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Reviews of Eduwonk.com

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

"peppered with smart and witty comments on the education news of the day"
-- Education Gadfly

"don't hate Eduwonk cuz it's so good"
-- Alexander Russo, This Week In Education

"the morning's first stop for education bomb-throwers everywhere"
-- 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

-- Susan Ohanian

Education News and Analysis

American Educator
Chronicle of Higher Education
Education Next
Education Week
eSchool News
Inside Higher Ed
Jay Mathews' Class Struggle
Phi Delta Kappan
New York Times Education
School Wise Press
Teacher Magazine

Policy and Political Blogs

The American Scene
Andrew Sullivan.com
Booker Rising
The Corner
Daniel Drezner
Dangerous Thoughts
The Democratic Strategist
The Has Been
Huffington Post
Loose Cannon
Matthew Yglesias
The Plank (TNR)
Political Animal (Washington Monthly)
The Politico
Post Global
Real Clear Politics
Taking Note
Think Tank Town
Volokh Conspiracy
WSJ's Blog Federation
Washington Whispers


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

Education Blogs

A Constrained Vision
Andrew Pass
a schoolyard blog
Assorted Stuff
Mr. B-G's English Blog
Barnett Berry
Bill Jackson's Education Blog
Bridging Differences (Meier and Ravitch)
Bulletin Board (NASBE)
Campaign K-12 (Ed Week)
Chaos Theory
Charter Blog (NAPCS)
Charter School Policy Inst. Blog
Chez Dormont
Chris Correa
Class Context
The College Puzzle
College Ready Blog (Athens Learning Group)
The Common School
Conversation Starters
Core Knowledge Blog
Critical Mass
Dangerously Irrelevant
Daryl Cobranchi
Dave Shearon
Dave Saba (ABCTE)
DC Education Blog
Dems for Education Reform
The Deputy Head
Early Ed Watch
Early Stories
Educated Nation
Educating One Mind
The Education Network
The Education Wonks
Edwize (UFT)
Eponymous Educator
Essential Blog
Extra Credit
Flypaper (Fordham)
Fordham Fellows
From The Trenches
The Gadfly
Get On The Bus (Dayton Daily News)
Get Schooled (AJC)
The Gradebook (St. Pete Times)
Grumpy Professor
The Hall Monitor
Higher Ed Watch
Hip Teacher
I Thought A Think
In Other News (Ed Week)
Inside Pre-K
Jay Greene
Jenny D.
John Merrow
K-12 Hotlinks
Kindling Flames
Kitchen Table Math
Learning Now (PBS)
The Life That Chose Me
Mathew K. Tabor
Media Infusion
Ms. Frizzle
Moving At The Speed Of Creativity
NCLB Act II (Ed Week)
NSBA's BoardBuzz
NYC Educator
Paper Trail (USN)
ParaNews (NCP)
Paul Baker
The Portable Princess
The PrincipalsPage
Principal's Policy Blog (NASSP)
Quasi Dictum
Roy Romer
Running on Empty
School of Blog
School Zone (MJS)
Schools for Tomorrow
Science After School
SF Schools
Sherman Dorn
SITE Mentor
Small Talk
Special Education Law Blog
Starting Over (Ed Week)
Swift & Change Able
Teach and Learn
Teacher Voices
Teachers At Risk
Teachers' Lounge
Teaching in the 408
Teaching Rookie
Think Lab
This is how I Swim
This Week In Education
Tim Fredrick
Up The Down Staircase
Urban Angle
What up, Mz. Smlph?
Whitney Tilson
Why Boys Fail
Why Homeschool

