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Microsoft just reported its quarterly earnings, posting $5.7 billion in profits but disappointing investors, who had hoped for more. News like this naturally excites Wall Street more than it does education wonks. However, much of the wealth that now funds education reform initiatives, from teacher evaluation to charter schools to Common Core standards, was built at companies like Microsoft and Netflix.

We here at Gadfly thought it might be fun to track how some of the companies most associated with education reform are doing. So far I've added five companies to the Fordham Investment Index (or FINNdex): Netflix (associated with digital learning backer Reed Hastings), Wal-Mart Stores (the Walton family), The Gap (the Fisher family, supporters of KIPP and other efforts), Microsoft Corporation (Bill Gates), and KB Home (founded by reformer Eli Broad).

The market has not been kind to the FINNdex year-to-date. Unfortunately, many of education's leading funders come from the technology and real estate sectors, which have had a rough time over the past few years. The chart below shows performance of an equal investment in all five stocks (in blue) versus the S&P 500 (in red):

Let us know in the comments which other stocks associated with education reformers you think we should add. We'll update you on the performance of the FINNdex as its members pop up in the news from time to time....

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The Education Gadfly

Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) kicks off its annual summit today out in San Francisco. Over the course of its two days, attendees will talk shop about education-finance reform, revamping the teaching profession, and more.

They'll also be greeted by the smiling face of Fordham's own Checker Finn as they walk in the door: The United Educators of San Francisco (UESF)?which has organized a protest of the event?has made Checker one of its ?public (education) enemies,? an esteemed designation that he holds with FEE head honcho Jeb Bush and NewsCorps CEO Rupert Murdoch, who is giving the closing address to the summit. All three are featured front-and-center on the UESF's protest flyer.

We take it as a compliment that the folks at UESF find Checker to be as influential in the policy sphere as Jeb Bush and as well-connected as Rupert Murdoch. ?But we wonder why they didn't single out Sal Khan (guru behind the Khan Academy videos) or Melinda Gates, both of whom are giving keynote speeches during the summit, along with Murdoch. Maybe Checker is just more photogenic.

?The Education Gadfly

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I've been traveling a bunch the past few weeks, making it harder to blog. (Though there's always time to tweet!) So I'm a little late to the party on the recent report from Complete College America, Time is the Enemy. As the press and many pundits have relayed, CCA finds the college completion rate to be shockingly low, especially for poor and minority students. For example, less than half of Pell-eligible students pursuing a four-year degree graduate within six years. For part-time Pell students, it's more like 17 percent. The numbers are similar for African-American and Hispanic students. [quote]

From a reformer's perspective, the reaction to these dispiriting results is obvious: improve academic preparation in the k-12 system in order to reduce enrollment in remedial classes; reduce the amount of time it takes to get a college degree; encourage transferability of credits; etc. And these are all worth doing.

But I can't help but wonder: with so many kids dropping out of college--and especially so many poor kids--should we reconsider our assumption that higher education is the ticket to the middle class? Isn't it possible that lots of these kids would be better off pursuing the trades or (dare I say) the military? If you could figure out a way to do a rigorous study, I'd bet a lot of money that the military has a much better retention rate than higher education for similar young adults--and a much better track record at propelling its "graduates"...

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Do you have a voracious appetite for education policy news and views? Do you need to stay abreast of the latest school reform debates? Do you want to have access to breaking news, as soon as it's reported? Are you always looking for new ways to waste time? Then Twitter is for you!

In all seriousness, if you're reading Flypaper, you must be something of a wonk, and you would probably get a lot out of following the ed policy debate on Twitter, too. And thanks to Education Next, getting started is a breeze.

Here's the deal: In the current issue is an article by moi about Twitter's impact on the education war of ideas. Included is a list of the most influential Tweeters in education--both the media/policy types and educators themselves. Ed Next just updated these lists as of the end of August (the rankings change fast); you can go here and click a few buttons and sign up to follow all of these folks at the same time.

Let me cut the suspense and list the top-10 (well, 12), at least for the media and policy crowd:

  1. Diane Ravitch (@DianeRavitch) with a Klout score of 73
  2. Education Week (@EducationWeek); Klout = 73
  3. Leonie Haimson (@LeonieHaimson); Klout = 70
  4. U.S. Dept. of Education (@UsEdGov); Klout = 66
  5. Justin Hamilton (@EdPressSec); Klout = 66
  6. Arne Duncan (@ArneDuncan); Klout = 64
  7. Huffington Post Education (@huffpostedu); Klout = 63
  8. Randy Page (@rpagesc); Klout
  9. ...
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