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Mike and Christina discuss Fordham's new report on how high-achievers have fared as educators have turned their focus toward closing the achievement gap.

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=ZiORhDhMn50

Checker laments in today's Ohio Education Gadfly that policymakers in Fordham's home state have gone soft on education.

Congress looks set to grant D.C.'s voucher program a one-year reprieve. (You have to scroll down a bit to see the story.)

As if teachers unions haven't caused enough headaches for charter schools, now labor unions are getting in on the act. An op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, written by a New York charter school president and a representative of the New York Charter Schools Association, talks about the interference of labor unions in one school's quest to expand its facilities. In New York, charter schools are supposed to be exempt from a state law requiring "prevailing wage" (in other words, charter schools don't have to pay union workers at union rates). This exemption saved some organizations, like the Brighter Choice Foundation, millions of dollars when they built a new KIPP middle school ($7 mil for the charter school, while the Albany school district spent $40 mil on a new middle school).

Apparently the labor unions weren't happy, because last fall the state labor commissioner told charter schools that they too had to pay union rates. Not only was the big boss in blatant disregard of state law, but then a state judge upheld the commissioner's decision. Now, thanks to union greed, a school like Buffalo's Tapestry Charter School is looking at inflated construction costs of nearly $1.5...

Check out this Education Week article for a preview of Charles Murray's latest book, Real Education. Want a glimpse? Referring to college-level textbooks, Murray argues that "We're talking about material that only about 10 percent of high school graduates can understand."

He calls that speaking "truth." We call it fatalism. Yes, Dr. Murray, asking schools to achieve universal proficiency in reading and math is stupid, but so is settling for the results our education system is currently attaining. As a wise philosopher once said, there must be a middle way.

Liam Julian

I'm with the union on this one. Let my weekends go!

Liam Julian

Diane Ravitch, Fordham board member and peerless education commenter, writes:

I find myself getting really annoyed when people rage against the teachers' unions, because they are the organized voice of most of the people who work in schools. The same people who vilify the teachers' unions never complain about the influence of businesses or foundations, both of which try to steer the public schools by the power of the purse.

It all comes down to whether schools??should serve adults or children. Business??interests are aligned with producing schools that serve children--they want well-educated students who will eventually become well-educated workers. (It's true, though, that business-minded school reformers??sometimes forget about the importance of curriculum and instruction.) On the other hand, the interests of teachers' unions directly compete in oh-so-many obvious ways with the interests of students. Furthermore,??unions may technically be "the organized voices of most of the people who work in schools," but they hardly represent the interests of all teachers--especially disadvantaged by union policies are young teachers and good teachers.

What business mostly wants: results-based education,??standards, accountability, innovative management, choice, educational markets. What unions mostly want: more money, more teachers (smaller classes), less testing, less focus on...

The long-anticipated conversion of seven inner-city District of Columbia Catholic schools to charter schools is finally official . No, it's not a perfect solution to the schools' financial ills, but kinda like democracy, it's the least worst option available. Kudos to the D.C. Charter School Board for granting its unanimous approval. Now let this fascinating social experiment begin.

Liam Julian

Diane Roberts--author and NPR commentator--is a fine, fun writer. She's an eighth-generation Floridian, descended from some of the state's foundational families, and often insightful when commenting on occurrences odd and ostentatious, which are quite at home in Florida's past and present. But on education...boy, she's got it wrong.

Liam Julian

The Wall Street Journal's Bill McGurn (and lots of others) wonders: What will Obama do on school choice? Now we know (via The Corner):

TAPPER: You talked about the need to change the status quo in education today.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: But one of the ways that proponents of school choice say that the best way to change the status quo is to give parents, inner-city parents a choice. Why not?

OBAMA: Well, the problem is, is that, you know, although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom. We don't have enough slots for every child to go into a parochial school or a private school. And what you would see is a huge drain of resources out of the public schools.

So what I've said is let's foster competition within the public school system. Let's make sure that charter schools are up and running. Let's make sure that kids who are in failing schools, in local school districts, have an option to go to schools that are doing well.

But what I don't want to do is

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