Educational Resources and Organizations

AALE Charter School Accreditation
Alliance for Excellent Education
American Association of School Administrators
American Educational Research Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Institutes For Research
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Aspen Institute
Asia Society
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Broad Foundation
The Brookings Institution
Building Excellent Schools
Center for American Progress
Center for Education Reform
Center for School Change
Center on Education Policy
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Citizens Commission On Civil Rights
Coalition of Essential Schools
Community College Research Center
Community Training and Assistance Center
Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of Great City Schools
Core Knowledge Foundation
Data Quality Campaign
Democratic Leadership Council
eSchool News
Education Commission of the States
Education Evolving
Education Sector
The Education Trust
George Lucas Educational Foundation
Haberman Foundation
Hechinger Institute On Education and the Media
Joyce Foundation
Just for the Kids
Knowledge Alliance
Learning Point Associates
Local School Directory
Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
The Mind Trust
National Academies Center for Education
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Center for Postsecondary Research
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Charter School Research Project
National Council on Teacher Quality
National Education Association
National Education Writers Association
National Governors Association
National Institute for Excellence in Teaching
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

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

Friday, June 04, 2004

Charter Schooling in Arizona

A new 21st Century Schools Project study looks at charter schooling in Arizona. It's the latest in an ongoing series of state and local evaluations of charter schooling including California and Minnesota.

The punchline? Charter schooling in AZ is not nearly as problem free as proponents claim nor as fundamentally flawed or low-quality as opponents argue. The report, written by Bryan Hassel and Michelle Godard Terrell, includes recommendations for improving accountability in Arizona as well as expanding charter schooling there.
Posted at 7:12 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Low Standards
It's OK to criticize No Child Left Behind, it does have some problems (something hardly anyone denies), but critics should at least have their facts straight. In an article in The Nation Deborah Meier argues that NCLB sets impossible goals because it requires all students to score in the top 25th percentile. It doesn't. She also writes that NCLB "literally dictates the books we are allowed to use on a national basis." Again, no. Just like the claim on the Washington Post op-ed page last summer that NCLB requires all students to achieve at the 40th percentile or the oft-repeated claim that NCLB requires all students to be above average on norm referenced tests (a statistical impossibility) these incorrect assertions serve only to confuse the debate about the law. Although NCLB is complicated, it would be nice to see publications establish a higher threshold for accuracy about discussing it than now exists (and lower than would likely be tolerated on most policy issues, something everyone who cares about education should be bothered by).

Meier also bemoans the unfairness of property taxes to fund education -- and she's exactly right. But, it’s going to take quantitative data not open-ended pleas for more funding to remedy this problem. And guess what? NCLB provides that data, which is another reason liberals should like it...and why some like these and these do.

Huh? Afterthought: Meier also writes that, graduation rates "have been disguised for years by the very folks who support NCLB". Umm...states and school districts have obscured graduation rates and many of them seem less than enthusiastic about NCLB...while NCLB supporters seem pretty serious about getting accurate data.
Posted at 6:55 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Thursday, June 03, 2004

AM News (Brief PM Edition...)

It was getting a little rough at the National Spelling Bee but a winner has emerged.

A new NEA front group is now defending Florida's accountability system in order to castigate NCLB...here is quick example of why FL's system isn't that good (even if this support were genuine...)

Ryan Sager of the New York Post writes that the demand from minorities for better schools is causing political headaches for the NEA. At least read the lede, one of the funnier ones in a while...

A new study on the predictive effects of the SAT is causing some buzz. (More non-economist friendly policy brief available here)

And, President Bush has nominated John Hager, the former Lt. Governor of Virginia, to be the next assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services. Good enough, but he's got ties to former Virginia Governor Gilmore which means keep him away from the treasury...
Posted at 7:17 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Bella Rosenberg of The American Federation of Teachers has written a brief and mostly useful analysis (pdf) of what "proficient" means under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Rosenberg notes that at the end of the day what constitutes "proficient" is a judgment call and she highlights the differences among various state definitions, which translate into differences in what constitutes "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) for schools under state accountability systems. Remember though, NCLB only applies to schools, it does not require tests to be used in any decision about individual students.

Yet if one does not like between state variations there are two remedies. One is simply not to have federally mandated output-based accountability and the other is to have some sort of national measure. Rosenberg, though clearly dissatisfied by NCLB's accountability provisions seems not to be calling for either option leaving state-by-state variation as an unfortunate fact of life in a federal system. Still, she does a good job explaining it and this report will be a great resource for reporters and state-policymakers as they seek to understand and explain this issue. Her call for more transparency is also well-worth heeding.

