Liam Julian

The New York City program that pays students for good scores on AP exams yielded "mixed results," according to the New York Times. Education Trust President Kati Haycock, commenting on the program's philosophy,??gets the article's last words:

"Frankly, rich kids get paid for high grades all the time and for high test scores by their parents," Ms. Haycock added. "So this isn't so different."

Yes it is. Rich kids, as Haycock notes,??are paid by their parents, each of whom has obviously made a personal decision that handing out money for grades or test scores is a fine idea for his particular family situation. (Lots of rich kids, it must be written, are not paid for grades--not because their parents can't swing it but because their parents??find it, for one reason or another, an unhealthful practice.) We should resist the flawed idea that because some parents have the means to do for their children X and do it, X is somehow a right to which all students are entitled and one the government should provide. (This caveat does not apply to vouchers, through which government relinquishes authority and does not assume it.)...

Earlier this month I argued that the Democratic Party was no longer a fully-owned subsidiary of the NEA and the AFT. But it looks like I was wrong.* See the Monday night prime-time lineup at their convention, to include teachers union presidents Reg Weaver and Randi Weingarten. It seems the labor bosses are still in charge, after all.

* HT to Campaign K-12.

The usually sensible Washington Post editorial board sizes up the presidential candidates' education platforms in today's lead editorial, part of its "Ideas Primary" series, but shoots and misses. It's not that its descriptions of Obama's and McCain's platforms were inaccurate; by and large, its analysis was fair. Obama wants more money and a litany of new programs; McCain seeks more parental choice, including online options, and more alternate routes to the classroom for teachers. I also have no complaint with the Post's call for national standards and tests--of course "it is madness that there are 50 different definitions of what constitutes proficiency in math and reading or of what a high school graduate should know."

Where the Post goes wrong is with its call for "something bolder."

Would either [candidate] be willing to embrace the dramatic changes needed to shake up a system that fails far too many children?.... There's a crisis in urban education. To significantly improve achievement levels among poor and minority children, scripted and predictable responses won't do.

The Post hasn't learned lesson number one of the No Child Left Behind era: what's sorely lacking in Washington isn't ambition,...

Gadfly Studios

Just weeks after the loss of one if its leading literary lights, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russia took two golds and a silver in three PIRLS reading events. Team USA, meanwhile, has two days left to secure its first medal. Can they pull it out? Stay tuned at

Sure, he was flawed, but he got a few big things right.

So writes guest blogger Richard Whitmire* in this phenomenal post that manages to leak Core Knowledge's plan to release a bona fide reading program; calls for a "gut check" for Democrats scrapping the federal Reading First program; and backs up Sol "Marshall Plan" Stern to boot.

*Whitmire also weighs in on the "paternalistic" debate. And guess what: he doesn't like the term either.

Politico is reporting that Senator McCain will announce his vice presidential pick on August 29th in Dayton, Ohio (Fordham's hometown). We can't help but wonder whether that means that McCain is going with an Ohioan. One name that's getting a lot of attention is John Kasich, the onetime presidential candidate and current commentator for Fox News. According to the website On the Issues, Kasich is a big supporter of school choice (appealing to Wall Street Journal conservatives) as well as school prayer (appealing to evangelical conservatives). He's youthful, dynamic, and the "son of a postman," as he likes to say, complementing McCain's age, experience, and wealth. Of course, he's also widely rumored to be planning a run for governor in 2010, but with Ted Strickland as popular as ever, he and the Ohio GOP might welcome this shot at the vice presidency....

Gadfly Studios

Today Roy Romer--formerly governor of Colorado and superintendent of Los Angeles Public Schools, and currently chairman of the Ed in '08 campaign--joins us to discuss Team USA's heretofore dismal performance in the 2008 Education Olympics. Also, don't forget to check out the complete results from today's events at

Once in awhile, I take the time to sniff around and find an education study worth talking about in this blog. I wish I had the time to do it more often, but judging from my quick look-see this afternoon, the research terrain isn't overflowing with milk and honey these days anyway.

First, there's this Education Week news story about a technology study conducted by Central Connecticut State researchers. We're told that, when college students respond to instant messages while they are reading, they take longer to read. Alrighty then. The supposed shocker of the research is that students still understand what they read... probably because they re-read. Now, I'm all for learning more about how new technologies affect learning. It's one of the reasons I'm pretty excited that we have a new, federally-funded research center on education technology. To be sure, we need to better understand how to harness new technologies and learning forums for such media. But I'm also of the opinion that some research questions can be answered by common sense. ??And whether kids take more time to read and understand while they are instant messaging falls into that category. (Granted, I...

Liam Julian

Augustine Romero defends the Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American/Raza Studies Department (read about it here), of which he is the senior director. I'm unconvinced by his words.

During Saturday's "Saddleback civil forum" with candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, pastor Rick Warren asked a single education question. (That he asked an education question at all was probably viewed as a major victory by Ed in '08.)

80 percent of Americans recently polled said they believe in merit pay. Now, for teachers, do you--I'm not asking do you think all teachers should get a raise. Do you think better teachers should be paid better? They should be paid more than poor teachers?

What a lame question. Not because merit pay isn't important, or because there aren't differences between the candidates. (Obama basically said "maybe" and McCain basically said "yes.")

It's lame because it has almost nothing to do with federal education policy. The program that all of this merit pay pandering is about--the Teacher Incentive Fund--provides $100 million per year to a handful of school districts. That's one-quarter of one percent of the federal K-12 budget. To be sure, this program has been an important driver of innovation, but it's tiny, and it impacts just a slender number of American schools.

What's especially disappointing is that Warren asked a number of...