparently my fairly bland observation that traditional schools struggle with screening out criminals just like charter schools didn't sit well with the folks at the AFT blog, who dug up an old post of mine and try to argue that I'm wickedly inconsistent (Russo vs. Russo). Too bad the old post is about lax enrollment policies (not lax hiring), that my posting something doesn't mean I endorse it (far from it), and that the AFT has me beat by a long shot when it comes to inconsistency and internal contradictions (charters, NCLB, etc.)....


The Eminence, Kentucky school district is getting rid of the "C" grade, and if you check out Fox News today and tonight, you'll see that I've got lots to say about it (mainly that it's unlikely to work). Or, read all about the effort, which follows the successful elimination of "D" grades (Making the grade – harder)....


The thing that jumped out at me at the Tuesday panel I did with Stephanie Banchero from the Tribune and former USA Todayer Larry McQuillen is how overwhelmed education reporters are with press releases about studies coming out that day -- useless, pretty much, to her -- and how the difficulty in figuring out what research is solid leads folks like Stephanie to pretty much ignore research altogether. She estimates that she's written just two study-based stories in the past year, she says, and is increasingly using in-house data analysis to put out timely stories on data sets released by ...


Paul Vallas' long-rumored departure from Philly may result in him heading to New Orleans, where the current supe is rumored to be leaving and the state is looking for a new look for its reinvention of the NOLA school system. There are lots of Chicago folks involved in New Orleans already, especially on the charter side. Vallas to step down as Phila. schools chief Daily Southtown, VALLAS GOIN' SOUTH?Philadelphia Daily News, Smiles for his academic gains; frustration in finances, violence Phila Enquirer, Vallas coming home Chicago Tribune...


Usefulness of education research questioned USAT More than five years after President Bush's No Child Left Behind law told educators to rely on "scientifically based" methods, the science produced is often inconclusive, politically charged or less than useful for classroom teachers. Student Loan Giant Sallie Mae Settles in NY Conflict-of-Interest Probe WaPo In a settlement with the New York state attorney general, the Reston-based lending behemoth said it would no longer pay travel and entertainment fees for university officials, send its staff to work for free in financial aid offices or operate call centers where company employees provide financial advice ...


The good folks over at the AFT blog make a valiant effort to turn the story of a petty thief who tried to get away in a school bus into something more ominous about outsourcing and the private sector, but it's mostly just a funny/sad story: AFT NCLBlog. And it's not like traditional (direct) hiring has prevented schools from hiring thieves, pedophiles, and all the rest, anyway, right?...


Some recommendations for additional or alternative witnesses at next week's RF hearing include Reid Lyon, Margaret Spellings and Susan Neuman, as well as state officials who were pressured by the Department, and providers like Success for All, Cupp Publishers, and Reading Recovery who were left out, according to edbizbuzz (here)....


These two roundups of GOP candidates' views on education show, generally, that education isn't on anyone's front burner just yet: Most GOP Education Activists Still Sizing Up Field EdWeek Republican experts on education issues are largely uncommitted at this early stage. Some state policymakers have begun advising one of the candidates, but most are waiting to see the ideas the current candidates put forth or who else gets into the race. Presidential Candidates on Education: The Republicans The Huffington Post A look at statements from the campaign websites of Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Sam Brownback. Wake me ...


College freshman not ready, study says San Diego Union-Tribune Professors believe high school teachers should cover fewer topics with more depth to prepare students for college. Financial Aid Officers Benefit from Student Loans, Probe Reveals PBS Financial aid officers at several high-profile colleges were put on leave after a probe revealed that they were receiving stock options, kickbacks and all-expense-paid trips from a preferred student loan lender. Troubled Schools Turn Around by Shrinking NPR Whatever the odds, Northwestern High School and others like it must embrace change. Baltimore hopes this will be the last year for its remaining comprehensive high ...


Joanne Jacobs points to an interesting Boston Globe article about inadequate preschool programs in Beantown (Boston preschools fail kids), including "mediocre instruction, unsanitary classrooms, and dangerous schoolyards.”...