Less helpfully, she argues that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a low-stakes test given to samples of students in different states and designed to serve as an external "audit" for state standards, shows the folly of NCLB's accountability system and goals because NAEP's standards for proficiency are so rigorous. But under NCLB this is not an issue because there are no consequences associated with the NAEP proficiency levels (which are very controversial to begin with). Rosenberg writes that because NAEP's levels represent a "check" they are the levels 4th, 8th, and 12-graders are expected to achieve by 2014. This is not in the law, which defers to state definitions of proficiency based on tests chosen by each state. And, most policymakers will be more interested in trends in state achievement on the NAEP than in proficiency levels. A larger, and complicated, debate about NAEP and NCLB may occur down the road -- in no small part because NCLB opponents persist in using state variability to attack the law -- but that debate is not here now so this discussion only confuses the issue.
Posted at 6:55 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Debating Testing

Another gem from Jay Mathews of The Washington Post. In this week's edition of his column (which, inexcusably, is published only online) two public school superintendents (Mike Riley from WA and Bill Cala from NY) face off in a debate over testing.

You should read the whole thing yourself -- it's that good. It inadvertently (or perhaps deliberately) showcases the stridency of the anti-testing camp although, in fairness, Riley is a moderate and doesn't illustrate the excesses of the pro-testing argument.

A couple of quick notes. As in most educational debates this one features an appeal to Dewey. And, as in most education debates, it's based on a misreading of Dewey. Cala argues that:

"Politicians and big business have driven the agenda for public schools, not because educators haven't wanted to do so themselves, but because educators have become subservient to the authority and the omnipresence of the political system. Educators since Dewey have proposed a better, constructivist agenda -- to deaf ears."

Ignore whether this is an accurate characterization what's driving the demand for school improvement right now. Today, although Dewey would not be firmly in the standards camp, he surely would not be standing with those opposed to it either. Why? Well, in a 1989 essay Richard Rorty (who knows a thing or two about Dewey) put it as well as Eduwonk has ever seen when he wrote:

There is a standard caricature of Dewey's views that says Dewey thought that kids should learn to multiply or obey the cop on the corner only if they have democratically chosen that lesson for the day, or only if this particular learning experience happens to meet their currently felt needs. This sort of nondirective nonsense was not what Dewey had in mind. It is true, as [E.D.] Hirsch says, that Dewey 'too hastily rejected "the piling up of information".' But I doubt that it ever occurred to Dewey that a day would come when students could graduate from an American high school not knowing who came first, Plato or Shakespeare, Napoleon or Lincoln, Frederick Douglas or Martin Luther King, Jr. Dewey too hastily assumed that nothing would ever stop the schools from piling on the information and that the only problem was to get them to do other things well.

Speaking of Dewey, the other thing that jumps out here is the pragmatism of Riley juxtaposed against the stridency of Cala. That's an apt illustration of a larger problem for progressives right now.

Here's Riley on testing today:

Rejecting them [tests] all together is a position hard to defend because these tests do indeed provide valuable information. Further, it is a position that will be easily savaged intellectually by standardized-test zealots, and, much worse, will disappoint even reasonable people, people we need to convince with the sophistication of our arguments.

That's about right.

Update: Matthew Yglesias says beware of Rorty because he appropriates historical figures for contemporary arguments...not a baseless caution although Rorty is on pretty firm ground here. Yglesias also offers an interesting personal account of progressive education.
Posted at 7:02 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Morning News
In The New York Times Samuel Freedman takes a look at vocational education in NYC. He minimizes the underperformance of vocational education programs but is right that they're needed. For more, from SREB, on how to merge academics and vocational education have a look here. By the way...Eduwonk likes this Freedman fellow...draft Freedman! Also in the NYT House Banking Committee Chairman Nussle responds (not very convincingly) to the recent NYT editorial on student loans.

