Flypaper

Lisa Graham Keegan, school reform trailblazer and former state superintendent of Arizona, has quit her day job to spend most of her time working on behalf of Senator John McCain's campaign, reports the Arizona Republic:

"Having Senator McCain be in a position to get ready to start talking about education a little bit more fully in his campaign, it's just a great opportunity to be a part of," said Keegan, 48, of Peoria. "It just didn't make sense to do both at the same time."

Keegan is an extremely effective advocate of school choice, meaningful accountability, and the smart use of data and technology. This is another sign that McCain isn't planning to cede the education issue to his opponent.

Reid Lyon, former Reading Czar and one of the creators of Reading First, posted a comment about Shep Barbash's Education Next article that's so crucial to the current debate that it's worth excerpting at length:

The recent Reading First Impact Study interim report did some thing s correctly (employed a strong design for the questions they asked), but appeared to miss some very important confounds, leading me to have difficulties interpreting the results. First, the evaluation did not address all of the evaluation targets established in the law, thus narrowing the scope and comprehensiveness of the evaluation Congress intended. Second, and most importantly, the sample of states selected for inclusion in the study was not sufficient to test a number of variables that are critical to interpreting the data. As hard as I try, I cannot see how the sample would be considered representative. Third, the evaluation examined the effect of resources (Reading First funding) on a single measure of reading comprehension. As Steve Raudenbush has argued convincingly, an evaluation study comparing a group that received the resources versus another group that did not answers very little about the programs actual effectiveness or the ability of a study to inform improvements in the program or guide policy.

There are many factors at the implementation and instructional level that have to be examined and studied to refine any interpretation of the main effect of no significant difference. As Mr. Stearns probably knows, many school districts that implemented

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Gadfly Studios

Amber and Christina discuss the good and bad of the Reading First interim evaluation report:

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=KCgR_VC2KTk

Terry posted earlier today on the pressure mounting on attorney general Marc Dann to quit office in light of recent scandals.

He's just resigned.

Google announced yesterday that it will launch Friend Connect, a free service that will allow any website to operate as a so-called "social website," in the mold of Facebook and MySpace.

Friend Connect is aimed at the millions of Web sites that could benefit from having members interact but can't enable such connections because of a lack of technical expertise or hardware.

If anyone struggles from a "lack of technical expertise," it's district and state education agencies, whose websites often recreate for those seeking meaningful information the experience of a drugged mouse struggling frantically and usually in vain to find the cheese at the end of a maze.

Wouldn't it be great if, say, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District pasted a bit of Google code into its trainwreck of a website and allowed users to build a community that either a) collaborated to make sense of the content for everyone or b) bypassed the content altogether and built a kind of parallel knowledge base that became much more useful for the average visitor to the website?

Although details are still murky, this plan out of Denver, inspired by Chicago's Renaissance 2010 and New York's New Visions for Public Schools, seems promising.

The key here will be to keep these schools sufficiently insulated from district regulations. It's unclear whether they'll be charter schools, contract schools, private schools, or some hybrid thereof. But as long as they're truly free to experiment with non-traditional schooling methods--e.g., extended learning time, college-prep culture, rigorous curricula, no-nonsense discipline, variable teacher pay--these schools could make a real impact in the Mile High City.

It's great to see these bureaucracy-busting approaches catching on around the country.

Photo by Flickr user stevenm_61.

Jeff Kuhner

Australia's aboriginal community is suffering from a serious epidemic of children watching pornography at home--and then simulating sex acts in the classroom. Some of these aboriginal children are as young as seven. Even more disturbing, plenty of Australian social workers and community leaders think there's nothing wrong with it. In their twisted minds, these children are not suffering from child abuse, despite being fed an endless diet of adult porn and, in some instances, having their parents sexually molest them.

The story in the Australian should be a wake-up call to the country's authorities to crackdown on child abuse, improper sexual behavior in the classroom, and rampant pornography. A formal investigation by a former Supreme Court judge found that communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands were not only inundated with porn, but that welfare workers and local aboriginal leaders--those who are supposed to be protecting children--deliberately sought to dissuade teachers from tackling the problems of child abuse.

The judge's report is replete with disturbing examples of illicit sexual behavior by students in classrooms. In one case, a seven-year-old girl dropped her pants in class, simulated sexual intercourse, and jammed several plastic objects into her vagina. School officials suspect she is the victim of incest. In another case, a nine-year-old girl made numerous sexual gestures in class. When confronted by her teacher, she said she learned the moves from "blue movies." It was later found out that the girl came from an abusive home and that...

The Education Gadfly

Fordham is thrilled to welcome Amber Winkler to our ranks. As our brand new Research Director (see her bio), she'll be overseeing Fordham's vast research enterprise (and helping us produce sophisticated studies like this one). And she's blogging too! We're a boy band no longer.

The Education Gadfly

Informed sources say the finalists to succeed Chris DeMuth as president of the American Enterprise Institute are Princeton's Robbie George and Columbia's Glenn Hubbard--youngish, brilliant, and dynamic, both.

Today at a big wing-ding on federal education research sponsored by Education Sector and several other groups , former Deputy Secretary of Education Marshall (Mike) Smith agreed that it was probably a mistake to have carved the Education Department (ED) out of the old Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

I was half-serious when I first said this, citing Moynihan and Califano (celebrated opponents of ED's creation, both) and teeing off Russ Whitehurst's comment that the Department of Health and Human Services now spends a vastly larger fraction of its discretionary budget on R & D than does ED. Smith was serious, citing evidence that one of the largest contributors to weak student achievement and even worse problems for kids and school systems is health issues (he focused on tooth decay leading to rampant infection leading sometimes to death) besetting American children, especially poor ones.

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