Over at the Cato blog site, Andrew Coulson says that education research suffers from the absence of any focus on development or application focus (Cato-at-liberty � Where’s the “D”?): "In other fields, there is a powerful market incentive for applied research. It’s R and D, not just R, and the only justification for the former is the latter." I'm not sure if I agree with his entire argument, but it's interesting to think about what ed research would look like if it were more focused on developing practical applications....


My morning Reading First reading turned up the name Doug Carnine -- a name that's new to me and seems wonderfully carnivorous. According to this post (Lawmaking- turned- moneymaking), Carnine is a former student of of Ed Kame’enui and then U.S. Commissioner of Special Education who followed Bush to Washington and developed Reading First. No subpoena for Carnine, however....


On Monday, Chairman Miller announced the lineup for the April 20th Reading First witch hunt hearing, including one witness (Deborah Simmons, pictured) who will appear under subpoena. The witnesses you might expect include John P. ("Jack") Higgins, Jr., Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education, Christopher Doherty, former Program Director for Reading First, U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Roland H. Good, Associate Professor, University of Oregon, and Dr. Edward Kame’enui, Department of Education Commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research, U.S. Department of Education. The subpoenaed witeness Dr. Simmons is Professor of Special Education at ...


As usual, I'll take Jack Jennings' bland but usually unerring take on what's going to happen on Hill-related education issues over what pretty much every other prognosticator has to say. This includes Andy Rotherham's commentary (NPR : Conservatives and No Child Left Behind) from NPR on Friday, which covers little new ground and seems to overestimate the current dangers facing the law from Congressional conservatives and the left. (For example, there is no hard and fast rule that right-left alliances always squash education initiatives. If they did, NCLB would never have come to be.) Bring back Eduwonk Andy, I say -- ...


It's a sensible-sounding move that drives yet another nail in the coffin of Congressionally-created national tests -- for now at least: "Nine states have come together for the first time to develop a common high school math test, a move described by some as a step toward national educational standards," according to this AP story (here). "The states are Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island."...


New Orleans: Looking for a few good principals USAT A non-profit group retained to recruit 40 new principals for New Orleans Public Schools is using an unusual lure: A year-long, intensive training residency before candidates even take over schools — plus bonuses that could add up to nearly $40,000 if President Bush approves them. 9 States to Give Common Math Test WaPo Mike Cohen, president of Achieve Inc., led a failed effort in the Clinton administration to develop national standards in a variety of subjects. But he said this is different, since it is a grass-roots effort rather than one ...


Throwing grapes at school board members might seem a bit extreme, and only worked in the short term, but it's come to that in Detroit where school closings are being argued (Woman charged over throwing fruit at Detroit school board member. See also More school closings ahead Detroit News via EdNews....


Last week, embattled US Attorney Alberto Gonzalez had to cut his vacation short to prepare for upcoming hearings on the firings of the state attorneys (Gonzales Prepares to Fight for His Job). Maybe that's what the EdSec is up to this week -- during which she has no public appearances scheduled -- in preparation for the April 20th Reading First extravaganza on the Hill. At least, that's my theory....


There are at least two things that seem worth noting about the news that some college presidents are considering a rebellion of sorts against US News' college rankings (Is There Life After Rankings?). First off, the rebel presidents don't have all that much influence, given that so much information is already publicly available. Not participating in the survey is the most they can really do. More importantly, however, the presidents are signaling to each other and to others their opposition to measurements and comparisons that were proposed in the Spellings Commission report. This is just as much about reauthorizing the ...


Today's NYT story on NCLB (Battle Grows Over Renewing Landmark Education Law) is more of a status report than anything else, but I did learn that that 10 Senators led by Feingold and Leahy wrote a letter in February about the testing requirement. You can check it out here....


Education Dept. Official Under Scrutiny in Student Loan Probe WaPo The U.S. Department of Education is investigating a senior official in its financial-aid office who owned about $100,000 worth of stock in a student loan company. Simplified exams OK'd for more students AP The Bush administration is letting more children with disabilities take simplified tests under the No Child Left Behind education law. The change, outlined in final regulations yesterday, could triple the number of children who can take tests that are easier than those given to most students under the 2002 law. States abstain from federal sex-ed ...


