Flypaper

...is stupendous. I know we say this every week, but that's because we tend to routinely out-do ourselves. This week is no exception. First up, you'll find Checker's thoughts on who should replace Russ Whitehurst at IES and??Mark Schneider at NCES. It seems the administration exodus has begun. Then, Barbara Davidson from StandardsWork writes a thoughtful piece in the guest editorial spot. Her recommendation? Bring social studies back into the curricular picture. Later on, you'll find the next episode in the Nebraska safe-haven law saga, insanity in Mexico, and an insightful review of??Douglas J. Besharov and Douglas M. Call's piece in Wilson Quarterly. What else? A look at how NCLB is unfairly penalizing schools for special education students and a stellar podcast, where Rick tells us he wants to retire and move to South Dakota. Why? To raise rutabagas. All this... and more....

According to Joel Klein, former Wall Street execs have another option: the classroom. Guess, we'll have to wait and see math teacher alternative certification programs are overwhelmed with??Gordon Gekkos.

...I will. It's a safe bet that education won't be a big part of tonight's presidential debate, so if you need to ponder what an McCain or Obama administration should or could do, two NY Times blog entries from earlier this week have some interesting thoughts.

Lance Izumi charges that Obama's wish-list of education programs makes him seem "oblivious to the fiscal reality he faces," and argues for McCain's "alternative view of the way Washington should finance education":

According to his campaign Web site, Mr. McCain believes: "Funding cannot be effectively apportioned in Washington, but it shouldn't be a state-level official or district bureaucrat either. The money must be controlled by the leader we hold accountable: the school principal with a single criterion to raise student achievement."

On the other hand, Bruce Fuller has a radical suggestion for a future President Obama:

If Mr. Obama is serious about public investment for innovation--focusing on inventive teachers and schools that truly boost student performance--he must cut ineffective, yet politically entrenched programs. Take, for example, Washington's Title I compensatory education program, which channels $14 billion each year to schools that serve students from poor families.

President Bush

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Amy Fagan

Wide-ranging presentations and lively discussion today at the AEI/Fordham conference on judicial involvement in education!

During this afternoon's panel on discipline, special education and district management, Richard Arum of NY University told us that school discipline litigation has been increasing over time and that 11 percent of teachers, 55 percent of administrators and 73 percent of administrators with 15 years of experience have been threatened with lawsuits. About 14 percent of administrators have actually faced one, he said. Samuel Bagenstos of the Washington University School of Law took issue with the notion that litigation is exploding however--noting that there's actually "shockingly little" litigation surrounding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Meanwhile, Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who was moderating the panel, wondered aloud whether schools can fix discipline problems without court involvement. Alan Bersin, California State Board of Education member and former California Education Secretary, told us that court decisions actually leave educators with a lot of flexibility in this area but school leaders remain cautious.

Earlier in the day, other distinguished panelists discussed No Child Left Behind, school funding and school desegregation issues. All of their papers are available here, along with more information about the daylong...

This deserves the Ig-Nobel prize. Will these 3247 misguided folks, mostly academics (of course!), also sign the "support Osama Bin Laden" statement? How about Aldrich Ames? Maybe Charles Manson? The Benedict Arnold Memorial Support Group?

Update: Ayers has popped up on our radar before. (See here and here too.)

Update 2: Fordham Board Member Diane Ravitch takes Deborah Meier to task for signing the Ayers petition. Deborah responds.

Conventional wisdom in Washington, circa 2001, was that states and schools were not to be trusted. Give them an inch, they'll take a mile--that was the sentiment when it came to devising NCLB's accountability system. We all knew that devious states would try to game the system and make schools look better than they really were, and that schools themselves would find loopholes and abuse them. So NCLB's crafters tried to preempt any shenanigans with a web of rules that would snare nefarious attempts to maintain the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

Worried that schools would keep poor performers home on test day? Require that 95 percent of all students (and all students in each subgroup) take the test. Concerned that schools would push poor performers into the "special education" category? Require children with disabilities to take the test too, and even mandate that their scores be evaluated as a separate subgroup under the law. Nervous that schools would obsess only about test score results and nothing else? Require states to add another indicator--typically attendance--to their accountability metrics.

Now, this attitude wasn't entirely out of line. We've seen plenty of shenanigans despite the best efforts of the Potomac...

I admire Stafford's passion, in joining Mike's anti-Ed-in-???08 crusade, but I think she puts way too much stock in the Washington Post-ABC News poll as a measure of education's importance in the campaign. The poll's question is just too simplistic, in asking only about one's "most important issue in your choice for president." Education is almost never going to be that for many voters--heck, even I probably would answer "foreign policy," or "the economy," and I work at an education policy think tank. I'd be a lot more interested in a poll that could tell us what the voters list as their top 3 or 5 issues. (And in fairness to Ed in '08, Obama did mention education as being his 3rd highest priority during the last debate.)

And given that other issues with only 1% support include immigration, taxes, the environment, and the deficit, education doesn't seem to fare so badly after all. Even the Iraq war only gets 6%, while Iran and global warming get less than 1%. So while there are plenty of reasons to pan Ed in '08, I don't think this poll tells us anything useful about education's relevance--all we...

Ok, Eric caught me. I used the Washington Post-ABC News poll just to poke fun at??Ed in '08 again. With our current situation, someone would have to be off their rocker to list education as their top priority over the gazillion other things that are plaguing this country and the world. HOWEVER, that's not really the point. Ed in '08 has demonstrated a type of hubris that is yet unparalleled in my recent memory. Not only did they think that they could singlehandedly make education into a top priority by throwing money around and producing unsubstantive and not-that-funny TV ads, but they decided that their three education "pillars" (if you can call them that) were their sole intellectual property as if no one else had possibly thought of these three things before. Here they are in all their simplistic glory:

1. creating clear learning standards,

2. improving teaching,

3. and giving adequate time and support for student learning.??

Are you trying to tell me that Ed in '08 is the sole proprietor of the idea of "improving teaching"? Is that a joke?

But back to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. Eric is right that...

Richard Whitmire, who wrote this USA Today editorial in support of single sex schools, wants those of us at Fordham to send a video crew to the Excellence Charter School in New York City to capture and disseminate its effective practices nationwide. (Richard must have been impressed by these videos .) Furthermore, he bemoans the lack of a major federal evaluation to explore the rapid growth of single sex schools and learn from the best of them. On that front, I have a suggestion for Doug Mesecar and Kelly Scott, now the top political appointees in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement (where I once hung my hat): reallocate dollars from the Women's Educational Equity Act to support exactly the sort of study Richard is describing. That's how we funded these evaluations of single sex schools several years ago, and it still makes me chuckle when I think about how mad that must have made the American Association of University Women....

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