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October 19, 2012

A Real "System," American Style

I said recently that I don't think our 13,000-plus school districts and states can coherently form an education "system" the way smaller nations like South Korea and Finland can, and for that reason, we will never see the same level of performance from our schools. And yet, I must stop short of act...

August 17, 2012

Confusing Standards and Pedagogy: When Policy Analysts Don't Talk to Educators

Kathleen Porter-Magee ripped into Heinemann last week with a scathing review of their book Pathways to the Common Core. I first learned of this review, on the Fordham Institute's Common Core Watch blog, after seeing a Twitter exchange between Porter-Magee and one of the book's authors on Twitter. S...

August 08, 2012

N.J. Passes Compromise Bill on Tenure Reform

I wasn't planning to ever write the terms "good education policy" and "Chris Christie" in the same sentence, but it appears that state Sen. Teresa Ruiz has pulled off something of a miracle: a substantive education reform bill that satisfies both the teachers' union and New Jersey's hard-charging go...

August 05, 2012

The Many Misconceptions About Algebra

I've been thinking a lot lately about why the national reaction was so strong to Andrew Hacker's op-ed in last Sunday's NY Times, "Is Algebra Necessary?" After engaging with various blog posts and comments on the subject, I've identified a couple of reasons. First is "tl;dr" syndrome—"too lo...

August 02, 2012

Parent Trigger's First Test Case: An Interview With Yolie Flores

Yolie Flores is President & CEO of Communities for Teaching Excellence, and a former LAUSD school board member. I asked her a few questions regarding the first successful use of California's parent trigger law in Adelanto, CA. On Performance: Do you think the primary impact of California's law will...

July 31, 2012

How Much Math Is Too Much?

Andrew Hacker has a bombshell opinion piece in last Sunday's NY Times, arguing that teaching algebra to all students is a wasted effort. Students are routinely told that math is a gateway subject—you have to take advanced math to get into a good college—and Hacker suggests that this is...

July 11, 2012

MA Teacher Evaluation Law Weakens LIFO, Signals Pre-Emptive Compromise

The National School Boards Association's Legal Clips newsletter reports that Massachusetts recently passed a new teacher evaluation bill under threat of a ballot initiative backed by Stand for Children: The bill sped through the state legislature with little debate in order to get the bill to the go...

January 19, 2012

Charter Rhetoric Heating Up in WA State

Despite being voted down by citizens three times, charter schools are again up for consideration by the WA state legislature, with many backers. A Tacoma News-Tribune editorial offers this circuitous rationale: Charter public schools are hardly the most important reform out there, but they do serve...

September 12, 2011

Coherence, Innovation, and Local Control

It will be very difficult to raise the status of the education profession if our goal isn't to have an education system that's on par with the best in the world. At present, our school districts merely have to compete with each other for talent, so the profession isn't very competitive compared with...

September 04, 2011

The Many Ways Jay Mathews Is Wrong About Local Control

In a Sunday WaPo op-ed, Jay Mathews suggests that the Common Core State Standards Initiative is doomed to failure, and isn't a good idea anyway: Such specific standards stifle creativity and conflict with a two-century American preference for local decision-making about schools. The decentralized n...

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