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...

Introducing Monday's uber-wonk special: Tom Loveless vs. Gregory Camilli on high-achieving students in the era of NCLB! This one has it all: "straw man" accusations; differing interpretations of NAEP; and, rest assured, a happy ending on "common ground."

Want to enjoy all the action? Start by reading Tom Loveless's report on high-achieving students, then peruse Gregory Camilli's review of said study for the union-funded Think Tank Review Project, then enjoy Loveless's response.

With my prodding, Michael Goldstein, the sometimes guest blogger at Eduwonk and founder of the fantastic (and, I would argue, paternalistic) MATCH Charter School in Boston, writes in to add his two bits to the debate around David Whitman's new book, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism:

I certainly look forward to reading the book. And I think you did a service in publishing it. And I wonder how it will square with Jay Mathews's book on same topic.

Certainly this nugget is on target. "Unlike the often forbidding paternalistic institutions of the past, these schools are prescriptive yet warm; teachers and principals, who sometimes serve in loco parentis, are both authoritative and caring figures. Teachers laugh with and cajole students, in addition to frequently directing them to stay on task."

But I'd have to read more to understand what he means by "serve in loco parentis." And I hesitate with "paternalistic."

I agree with you that there's an initial "Uh oh" reaction by school leaders because it's probably bad marketing for us, Cosby-izing