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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.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Look See, It's Phonicsgate!

Title I Monitor takes on Reading First in a big investigative piece. Smart money says even more going on than is in here...could be a rich vein...second term scandals not unheard of...think Seinfeld...

Some backstory here.
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Return To Normal Order
Eduwonk's not back yet but is back online...they even have wireless these days at 8200'...amazing.

Thanks to Charles Pyle for the last few days. And, Eduwonk does agree with his post below, the Department of Ed continues to be all thumbs politically. Don't underestimate how much some of the anti-NCLB grumbling from states has less to do with substance than personality and process...
Posted at 10:26 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Friday, August 26, 2005

Flexibility! Now how about a little courtesy

Gotta hand it to the press office at the U.S. Department of Education. USDOE conducted a conference call for Virginia education writers regarding a pilot program announced today allowing Title I schools in Year One in four of our districts to offer tutoring instead of choice. Smart move on their part to speak directly to our Virginia education writers. It would have been helpful on this end to have an idea of what was going on.
Virginia DOE received an e-mail and a fax on the approval of the pilot program, but no notice that USDOE's press office was conducting virtual press conference. This is a continuation of a pattern in which USDOE schedules events without giving the state education agency a "head's up" of their plans. In my last post, I pulled a quote of Sec. Spellings from yesterday's USDOE back-to-school news release. Here is another quote:

"No Child Left Behind is a partnership, not a mandate," she said. "I take that partnership seriously."

Making sure the locals are in the loop has done wonders for the relationship between Virginia DOE and our 132 school districts during the ten years since the commonwealth began its standards-based reform. A similar approach by USDOE would likely improve its NCLB "partnership" with the states.

Remember - views of the substitute blogger do not necessarily reflect those of the Eduwonk!
Posted at 3:58 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Good morning Eduwonk fans!

Substitute blogger Charles Pyle of the Virginia Department of Education here, signing in on my last day of substitute blogging duty.

This is a busy time here at the department. Schools are reopening across the state. State law specifies the day after Labor Day as the first day of school in Virginia but more than half of our school districts (or divisions as we call them here) have waivers from the Board of Education and begin instruction in August. Many schools in the mountains, valleys, and highlands of Southwestern Virginia actually begin instruction in mid-August, which is why we here at VDOE slam to get AYP ratings out in the middle of the month.

It has been a busy week. We are still fielding lots of calls about AYP from reporters milking downstream stories. Sometimes I feel like an answering machine: "Press '1' for a general discussion of AYP. Press '2' for a detailed discussion of Title I school improvement. Press '3' for a discussion of Virginia's requested waivers. Press '4' to repeat this menu."

Also getting general calls about back-to-school issues, although the news here (as is the case in many other states) is all about BRAC.

We also are gearing up for next week's release by the College Board of the performance of our students on the SAT and Advanced Placement tests. Several years ago, the College Board took the helpful step of breaking out public school performance (hint to ACT).

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is doing the back to school circuit. This is from her news release regarding an appearance at a school in Atlanta:

"No Child Left Behind is a partnership, not a mandate," she said. "I take that partnership seriously."
Spellings said she has kept her promise to help states "implement this law in a sensible and workable way"—as long as they enforce the bright lines of the law, such as annual assessments for all students.
"So it troubles me that in Connecticut, three years into the law and after taking more than $750 million for No Child Left Behind, on the eve of compliance, they are now disputing annual assessment requirements," said Spellings.

One issue to watch regarding states that are introducing tests this year in previously untested grades is how USDOE responds to requests to phase in the results of new tests for AYP calculations. Our experience here is that it does take time for teachers in previously untested grades to adust.

That's all for now - be back a little later.
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Thursday, August 25, 2005

NCLB Musings from Your Substitute Blogger

The Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll on NCLB continues to get a lot of play in the press.

Does the public understand the law? I know I have spoken with quite a few reporters over the last few days who are still trying to grasp its finer points. Getting a handle on NCLB is especially challenging for education reporters who cover school districts in more than one state. Virginia has several media markets that include districts in other states.