Campaign 2008 Tutoring Industry Denies Terrorism Halliburton Charges Clinton Calls Tutoring Industry Terrorists Republican Contractors Gingrich Hates Bilingual Education -- In Spanish NCLB News Wanted: Better Reasons To Leave Transfer Rules Intact How Many States Tried To Roll Back NCLB? All Of Them. School Reform And Campaign Finance Policy Watch The Reading First Zombie: It's Not Alive, But It's Not Quite Dead Either Think Vouchers Are Dead? Think Again -- Again. Is Universal Pre-K Stalling Out Already? Computerized Tutoring Charter Reform May Be Coming To FLA LA Unified Slaps Down Green Dot Charter Proposal Foundation Follies Long Beach Up For ...


It is amazing how much education policy gets made without benefit of education research. It's equally amazing how much coverage schools get that makes equally little use of available research. For those reasons, I'm extremely interested to see how the two panels I'm going to do at the AERA conference next week in Chicago come out. The first, on Tuesday morning, focuses on how research does -- or doesn't -- get out into the education press, and what could be done to improve that situation (Communicating Your Research With The Media). The second, on Thursday morning, focuses on the interactions ...


This recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (A lesson in how to kill a school) is a great example of what I feel like I see all the time -- stories told almost entirely from the point of view of adults (and in particular teachers). Much as teachers' perspectives are important, wouldn't it be great -- and all the more compelling -- if we learned in this story (and others) how the kids who had to change school were doing, or what their parents felt about the changes?...


It's not that I'm particularly enamored or dismissive of voucher proposals. It's just that I think some folks have blinders on about their viability in the current political and policy environment. And, if the Bush Administration is willing to make controversial recess appointments this early in the game (as it did this week), what won't they go for? "The recent adoption of multiple voucher programs at the state level suggests that demands for increased private school choice have not waned," according to this missive from the National Center on Privatization In Education at Columbia's Teacher College, which lists recent voucher ...


Federal Official in Student Loans Held Loan Stock NYT A senior official at the Education Department sold more than $100,000 in shares in a student loan company even as he was helping oversee lenders. Merit-based Rewards for Teachers Pushed on Hill Washington Times Rewarding effective teachers with more pay has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill as about a dozen House members pushed a bill last week that would help states and localities set up merit–based pay systems for educators. Subtracting a 'gifted' gap in math education Christian Science Monitor Project M3 steers often-overlooked students from low income and ...


Long Beach Unified could become the first urban district to win the $1M Broad prize for a second time, based on its nomination as a finalist yesterday along with four other districts (School district named as finalist in Broad contest). Other finalists are Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut, Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, the New York City Department of Education and the Northside Independent School District in northwest San Antonio. Read more about it here (district site), and here (Wikipedia history)....


You know the world has changed when people have to invent new words and phrases (land-line, real-world) to describe things that used to be commonplace. Well, 90 percent of kids are driven to school these days, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is giving $500 million to deal with childhood obesity, and 10 year olds weigh 14 pounds more now than they did 40 years ago. One low-tech solution? The Walking School Bus. Otherwise known as walking to school....


Yesterday I told you about some of the education-related videos that had won Peabodies (including Dateline's "Teaching Ms. Groves"). Tonight, check out a Learning Matters segment on the PBS NewsHour called Lessons Of War, about schools that teach military kids at Fort Bragg. While you're at it, check out "Beyond Borders," the video documentary from Learning Matters' youth media division, Listen Up!, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary and won a Peabody -- broadcasting's highest honor. You can view a promo trailer here....


Catching a rebroadcast of MSNBC's The Countdown last night, I was struck by the comments of one of the guests about what the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation had -- and hadn't done. Obviously, given the early reports of massive fundraising, the law didn't get the money out of politics. It's as big or bigger than ever. But, as MSNBC's David Schuster points out, the law did increase transparency and accountability in campaign finance, giving reporters and the public more information about where they money is coming from and making candidates a little more accountable for what they do. Sound ...


