June 2010 Archives

The Republic of Georgia's attempt to embrace expansive school choice has encountered some substantial roadblocks, all of which are more than a little familiar and may provide some useful guidance and cautions for those promoting choice-based reform in the U.S. and elsewhere. Georgia offers a terrific illustration of the difference between choice in theory and in practice. The theory of choice requires that schools compete for students, with rewards flowing to schools that attract students (and therefore revenues) and adverse consequences to those that do not. However, in Georgia, there is no shame in being director (e.g. principal) ...


Hi all, I'm back. I'd like to thank Pat McGuinn and Paul Manna for two terrific weeks of guest blogging. If you've missed any of their posts, I'd encourage you to go back and check them out. They were terrific stuff. Meanwhile, I've just spent the better part of three weeks lending a hand to school reform efforts in the Republic of Georgia. For those who don't follow developments in the Caucasus countries, Georgia is an intriguing place. Formerly part of the Soviet Union (and the birthplace of Joseph Stalin), Georgia declared its independence from the Soviets in 1991. After ...


Note: Paul Manna, a professor at William & Mary, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Let me wrap up this week by looking closely at one element of Race to the Top (RTT) that has prompted much discussion: teacher evaluations. Specifically, I'm thinking about part D(2) of the RTT criteria, which focuses on "Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance." (See p. 59821 in this document or p. 19504 in this one.) The RTT vision is for teachers (let's leave aside principals for now) to face annual evaluations ...


Note: Paul Manna, a professor at William & Mary, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Today we'll continue discussing Race to the Top (RTT) and the implementation theme that Monday's post introduced. I want to consider two issues that I expect will challenge state-level implementers as they try to make the reforms that RTT's advocates are expecting. Let's begin with some quick background, circling back to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) a bit, to set up this discussion. I definitely agree that NCLB and RTT have increased the federal government's ...


Note: Paul Manna, a professor at William & Mary, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Many thanks to Rick for allowing me to guide the conversation for a few days. I want to pivot from Pat McGuinn's three interesting posts about partisan politics from last week to explore some new terrain with you. I'll focus this week on policy implementation. It's a topic I've enjoyed writing about and discussing with my students (here and here) for the last several years. Personally, I think the most fascinating part of the policy ...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. On Wednesday I wrote about the escalating fight between Republican Governor Christie and the teachers unions in New Jersey. Steven Brill's NYTimes magazine piece a month ago attracted an enormous amount of attention because it described a growing rift within the Democratic Party between the teachers unions and a growing group of "reformers" over the Obama administration's Race to the Top program. Differences between Republicans and teacher unions--and between the GOP and the Democratic Party--on ...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. This has been an entertaining—but ultimately depressing—month for those interested in serious education reform in New Jersey. The state's Republican governor, Chris Christie, has engaged in a rancorous war of words with the state's largest teachers' union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Christie has made no secret of his dislike for the union and has publicly blamed them for most of what is wrong with the state's schools and with state finances...


Note: Pat McGuinn, a professor at Drew University, is guest-posting this week while Rick Hess is on a consulting project in the Republic of Georgia. Thanks very much to Rick for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you on education politics and policy while he is away. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the NEA's lawsuit (first filed in 2005) challenging No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as an unfunded mandate. This is one of those instances where inaction is actually quite significant, as some judicial observers had thought that conservatives on the court looking for ...


I'm in the midst of a couple weeks in Tbilisi, Georgia, doing my best to lend a hand to the Georgian Ministry of Education. A crazed schedule, logistical challenges, and trying to concentrate on, you know, being helpful, make it a mite difficult to craft interesting or relevant commentary (though I can already hear some sharp-penned readers, like plthomas or Ben Foley, asking, "How would that be any different than what we're used to?" Touché). Anyway, I'm going to hand over the blog for two weeks while I'm away. Happily, two keen-eyed observers of educational policy have kindly agreed to ...


New York City's teachers may do well to ask why their union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), has an office in Boca Raton, Florida. A recent article in the New York Post figured that rent alone for the Boca Raton branch costs UFT members $183,603 per year. That's not peanuts for a union fretting about its financially strapped members. One reason for the Boca branch, as I noted a little while back, is that the retirees in the UFT are more active in UFT elections than the current teachers. The UFT website notes, "The UFT maintains an office ...