Education reporting these days is all about data. I have been amazed during the week since Virginia released its preliminary AYP ratings at the number of newsrooms at newspapers in medium and smaller cities in the state without Excel! These reporters can't open online or attached spreadsheets or download data.

More later!

-Guestblogger Charles Pyle
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kindergarten Cop vs. CTA

TNR's Keelin McDonnel takes a look at the political battle between California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state's teachers union over two ballot proposals this November. One of the proposals, which would cap state spending and possibly lead to school spending cuts, appears likely to fail, while the other, Proposition 74, which would change the length of time before new teachers get tenure from two to five years, seems likely to pass.

BUT, as McDonnel argues, increasing the amount of time before teachers get tenure isn't going to produce the kind of increased performance accountability, better teaching, or other reform many California schools need. Tenure is often a red herring and conservative hobby-horse in education policy debates, but a look at teacher quality indicators, dismissals, and performance across states with and without tenure suggests it's not the real problem. More important, the Governator's antagonistic stance towards teachers on both the tenure and school funding issues undermines his proposals to more closely link teacher pay to performance or reward teachers in hard-to-staff schools, ideas that do have promise to improve accountability and help attract to the profession the kind of high-quality new teachers California desperately needs.

--guest blogger Sara Mead
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Substitute Wonk and First Time Blogger
Thank you Andrew. It is an honor to serve as a substitute blogger this week on Eduwonk. This is my first foray into the world of blogging. I joined the Virginia Department of Education five years ago after 23 years in broadcasting, including 17 years as a television reporter here in Richmond. I began reporting on education in the early 1990s when the commonwealth was in the midst of a passionate debate over the collection of policies and instructional practices known as "outcome-based" education. My news director was impressed by the response of viewers to some of the stories we aired during this time and education became one of my regular beats. My son was just entering school and I found the debates over the direction of public education in Virginia interesting as a parent as well as a reporter. We continued our coverage with on-going reports and special projects on the development and implementation of Virginia's Standards of Learning reform. We tried to go beyond the typical soundbite vs. soundbite approach and take viewers inside classrooms where teachers were actually trying to make it work. My work here at the department draws on this experience. The ingredients of a good news release are really the same as those of a good news story: a good lead, crisp writing, and the facts presented in a logical and coherent narrative. I also keep my hand in television, producing features for our occasional public television broadcasts. We offer some of these features as streaming video on our Web site. There is an example on our Web page devoted to Governor Mark Warner's Early College Scholars initiative. That's all for now. I will be back after a quick scan of the education press.

--Guest Blogger Charles Pyle
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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Guest Blogger

Ever wondered exactly what a state department of education does? Well, now is your chance to find out. Wednesday until Friday Charles Pyle, the Director of Communications for the Virginia Department of Education will guest blog right here. In addition to being a great guy and a sharp fellow, Charles is a former journalist including a stint in Richmond. He'll tell you more about that but he's seen it from both sides -- he's thrown spears and caught them -- so he brings an interesting perspective. Over to you Charles...
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Guest Blogging: Sara Mead
The Center for American Progress and Institute for America’s Future released the report from their task force charged with finding a progressive agenda to improve public education. Since the leaders of these two organizations, John Podesta and Robert Borosage, have been touring the country with an anti-NCLB dog and pony show, I was a little apprehensive that this would be more of the same.

But this report offers a serious look at the biggest challenges facing public education and promising recommendations to address them. The recommendations are grouped into four “buckets”: More and better use of learning time, high expectations, highly-qualified teachers and school leaders, and connecting schools with families and communities.

The big news story will probably be the task force’s call for voluntary national education standards—an idea considered politically radioactive since the Clinton administration caught hell over it in the mid-1990’s. The task force makes a compelling case that the current system of state-based standards shortchanges too many students yet it remains unclear whether national standards are any more politically feasible now than a decade ago.

More significant, a recommendation for “high expectation” marries calls for better accountability to a renewed national dialogue about the levels and distribution of education funding needed to ensure all students succeed—suggesting that Democratic strategists at CAP and IAF “get it” that better accountability buttresses the longstanding progressive demand for greater and more equitable public investment in education, and liberals should therefore embrace accountability rather than fighting it. Also noteworthy, the report calls for overhauling teacher compensation, including performance pay and differential pay to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools and in subjects like math and science. And, I’m personally gratified to see the task force emphasize the importance of universal prekindergarten, as well as safe and modern school facilities.

