April 2011 Archives

Note: Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light Capital and co-founder of Wireless Generation, is guest-posting this week. I had a fascinating experience several years ago attending a principals' meeting in a medium-sized school district. The district CFO had come to present a new purchasing policy that the principals would have to implement. The conversation went as follows: CFO: "We've had a lot of problematic overruns in janitorial spending across our schools. To control this, we are now making you responsible for setting the janitorial budget." Principal: "OK...do you have guidance for how we should set our budgets? ...


Note: Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light Capital and co-founder of Wireless Generation, is guest-posting this week. One of the most fun parts of my work has been watching school teams try to redesign the way they work in order to achieve big gains in student learning. I had the opportunity two years ago to visit an elementary school in North Carolina that was working hard to improve its students' reading outcomes. The principal realized that the last few years of spending on professional development and supplemental curriculum wasn't significantly changing results. The principal realized that he had ...


Note: Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light Capital and co-founder of Wireless Generation, is guest-posting this week. I've been privileged in my career to both be a teacher and to co-found a successful educational software company, Wireless Generation. During my decade of work there, I worked with thousands of schools around the country on using data for early literacy instruction. This included the entire range of public schools, including those in poor neighborhoods as well as middle-class and wealthy ones. An important part of our work in these places was figuring out how to use data to communicate ...


Note: Heather Harding, vice president for research and public affairs at Teach For America, is guest-posting this week. First, let me thank Rick Hess for lending me his space while he's vacationing. It's been a lot of fun to get these things off my chest and an interesting experience to be so publicly vocal and visible (thinking back to my first post). As I said in a comment responding to the hotly debated TFA as a residency post, my role at Teach For America blends facilitating research on the impact of Teach For America with a responsibility to engage various ...


Note: Heather Harding, vice president for research and public affairs at Teach For America, is guest-posting this week. Let me start with this confession: I'm a huge fan of the teacher-residency model. Early in my career, I researched the possibility of a district-based teacher-training program when working at the Boston Plan of Excellence--now home to the Boston Teacher Residency program, thought to be one of the strongest examples of residencies in the country. Additionally, as a former traditional teacher educator in a university-based master's program, I often yearned for the kind of university-school partnership that would provide a more authentic ...


Note: Heather Harding, vice president for research and public affairs at Teach For America, is guest-posting this week. Recently, Ashindi Maxton, a Teach For America alumnus, wrote a blog about diversity in organizing and politics, declaring that while most folks in these sectors say they value diversity, we fail at actually achieving diverse leadership within our organizations. She argues that diversity feels inefficient in the short term, but in the long term is a requirement for actually reaching our goals. The post reflected several thoughts I've been having regarding the importance of racial and socioeconomic diversity within the so-called entrepreneurial ...


Note: Justin Cohen, president of the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education, is guest-posting this week. You can read more from Justin on his blog "Meeting the Turnaround Challenge" and follow him on Twitter at @juscohen. We've reached the end of the "Rick Hess Straight Up" Turnaround Takeover, and I want to thank Rick again for lending me this space. I also want to thank Olivia Meeks from Rick's team, who has been orchestrating this whole affair and has been incredibly helpful. Finally, I want to thank my wonderful team at the Mass Insight School Turnaround Group, for being ...


Note: Justin Cohen, president of the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education, is guest-posting this week. You can read more from Justin on his blog "Meeting the Turnaround Challenge" and follow him on Twitter at @juscohen. I ended yesterday's post with what I hope was a provocative question: How do we make the work of the hero turnaround principal more repeatable, while mitigating the extent to which school leaders need to be rule breakers in order to be successful in the turnaround context? Enter the district in the school turnaround milieu. Federal policy has been remarkably silent with respect ...


Note: Justin Cohen, president of the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education, is guest-posting this week. You can read more from Justin on his blog "Meeting the Turnaround Challenge" and follow him on Twitter at @juscohen. As I promised Monday, I intend to look at school turnaround through four different lenses this week: the school, the district/cluster, the state, and the federal government. I want to begin the examination of the school-level practice with a short dialogue, which is the dumbed-down version of a fairly recurrent conversation that I've had with superintendents throughout the country: Justin: First of ...


Note: Justin Cohen, president of the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education, is guest-posting this week. Greetings "Straight Up" readers! Before I start, I want to thank Rick for having poor enough judgment to let me occupy this blog for the next week. In all seriousness, though, it's a real honor. As I've told Rick before, I think he is one of the few thinkers in education whose opinions are hard to predict because he considers each issue on its independent merits before crafting opinions. And he manages to be entertaining to boot! I will try to respect the ...


So, I'll be at AERA for the next few days. Planning against the possibility that I'm going to be taken into custody or forced into an undisclosed location by a cabal of irate edu-colleagues, my "plan-for-the-worst" assistant Daniel Lautzenheiser suggested we turn RHSU over to guest bloggers for the next few weeks. You know, just in case... Once again, we've lined up guest bloggers who are all more knowledgeable and interesting than yours truly. (That it's so easy to do so is starting to do a number on my self-esteem.) In any event, let's introduce your all-star lineup for the ...


Or, as my uber-competent research assistant Whitney Downs likes to explain, I'm going "to visit with folks in the bars and cafes in the vicinity of AERA." If you want to say "hidy", the odds are pretty fair you can find my floating cocktail table in the courtyard of Pat O'Briens (on Bourbon) in the afternoon or early evening. If you're inclined, you can also find me tomorrow doing an Ed Writers Association session on NCLB reauthorization or doing an AERA panel or two over the weekend. Hell, this is important work. As Laura LoGerfo and I noted several years ...


On Monday, I had the opportunity to chat with Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the new chair of the House Education & Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. He took the gavel for the first time in January. This means, of course, that Rep. Hunter is point man in the House for reauthorization of NCLB (nee ESEA). A decorated veteran of both the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, Hunter is in his second term. He represents California's 52nd congressional district, encompassing a good chunk of San Diego, and serves in the seat previously held by his ...


It's a good thing that David Coleman and Gene Wilhoit are gentlemen, because otherwise they'd be sorely tempted right about now to crack open some Rahm Emanuel-esque whoop-ass on their putative friends and allies in the Common Core effort. In a virtuoso display, a coalition of states led by folks at the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers crafted a set of Common Standards in the course of 2009 and 2010 that turned out better than I'd expected. The standards were a pleasant surprise in terms of quality, reflected a sensible humility, sidestepped ideological clashes over ...


Recently, I wrote about how turning reasonable discussions about issues like teacher evaluation and pay into polarizing moral crusades yields "reform" victories that amount to self-defeating, ham-handed mandates. The most recent example is the troubling, recently-enacted Florida Senate Bill 736. As you may recall, last April, the Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 6, a serious effort to rethink teacher tenure, evaluation, and pay that then-Governor Charlie Crist ultimately vetoed. Despite my manifold reservations, I supported SB 6. I feared then that the bill's proponents were too eager to base teacher performance on highly imperfect and not-yet-existent value-added metrics, and was ...


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.

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