I haven't found an online version yet, but there's a great article in the New Yorker this week about how diagnoses of bipolar disease (aka manic depression) have replaced ADHD as the fashionable diagnosis for troubled children who may or may not actually have the disease (here)....


Testing rules to be eased Gannett After months of pressure from states, the Bush administration said Wednesday that schools would be able to administer easier and more-suitable tests to certain students with disabilities who have struggled on traditional exams. NCLB changes will allow more alternate tests AP The change, outlined in final regulations Wednesday, would triple the number of children who can take tests that are easier than those given to most students under the 2002 law. Chicago School Innovates, Rewrites Rules NPR In the push for innovative schools, one Chicago principal has thrown out the rule book. Kindergartners go ...


Trying to recover from his ill-considered rant against bilingual education and Spanish speakers, Newt Gringrich today posted this video on YouTube. He still prefers immersion to bilingual education, but now he says so in what seems like really bad Spanish: Now if Hillary would just apologize to the tutoring industry and return the hostage students in time for Easter, all would be well in the world of education again....


There are at least two education-related pieces I hadn't seen among this year's recently-announced Peabody Awards (here), including Left Behind: The Failure of East St. Louis Schools (which appears to have nothing to do with NCLB and was produced by KMOV-TV, St. Louis, MO) and The Education of Ms. Groves ("Inspiring but not schmaltzy, this program tracks the learning curve of a wide-eyed, first-year middle-school teacher in Atlanta who discovers her job demands skills and resources as well as idealism." Produced by Dateline NBC)....


Some things you might not have seen before, courtesy of Baird & Co's business-oriented Class Notes (PDF): "In its annual report on preschool funding, “The State of Preschool 2006: State Preschool Yearbook,” the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found that states are equally as likely to cut public funding for preschool education as they are to increase funding".... and... "only two states, Oklahoma (70%) and Georgia (51%) enrolled more than half of the four-year olds in their state."...


Better late than never, the Education Industry Association, which represents the tutoring companies in Washington, has finally put out a press release in response to Senator Clinton's "Halliburton all over again" charge from last weekend (see below) saying that they are surprised by the remarks and have worked with Clinton on tutoring legislation last year. The statement (below) doesn't acknowledge the mishaps and questionable practices that have popped up, or the difficulties districts and states have had weeding out bad apples, but says SES participation and satisfaction rates are up, and that 500K children are participating now....


Things heated up towards the end of last night's PBS NewsHour segment on reauthorizing NCLB (here), with Philly superintendent Paul Vallas touting the benefits of the law and Nebraska state supe Doug Christiansen describing its deficiencies. It's an argument we've all heard before. What jumped out at me, though, was the intro to the discussion, which said that 20 states had tried to roll back all or parts of the law. I'd never heard that number before, and frankly it seemed both low and somewhat misleading. Hasn't pretty much every state tried to get out of the law's requirements? And ...


It may come as a surprise to some that news coverage of particular topics -- science, international news, education -- is commonly subsidized by foundations and other organizations seeking additional coverage for a topic that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. Such is the case with the new Lumina Foundation-funded fellowship program for education reporters covering community colleges that's recently been announced by the Hechinger Institute (here) for 15 interested journalists that includes a $7,500 stipend for some participants. No doubt, coverage of community colleges is in many ways often inadequate. The trick, of course, is to beef ...


His name's Pedro Garcia (not "Gonzalez,: as he was once introduced by Senator Jim Sasser), and he is, according to this Nashville Scene article ( Best Foes Forever), the second longest-serving urban superintendent in the nation. Who knew? Not I. Who's the longest-serving urban supe these days? No idea....


Effectiveness of No Child Left Behind Debated PBS President Bush's No Child Left Behind education law, passed in 2002 to help close the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, is set to expire this year. Two education administrators discuss the law and give their views on its effectiveness. D.C. Schools Takeover Gets Initial Approval Washington Post The D.C. Council granted preliminary approval yesterday for a dramatic shift in power for the city's public schools, giving the mayor control over the budget, key administrative functions and the blueprint for modernizing every dilapidated building in the 55,000-student system. Explaining ...