Unfortunately, some hope for progress on these issues is hampered because the report doesn’t look beyond the practices that are working in successful schools to the structural and governance arrangements that allow them to occur—and those that prevent similar success in so many other schools. For example, public charter schools, operating independent of traditional school districts, are implementing many practices—such as extended school days, new approaches to teacher compensation, and linkages with community-based groups—that the task force applauds. But they’re barely mentioned here. The report rightly emphasizes that many aspects of today’s education system, such as a school day and year based on agricultural calendars, are based on obsolete assumptions and don’t serve kids well today. But many of the structural and governance constraints under which today’s schools operate—the systems by which teachers are prepared, hired, and compensated; the assumption that local school boards are the sole legitimate provider of public education services; a lack of public education choices differentiated to meet students’ unique needs—also reflect outdated assumptions. Taking on structural and governance issues is more politically fraught than calling for schools to implement certain practices, because it requires tampering with today's power structures and the prerogatives of vested interests. But without addressing these issues, American public education is doomed to remain stuck in a status quo that is inequitable and in the long run will undermine our economic competitiveness. --Sara Mead, deputy director and senior policy analyst, 21st Century Schools Project, PPI.

Update: Accompanying the Task Force report, a spiffy new online resource, Education: The State We're In, at both the CAP and IAF websites offers state-by-state report cards on student performance, the achievement gap, early childhood education, teacher quality, higher education pipelines and access, and other indicators. Good stuff. --SM
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Clinton On Canada
Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone is getting bigger, former President Clinton weighs-in on what they're up to (pdf).
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Money Matters!
Leave it to the New York Times to botch the lede on an education story! In today's story about the new charter finance study they inaccurately characterize charter schools as privately run (some are, most aren't) while failing to note that in a seminal moment in the education debate the Fordham Foundation has decided that money does matter after all!

Seriously, financed by the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation, Fordham has put together the most comprehensive look at charter school finance to date. Working with Sheree Speakman and Bryan Hassel the report offers a thorough look at the revenue that public charter schools and traditional public schools receive. Punchline: charters generally receive a lot less.

Because the report delves into the notoriously opaque and confusing world of school finance it's not without some problems but the methodology is transparent so further research should shed some light on that going forward and the data problems are not so substantial as to undermine the primary thrust. Worth nothing that the most vocal complaints so far are coming from MN where charter supporters say the study overstates the amount of money that charters get.

It's solid enough that litigation is a good bet going forward. An interesting new angle on school finance suits. Good time to be an education lawyer these days, huh?
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This couldn't have been the story that CT pols were hoping for with this lawsuit...background here.
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Who Is Pulling The Wool Over Eyes In NYC?
NY Daily News' Williams has the barnyard tale...
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Keep an eye on Elliot Haspell's new EdWahoo blog. Fresh off a stint at Ed Trust he's raring to go.
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Over at EdWize Leo Casey chastises Eduwonk for not having a comment feature. Another reader recently asked the same question and it comes up from time to time. Been meaning to post on this so here's the quick and dirty answer:

It's been looked at a few times since the blogs inception but the cost-benefit just does not seem worth it. A lot of blogs that have them seem to have trouble with them. For instance just recently Joanne Jacobs' site was down for several days because of a spam attack and the comment features on some blogs are difficult to read (or at least difficult with some browsers). Other bloggers relay similar hassles. Though the template for this blog was professionally produced, don't be fooled...the day-to-day operations are just one person who knows next to nothing about how all this stuff works and has regular work deadlines and responsibilities to meet. Consequently, avoiding technical hassles is a high priority.

Content-wise, while there are some really interesting comments out there, just as much doesn't seem to add a lot of value. Spam and promotions of other blogs aside, comments often seem to degenerate into name calling. We get too much of that in the regular ed policy debates, you surely don't need a special forum for it. And, there is almost invariably a comparison to Hitler at some point.