D.C. Mayor Tony Williams is getting desperate. The Washington Post's Richard Leiby reports that Williams tried to entice Education Secretary Rod Paige to take the D.C. superintendent's job. And, Post readers respond to Ted Shaw's op-ed about Bill Cosby's remarks.

This Philadelphia Inquirer article discusses Teach For America teachers in Philly. Look for a new Mathematica study on TFA teachers next week and plan to hear it presented and discussed on Friday, June 11, in Washington at the Capitol Hill Hyatt on New Jersey Avenue from 9-11AM. To RSVP email education AT dlcppi.org.

The Christian Science Monitor looks at parental involvement and No Child Left Behind.

The Department of Education has released the Condition of Education 2004, a compendium of data about various educational indicators. You can have a look here. And, if you just can't get enough of Secretary of Education Rod Paige and the whole wacky Bush gang at the Department of Education, you can sign up for a constant news feed about press releases, grant opportunities, and other announcements. It's actually a handy resource but could cut into the business of newsletters devoted to grant announcements...(the 21st Century Schools Project Bulletin does not do grant announcements but still enjoys a healthy circulation...of course, we compensate with sarcasm...)
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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Palmetto Pandemonium

Last week Eduwonk highlighted a dispute about proposed improvements to the charter school law in South Carolina. Oddly, this is not a dispute among charter proponents and opponents, that's old news...instead this dispute is among charter supporters. The issue is whether the proposed law -- expanding charter schooling in SC but holding school districts harmless for local revenue loss if students choose public charter schools instead of the traditional schools -- is worth passing . Eduwonk, the Charter School Leadership Council, and other charter school supporters say yes. The Center for Education Reform (CER) says no, they explain their position here.

CER strongly implies that charter school leader and Education/Evolving co-founder Ted Kolderie would oppose the SC plan because it runs contrary to the "intent" of charter schooling. Kolderie is an important and insightful thinker and his would be a serious objection worth heeding...except Eduwonk checked in with Kolderie and he thinks the SC plan, while not ideal, is pretty good and ought to be passed.

A SC insider and senior state official wrote Eduwonk over the weekend to say:

It has been rather traumatic to deal with criticisms of our bill from both sides. I am assuring public school supporters on one side that this bill won't be the destruction of public education -- wait a minute, we have a 51% graduation rate in our state, what is there to destroy? -- while on the other side I am assuring charter school proponents that this won't destroy the charter school movement in our nation.

And wrote back today:

The SC State Dept of Ed is circulating the CER advisory to charter schools in our state. When the defenders of the status quo use your statement to defeat legislation, you know you have left the reservation.

Bear in mind, this is not a double-funding scheme where the state pays twice but rather just a plan where local school districts don't lose local property tax dollars (about 30 percent of the per pupil expenditure in SC) if students choose charter schools. As Eduwonk said the other day, all else equal, integrated financing schemes are preferable but all else is rarely equal and the perfect should not be the enemy of the good.

For friends of charter schools there is just not a good reason to oppose this bill.
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Steiner Strikes Back? Or Return of the Steiner...
David Steiner, the wrongly maligned education professor Eduwonk (and some other bloggers) wrote and wrote and wrote about a few weeks back, discusses his work and responds to his critics in a New York Sun op-ed. Joanne Jacobs has a few thoughts on the whole issue too.

Sadly, if recent history is any guide, Steiner's probably more likely to face a phantom menace or an attack of the clones than much reasoned debate...
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Eduwonk in the Tank? And…Educationweak Moves the Goal Posts on Vouchers
Is Eduwonk in the tank for the E-Rate? Several readers have written wondering why Friday's news round-up ignored unfavorable coverage of the E-Rate program like the stories here and here. Worry not, Eduwonk (a) was just busy and didn't have time and (b) does not, at least for the most part, condone graft. The problems with the E-Rate are indeed eyebrow raising but should be kept in perspective. Thus far what has come to light seems more an issue of unscrupulous vendors and carelessness or incompetence by a few school districts. As Congress looks at universal service issues the E-Rate may well need to be modified (and better focused) but should not be scapegoated.