First there was private-sector tutoring, whose evil effects we all know well. Then there was outsourced tutoring (from India, etc.), which was clearly anti-American from top to bottom. Now, according to this EdWeek story, there's an even more pernicious tutoring variation: "machine-based" tutoring (New Breed of Digital Tutors Yielding Learning Gains). What's next? A computerized tutoring system run by Halliburton and outsourced to India. I can see it now....


This post from Get On The Bus (Seeking a liberal arts education ... in China?) includes a roundup of several interesting NYT school life stories from the past few days, including one about Chinese vs. American schools: "Critics of the American system must have choked on their Corn Flakes at the thought of China emulating the U.S. education system rather than the other way around."...


"Who do you think you are -- KIPP?" muttered one of the LA unified board members who voted down the Green Dot proposal to start eight new charters. No, not really, but they did vote down the proposal after lengthy negotiations, which has gotta hurt anyway (L.A. Unified rejects charter expansion LAT). The editorial board says the board did wrong....


Not to be outdone by Hillary (see below re tutoring), Newt plays to his base on the issue of bilingual ed, as noted by the Wonks (Newt Criticizes Bilingual Ed.). According to Newt, "We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."...


Apparently trying to ease the NEA's pain at being called a terrorist organization, Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton recently told an NEA audience that the tutoring industry was like "Halliburton all over again" (Clinton promises education improvements). Halliburton doesn't have quite the same visceral bite as the "terrorist" line originally had, but it was definitely an effort to please the Democratic base, which has always viewed the NCLB tutoring provision as a watered-down version of vouchers (which it was). However, it's not like all teachers want the SES program to go away. Many of them teach in the after-school programs to ...


This recent EdWeek article (Administration Wants Districts Free to Transfer Teachers) repeats what seem to me like some widespread fallacies surrounding the ability of teachers unions and Congressional Democrats to ward off efforts to restructure failing schools including overriding teacher assignment rules, the legality of such measures, and the appropriateness of telling teachers where to work. Three months in, we already know that the Democratic majority is slim and in some ways weak (think "surge"). The unions are largely focused on Wal-Mart, health care reform, and getting back the White House. The legality of conditioning billions in federal education funds ...


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the good folks at Fordham should feel mighty flattered. Riffing off of the Gadfly's annual April Fool's edition (which this year featured a pretend blog written by Checker who hates blogs), someone's decided to come up with a pretend blog making fun of the pretend blog. Called Double Checked ("Standards-Based Blogging At Its Finest"), it's double pretend, which is almost like being real. Here's the "real" Gadfly blog. Like George Clooney says, it wasn't me....


NOW WITH NOISE REDUCTION Blogs are usually all about the moment, and not so much about the long view. To help address that, and to try something new, here's a roundtable that includes me and three All-Star journalists (Schemo, Banchero, and Toppo) talking about the biggest stories of the month, winners and losers, and other things. Download and listen here. Or, if you're feeling fancy and want to try an embedded audio player, here: Get past the amateurish hosting and so-so sound quality and you'll hear about Bong Hits For Jesus, whether states can hold out if NCLB doesn't reauthorize ...


Report puts pacifier on 'smart baby' debate USAT Many efforts to build "brighter babies" are doomed to failure because they are built on misinterpretations and misapplications of brain research, a report says. Plans for Revamped G.R.E. Are Abandoned NYT After spending four years and $12 million on research, the Educational Testing Service has abandoned plans to introduce a revamped Graduate Record Exam this fall. Settlement reached in New York student loan probe CNN.com A settlement with three dozen schools and a major lender announced Monday will make the student loan process more fair to students and their ...


The Ed Trust has hired a new communications director, snagging Stephanie Germeraad from NAGB, where she was a public affairs specialist. Her predecessor, Fredreka Schouten, had come from Gannett and is now the money and politics reporter at USA Today. Congrats to all involved....


Remind you of anything? Yes, the new NCLB logo, according to one of the commenters on this design geek blog called Brand New (Logo by a Child Left Behind). Colleague Josh Benton blogs about this over at The Big D. For previous posts on this, see here....


