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2007 Winner, Editor's Choice Best Education Blog
-- Performancing.com

2006 Winner, Best K-12 Administration Blog -- "Best of the Education Blog Awards"
-- eSchool News and Discovery Education

2006 Finalist, Best Education Blog
-- Weblog Awards

Least influential of education's most influential information sources.
-- Education Week Research Center

"unexpectedly entertaining"..."tackle[s] a potentially mindfogging subject with cutting clarity... they're reading those mushy, brain-numbing education stories so you don't have to!"
-- Slate's Mickey Kaus

"a very smart blog... [if] you're trying to separate the demagogic attacks on NCLB from the serious criticism, this is the site to read"
-- The New Republic's Ryan Lizza

"everyone who's anyone reads Eduwonk"
-- Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media's Richard Colvin

"full of very lively short items and is always on top of the news...He gets extra points for skewering my high school rating system"
-- Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

"a daily dose of information from the education policy world, blended with a shot of attitude and a dash of humor"
-- Education Week

"designed to cut through the fog and direct specialists and non-specialists alike to the center of the liveliest and most politically relevant debates on the future of our schools"
-- The New Dem Daily

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-- Education Gadfly

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-- Alexander Russo, This Week In Education

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-- Mike Antonucci, Intercepts

"…the big dog on the ed policy blog-ck…"
-- Michele McLaughlin, AFT Blog

"I check Eduwonk several times a day, especially since I cut back on caffeine"
-- Joe Williams, fallen journalist, Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform

"...one of the few bloggers who isn't completely nuts"
-- Mike Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

"I have just three 'go to' websites: The Texas Legislature, Texas Longhorn sports, and Eduwonk"
-- Sandy Kress, former education advisor to President Bush and former chairman, Dallas Board of Education

"penetrating analysis in a lively style on a wide range of issues"
-- Walt Gardner, champion letter-to-the-editor writer and retired teacher

"thugs"
-- Susan Ohanian

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EduReading


Collective Bargaining in Education: Negotiating Change in Today's Schools

Edited by Jane Hannaway and Andrew J. Rotherham


Why Newsweek's List of America's 100 Best High Schools Doesn't Make the Grade

By Andrew J. Rotherham
and Sara Mead

A Qualified Teacher
in Every Classroom

Edited by Frederick M. Hess, Andrew J. Rotherham,
and Kate Walsh

America's Teaching Crisis

By Jason Kamras and Andrew J. Rotherham

Rethinking Special Education For A New Century

Edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Andrew J. Rotherham
& Charles R. Hokanson, Jr.

Making The Cut: How States Set Passing Scores on Standardized Tests

By Andrew J. Rotherham

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A Constrained Vision
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a schoolyard blog
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National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
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NCLBWorks
National Center for Postsecondary Research
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National Council on Teacher Quality
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National School Boards Association
New Leaders for New Schools
New Schools Venture Fund
The New Teacher Project
New Vision
Pre-K Now
Harvard's Program On Education Policy and Governance
Progressive Policy Institute
PPI's 21st Century Schools Project
Public Agenda
Public Impact
Reading Reform Foundation
Rick Hess' World HQ
The Savvy Source for Parents
Scholastic Administrator
School Data Direct
Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services
Standards Work
Teach for America
The Teaching Commission
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Trust for Early Education
Uncommon Schools
United States Department of Education
The Urban Institute
WestEd

Opinions on Eduwonk reflect the views of the author, Education Sector does not take institutional positions. Outgoing links do not constitute an endorsement.

Friday, July 08, 2005

How Ohio tips its charter cap

Lots not to like in recent amendments to Ohio's charter school law, especially the numerical cap on how many new schools can open. Legislators are rightly concerned about quality; as the recent PPI monograph showed us, all's not perfect in the Buckeye State's charter sector. But slapping a cap on numbers doesn't do anything to ensure quality, and it will prevent high-quality schools from opening once the cap is reached.

Well, not entirely - thanks to an interesting provision in the new law: existing operators of successful charters can open additional schools without counting against the cap. The cap is still a blunt tool to use in fashioning a quality charter school movement, but this provision at least makes it a bit sharper.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 2:05 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Standing up for parents?
The Albany PTA's opposition to charter schools isn't all that surprising. National and state PTAs have often sided with anti-charter forces. In fact, the PTA joins hands with other members of the education alphabet soup on most issues, not just charters. We take this for granted, but it's actually a bit odd. Sure, there are lots of issues on which public school parents, teachers, and administrators have aligned interests -- like ensuring adequate school funding and facilities. But on other issues, like school choice, interests get more complicated. Lots of parents clearly want more options. Others are satisfied with what they have, or at least prefer to work with their existing school rather than opting out. Yet to the extent the possibility of "exit" increases the power of "voice," even the stay-put crowd has something to gain from choice. For PTAs everywhere that are disappointed with the influence they wield -- that's something to consider.

--Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, member of National PTA Unit #00005908
Posted at 1:30 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Growth under NCLB: malignant or benign?

One persistent critique of NCLB, often pooh-poohed on Eduwonk, is that by focusing on what percentage of kids meets grade level standards, it overlooks "growth" -- how much progress schools and kids are making. Critics ask: isn't that what schools should be held accountable for anyway? States have begun proposing revised AYP models that take growth into account, so this theoretical debate has become real for the Dept. of Ed. Hence the creation of an advisory group on the topic which just completed its first meeting.

Opponents of using growth measures to hold schools accountable worry they're a backdoor way of lowering standards. We want all kids to meet grade level standards, right? "Growth" doesn't mean much unless it results in proficiency, so why not stick to proficiency as our core accountability focus? Aren't we just lowering the bar if we do anything else?

Not necessarily. There are lots of ways growth measures could be used to raise the bar. Here's one: rating schools solely on percent proficient doesn't hold them accountable for adding value to kids who are already proficient. When we think kids like this, we tend to think of the privileged. But the truth is there are millions of children from poor and middle-income families who fit this bill. We also tend to think "these kids will do fine regardless," a proposition that has repeatedly been proven false. And we tend to think that helping these kids advance is less important than bringing others up to standard. But for these kids, especially the low-income ones, advancing beyond grade level standards is their best ticket to a better life via college and higher paying work. Not to mention how our national economy relies increasingly on knowledge workers whose skills exceed the basics.

For all these reasons, we ought to build accountability systems that demand results for already-proficient kids -- and some kind of growth measure is probably the way to do it. That's raising the bar for schools and kids, not lowering it.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 2:14 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dog bites man at NEA convention

Aren’t news organizations supposed to avoid “dog bites man” headlines? Apparently not this week.

Readers will be heartened to know that higher salaries are just one of six NEA strategies for getting “great public schools.” Here are the other five according to Ed Week’s coverage of the convention:

1. Outreach to minority groups, to dissuade many of them from their misguided support of things like No Child Left Behind and school choice
2. Increasing NEA membership
3. Advocating at the grassroots
4. Fighting No Child Left Behind
5. Closing the achievement gap

This is one of those lists that pretty much speaks for itself. #5, at least, relates directly to increasing student learning. But it's a goal, not a strategy or a program. No doubt, there are lots of competing ideas about how to close the achievement gap. None of them, however, seems to have made it into this list.

– Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact

Posted at 9:14 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Transatlantic exchange
Interesting how ideas flow back and forth across the Atlantic. In the early years of the charter movement in the US, some pointed to the British "opt-out" system as one source of the idea. Now comes this article about an effort to start "city academies" in the UK based on, you guessed it, US charter schools. A lot of the same politics surrounding the issue on the other side of the ocean. In the case of the schools discussed in this article, the politics are further stoked by the fact that wealthy hedge fund financiers are behind the effort.

Some humor too: one of the group's first efforts to launch a school has foundered because the plan became "too complex." Perhaps not a surprise from a hedge fund crowd, the masters of complexity.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 8:20 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Crew-cut

Miami schools chief Rudy Crew's plan to shutter two chronically low-performing schools for a year while their staff and buildings are revamped has drawn the predictable chorus of howls. The Herald has come out in favor, but plenty of opponents are lining up for the July 13 school board showdown.

''Our intention was to do something drastic in these schools,'' Crew spokesperson Joe Garcia told the paper. "These kids are our responsibility.'' And it's hard to argue with the logic. Schools that have received F's year after year despite numerous interventions are unlikely to be improved by sending teachers off to another workshop or following one of the myriad incremental strategies that go under the name "school improvement."

As my colleagues and I have argued elsewhere (pdf), "starting fresh" is an appealing option in many of these chronic situations. But whether it works depends on what replaces the failing school. Crew's strategy is to hire new district leadership and staff to take on the job. For now, he's set aside other possibilities -- such running a competition to contract the management to outside providers, an approach that's being used in Denver (pdf) and New Orleans. Lots of interesting experiments to watch, and more to come as more schools hit the late stages of NCLB. Stay tuned....

--Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 9:07 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

The Supremes and the schools -- what's next?
With all the coverage of Justice O'Connor's resignation from the high court the impending battle over her replacement, there hasn't been much talk of educational issues that might come before the newly constituted Court. Ed Week posted this web-only retrospective on O'Connor's role in public education cases over the years, such as her swing vote in the Zelman voucher case. But what about potential nominees' views? Where do they stand on vouchers, prayer in schools, and other perennial Court topics? Slate's candidate-by-candidate roundup doesn't include education among the topics addressed, though you can pick up some tidbits under the church-state separation heading for each of them.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact

P.S. O'C onnor's legacy on display as she steps down: Zelman declared Ohio's Cleveland-only voucher program legal. Now, Ohio's legislature is expanding the program to 14,000 kids statewide.
Posted at 5:40 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

High school reform in a box
Every district wants great high schools, but getting there has proved challenging. Wouldn't it be nice if district leaders could send off for a handy high school reform kit, complete with step-by-step instructions? Well, maybe not. But here's a new toolkit from Jobs for the Future that moves in that direction. The kit is designed to help district leaders develop a "portfolio" of high-performing high schools. The tools inside walk through key tasks like assessing needs, setting up a district infrastructure to manage reform, and deciding how and where to launch change. So reform-minded district leaders: sharpen your pencils.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 12:29 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

More fuel for the NCLB politics fire
A new Center on Education Policy analysis of federal Title I spending turns up some interesting results. Though overall Title I funding will rise 3.2% in 2005-06, the analysis says more than two-thirds of districts will see their funding go down in 2005-06. The primary culprit: districts on the bubble of a 5% poverty threshold can lose large sums if their low-income populations dip even a little. This doesn't affect the big urbans, which are way over the 5% mark, but it does affect scads of smaller districts.

These big shifts raise the key policy question: why not make federal support like this completely student-based, so that poor kids, wherever they reside, get the added funds? While we're at it, why not base all education funding on some kind of weighted per-pupil system? In the meantime, these numbers are just another squirt of lighter fluid on the flaming politics of NCLB.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 11:16 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Charter Accountability at Crossroads
The controversy swirling around Crossroads Charter High School in Charlotte, NC nicely crystallizes some vexing issues related to charter school accountability. The school is, according to a recent news story "mired in disarray" -- with low test scores, racial tension, even a student sit-in. Should the state close it? There's a pretty strong case to do so. NC has reached its cap on the number of charters (100). So Crossroads is taking up a slot that could be offered another school with more promise. The case against: the school serves a tough population, with large numbers of former dropouts and kids with criminal convictions. Would these kids really be better off without this school?

This situation is actually fairly common -- there's a clear need for a given type of school option, but the school set up to meet it isn't getting the job done. Policymakers seem to face a no-win situation: keep a bad school open, or throw a bunch of troubled kids back on the street? But here's one way around the resulting dilemma: instead of just closing the school, why not issue a request-for-proposals inviting providers to tackle the obvious need with a new design and new leadership? This approach shifts the focus from the existing school to the kids -- which is where it should be.

--Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 10:57 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Monday, July 04, 2005

Patriotic Potpourri

Happy Fourth, everyone. How about some Presidential words of inspiration for...

Educators:

Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.
-- John F. Kennedy

Ed Reformers:

I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.... It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. -- Thomas Jefferson

and of course, Bloggers:

For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter. -- George Washington

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 1:41 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Kolderie on Budde
Interesting to read Ted Kolderie's reflections on the contributions of Ray Budde, whose passing was noted here in Eduwonk last week. Both men are often credited as progenitors of the idea of "charter schools" and "chartering." Kolderie's brief essay is nice summary of how that idea has evolved over time, both in Ray Budde's mind and in the "real world."

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 10:26 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Beggars, choosers, and charter school facilities
Everyone knows that finding affordable facilities is one of the big challenges facing charter schools. In 2000, California's voters passed Prop 39, requiring districts to offer space to charter schools. Nice idea, but as in other places with similar provisions, pretty tough to make work in practice. The latest example would be funny if it weren't true: the Sierra Sands district offered a charter school space for its 223 students -- but in 9 classrooms in 5 different schools spread across 65 miles! The school sued, and an appeals court just ruled in the school's favor. Good for that school, but the story underscores the need for charter schools to control their own facilities destinies -- ideally via per-pupil funds they can use to rent or buy buildings that meet their needs. Much better than begging the district for facilities crumbs.

-- Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact
Posted at 10:08 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post