I was reading the Washington Post on Saturday when I came across this little piece by Democratic strategist Carter Eskew about the presidential campaign and its suddenly negative tone. Note this insight:

I once asked a famous commercial advertiser why he didn't attack his big rival, a competing laundry detergent--say that it "ruins your washing machine!" or "causes hives!" His answer: "Because I might gain temporary market advantage, but I'd devalue the whole category. Sooner or later, people would stop buying soap." That may be the main difference between political and commercial marketing: The political marketer is all about temporary advantage--the field of politics be damned.

Could the same be true of education? Is it possible that our field's endless squabbling is turning off the public? People often wonder why education is so low on the list of voters' priorities this election year. Yes, the fragile economy and war in Iraq have a lot to do with that. But I also suspect that Joe Sixpack is suffering from "education fatigue." Every election, politicians promise to fix the school system, particularly in the inner city, and as far as he can tell, nothing ever gets better. I suspect...

Liam Julian

Checker talks about his new book, Troublemaker, in a very chic-looking, new media-ish video interview.

Liam Julian

The Washington Post believes that D.C. officials resent charter schools, and it tells them: "Get over it."

The archaic agrarian school calendar is just one more reminder of how education is not keeping up with the times, argues Arthur Rothkopf. Or as he puts it, "how many bushels of corn has your child harvested this summer?" It's an excellent question and the answer, of course, is zero.

But enough with the funny stuff, since Rothkopf is making a good point:

So why is nothing being done? Tragically, the biggest barrier to our competitiveness is the fear of competition itself. Entrenched special interest groups prefer the status quo, as it rewards longevity and bureaucracy over performance and innovation. It stands to reason that teachers and administrators with sedentary attitudes toward education will only continue to produce intellectually sedentary students.

Our children deserve professionals in the classroom, and our ability to stay competitive in a global economy demands that it happen. Yet, while professionals from nearly every other walk of life are held accountable for their performance, most teachers are not. Rather than defending the status quo, teachers' unions and school administrators should be at the forefront of an agenda to create professional, empowered, innovative, and flexible educators who are agents of change and progress.


Quite the fight going on right now in Miami, as the Miami-Dade school board weighs the fate of superintendent Rudy Crew.?? Some board members are trying to oust him with accusations of gross negligence, incompetence, and the like.?? The school board's attorney says the charges are baseless, but that's not stopping this afternoon's hearing, which includes 250 people signed up to speak on the matter.

Stay tuned.?? In fact, you could join the 19,000 viewers already watching live telecasts of the school board's meetings during any given hour.

This would-be second-career teacher in California says that proving "highly-qualified" status is a hoop-jumping endeavor: "The standards to which I'm being held here are not high standards; they are just a high pile of standards." Ms. Herman, unfortunately, isn't telling us anything new.

Doesn't appear that student performance is a part of this new proposed pay structure by the teachers' union in Australia. A hundred indicators and not a one on how the students are performing?

Liam Julian

Mike's Gadfly editorial about teacher quality is attracting comments like ... like ....

Oh, whatever,??it's Friday afternoon.

Many inquiring minds write in to ask, what exactly is the Education Olympics? To which we say, tune in next week to find out. But in the meantime, here are some suggested events from Henry Olsen, head of the American Enterprise Institute's National Research Initiative:

The 200m Education Disability Hurdles - teachers compete to overcome the disabling home and social conditions their students bring with them to the classroom to get them to finish line with enough skills to compete in today's economy.

Education Dressage - self-proclaimed school reforming superintendents compete to move the educational horse of their school districts toward reform without seeming to make a single reform-oriented movement.

Greco-Roman Curriculum Wrestling - advocates of traditional education wrestle with a massive educational bureaucracy to overthrow the textbook culture and re-instate classical learning.

Got some event ideas of your own? Let's hear about them!...