By now, you may have heard that there's a new education blog out there called Eduflack. What you may not know is that the blog is authored by Patrick Riccards, a longtime education PR pro who is currently VP for public affairs for Lipman Hearne, a PR firm for nonprofits whose clients include the National Governors Association, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and International Baccalaureate. Riccards says his focus is "seeing if the message behind the reform is effectively taking hold (or if we are merely having researchers or wonks talk to researchers or wonks." Welcome, and condolences....


Monday, April 2 1:00 p.m. MST Secretary Spellings will travel to Mesa Arts Academy, a charter school operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley in Mesa, Arizona. Tuesday, April 3 9:30 a.m. MST Secretary Spellings will participate in a roundtable discussion with Arizona business leaders, hosted by the Arizona Business and Education Coalition at the University Club in Phoenix, Arizona. Thursday, April 5 11:30 a.m.CDT Secretary Spellings will attend an event at the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce where she will meet with Representative John Kline (R-MN) and Minneapolis business ...


We read them so you don't have to: Voucher action heats up in the states BoardBuzz (NSBA): Lots of activity in state legislatures this week on private school vouchers, including South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Georgia...11 Cents on the Dollar? AFT Blog: Teachers had a tough year in 2005 and that the 2006 data we’ve seen is not much better. And that comes on top of a decade of pretty bad news...There must be a macro D-Ed Reckoning: I don't think a week goes by that I don't read some version of this story in today's Daily ...


The Reading First story isn't alive, really, but it won't die, either. Just like a zombie. That's in large part because while the news about the politics and implementation of the program continue to be unsettling, states and districts (many of them at least) report that they have benefited from the program. Over the weekend, news spread that Congress would continue looking into Reading First, including an April 20 hearing....


Based on the results of an NIH study published in Science magazine, this article from USA Today (Study gives teachers barely passing grade in classroom) contains some harsh observations about classroom teaching -- calling most classrooms "dull, bleak places" for learning. Apparently, the piece has hit a nerve -- there are 95 comments and counting....


Based in part on an excellent and disturbing four-part series in the Orlando Sentinel last week, reform may be coming to Florida's charter efforts (Expect charter reforms, state says). Among the reforms that are being considered, according to the article, are online reports showing the academic performance and annual audits of charters, strengthening academic and financial standards that charter schools must meet, and bans on operating deficits....


Taking the Trick Out of Tapping Into Federal Aid WaPo The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is filled out by 14 million students each year who apply for federal financial aid. But the questionnaire is so mind-bogglingly complicated that many others just give up and miss out on government grants. For Girls, It's Be Yourself, and Be Perfect , Too NYT “Amazing girls” translation: Girls by the dozen who are high achieving, ambitious and confident (if not immune to the usual adolescent insecurities and meltdowns). Girls who do everything: Varsity sports. Student government. Theater. Community service. Girls who have grown ...


Nobody who knows anything seems to think that voucher and charterization proposals like the ones in the Administration's NCLB 2 proposals stand a chance in Congress, but I continue not to be convinced. Specialized voucher proposals (for a geographic area, or a particular kind of student) are particularly hard to argue against, especially once you've already voted for them (as many in Congress have for Katrina and DC), and are in fact spreading at the state level (Vouchers Eyed for Students With Disabilities EdWeek). It's nothing that a few good voucher abuse and ineffectiveness stories wouldn't erase. My current favorite ...


Best Of The Week The Month in Review (Audio) How Reading First Is Like Gonzales-Gate NCLB News Make That 13 States With Computerized Testing Illinois Goes For Broke On AYP Avoidance Strategies Another Set Of Experts, Another Set Of Predictions Son of NCLB Teaching & Learning The $8.5 Billion Master's Degree Rifts In Universal Pre-K Accountability Isn't Just For Schools And Students Extended Learning Reality Check / Roundup Cloning Charters, And Letting Parents Pick Principals Foundations & Think Tanks More Obama-CAP Connections Reform-Minded Union Leader Named To Broad Board Education's "Ethanol" Why Research Goes Unused Media Watch Valid And Reliable Education Coverage? ...


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