Now if it was really hard to get your say or respond without a comment feature then the calculus might be different. But it's not because the medium itself is democratic. It's free to start a blog, so if you can post a comment you can have a blog of your own, and we happily link to interesting posts that challenge the ones here when they're brought to our attention. And, despite volume, all correspondence gets answered and some gets posted on the site, too.

So, while it's not a New England town meeting it's certainly not Turkmenistan either. We'll continue to look at the options, someone said the other day that Haloscan is the way to go. But, until then, start a blog of your own, send email, or save up everything you want to say for when we change our minds and add the feature and you can be the first one to crash the site with your voluminous feedback.
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Monday, August 22, 2005

CT and NYC: Send In The Lawyers...And The Frowns!

As expected CT Attorney General Blumenthal has filed suit against the feds over NCLB. But, here's a twist: The Citizens Commission on Civil Rights and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have sent Blumenthal a letter threatening to sue CT (and other states) for not helping poor school districts:

On May 20, 2005 we sent a Freedom of Information request to Betty J.Sternberg, the Commissioner of Education, asking for a copy of the plan required by Section 1111(b)(8). In reply we received a letter from Commissioner Sternberg dated June 15, 2005 enclosing a volume of material almost entirely unrelated and unresponsive to our request.

It appears that Connecticut has no plan and is in violation of 1111(b)(8). This lack of compliance cannot be attributed to testing costs under NCLB that you complain are excessive. Testing is not required for the State to analyze the needs of Title I schools and their districts and to prepare a plan to help them to achieve the capacity to carry out their obligations.

If you are able to enlist other states in your legal campaign against NCLB,we will be asking them the same questions about their compliance with 1111(b) (8).

Stay tuned on that.

And, in NYC, one well-connected observer writes Eduwonk that comments like the first one on this post show that the UFT may be getting more than it bargained for with Edwize:

If actual members read and respond to this blog, it will become apparent that the “face” of the union has long been assumed by a small group of people who are out of step with even mainstream teachers.

Word is some folks inside the UFT have similar concerns...

PS--Edwize may not get up early but they only sleep until two...still they wake-up groggy...labeling Kate Walsh a conservative when in fact she's a Democrat! Let's hope this isn't a trend...

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Free Exercise
Helpful reader MT sends along this interesting account: The Carl Sagan Academy charter school, a school started by humanists (P.E. should have meaning...), couldn't find suitable space so they're now housed in a Baptist church.

Facilities freaks: See also this Chicago Trib. story about a developer that wants to build a charter school in a new development to lure families. Raises the same, surmountable, issues that employer-sponsored charter schools do.
Posted at 10:36 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Teacher Pay...And, Does EdWize Sleep-In On Mondays?
Teaching Commission's Josh Greenman weighs-in with an op-ed in the NY Daily News:

What professionals expect isn't just money and benefits. It's the chance to acquire new responsibilities, to refine skills and to earn more money based on the quality of the job they do.

It's a national piece but pegged to NYC, snap-to Edwize!
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Beggars Can't Be Choosers...
It's not the front page but The Washington Post does give Marguerite Roza and Paul Hill a lot of op-ed real estate to explain their new report (pdf), what it means, and what policymakers can do. An absolutely must-read piece of writing.
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Dollars and Dropouts
In the NYT, Tamar Lewin takes a look at K-12 philanthropy. Punchlines: More dollars going into K-12 and:

"A lot of the old philanthropy was devoted to helping schools do what they were already doing," said Richard Lee Colvin, director of the Hechinger Institute at Teachers College at Columbia University. "The new group is saying, 'Let's try something different.' It's a lot of young, active entrepreneurial people - Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, Dell, Milken - who want to change the schools, who want to use their money to support specific school reforms."

Two quick notes. First, look for a book from I'm Rick Hess Bi*ch on K-12 philanthropy in a few months (Harvard Ed. Press) with a lot more on this. Second, historically, major changes to education have tended to come from outside the field so aside from just the resources these foundations bring to the table, don't be too quick to write them off as a passing fancy. Instead, this could be the infancy of tomorrow's establishment (which would one day hopefully be challenged anew...progress?).

Over in the Wash. Times George Archibald drops-in on dropouts with a long report. Excellent dropout background from the Ed Trust in this report (pdf).
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