Meanwhile, Educationweak, written by Reason's Lisa Snell, takes Eduwonk to task for calling attention to accountability shenanigans in Florida’s voucher program. Among other problems with FL's program, some participating private schools are not accredited. She argues that most Florida public schools are not accredited while most private ones are and most (84 percent she says) voucher students are in accredited schools. Talk about moving the goal posts! The law, at least according to a primary Republican sponsor, requires accreditation for participating private schools (though the state disputes that view of legislative intent). Some participating private schools are not accredited. That, not the status of other public or private schools, the merits of accreditation, or any of the rest, is the issue. You can't just follow the parts of laws you happen to like. By the way, voucher supporters would probably get a lot further if they'd make peace with the idea of at least some regulatory oversight, we are talking about public dollars after all...but at least Reason is pretty consistent on this point. Unlike some voucher proponents they don't make claims on "accountability" in the first place but are refreshingly forthright libertarians.

Sunshine State Afterthought: By the way, Eduwonk is not carrying NEA water here, even the FL voucher program's supporters are demanding some improvements.
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Morning News
Culture Wars Anyone? The NYT looks at sex-education and The Washington Post looks at character education. Also, NYT readers respond to Michael Winerip's flush 'em out approach to class size.

The NY Post weighs in on school finance in NY and the release of a school finance plan later this week. Big Unspoken Variable: New test scores from NYC, first that can be attributed to the Bloomberg-Klein regime also coming later this week...

A new bill may reignite the affirmative action debate in California. Link via Kaus who has more analysis.

George Archibald writes up the recent non-partisan General Accounting Office study concluding that No Child Left Behind is not an unfunded mandate in The Washington Times. That's true, it's conditional aid. Critics say that the GAO study is based on, "a strict and complicated legal definition" of what constitutes an unfunded mandate. Hmmm..."isn't strict and complicated legal definition" synonymous with "law", those pesky things we follow here? For more, see Eduwonk on NCLB funding here. Incidentally, in a letter last year to senators who tried to suspend NCLB’s accountability provisions, civil rights leaders argued that: "Federal education reform is a strategy for equal opportunity, not an 'unfunded federal mandate'."

Important Play, Important Cause: City at Peace will be performing its 2004 production "MegaHurtz" at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., on June 19 at 2pm and 8pm. The play, performed by young people from the D.C. Metro area, discusses forthrightly the challenges and issues kids face today. Tickets and info here.

Virtual Fontainebleau: Can't make the junket to Miami Beach Fontainebleau for the National Charter Schools Conference? Don't despair...next week from June 7-10 U.S. Charter Schools is hosting interactive online forums to discuss various aspects of charter schooling. It's not Miami but hey, no tipping or sunburn. You can log on and participate too, more info here.

Great Book for Picky Parents: Bryan Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel have produced a great book about choosing a school for your child. It's not a book about traditional public schools, private schools, charter schools, or any other singular option but instead a book about finding the right school that is the right fit for your child. They also have a terrific website with even more information.
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Monday, May 31, 2004

Monday's AM News

This Memorial Day there is too much rain and too many interesting news stories not to post a few...

In The Washington Post Linda Perlstein writes that No Child Left Behind is squeezing out science and social studies in favor of reading. Paul Kimmelman and E.D. Hirsch explain -- in different essays -- why that's not necessary or even productive.

Don't miss Patricia Leigh Brown's NYT look at school in Las Vegas and the challenges they're facing. Stories here and here. Also don't miss Jane Gross' look at single-sex education also in the NYT.

Over at educationnews.org Jimmy Kilpatrick is outraged by this story about embezzlement in a New York school district. He's got some other interesting links today too.

And, in Los Angeles, the teachers' union is giving Roy Romer fits (and vice versa). That Romer! He's probably just hostile to organized labor like all the other teachers' union critics are right? Oh wait, he’s a former Democratic National Committee chair...hmmm...

Finally, in The Nation Todd Oppenheimer criticizes (a) the E-Rate (more on that later this week) and (b) technology in schools. Note to education technology proponents, when you've lost The Nation on a big ticket spending item like the E-Rate, that's trouble!
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