Plenty of bad ideas make their way from the business world to education, but here's a good one: replicate successful school models via franchising. That's the argument made by business writer Julie Bennett in an essay in the new Education Next.??

In the business world, when the owners of restaurants or retail stores want to expand, they choose between two models: corporate-style growth with central management or franchising. Chains like Starbucks scale up corporately; each of its 7,087 U.S. stores is owned by and managed from its Seattle headquarters. Others, like McDonald's, follow a franchise model. Though they look and feel much the same, the vast majority of the 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the United States are operated by a founding franchisee. The advantage of franchising is that it allows an organization to grow rapidly without putting its own intellectual and financial capital at risk. While franchisees are building individual units, the central organization can spend its resources on promoting the brand and developing new products and services.

Bennett goes on to explain that KIPP, the Big Picture Company, and EdVisions Schools belong in the franchise bucket, while Lighthouse Academies, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools are closer to...

Liam Julian

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story titled "No Child Left Behind Lacks Bite." Not in Washington, D.C., it doesn't.

Liam Julian

Someone once wrote, "You can't trust Alexander Russo to report on a school bake sale and give an accurate account of the price of brownies," so one hesitates to put much stock in this post. It is nonetheless peculiar that a gaggle of bloggers would criticize other bloggers for blogging, or that they would inveigh against time-wasting while sitting on a panel, discussing blogging. Certainly Flypaper's frequent posting is a benefit to our readers, who desire timely analysis and opinion on the day's education issues. And for those who would rather imbibe an occasional off-the-cuff observation or two, perhaps about baseball or Howard Stern, other outlets exist.

Liam Julian

It's tough to capture a summer internship at Fordham. Expectant mothers often email us tabula rasa resumes on behalf of promising blastocysts, in fact, to be updated as??Embryonic Emmy??and Zygote Zach grow and garner accomplishments over the impending score. This summer, however, we have an unexpected internship opening! Click here (quickly) for more information.

It's not quite as bad as Marion Barry embracing vouchers, but is it necessarily a positive development that the United Way has selected dropout prevention as one of its three key initiatives? As the Washington Post reports,

The United Way of America, alarmed at the nation's fraying safety net, will announce today that it will direct its giving toward ambitious 10-year goals that would cut in half the high school dropout rate and the number of working families struggling financially.

Curbing the dropout rate certainly deserves attention from the nation's charitable donors, but the chances don't appear high that a mainstream, let's-all-get-along group like the United Way will tackle the underlying problems that lead to massive educational failure. Will the charity push for rigorous state standards or even national standards? Will it work to put pressure on failing school districts by supporting charter schools and other forms of parental choice? Will it tangle with recalcitrant teachers' unions? Such actions are hard to imagine, which is why savvy observers should get ready to watch a whole lot more private money go down the tubes....

Liam Julian

Check out this New York Daily News column about career and technical education (formerly vocational education).

Not only is career and technical education nothing to laugh at, it's a way to replace the unrealistic "college for all" bias of public schooling with a greater degree of practical preparation for lucrative and rewarding careers in fields like nursing, desktop publishing, computer networking and the building trades.

This is encouraging:

And here's the kicker: Two-thirds of CTE students go on to college, and when they do, there's research suggesting they outperform other students. Those that go straight into the world of work are generally getting jobs in fields where the pay is good and demand is strong.

Liam Julian

This week's Gadfly is now available for public consumption. Fordham's nascent research director, Amber Winkler, makes her Gadfly debut with a smart editorial about Reading First (she says it's not yet dead). And former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll and the former chairman of the??Massachusetts Board of Education, Jim Peyser, write in to talk MCAS and standards and college readiness.

Nice to see that at least one state is trying to exorcise its anti-Catholic demons . If??the country cares about saving its Catholic schools , it should hope Florida's efforts are elsewhere replicated.

Liam Julian

The American Enterprise Institute's education scholar, Rick Hess, has a new piece out about mayoral control of district schools. Basically, Hess concludes that mayoral control is no panacea for a city's educational problems... so cross it off your "Educational Panacea" list.

School Funding's Tragic Flaw ,??a new paper from Education Sector's Kevin Carey and Marguerite Roza of the Center on Reinventing Public Education is a nice, quick introduction to the reasons that school funding is often inequitable and unfair and??under-funds the neediest schools. Carey and Roza contrast two schools (one in Virginia and the other in North Carolina)??that serve??similar kids but??have drastically different budgets to show why inequity persists.

They point to a number of problems. Federal Title I funding is skewed toward the wealthiest states, and at the district level, its sneaky ???comparability??? provision effectively erases differences in teacher salaries between schools, giving schools with more experienced teachers more than their fair share of dollars. (District budgeting practices are to blame for that, too.) And some states are far better than others at making up for local property wealth differences.

Carey and Roza call for some sensible solutions, including changes to Title I and for districts to let money follow the child --that is, to ???allocate a standard amount of money per student to each school.??? These ideas may not be new to Flypaper regulars, but this paper is worth checking out because it...