It's summer and I'm going to be ratcheting back RHSU to something more like three days a week, with a few guests stepping in to boot. Now, I can already hear the gnashing teeth and wails of, "What will I do with all that spare time?" Okay, maybe not so much teeth-gnashing. Regardless, and with graduation season upon us, I thought I'd offer a few suggestions regarding some of my favorite terrific, cheese-tastic movies about teaching, schooling, and adolescence. Now, we're going to shy away here from heavy, serious flicks like The Blackboard Jungle and To Sir, With Love, just ...


I've now had the experience several times in the past few months of having one or another friend of long standing ask me something along the lines of, "What the hell?" The "what" in question is me being critical of or asking questions about proposals and programs that "reformers" are supposed to support. If you've been reading this blog, you're aware that I've expressed concerns about Race to the Top, i3, Florida Senate Bill 6, overly enthusiastic claims for the power of value-added teacher evaluation, and so on. Now, don't get me wrong. As I've said in this space multiple ...


Readers who were still beavering away Friday afternoon and checked in at RHSU saw Joel Klein ding me for understating the significance of the new D.C. contract. Klein argued that I was distracted by D.C. having given up on the "red and green" schedules, and that the final agreement represents a dramatic breakthrough, largely because it slays the "three dragons" of tenure, seniority, and lockstep pay. Joel's take prompted reaction from some equally serious folks, including AFT chief Randi Weingarten. Randi shot me a thoughtful note on Saturday, rejecting Joel's take and arguing that it constitutes an effort ...


Regular readers of RHSU know that I like to fancy myself a shrewd analyst of matters political, contractual, and such. But at least one reader would like to offer a second opinion on yesterday's post. My good friend Joel Klein called yesterday after reading my take on the new DC teachers contract to tell me I'd missed the boat. Klein, chancellor of the New York City schools, didn't buy my assertion that, "[DC's] agreement is expensive and less of a radical shift than Rhee's initial vision, but it represents remarkable progress in a city where decades of contracts traded big ...


As states and districts wrestle with strapped budgets, and as advocates push Congress to include this or that pet cause in the reauthorization of NCLB (nee ESEA), it's worth taking a moment to point out the development of new data systems that are increasingly putting districts in a position to track student progress, identify effective and ineffective practices and educators, and give leaders cover to take a firmer line when addressing poor performers. Like a trip to the gym, these steps can feel like drudgery and they don't deliver much immediate gratification--but they can make a big difference in the ...


Members of the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) officially signed off on the new D.C. collective bargaining agreement yesterday. More than 75 percent approved of the agreement that the union negotiated with D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee. The final vote was 1,412 to 425, and the agreement now goes to the D.C. Council for what is expected to be a rapid final approval. I've previously argued that the deal is a good one, delivering crucial improvements in terms of teacher evaluation, assignment, and compensation. It includes a voluntary, big-dollar pay-for-performance system, one in which teachers could make an ...


I know and like the National School Boards Association. The NSBA's executive director, Anne Bryant, is a good friend who has my respect and admiration. I've had a good, longstanding partnership with the NSBA on various projects and have been an occasional contributor to their terrific American School Board Journal. All of this left me puzzled and disheartened when I read the NSBA's troubling and tone-deaf recommendations regarding the treatment of charter schools in a reauthorized NCLB (or ESEA, for those eager to whitewash the now unpopular law). The NSBA's five recommendations: • "Require federally funded Charter Schools to abide by ...


I can't recall how many times over the years I've heard from school reformers, "We need our own An Inconvenient Truth." You know, a cinematic indictment of the educational status quo jarring enough to stir a lethargic public. Well, all of a sudden, we've got a whole bunch of them, and we're about to see how much they matter. A spate of three-hanky edu-movies are storming the landscape, with some heading to mainstream theaters near you--The Cartel, Waiting for Superman, and The Lottery. Proponents hope that these flicks, which massively one-up Gore's 2006 magnum opus when it comes to raw ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments